New hoops recruits staying in Brooklyn
St. Francis and LIU Bring in Fresh Talent, Some Local, for 2016-17
A pair of local high school guards, Gianni Ford of Boys and Girls High School and Rasheem Dunn of Thomas Jefferson, are among the four new recruits who recently signed letters of intent to play for St. Francis-Brooklyn in the 2016-17 men’s basketball season.
Dunn, who committed during the early signing period, will be joined on the Terriers’ squad by Ford, just added this week during the late signing period.
Also gearing up for their first season on Remsen Street are Robert Montgomery Jr. out of Gaithersburg, Maryland and fellow forward Darelle Porter Jr. from Pittsburgh.
The foursome figures to bolster head coach Glenn Braica’s roster, which finished in a three-way tie for second place in the Northeast Conference in 2015-16, but still fell short of the Downtown school’s ultimate goal of qualifying for its first-ever NCAA Tournament in men’s hoops.
“I’m really looking forward to adding this group to our solid core of returning players,” Braica said.
“We are very fortunate to land them during the late signing period because they fit what we are looking for in terms of character and work ethic. They will help us continue to build on the level of success that we have been able to have over the last few years.”
The 6-foot-1 Ford and Dunn, who stands an inch taller than his former inter-borough hoops rival, are both coming off spectacular senior seasons, with each leading their respective schools deep into the PSAL playoffs.
Ford averaged 18.8 points per game for Boys and Girls as the Kangaroos reached the PSAL semifinals, while Dunn’s 16 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists per contest spearheaded the Orange Wave to their first city championship in 62 years, as well as a state crown.
“[Dunn] is a true winner as evidenced by his huge role in the city and state playoffs this past season,” Braica said. “He was as good a guard as there was in New York City this past year.
“[Ford] gives us a skilled guard who can really score the ball,” Braica added. “He is very good at creating his own shot and is a terrific three-point shooter. In addition, [he] is terrific at being able to generate shot opportunities for others.”
Montgomery Jr., a 6-foot-6 forward, produced 13.2 points, 10 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game at Mount Zion Prep in Baltimore, Maryland this past season.
The 6-foot-5 Porter Jr. averaged 11.5 points and shot 46.3 percent from the floor this past season at Polk Community College in Florida.
Not to be outdone by their neighborhood rivals, the LIU-Brooklyn Blackbirds announced the signing of a pair of players themselves this week.
Blackbirds coach Jack Perri welcomed Julian Batts of Irwin, Pennsylvania and Ashtyn Bradley of Fresno, Texas to Flatbush Avenue after both inked their National Letters of Intent for the upcoming campaign.
“We are excited to be able to add both [Batts] and [Bradley] during the late signing period,” Perri said. “They are two great kids that are capable of filling needs that we have going into next season.”
A point guard who played this past year for prep powerhouse St. Thomas More in Connecticut, Batts helped the Chancellors to a 31-7 record and a trip to the National Prep School Championship finals.
Prior to prep school, Batts attended Jeannette High School and starred for head coach and father Adrian Batts. He was named the 2015 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette WPIAL Class A Player of the Year.
“[Batts] is a true point guard that has a great feel for the game,” said Perri, who led the Blackbirds to the NEC Tournament semifinals a season ago. “He is always under control and plays at his own speed. He is a pass-first point guard that also has the ability to make shots when needed. He will be a welcomed addition to our backcourt.”
Bradley is a 6-3 shooting guard who averaged 25.4 points per game for Homeschool Christian Youth Association (HCYA) during his senior year.
“[Bradley] is wing scorer that has the ability to impact a game with his shooting ability,” Perri said. “As a team, we have struggled in this area the past few years and hopefully [he] can come in and be an immediate threat.”
LIU Brooklyn is expected to return four starters and 12 players overall from last season’s team, and is expected to seriously contend for its first NEC title and trip to the NCAA Tournament since the dynastic three-year championship run it had in the previous decade under Perri and former head coach Jim Ferry.
In other related LIU hoops news, the men’s squad announced that it will play host to St. John’s at Barclays Center on Dec. 11, as part of the arena’s Brooklyn Hoops Winter Festival Doubleheader.
Perennial national powerhouse Kentucky will play Hofstra in the other half of the twinbill.
“We are thrilled to welcome Kentucky back to Brooklyn for the fourth time, further establishing Barclays Center as a must-play venue for premier programs,” said Brett Yormark, CEO of Brooklyn Sports and Entertainment.
“Supporting local schools has also been a priority for our BROOKLYN HOOPS platform, and we are proud to showcase three of the area’s programs in St. John’s, Hofstra and LIU Brooklyn.”
“We are once again excited about the opportunity to play in the BROOKLYN HOOPS Winter Festival at Barclays Center this upcoming season,” added Perri.”It is an honor to be part of such a tremendous doubleheader that includes high-quality programs such as Kentucky, St. John’s and Hofstra.
“We continue to enjoy our partnership with Barclays Center, and look forward to building a greater relationship with the premier basketball facility in Brooklyn.”
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