Coverage from:
The Daily Hampshire Gazette - verbal, 11/9
The Sacramento Bee - LOI, 11/17
UMass Athletics - LOI, 11/17
The Daily Hampshire Gazette - LOI, 11/18
The Springfield Union-News - LOI, 11/18
Pac-West Hoops - Pugh diary, 11/23

6-4 guard said to pick UMass
By Matt Vautour, The Daily Hampshire Gazette Staff Writer, 11/9/1999

The University of Massachusetts men's basketball team's new love affair with athleticism appears to be continuing.

Jameel Pugh
Courtesey: Insiders Report
According to Insider's Report, a recruiting Web site, Jameel Pugh, a 6-foot-4 shooting guard from Sacramento with tremendous leaping ability, has given the Minutemen a verbal commitment to come to UMass next year. He'll play alongside fellow jumping jacks Shannon Crooks and JoVann Johnson.

Pugh joins a recruiting class that already includes small forward Raheim Lamb of Boston. Both players are expected to sign a national letter of intent during the early signing period that begins next week. Coaches are not allowed to comment on recruits until that period.

Pugh could not be reached Monday.

Pugh selected UMass over Saint Louis, Texas Christian, Nevada, and Southern California. Pugh apparently had been leaning toward signing in the spring, but after making an official visit to Amherst two weeks ago, he was quoted as saying he planned to sign early.

Dave Telep of Prep Stars, a recruiting publication, lauded the addition for the Minutemen.

Bonus coverage: Get Pugh's profile and watch a highlight video at Insider's Report
"He's an above-the-rim type player," Telep said. "He has a chance to be one of the most athletic players in the Atlantic 10."

Tracy Pierson of PacWest Hoops, another recruiting site, called Pugh the No. 2 shooting guard on the West Coast.

"He's got big-time hops and great body control, able to adjust his shot in mid air," Pierson said this summer. "Going to the basket he's very difficult to stop. ... Currently he's mentioned on some top 100 lists and within a couple of months, it's very likely he'll be listed among the top 40 players in the nation."

With Pugh and Lamb in the fold, the Minutemen have two more scholarships remaining, with the point guard spot a priority. Brooklyn native Michael Boynton, who made an official visit to UMass this weekend, looks like the Minutemen's top priority at that position. UMass is competing with South Carolina and Boston College for his services. He reportedly plans to sign during the early signing period.

* * *

The Associated Press released its preseason top 25 Monday. In the also-receiving-votes section, the Minutemen placed 23rd

Temple is the only ranked Atlantic 10 team, checking in at No. 7 with two first-place votes.

Other ranked UMass opponents include No. 1 Connecticut, No. 21 Texas and No. 19 Tennessee, who the Minutemen could face in Puerto Rico.

Grant's Pugh signs with Massachusetts
By Joe Davidson, The Sacramento Bee Staff Writer, 11/17/1999

Two years ago, he was cut from his junior varsity team. At the end of last season, he was a solid cog for a Grant High School program that reached the state championship game, but he still didn't make the All-Capital Athletic League team.

Now he's certifiably good.

Jameel Pugh, a 6-foot-4 swingman, signed a national letter of intent with one-time national power University of Massachusetts on Tuesday.

"This is the best day of my life," the senior said, a Superman emblem the size of a hubcap hanging from his neck.

Asked if the jewelry came from former UMass star Marcus Camby, Pugh smiled and joked, "No. It came from Dr. J. He always said you can't really dunk until you do it from the free-throw line."

That's ironic, because much like Julius Erving, another UMass great, Pugh's signature play has been the high-flying dunk. His incredible athletic ability, his work ethic and 35-inch vertical leap pushed Pugh onto the national scene.

Pugh dazzled in four summer camps that had him flying across the country and to Italy, where he won a dunk contest by taking off from the free-throw line. By July, he was besieged with recruiting mail.

Though he needs to work on his three-point shooting, he graded out as one of the top 20 seniors in the country at each camp. Pugh chose UMass over Michigan, Kentucky, Stanford, Cal and St. Louis.

Pugh's whirlwind summer took off when a summer coach came by Grant to take a look at Ronald Dosty, a national recruit himself at a powerfully built 6-5.

"He's so athletic and he goes after the ball and just flies to the rim," Dosty said. "He's on his way. I hope to be next."

Pugh's mother, Louise, joked that her son has to gear up for the ice and snow.

"It'll be cold back East, but I'm ready," he said. "Who knows? Maybe I'll try out for the bobsled team."

Pugh Signs with UMass Basketball
Minutemen land top-75 recruit
From UMass Athletics, 11/17/1999

Amherst, Mass. - The University of Massachusetts men’s basketball team announced today that Jameel Pugh has signed a letter of intent to play basketball at UMass beginning in the fall of 2000. Pugh is a 6-4, 200-pound shooting guard ranked among the top-75 seniors in the country by most of the recruiting services.

As a junior last season at Grant Union High School in Sacramento, Calif., Pugh averaged 16.0 points, eight rebounds and three assists per game. He is listed as the no. 2 shooting guard on the West Coast by Pac-West Hoops, the 78th ranked senior in the country by Bob Gibbons All-Star Report and is the 71st ranked senior by Basketball News.

“Jameel is a talented shooting guard who is extremely athletic,” UMass head coach Bruiser Flint said. “He is a great get for us because he is coming in from the West Coast, an area we haven’t had a lot of success with in recruiting. He’s a good fit because of his athleticism and the fact that we are trying to get to a more athletic style of play.”

Pugh is the second student-athlete to sign a letter of intent with the UMass basketball team during the early signing period. Raheim Lamb, (Boston, Mass/Boston English) a 6-5 small forward out of Boston, signed with the Minutemen last week. Both players were ranked among the top-100 seniors in the country by most of the recruiting services.

'Superman' flying into Mullins
By Matt Vautour, The Daily Hampshire Gazette Staff Writer, 11/18/1999

AMHERST - After winning the slam-dunk contest at Midnight Madness four years in a row, Mike Babul is leaving the University of Massachusetts at a good time.

If reports on the leaping ability of new UMass recruit Jameel Pugh are true, next year's favorite in the event already is locked up.

After verbally committing last week, Pugh officially signed a letter of intent Tuesday to attend UMass next year.

With the 6-foot-4 shooting guard's paperwork on file, UMass coach Bruiser Flint could speak about the newest Minuteman-to-be.

"He's an unbelievable athlete," Flint said. "The kid jumps out of the gym. He's as athletic a kid as we've ever had here. His athleticism gives us something we haven't had since Will Herndon."

Flint praised new assistant Tony Barbee for being the catalyst toward this signing.

"It's good because we went to a different part of the country where we never really recruited before," Flint said. "Tony (Barbee) did a good job getting him. He made him feel real comfortable so when he got on campus, he realized this is the place for me."

Pugh shared the excitement.

"This is the best day of my life," Pugh told the Sacramento Bee when he announced his intentions to move East.

Pugh, who was wearing a necklace with a large Superman emblem on it, was jokingly asked if the jewelry had come from Marcus Camby, in reference to the controversy that surrounded the former Minuteman before he turned pro.

But Pugh had a quick response and referred to another former Minuteman.

"No. It came from Dr. J," Pugh joked back. "He always said you can't really dunk until you do it from the free-throw line."

If that is true, Pugh can really dunk. According to the Bee, he won a slam-dunk contest on a trip to Italy on that very move.

Pugh joins a recruiting class that already includes Boston English star forward Raheim Lamb, who signed his letter of intent last week. The Minutemen are not expected to sign any other players this fall and will have two scholarships left to offer players for the spring signing period.

One position UMass had hoped to fill early, but didn't, was at point guard. Brooklyn native Michael Boynton opted for South Carolina over Massachusetts earlier this week, citing the chance for more playing time right away in Columbia, S.C., rather than waiting his turn behind Shannon Crooks, Monty Mack and Jonathan DePina.

"Kids don't like to come to the Atlantic 10 and sit on the bench," Flint said. "If they feel like they're going to have an opportunity to play, you have an unbelievable chance of getting him, but if they think there is a guy in front of them, you're not going to get him."

One option for UMass could be Anthony Anderson, a senior point guard from Lynn, who is highly regarded, but there are questions about whether he'll qualify academically. The Minutemen could take him as a Prop. 48 player.

UMass has its eye on the junior-college ranks for a potential recipient of its other scholarship. The Minutemen are looking at Jackie Rogers, a 6-7 forward out of Barton County (Kan.) Community College, who previously played at West Virginia.

Guard picks Minutemen
UMass notebook
By Ron Chimelis, The Springfield Union-News, 11/18/1999

AMHERST — The University of Massachusetts men's basketball team is winging into the future.

The Minutemen signed 6-foot-4 shooting guard Jameel Pugh from Sacramento, Calif., this week, giving UMass its second recruit for the 2000-01 season. Pugh is ranked among the top 75 seniors in the country by most of the recruiting services.

Raheim Lamb, a 6-6 forward from Boston English High School, has also signed with a program that loses forwards Chris Kirkland and Mike Babul, as well as center Anthony Oates, after this season.

"We needed a couple of wings, and we got them," UMass coach Bruiser Flint said. "We could still use an athletic forward like Kirkland, but we'll see what happens."

As a junior last season at Grant Union High School, Pugh averaged 16.0 points, eight rebounds and three assists per game. He is listed as the No. 2 shooting guard on the West Coast by Pac-West Hoops, the 78th-ranked senior in the country by Bob Gibbons All-Star report and is the 71st-ranked senior by Basketball News.

UMass entered this season with 12 scholarship players, one under the NCAA limit. Therefore, losing three players next season leaves four openings, and two have been filled.

Flint is not sure the other two will be used up, and he's reasonably satisfied with a recruiting class of Lamb and Pugh, if that's the final result.

Pugh chose UMass over Texas Christian, Saint Louis and Southern California. His strengths include athleticism and leaping ability, which would fit well with the Minutemen's professed new up-tempo style.

It's been harder to find guards than midsized players, even though Flint has tried. The latest to get away was Michael Boynton, a New York City prospect who was very interested in UMass, but decided against it because he knew the backcourt seems set for at least next year.

Monty Mack has a year of eligibility remaining after this season, assuming he graduates on time as expected, which would restore a season he lost for academic reasons in 1996-97. Shannon Crooks will be eligible through the 2001-2002 season.


Mack and Babul are expected to be ready for Saturday's opener at Iona, but Flint said he will watch their minutes.

Mack has been out with a stress fracture in his left foot and Babul with a muscle strain in his back. Both missed most of the preseason, including two exhibition games, but they resumed practice this week.

"Missing all that time is a bigger concern on defense," Flint said. "When we go into our press, they have to know what spots they have to go to, and it's easy to get confused if you haven't been practicing."

Mack provides the bulk of the perimeter shooting game, and Flint considers him one of the best defensive guards in the Atlantic 10.

Babul is a premier defensive player who has been used on both guards and forwards. His offense has been limited so far, but he is considered most useful in the up-tempo game.

Pugh Diary
The #2 shooting guard on the west coast tells us -- in his own words -- why he chose UMass and about his recruitment...
By Jameel Pugh, Courtesey of Pac-West Hoops, 11/18/1999

As earlier reported, I have decided to go to UMass.

Jameel Pugh
Courtesey: Pac-West Hoops
Although St. Louis came in a very close second, UMass best fit my needs. I was pleased to see that the players at UMass had a good off the court relationship with the coaching staff. I felt that I fit in very well with the new up-tempo style of play that Coach Flint has implemented this year. Coach Barbee has been available and helpful in answering my questions throughout the recruiting process. I got the impression that the coaching staff has the player's best interest in mind. Their interest in me goes beyond basketball. They are concerned with me achieving goals on and off the court. I was very impressed with the UMass Coaching staffs emphasis on academics. The meeting with the team academic advisor was very informative. We discussed computer availability for road games, their system of progress reports, and access to tutoring.

I later met with the counselor for the Sports Management Program, which I intend to major in. He provided me with class descriptions, and a plan for my academic load. This program best fits my academic needs, and was the deciding factor in choosing UMass over St. Louis.

I am very excited about joining the UMass team. The players seem to be a very close, family-oriented group that spend a great deal of time together during their free time.

My recruiting experience had been a fairly short process, but hectic at times. I am relieved that it is over, and I am happy with the opportunities that were presented to me by all of the schools that were recruiting me. The St. Louis coaching staff worked dilligently at recruiting me. The decision was hard because each school had something exceptionally good about them which made deciding very difficult at times. However, I feel UMass is the place for me.

I look forward to the upcoming high school season. We intended to compete for a state title again this year. I am excited to play with Malik Edwards, Paris Warren, Ronald Dosty, (the major contributors from last years team) and the rest of my teammates.

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