MHERST, Mass. - UMass men's basketball coach Derek Kellogg finished his first signing period in Amherst with an exclamation point, signing talented bigman Raphiael Putney (Woodbridge, Va.). The forward/center stands 6-9 and weighs 180 pounds as he is in his senior year at Woodbridge High School.
Raphiael Putney, with the DC Triple Threat.
Photo courtesy: UMass Athletics
"Raphiael Putney is exactly the type of player we are looking to recruit at UMass," said Kellogg. "He is a long athletic 6-9 player. He is a little thin, but we anticipate he will able to add on weight. He is a very versatile player who can play multiple positions. Not only is he a great basketball player, he is an outstanding individual on and off the court.
"I have spoken with his parents are length about his prospects of coming in as a freshman and we will see how he does physically. Once he puts on the weight and gets stronger and more physical, he has a chance to be a great player in college. Overall, I'm just very excited about him coming to UMass. From the minute I saw him at the Reebok camp and then watching him all summer, I just think he is a player with a world of talent. He has a great demeanor on the court and I am anticipating he will be great in our dribble-drive offense. More importantly, he has the length and size and athleticism to be a great perimeter and post-up defender."
Putney has been heavily recruited nationally since breakout performances with the DC Triple Threat and a standout showing at the Reebok All-American Camp, where Kellogg first saw him. At the Reebok camp, he was selected to play in the event's All-Star Game with the 24 best players there, in Philadelphia.
At Woodbridge High School, Putney has been on the varsity squad since his sophomore year. he averaged 9.0 points per game as a junior. Putney's senior season schedule with the Vikings starts on Dec. 2 for head coach Chad Anderson. He plays his AAU basketball for the DC Triple Threat/Team Takeover under coach Keith Stevens.
ESPN.com has a grade of 88 according to the website's system which makes him the site's No. 58 power forward in this year's recruiting class.
Raphiael R. Putney is the son of Richard Putney and was born on April 21, 1990.
MHERST - With Raphiael Putney's national letter of intent finally in hand, Derek Kellogg's first recruiting class for the University of Massachusetts men's basketball team is in place.
The 6-foot-9 big man from Woodbridge, Va., completes a four-man recruiting class. Putney joins Florida wing Freddie Riley, combo guard Javorn Farrell of Upper Marlboro, Md., and Memphis forward Sampson Carter as players who will be freshmen in the 2009-10 season.
Putney averaged just nine points per game as a junior and was originally considering prep school next year. But he blossomed on the AAU circuit during the summer and earned considerable recruiting interest.
"He's another kid who fits what we're trying to do as far as length and athleticism. He can play multiple positions right now. He's a little slender right now at 165, maybe 170 pounds," Kellogg said. "But athletically he puts his elbows above the rim. He rebounds above the rim and on the fast break he dunks the basketball.
"He's got to continue to get bigger and stronger and more physical," he added. "We're looking forward to him coming in and being a great part of this program as a kid, a student and a basketball player."
Kellogg said his improvement this year would determine how great an impact he could make as a freshman.
"He's a little bit young, but he's got a tremendous upside. It's kind of going to be a wait-and-see," Kellogg said. "A lot of it depends on how much more physical he can get between now and when he gets here. How much weight can he put on? How much muscle can he put on? If he can do those things he can play significant minutes. If not, he might not see so much time."
STILL ADJUSTING - When Kellogg was hired, UMass athletic director John McCutcheon said he liked Kellogg's preference for playing up-tempo, as the Minutemen thrived playing fast under former coach Travis Ford.
But while both coaches wanted to keep the game's pace high, Ford was often willing to overlook questionable shot selection and rebounding woes.
During the team's week off between the 80-58 loss at Memphis and Monday's home opener against Jacksonville State, Kellogg has focused on changing those traits.
"Some of the stuff we did offensively is unacceptable," he said. "We have to get these guys more comfortable with what we expect."
"1. We don't want to turn the ball over. 2. No quick bad shots. 3. We want to rebound the heck out of the basketball," Kellogg added. "I think if we can zero in on those we'll improve dramatically."
Defense wasn't a priority for Ford either, because he was comfortable outscoring teams rather than trying to shut them down. The Minutemen have responded to Kellogg's demand for more defense, but not yet as much as he'd like.
"They're not anywhere near where they could be or should be. They're trying at least which is a good thing," Kellogg said. "I'm hoping by the middle of the year they'll have a better understanding of what I expect on the defensive end of the floor.
"If you watch our games, when the defense is in front of our bench (in the first half) we can coach them through a little bit and help them and we're so much better than when we have to let them go on their own at the far end," he continued. "That's one thing we're trying to get across in practice. You guys do the talking. But right now if the coaches don't talk, the defense is not where it needs to be."
Matt Vautour can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more UMass coverage, including a UMass sports blog, go to http://www.gazettenet.com/blog/umass-sports.