Hassan Martin


Atlantic 10 Preview: Can Rhode Island unseat Davidson?

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Beginning in October and running up through November 13th, the first day of the regular season, College Basketball Talk will be unveiling the 2015-2016 NBCSports.com college hoops preview package.

Today, we are previewing the Atlantic 10 Conference.

Last year, many people were reminded never to bet against Bob McKillop. The Davidson coach, in a new league for the first time in 23 years, took little time navigating his way to the top of the conference standings, leading the Wildcats to the Atlantic 10 regular season title.

Davidson graduated Tyler Kalinoski, the A-10 Player of the Year, but there’s reason to believe the Wildcats can repeat in the A-10 this season. The back court is anchored by Jack Gibbs and Brian Sullivan, both of whom averaged double figures and finished top-3 in the league in assists. Jordan Barham, as 6-foot-4 senior who led Davidson is rebounding, adds another upperclassmen on the perimeter. The front court will build off of last year’s experience with six forward logging 10 or more minutes, including Payton Aldridge and Jake Belford, who was missed all but six games last season.

The Wildcats may be a favorite to repeat, but no team in the A-10 has as much upside as Rhode Island. The Rams are coming off a 23-win season, bringing back all-conference selections E.C. Matthews and Hassan Martin, along sophomores Jared Terrell and Jarvis Garrett. The roster was bolstered by the additions of graduate transfer Four McGlynn, who will help with the Rams’ deficiency behind the 3-point line, and Kuran Iverson, the ex-Memphis forward and former top 30 recruit, who will create matchup problems for opposing defenses.

The Dayton Flyers have become a team no one wants to be paired with on Selection Sunday. Archie Miller’s team has won five games in the last two tournament appearances and is primed for another postseason appearance with Kendall Pollard, Scoochie Smith and Kyle Davis returning. James Madison transfer Charles Cooke and redshirt big man Steve McElvene could both make an immediate impact. At the moment, Dyshawn Pierre is not with the team. It’s a blow to the roster, but remember, Miller was able to guide the Flyers to a 20-7 finish after dismissing two players last winter.

The major offeseason storyline in the Atlantic 10 occurred in April when Shaka Smart left for Texas. Chattanooga head coach and former VCU assistant Will Wade takes over a program dealing with the graduation of two of the program’s all-time greats, Treveon Graham and Briante Weber, and departures of some of Smart’s top recruits (Terry Larrier and 2015 commits Tevin Mack and Kenny Williams). However, Melvin Johnson, Mo Alie-Cox and JeQuan Lewis is a solid core to have in Wade’s first season.

George Washington and Richmond headline a list of teams that could fight to round out the top fiver. The Colonials have one of the best starting fives in the league, but depth could be a concern. The Spiders return Terry Allen and T.J. Cline, but lose Kendall Anthony. ShawnDre’ Jones will step into that role after earning A-10 Sixth Man of the Year honors.


1. Shaka Smart gone, Havoc remains: Texas was able to uproot Shaka Smart from VCU this spring. VCU was quick to hire Smart’s former assistant, Will Wade, who had built Chattanooga into a Southern Conference contender in just two seasons. In Wade’s introductory press conference, he made it clear, “Havoc still lives here.” Wade served on Smart’s staff for four years, which included the 2011 Final Four run.

Will Wade (AP Photo)
Will Wade (AP Photo)

2. Dyshawn Pierre suspended: The 6-foot-6 senior forward was suspended for the entire fall semester back in September. He was the team’s top returning scorer and rebounder at 12.7 points and 8.1 boards per game. The Flyers could be without the versatile forward for marquee non-conference games against Vanderbilt and at the AdvoCare Invitation in Orlando, which includes potential matchups against Notre Dame and Wichita State/Xavier. He is currently fighting this suspension.

3. Rhody rising: The fourth year of Dan Hurley’s tenure in Kingstown is expected to end with the Rams first NCAA tournament appearance since 1999. Rhode Island finished third in the A-10 standings last year, but settled for an NIT bid. Rhode Island has the most talent in the league, bringing back E.C. Matthews, Hassan Martin, Jared Terrell and Jarvis Garett, while adding transfers Kuran Iverson and Four McGlynn, both of whom immediately eligible. Is that enough to dethrone Davidson and stave off Dayton and VCU?

4. Coming off a ‘down year?’: Following back-to-back seasons in which the league earned five and six NCAA tournament bids, the A-10 sent just three (Davidson, Dayton and VCU) to the Big Dance in March. Entering this season, you’d expect all Davidson, Dayton, Rhode Island and VCU to be in the conversation.

5. A big slate on NBCSN: Twenty-four Atlantic 10 Conference games, in addition to two rounds of the Atlantic 10 Tournament, will be aired on the NBC Sports Network.

MORE: 2015-16 Season Preview Coverage | Conference Previews | Preview Schedule


  • Favorite: “I think someone has to prove that they’re better than Davidson. I know they lost a good player, but their style of play is never predicated on a star system or on a single player. I’d have to go with Davidson until someone proves otherwise.”
  • Sleeper: “I’d say George Washington or Richmond. Those are two teams I’d really keep my eye on.”
  • Best player:
    • “DeAndre Bembry. When people use the phrase, ‘he does everything,’ it’s usually exaggerated. It’s not exaggerated in his case. He’s outstanding at just about every area of basketball. He can rebound, he can defend, he can pass, he obviously can score, he can make threes, he can finish. … I really think he’s a great NBA prospect.”
    • “Bembry. He can shoot the three, he post up, he can get offensive rebound. I think he can do it all. I think he’s the complete package. He’s too big for most small forwards to guard him and he’s too versatile and skilled for power forwards.”
  • Most underrated player:
    • “I think Kendall Pollard should have been all-league. I don’t know how underrated he is, but I think a guy who doesn’t get as much attention is Hassan Martin at Rhode Island. I think he’s terrific.”
    • “Probably, [Patricio] Garino. Are people talking about him? I think he’s gotten better every year. He had a great summer against a high-level of competition.”


Giving a guy on a sub-.500 team player of the years honors is a tough sell. Perhaps that’s why Bembry wasn’t named Atlantic 10 Player of the Year as a sophomore. No player in the Atlantic 10 has more of an impact on his team than 6-foot-6 forward. Bembry logged a ridiculous 38.6 minutes per game (tops in Division I) and won the A-10 scoring title at 17.7 points per game. He finished in the top-10 in points, rebounds, assists and steals.


  • Jack Gibbs, Davidson: The junior point guard went for 20 or more six times (missed seven games to injury). He also led the A-10 in assists at 4.8 per game
  • Hassan Martin, Rhode Island: The 6-foot-7 forward was a second-team A-10 selection, corralling 7.7 boards and blocking 3.1 shots per game, sixth-best in the NCAA.
  • E.C. Matthews, Rhode Island: URI’s top returning scorer averaged 16.9 points per game and like Martin second team A-10 selection
  • Jordan Price, La Salle: The redshirt junior was second in the Atlantic 10 in scoring at 17.2 points per game.


  • Patrico Garino, George Washington
  • Melvin Johnson, VCU
  • Kuran Iverson, Rhode Island
  • Kendall Pollard, Dayton
  • ShawnDre’ Jones, Richmond

BREAKOUT STAR: Donte Clark, UMass

The 6-foot-4 freshman was inserted into the starting lineup in early January. He had his ups-and-downs scoring, but ending the season averaging 14.4 points per game in the last five games. Clark could be a big part of UMass’ future, one that has one of conference’s top recruiting classes coming in.


Ferry received a contract extension at the end of June despite failing to finish better than 10th in the A-10 standings in three seasons at the helm. While he doesn’t appear to be on the hot seat, that act of good faith comes with the expectations that the Dukes will improve this upcoming season.

ON SELECTION SUNDAY WE’LL BE SAYING … : The same old same old, arguing about the A-10 getting too many bids, or not enough bids

I’M MOST EXCITED ABOUT : Is there another surprising team?

Last season, newcomer Davidson was slotted 12th in the preseason before winning the regular season title. In 2013, George Washington, picked 10th in the preseason, reached the program’s first tournament in seven years. From the coaches’ quotes above, George Washington and Richmond will be in the conversation. But what about that next tier of teams? St. Joe’s and La Salle both benefit by having two of the top scorers in the league, while St. Bonaventure and Duquesne each have experienced lineups. Will any of those teams defy preseason projections?


  • Nov. 16, Virginia at George Washington
  • Nov. 20, VCU vs. Duke (in New York)
  • Nov. 26, Dayton vs. Iowa (in Orlando)*
  • Dec. 5, Providence at Rhode Island
  • Dec. 6, Davidson at North Carolina

*Dayton could renew a rivalry with Xavier at the AdvoCare Invitational



1. Davidson: Yes, Tyler Kalinoski is gone, but Bob McKillop returns three guards who averaged double figures, including Jack Gibbs. Wildcats also have a experienced frontline.
2. Rhode Island: The Rams is the most talented team in the A-10 led by E.C. Matthews and Hassan Martin. But that February slate is brutal. URI is at VCU, at Davidson and at Dayton in three of their last six regular season games.
3. Dayton: The Flyers were expected to return four starters, but as of right now, the status of Dyshawn Pierre remains uncertain. Dayton still has the chemistry and depth to make a run at the A-10 title.
4. VCU: Depending on how graduate transfer Korey Billbury fits in to the offense alongside JeQuan Lewis, Melvin Johnson and Mo Alie-Cox, this could be a really good first year for Will Wade.
5. George Washington: A veteran lineup of brings back Joe McDonald, Patricio Garino and Kevin Larsen and adds 6-foot-10 transfer Tyler Cavanaugh. But do the Colonials have the depth to support a talented starting lineup?
6. Richmond: The loss of Kendall Anthony is tough, but the trio of ShawnDre’ Jones, Terry Allen and T.J. Cline make the Spiders a real sleeper in the A-10 this season.
7. St. Bonaventure: The Bonnies could be another surprise team, returning Marcus Posley, Dion Wright and Jaylen Adams.
8. La Salle: The Explorers took an early foreign tour to Prague in May, hoping to jumpstart a 2015-16 campaign in which players are stepping into larger roles alongside the returning Jordan Price.
9. Duquesne: Derrick Colter and Micah Mason, two of the better 3-point shooters in the A-10, will have no issues putting up points, but the Dukes will need to focus on limiting points on the other end. Duquesne gave up the most points per game in the A-10 last season.
10. Saint Joseph’s: The Hawks have arguably the best player in the conference, but DeAndre Bembry will need some help.
11. Saint Louis: Four starters back could lead the Billikens to a higher finish. In order to do so, Saint Louis will need to make major improvements to its offense, which ranked the worst in the conference.
12. UMass: A streak of three straight 20-win seasons was snapped in 2014-15. Despite a stable back court, Minutemen are likely enter a rebuilding season after losing Cady Lalanne, Maxie Esho and Derrick Gordon.
13. George Mason: A rebuilding effort begins under Dave Paulsen, who is taking over a program that will celebrate the 10th anniversary of its Final Four run this spring. The Patriots return three starters, including 6-foot-11 center Shevon Thompson, who averaged a double-double last season.
14. Fordham: Jeff Neubauer inherits a 10-win team that saw Eric Paschall, the 2015 Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Year, transfer to Villanova.

Rhode Island lands third 2016 commitment

Dan Hurley
Associated Press
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Given the fact that they’ll begin the 2015-16 season with four upperclassmen in their front court rotation, it comes as no surprise that Rhode Island has looked to address this in their recruiting efforts for the Class of 2016. Having already landed commitments from two forwards, head coach Dan Hurley and his staff reeled in a third in the form of St. Patrick’s (New Jersey) forward Cyril Langevine Thursday afternoon.

News of Langevine’s commitment was first reported by SNY.tv, and he joins Mike Layssard and Michael Tertsea in Rhode Island’s 2016 class.

Langevine played for the Playaz Basketball Club on the Nike EYBL circuit this summer, and at the Nike Peach Jam averaged 7.2 rebounds and three blocks per game. Langevine had a good visit to URI last weekend, and that led to his committing to the Atlantic 10 program. Bill Koch of the Providence Journal made note of a similarity between Langevine and current Ram Hassan Martin, who’s one of the top players in the Atlantic 10.

Langevine enters his senior season with the Celtics as a young 17-year-old, similar to Martin during his final campaign with Staten Island Curtis in 2012-13. He flashed considerable rebounding and shot-blocking ability this summer with the NJ Playaz on Nike’s Elite Youth Basketball circuit, finishing second on the team in both categories.

“Coach Carr and Coach Hurley saw that from the get-go,” (St. Patrick head coach Chris) Chavannes said. “They’ve been on him ever since – they’ve done a phenomenal job.”

Rhode Island has two seniors in Ifeanyi Onyekaba and Earl Watson, and both Martin and Kuran Iverson will be juniors. And with the Rams adding just one front court player in the 2015 class (Nikola Akele, with Leroy Butts not being cleared academically), URI was in a spot where they needed to add front court options for the future.

They’ve been able to do that, with a player in Langevine whose upside has been mentioned by many scouts being the latest addition to the program.

Sophomores E.C. Matthews, Hassan Martin lead Rhode Island past Richmond (VIDEO)

E.C. Matthews
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Having won four straight games Rhode Island entered Sunday’s contest at Richmond a win away from moving into a tie for first in the Atlantic 10 with No. 18 VCU. Thanks to the performances put forth by sophomores E.C. Matthews and Hassan Martin the Rams won their fifth straight game, beating the Spiders 79-74.

Matthews scored 26 points and grabbed five rebounds, and Martin posted another double as he accounted for 16 points and 16 rebounds. Guard T.J. Buchanan, who shot 7-for-8 from the foul line over the last 2:19, added 15 for the Rams who are now 8-2 in conference play. While URI struggled from the foul line, shooting 16-for-27 in the second half, they did shoot 56 percent from the field over the final 20 minutes. That gave them the separation needed to hold on despite the efforts of Richmond’s Kendall Anthony.

Anthony scored a game-high 28 points, with Terry Allen adding 19 before fouling out late in the second half. Unfortunately for Chris Mooney’s team this game followed a familiar theme for them, as they were able to remain close but could not make the plays needed to win a close game. Richmond has been involved in 11 games decided by five points or less this season, and they’re 3-8 in such contests.

What also hurt Richmond was the loss of big man Alonzo Nelson-Ododa, who left the game in the first half after taking a shot to the face. Nelson-Ododa didn’t return to the game after going to the locker room, and his absence did not help matters for a team that’s struggled in the rebounding department all season long.

Foul shooting and turnovers are areas that Rhode Island will have to clean up if they’re to make a run at winning the Atlantic 10, but with players such as Matthews and Martin they have the pieces needed to contend. A team many figured was a year away from contending before the season began, the future is now for Dan Hurley’s Rams.

Weekly Awards: D’Angelo Russell’s ascension, Kansas takes the next step

D'Angelo Russell (AP Photo)
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D’Angelo Russell (AP Photo)

PLAYER OF THE WEEK: D’Angelo Russell, Ohio State

It took a while for Russell to find his rhythm against high-major competition, but the talented freshman is rolling these days. This week, he went for 33 points, seven boards, six assists and no turnovers in a win at Northwestern, following that up with 22 points, 10 assists and six boards as the Buckeyes got revenge on No. 23 Indiana at home. He shot 21-for-32 (65.6 percent) from the floor and 8-for-18 (44.4 percent) from three in the two wins. If you do that math, Russell missed just one shot from inside the arc in those two games.

Russell has shot his way up NBA Draft Boards of late, turning himself from a potential first round pick down the road into a guy that not only appears to be a lock to be a lottery pick, but could climb his way into the top five. The 6-foot-4 lefty is a big-time scorer that has made Sportscenter for his ability to throw mind-bending passes, and while he lacks that next-level explosiveness of a point guard like John Wall or Russell Westbrook, he’s crafty around the rim. And, more importantly for our purposes, he’s making sure that Ohio State remains relevant in the Big Ten.


  • Hassan Martin, Rhode Island: Rhode Island moved to 5-2 in the Atlantic 10 with wins over La Salle and St. Bonaventure this week, and Martin was the biggest reason why, averaging 12.0 points, 10.0 boards and 8.0 blocks.
  • Maurice Ndour, Ohio: After scoring 17 points in a win at Ball State, Ndour followed it up with 31 points, six boards, three blocks and this game-winning dunk against Buffalo.
  • Saah Nimley, Charleston Southern: In wins over UNC-Asheville and Gardner-Webb, Nimley averaged 34.0 points and 3.5 assists. In his last four games, he’s averaging 32.0 points and shooting 25-for-57 (!!!) from three.
  • Gary Payton II, Oregon State: The Beavers are a surprising 5-2 in the Pac-12 after sweeping the LA schools. Payton had 39 points, 17 boards, eight assists and seven steals in the two wins.
  • Stanley Johnson, Arizona: Johnson led the Wildcats to wins at Stanford and Cal this weekend, playing his best basketball while leading a second half charge in the win over the Cardinal. In his last four games, Johnson is averaging 20.0 points and 8.3 boards.
  • Notables: Cam Payne (Murray State), Tyler Harvey (Eastern Washington), Nic Moore (SMU)
source: Getty Images
Getty Images

TEAM OF THE WEEK: Kansas Jayhawks

Kansas made a statement on Saturday, going into Austin and smacking around No. 17 Texas, 75-62. That came after the Jayhawks built a 19-point lead on No. 19 Oklahoma, blew that lead in 10 minutes of game time and managed to come-from-behind to win anyway.

Yeah, I don’t get it either.

I don’t think anyone does.

But the bottom-line is that the Jayhawks, with all the inconsistencies and question marks that they’ve had this season, are sitting all alone in first place in the toughest conference in college basketball. And, finally, Cliff Alexander and Kelly Oubre seem to be hitting their stride. This team has always had the potential to be among the nation’s elite, and they got a step closer this week.


  • Georgetown: After blowing out Villanova in Washington, D.C., the Hoyas went up to Milwaukee and survived a scrappy Marquette team in overtime. Their freshmen have been terrific of late, with Isaac Copeland, who averaged 17.0 points in the two wins, leading the way.
  • Duke: The Blue Devils have officially bounced back from their two losses. This week, they beat Pitt and won at St. John’s — Coach K’s 1,000th win — due in large part to the play of Tyus Jones. He averaged 22.0 points and 5.0 assists.
  • Davidson: Despite playing without Jack Gibbs, who has a knee injury, the Wildcats blew out Dayton at home and won at George Mason in overtime.
  • Murray State: The Racers have now won 15 straight after winning at SIU-Edwardsville and Eastern Illinois this week. Cameron Payne may be the best player you’ve never seen play.
  • Tulsa: The Golden Hurricane moved to 7-0 in the American with a blowout win over Memphis at home and a victory in a trip to East Carolina, which turned into a bittersweet homecoming for head coach Frank Haith.
  • Notables: Butler, Miami, Texas A&M


  • No. 17 Texas at No. 9 Iowa State, Mon. 9:00 p.m.
  • No. 5 Duke at No. 8 Notre Dame, Tue. 7:30 p.m.
  • No. 14 Wichita State at No. 20 Northern Iowa, Sat. 4:00 p.m.
  • No. 15 North Carolina at No. 10 Louisville, Sat. 4:00 p.m.
  • No. 5 Duke at No. 2 Virginia, Sat. 7:00 p.m.


Rhode Island takes advantage of Saint Louis turnovers in conference-opening victory (VIDEO)

Dan Hurley
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Rhode Island, a team viewed by many as one capable of being a dark horse in the Atlantic 10, won its conference opener Saturday afternoon at Saint Louis on NBCSN by the final score of 65-53. Dan Hurley’s Rams outscored the reigning Atlantic 10 champions (although this SLU roster is a lot different than the one that was led by Jordair Jett and Dwayne Evans Jr.) 38-26 in the second half, shooting 50 percent from the field and 12-for-15 from the foul line.

URI picked up the win despite an off day from the field for E.C. Matthews, who scored 12 points on 4-for-14 shooting. Forwards Hassan Martin and Gilvydas Biruta stepped forward to pick up the slack, combining to score 29 points with Martin also grabbing eight rebounds, and “Biggie” Minnis added ten points and four assists.

SLU’s Milik Yarbrough led all scorers with 19 points before fouling out, but nine Billiken turnovers provided the spark URI needed in the second half. The Rams converted those turnovers into 21 points, and for the game they scored 30 points off of 21 Billiken turnovers.

Above are highlights of the Rhode Island victory.

Victory at LSU a big deal for Rhode Island, Atlantic 10

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The task of rejuvenating a struggling basketball program can be a difficult one, and that was certainly the case for Dan Hurley when he accepted the Rhode Island coaching job in the spring of 2012. The Rams were coming off of a seven-win season, with roster turnover and poor play being major issues. As expected the Rams took their lumps in 2012-13, winning a total of eight games and finishing with a 3-13 record in Atlantic 10 play.

But hope springs eternal, and prior to the start of this season the presence of some talented newcomers had many expecting the Rams to make strides in 2013-14. On Saturday night Hurley’s Rams took an important step in the right direction, winning 74-70 at LSU with two first-year players among the key contributors.

Guard E.C. Matthews, who along with forward Hassan Martin was expected to be an impact freshman this season, accounted for 21 points, nine rebounds and four assists and Rutgers transfer Gilvydas Biruta added 19 points and 14 rebounds for the Rams. Senior guard Xavier Munford, who joined the program as a junior college transfer and is the A-10’s leading returning scorer from last season, added 17 points to go along with six rebounds and Biggie Minnis dished out six assists.

For a team that entered the game having one just one true road game this season, at Brown on Thursday, winning LSU represents an important step in the right direction.

“This was a great win.  LSU is a really talented, well-coached team,” Hurley said after the game according to the school’s website. “We had a stretch where we struggled against their pressure, but our team had great resolve.  The tough road schedule we have played so far helped us tonight.  We are thrilled to be a nine-win team.”

Why was Rhode Island able to win at LSU? One area to consider would be the rebounding numbers. Facing one of the most talented front courts in the SEC, Rhode Island rebounded 43.2% of its missed shots and out-rebounded the Tigers 46-32 on the night. While that didn’t lead to an edge in either second-chance points (14-8 LSU) or points in the paint (34-26 LSU), for Rhode Island to hold its own when facing the likes of Jordan Mickey and Johnny O’Bryant III speaks volumes of the progress being made in Kingston.

Saturday’s result gives Rhode Island some positive momentum as they move on to Atlantic 10 play, and they’ll need it with expected contender Saint Louis visiting the Ryan Center on Tuesday night. But before moving on to that contest, what Rhode Island accomplished in Baton Rouge is something that its fans need to take notice of. While their win doesn’t mean that the rebuilding process is complete, it does serve as more evidence that coach Hurley and his staff have the Rams moving in the right direction.