UMass targets recruits
By Matt Vautour, The Daily Hampshire Gazette Staff Writer, 3/19/2002

The University of Massachusetts men's basketball coaching staff has targeted a small forward with its final scholarship to offer and appears to have narrowed its recruiting down to three players - Jeff Viggiano, Marcus Morrison, or Tarence Kinsey.

Following is a look at UMass' top three prospects.

* Viggiano, a 6-foot 6-inch swingman from Suffield Conn. High School, had been deciding between Iona and prep school before UMass entered the picture in February.

"I was happy when they started recruiting me," Viggiano said. "That's the highest level that has recruited me so far."

Suffield coach Fran Aniello was impressed with the way UMass recruited his star player.

"The UMass coaches have been very interested and very positive with him," he said. "UMass presents so many positives being close to home. It's a great program with a great coach. He'd be a good fit in that system playing the motion offense not really being asked to crash the boards all the time. There are a lot of plusses for him."

Viggiano made an official visit to UMass last month and was back last week to examine the campus. He's still considering prep school with the race likely coming down to UMass and St. Thomas Moore.

"When I left UMass I was excited. When I left prep school I was excited, so I'll be happy either way," said Viggiano who enjoyed his trip to UMass. "It was nice. I like the coaches there and the players"

Aniello said Viggiano's interest in prep school isn't an attempt to hold out to be recruited by higher profile schools.

"He's a very young senior," Aniello said. "He's only 17 and he wants to be sure he's ready to go to college."

Viggiano would provide head coach Steve Lappas with some of the shooting UMass lacked playing his style.

"I can shoot the three pretty well and can get up to the rim pretty well," Viggiano said. "I'm working on my ball handing. Because of my height I've been guarding most centers. I need to work on guarding quicker players.

Viggiano has the necessary grade point average and standardized test scores to be eligible as a freshman.

Viggiano said he could decide as early as this week. He'll be glad to have the decision behind him.

"It'll take a lot off my mind," he said.

* Kinsey is a 6-foot-6 swingman from Tampa, Fla.

He averaged 24.8 points and 9.8 rebounds this year for Thomas Jefferson High School and finished fifth in the voting for Florida's Mr. Basketball honors.

Jefferson coach Doug Greseth said Kinsey improved significantly over the course of his senior year.

"He went from a low-major prospect before the season to a high major prospect," Greseth said. "He scores in a lot of different ways. He shoots 40 percent from 3-point range. He handles the ball well for his size. He's a slasher and he jumps well."

Greseth praised his demeanor as much as his talent.

"Attitude-wise he's just a great kid," Greseth said. "I've never gotten any disrespect from him. He's very coachable and has shown a lot of leadership."

Kinsey has received scholarship offers from UMass, Boston College and Central Florida, but right now is choosing between the Minutemen and the Golden Knights.

Kinsey visited UMass on the final weekend of the regular season as Lappas hurried back to from the team's game at Xavier to be there for his visit.

"I loved it," said Kinsey, Jefferson High's all-time leading scorer with 1,830 career points. "I liked the people and the set-up they had that had the tutors help the players."

Kinsey, who was named Florida's Class 4A player of the year, compared his style of play to an NBA star.

"I play defense and rebound," he said. "I have a good handle. I shoot the ball well. I pass pretty good. It's a Scottie Pippin style game."

Kinsey said he has no time table on when he'll make his decision.

* Morrison is a 6-5 swingman from Lakewood High School in greater Tampa, Fla.

Also a solid-shooter and driver, Morrison was named the fourth best senior in the talent rich state of Florida by a recruiting Web Site.

His list of schools is still fairly large with Auburn, Ohio State, Tulane, Oklahoma, Fresno State and New Orleans all interested.

Whoever UMass signs will join a class that already includes big men Stephen Briggs and Alassane Kouyate, guard Mike Lasme and wing forward Rashaun Freeman.

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