he University of Massachusetts men's basketball team continued to get its recruiting done early as the second member of its 2000-01 recruiting class is expected to verbally commit to the Minutemen today.
The move may be King's last act as a Paterson Catholic student. King is planning to enroll at the Winchendon School this fall, where he'll play for coach Mike Byrnes, a former UMass player.
King joins Eddie Basden, a 6-foot-5 shooting guard from Greenbelt, Md., who verbally committed to the Minutemen last week.
The addition of the two guards gives UMass significant backcourt depth for the 2001-02 season. King and Basden will join Shannon Crooks, who will be a senior that season, and Anthony Anderson and Jameel Pugh, who will be sophomores.
While former assistant coach Tony Barbee received significant credit for his role in assembling this year's incoming crop, it appears that current associate head coach Geoff Arnold deserves his share of credit for snaring the two newest Minutemen-to-be. The four-year UMass assistant has been spotted scouting both players throughout the summer.
Barring any transfers, the Minutemen have one scholarship left to offer, and will likely use it on a big man.
Some candidates include:
Craig Forth, a seven-footer from Albany, who is a solid scorer inside.
Maurecio Branwell, a 6-8 forward from Fort Washington, Md.
Ed Nelson, a 6-8 power forward from St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale.
Deng Gai, a thin, 6-10 center from the Sudan, who will play at St. Thomas More Academy in Connecticut this season.
Kenny Adeleke, a 6-6 power forward from Brooklyn, N.Y., is a possibility, but is small for his position. He has already unofficially visited UMass.
s it turned out, Jeremiah King was just waiting for the University of Massachusetts to call.
The Passaic, N.J., native became a UMass fan when he was 13 and the Minutemen were making a run to the 1996 Final Four. When he established himself as Division I-caliber talent, he hoped the Minutemen would be interested.
At a press conference at Paterson Catholic High School on Tuesday, King announced that he'll wear the same uniform that Marcus Camby, Carmelo Travieso and company wore to the Final Four as he verbally committed to UMass.
"I knew where I wanted to go," King said in a phone interview Tuesday. "I like the coaching staff, coach Bruiser (Flint) and coach Geoff (Arnold). I liked the school. It wasn't too big or too small."
King, a 6-foot-2 guard that can man either spot in the backcourt averaged 22.6 points per game as a junior for Paterson last year, but will finish high school at the Winchendon School.
King is going to prep school despite already having the necessary grade point average and SAT score to be eligible as a freshman.
"I just want to work on my academics so I'll be ready for college," King said. "I know I'll be focused there."
King said he would likely study business at UMass, but he wanted to explore some other possibilities before declaring a major.
King spent the summer competing for the Tim Thomas Playaz, an AAU team that produced current NBA players Vince Carter and Kobe Bryant. Playaz coach Jim Salmon praised King as a player and as a person.
"He was very clearly our most consistent offensive option this summer, which is good considering some of the players we have," Salmon said. "He's excellent coming off screens and is a great shooter. He's also a very low maintenance kid. He follows orders and doesn't get into trouble."
Salmon praised UMass' recruitment of King.
"I trust their coaching staff," he said. "I'm very comfortable with the entire situation for him. Their recruiting work has been very efficient."
By adding King to a lineup that already includes Shannon Crooks and Eddie Basden, it appears that Flint is reaffirming his commitment to increasing his team's offensive tempo, which appears to be good news for King, after he described his game.
"I'm a combo guard. I can play the one or the two. I play defense. I can score. I like to run. I like the ball in my hands," he said.
With two guards in the fold, the Minutemen have only one scholarship remaining and will likely use it on a big guy.
One possibility includes King's AAU teammate Brandon Brigman, a 6-8 Philadelphia native that can play center or power forward.
MHERST — Not long ago, the University of Massachusetts men's basketball recruiting situation was considered a shaky part of the program. Now, it appears the state of UMass recruiting is at the best it has been under Bruiser Flint, who enters his fifth season.
Jeremiah King, a 6-foot-2, 180-pound guard from Paterson, N.J., has given a verbal commitment to the Minutemen for the 2000-2001 season. That puts two players into the UMass fold before they begin their senior high school seasons.
Verbal commitments are not binding, but are usually respected by both the school and the player as a method of avoiding last-minute decisions.
Last week, guard Eddie Basden of Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Greenbelt, Md., made a verbal commitment to UMass. Basden is considered the better of the two players, but King is also viewed as a capable future collegian who penetrates well off the dribble and flourishes in an up-tempo style.
King will attend the Winchendon School this fall. He has already attended Passaic High School and Paterson Catholic, both in New Jersey.
Last year, he averaged 22 points per game for Paterson Catholic after transferring from Passaic.
"UMass is not too big a school and the style is perfect for me," King told Insiders Report, an Internet recruiting site. "I think they have a very good coaching staff, and they'll work with me."
"They were very honest with me," he said. "They told me if I was going to play, I'd have to earn it."
Attracting new guards helps replace the sting of losing junior-college transfer Jarrett Kearse, a former West Virginia University player who did not achieve academic eligibility and will not attend UMass this fall.
UMass coaches cannot comment on recruits until formal letters of intent are signed. Neither Basden nor King can do so until the signing period Nov. 8-15.
King had also been considering South Carolina, Duquesne, Hofstra, Seton Hall, Pittsburgh and St. Joseph's. King's SAT test score is of qualifying level, so his UMass freshman academic eligibility will depend on how he does at Winchendon this year.
Assuming both Basden and King attend UMass in 2001 as planned, UMass will have one scholarship remaining. The Minutemen lose seniors Monty Mack, Jonathan DePina and Winston Smith after this season.
Another spot would open if Kitwana Rhymer, an academic non-qualifier as a freshman, is denied a fourth season.
As for this fall's recruits, Anderson has qualified academically. Forward Raheim Lamb of Boston English is a partial qualifier, which means he'll be able to practice with the team but not play in games.