MHERST - The up-and-down saga of the recruiting of Mike Lasme ended on a high note for the University of Massachusetts. The 6-foot-1 guard from the Ivory Coast signed an official letter of intent with UMass Wednesday.
UMass coach Steve Lappas was happy to have Lasme in the fold.
"He's a very, very athletic kid," Lappas said. "He's a very very good scorer. He's going to be a nice addition to the program.
"He's a real good shooter," Lappas continued. "He jumps through the roof. He has long arms. He's strong. He has a lot of talent.
"He hasn't been playing that long in this country so he has a lot to learn, but he's great kid. He works hard. He wants to learn and he will because he has a lot of talent."
Lappas said Lasme could play either guard spot.
Lasme gave the Minutemen a verbal commitment in August, but had second thoughts in September and withdrew his commitment. But around two weeks later he about-faced again and declared himself a future Minuteman.
"I want to play for Lappas," Lasme said in October. "He's recruited me and we have a great relationship. He trusts me. He trusts my game. I think he'll give me a chance to play. It's all about feeling comfortable."
Meanwhile, Stephen Briggs' letter of intent had not yet arrived Wednesday night, so the UMass coaching staff couldn't comment on him. His letter could arrive today.
Lasme spent last season playing for Crispus Attucks in York, Pa., and will be at Life Center Academy in New Jersey this season. That school has had success with international players in the past.
After a strong Nike Camp, Lasme's stock skyrocketed. He received interest from several schools, including Mississippi State, Colorado, Cincinnati, Connecticut, Stanford, Seton Hall and St. John's.
Lasme played shooting guard at Attucks, but has played point guard this summer on the AAU Circuit for the New Jersey All-Stars. Hoop Scoop, a recruiting publication, listed his vertical leap at 45 inches.
Lasme's parents, who are former basketball players, are still in Abidjan, a city along the Ivory Coast, while he lives with a host family in New Jersey.
he backcourt of the Massachusetts basketball team increased in depth yesterday when Michel "Mike" Lasme, a 6-foot-1 combo-guard from the Ivory Coast, signed his national letter of intent to play for coach Steve Lappas and the Minutemen.
"I'm very excited to have him in the fold," said Lappas last night, in his first chance to comment on his new guard. "He's a very athletic kid and a very, very good scorer.
"He's going to be a nice addition to the program."
Lasme caught the attention of coaches' nationwide two summers ago when he came to America and played for Crispus Attucks in York, Pa. This season he will play for the Life Center Academy in Willingboro, N.J.
He is most recognized for his quickness, shooting ability, 6-foot-5-inch wingspan and 45-inch vertical.
"He jumps to the moon," Lappas said. "Plus he has long arms and is strong...and he's a real good shooter. He knocks them down."
Lasme will join freshman Kyle Wilson and Anthony Anderson next year on the UMass guard depth chart. All three can play both the point and off-guard positions which should solidify the UMass backcourt for the next few seasons.
You throw those three in and Marcus Cox (sophomore transfer from UConn) and...you feel like you could have something," Lappas said.
Lasme verbally committed to UMass in mid-July, reneged on that pledge in late September, but recommitted soon after.
"He's got a lot of talent," Lappas said. "He hasn't been playing that long in this country so there's a lot of things he needs to learn but he's a great kid and he plays hard and he wants to learn.
Lasme selected UMass over interest from Stanford, Connecticut, Seton Hall, USC, Cincinnati, and St. John's.
Stephen Briggs, a 6-foot-9, 220- pound power forward from Westside High School in Houston, Texas, is expected to sign his letter of intent today. The Briggs signing will be key with the loss of big men Kitwana Rhymer and Eric Williams next year to graduation.
MHERST - The University of Massachusetts men's basketball team got its second official commitment in as many days Thursday. Texas big man Stephen Briggs signed a national letter of intent.
"I'm very excited about Stephen Briggs," Lappas said. "He's very athletic and fills a need that we're going to have next year."
Briggs, a 6-foot-9 power forward, averaged 17 points, 10 rebounds, and five blocked shots at Houston's Westside High School last year.
According to RivalsHoops.com's Mike Sullivan, Briggs shined at the National AAU Tournament in Orlando, and had a growing number of schools expressing interest in him, including Georgia Tech, Wake Forest, Texas, Houston, and Kansas State.
"His upside is pretty big," Sullivan said on RivalsHoops.com. "Briggs is willing to play physical and challenge shots, and his offensive game is still developing. He has a sweet touch from the outside and can explode off his feet."
Briggs has a 3.5 GPA and hopes to major in engineering. He still needs to raise his standardized test score to be eligible.
Briggs would join a frontcourt that will feature Micah Brand, who then will be a senior, and Gabriel Lee, who is sitting out this year as a Prop. 48 student.
The Minutemen are waiting to hear the decision of Allasne Kouyate, a 6-8 power forward who is originally from Mali, a country in West Africa.
Kouyate is living in Medina, Ohio, where he lives with guardians. He is expected to hold a press conference Monday to announce his decision. He is selecting between UMass and Duquesne.
OPEN PRACTICE: The Minutemen will hold an open practice at the Springfield Civic Center Sunday from noon to 1:30 p.m. Players and staff will sign autographs afterward. The annual Tip-Off Classic between Georgetown and Georgia is Monday at the Civic Center at 7 p.m.
MISCELLANEOUS: Lappas will try to extend a streak Friday. The last three UMass coaches have all won their Minuteman debuts. Bruiser Flint defeated Chaminade in 1996, John Calipari beat Southern Connecticut in 1988, and Ron Gerlufson defeated UNH in 1983. Tom McLaughlin lost to Boston University in 1981.
Friday marks the 100th game in the Mullins Center. The Minutemen are 4-0 in previous milestone games in the building, winning the first, 25th, 50th and 75th.
n It's been a minor issue of fan criticism that in past years, many college basketball teams around the country have not been on the floor when the national anthem has been played.
The current surge of patriotism has changed that. The Minutemen were on the floor during the Star Spangled Banner at both exhibition games, a change that will be permanent.
VITALE LIST: Dick Vitale's annual list of preseason teams is out on ESPN.com. Rhymer was named to his All-Velcro team as one of the best defensive players in the nation. Rhymer is the reigning A-10 Defensive Player of the Year.
MHERST, Mass. -- UMass men's basketball coach Steve Lappas has announced the signing of two players, 6-1 guard Michel Lasme and 6-9 forward Stephen Briggs, to National Letters of Intent for the 2002-03 season.
Lasme played at Crispus Attucks High School in York, Pa., last year, where he averaged 21 points and 10 assists per game. He is spending his senior year at Life Center Academy in Burlington, N.J. A native of the Ivory Coast, Lasme spent the summer of 2001 playing for the New Jersey All-Stars.
A tremendous all-around athlete, Lasme's vertical jump is listed at 45 inches. Ranked as the nation's 30th-best prep player by ESPN.com, he also considered St. John's, Connecticut, Stanford, Cincinnati, Seton Hall, Colorado and Mississippi State.
"Mike's a very, very athletic player," Lappas said. "He's a good scorer, and will be a nice addition to the program. He jumps through the roof, has long arms and is very strong."
Briggs averaged 17 points, 10 rebounds and five blocked shots as a junior at Houston's Westside High School, and is considered a top 150 prospect by most recruiting services. An oustanding student, Briggs plans on majoring in engineering at UMass.
"We are excited about Stephen Briggs," Lappas said. "He has a chance to be a very good player. He's athletic, 6-9, and fills a tremendous need that we are going to have in our program next year due to the losses we will sustain to graduation."
Schools that courted Briggs included Georgia Tech, Wake Forest, Texas, Houston and Kansas State.