he University of Massachusetts men's basketball team is in the running for Taliek Brown, a 6-foot-1, 175-pound guard from St. John's Prep in Astoria, N.Y.
Brown has narrowed his choices to seven schools, including UMass, according to Insider's Report, an Internet recruiting newsletter. The newsletter's author, Russ Blake, said Brown revealed his choices at a Five-Star Camp in Honesdale, Pa. He has an in-home visit scheduled with UMass Sept. 13.
Brown will also have home visits from Connecticut, St. John's, Syracuse, Kentucky and Maryland between Sept. 9-23. UCLA is also in the hunt, but has yet to schedule a visit to Queens, N.Y.
Brown is unable to take official visits because he has yet to take the Scholastic Aptitude Test. He's scheduled to do so in October.
In college, Brown will probably be a point guard, and has interested UMass even though the point is not an immediate priority. Shannon Crooks becomes eligible this season after sitting out a year, following a transfer from St. John's.
Crooks has three years of eligibility remaining.
UMass coach Bruiser Flint cannot comment on individual recruits, but said yesterday the Minutemen will need small forwards in 2000.
"We'll have virtually no forwards left. You need a guy who can come in and play," Flint said.
Seniors Chris Kirkland and Mike Babul (each 6-7) will finish their careers this season. After this season, UMass could also lose 6-5 Winston Smith, who is a senior academically but has two years of eligibility left because he sat out as a medical redshirt in 1997-98.
Smith could choose not to return for his last year if he doesn't figure into the team's plans.
The Minutemen have been recruiting Scott Hazelton, a 6-7 forward from Lawrence. But Villanova is considered to have the inside track on Hazelton, who has also considered UMass, Syracuse, Maryland, UConn and Providence.
The next recruiting period runs Sept. 9-26, and the early signing period is in November. UMass expects to sign 6-7 Raheim Lamb of Boston English High, who has given a verbal commitment.
Elsewhere, former UMass assistant coach John Robic is interested in Cathedral High senior Mike Martin. Robic is now the coach at Youngstown (Ohio) State, and is competing with Army and several Ivy League colleges for the Panthers' forward.