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Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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Sunday / February 25.
  • PISCATAWAY, N.J. — When Deshawn Freeman found out that Eddie Jordan had been fired as the Rutgers coach last March, he considered his options.

    The 6-foot-7 Freeman might have transferred from Rutgers had it not been for one man: Greg “Shoes” Vetrone.

    Vetrone, who received the nickname “Shoes” as a small child from his older cousins, had recruited Freeman to Rutgers, coming with Jordan to the family home in North Carolina to meet his mother, Renne Freeman. Deshawn’s future hung in the balance after Jordan was fired and he might well have transferred had Vetrone departed.

    “Probably and I don’t think just me overall, I think the other guys Shoes recruited [would have left],” Freeman told me in advance of Rutgers’ season-opener on Friday night against Molloy at the RAC. “Me, Corey [Sanders], Jonathan [Laurent], other guys, we just thought about it.”

    Felipe Haase, a 6-foot-10 center from Miami (FL) Christian, committed to South Carolina after taking his official visit to the school last weekend. He will sign a Letter of Intent on Thursday.

    A native of Chile, he also considered Pitt, Purdue and Missouri.

    “I’m very excited to sign my Letter of Intent today with South Carolina,” he said. “It’s been a longtime dream of mine to play NCAA college basketball. I’m very fortunate to be in this position. I want to thank the University of Purdue, Pittsburgh, Missouri for all their efforts in recruiting me. I want to thank my mentor Art Alvarez, and my high school coach Juan Cardona. I want to also thank my home country of Chile for all the support you have provided me over the years.”

    Haase is South Carolina’s third commit, following 6-7 small forward Ibrahim Doumbia and 7-foot center Jason Cudd.

    Blair Academy coach Joe Mantegna is in his 18th season at the New Jersey prep power, and has won over 300 games.

    He has coached future NBA players Luol Deng and Charlie Villanueva.

    But he never had a team with a quartet of players sign National Letters of Intent. Until Wednesday.

    Forward Deng Gak (Miami), point guard Matt Turner (Santa Clara), wing Anthony Mack (Wyoming) and stretch-four Zach Kent (Tennessee) all signed at the school.

    “I think it’s a lot of credit to Coach Mantegna for getting us all prepared,” said the 6-foot-4 Turner, who also considered Pittsburgh, Seton Hall and Virginia Tech. “It shows how confident our team is and we’re all very excited for the season.”

    Zach Brown, a consensus-four star prospect with a troubled background, signed a National Letter of Intent to St. John’s on Wednesday.

    A 7-foot-1, 260-pound center from Miami, Brown is one of the highest-rated players in the class of 2017, checking in at No. 36 overall and No. 7 at his position in the ESPN Top 100 rankings. Brown competed at both the Nike Elite One Hundred camp and Nike Basketball Skills Academy, which featured the top prospects in the country. He is among the highest-rated recruits to sign with St. John’s in recent history.

    Brown was also arrested in Miami in May on multiple robbery charges; two of the charges were eventually dropped while a third remains pending. He committed to St. John’s in July after initially pledging to UConn.

    “We are excited to welcome Zach to our basketball family,” said St. John’s head coach Chris Mullin. “He can have an immediate impact on our team as he gives us another big target in the post and elite rim protector. We are supportive of Zach as he works toward his goals on and off the court, and believe that our basketball program and university can provide him with the resources to be successful.”

    Former Indiana point guard Yogi Ferrell made his NBA debut on Wednesday night when the Nets lost to the Knicks, 110-96, at Madison Square Garden.

    With Jeremy Lin expected to miss two weeks with a left hamstring strain and Isaiah Whitehead sidelined with a concussion, the Nets signed Ferrell from the Long Island Nets, their D-League team.

    Ferrell, generously listed at 6-feet, finished with 5 points on 2-of-3 shooting with 3 assists.

    The Nets also waived former Maryland guard Greivis Vasquez.

    The 6-foot Ferrell originally signed with Brooklyn on Aug. 5 and appeared in three preseason games with the Nets, recording averages of 4.3 points and 1.7 assists in 9.6 minutes per contest. The Indiana native was waived by the team on Oct. 21.

    HILLSIDE, N.J. — With five players headed to high-major Division 1 programs, Marcus McClary knows there’s only one acceptable ending for The Patrick School this year.

    Led by legendary former coach Kevin Boyle, the school won five Tournament of Champions titles as St. Patrick’s (1998, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009), but is seeking its first since reorganizing in 2012 into a private school.

    “That’s the goal, TOC,” McClary told me Wednesday, the first day of the NCAA early signing period. “We have seven seniors. I’ve been at St. Pat’s since eighth grade so TOC that’s the only goal.”

    He added: “It will be a failed season if we don’t win it.”

    Along with the 6-3 McClary (Monmouth), 6-1 guard Jamir Harris (Minnesota), 6-9 forward Bul Ajang (Tulane) and 7-foot center Buay Koka (Tulane) all signed on Wednesday. Nick Richards, the team’s star 6-11 big man, will announce Thursday between Kentucky, Syracuse and Arizona.

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