BY: CHRIS CIRILLO & DANIEL YNFANTE
SPORTS EDITOR & STAFF WRITER
Samson Usilo seemed to have a message for Manhattan College at the Jordan Brand Classic Regional game on April 18.
Keep Steve Masiello around, and you’ll have more recruits like this.
On a night where Usilo shined despite playing against recruits going to the ACC, Atlantic 10, Big East and the Big 12, Manhattan got just a glimpse of what’s to come as long as Masiello remains as head coach.
Masiello was set to take the head coaching job at the University of South Florida when the school found that he never graduated from the University of Kentucky. Manhattan College then placed Masiello on leave, until they ultimately decided to reinstate him once he completes his degree.
Usilo had committed to Manhattan, but told reporters at the NYC Mayors Cup on March 29 that he was waiting to see what happened with Masiello before deciding if he wanted to still attend the school.
Ultimately, Usilo needed Masiello, and Manhattan College needed Usilo.
“I’m very glad that Manhattan decided to bring him back,” Usilo said. “It feels good. It’s a relief for me cause now I don’t have to worry about trying to see other schools.”
Usilo did not speak to Masiello, but he talked with teammates who also expressed their excitement for Masiello’s return.
Fellow recruit Calvin Crawford said, “Best news I’ve heard in a while. [Masiello] is a great coach and I am grateful to get a chance to play for him next year,” in a text to The Quadrangle upon receiving the news that Masiello would be reinstated.
“Everyone wanted him back,” Usilo said. “Everybody loves Masiello. He’s a great coach, and he’s a reason why I’m going there. He’s someone I know can help me with my game.”
He displayed a little bit of everything in his repertoire at the regional game, finishing with 17 points, four steals and two blocks, as his team went on to win 102-99 in overtime.
He showed explosiveness with two dunks, defensive awareness with help side steals, shooting touch with a 3-pointer, and even charisma as he hit a tough reverse layup to tie the score at 95 late in the game.
He also had two monster blocks where he displayed his leaping ability.
“Kids got springs,” said St. John’s recruit Adonis De La Rosa, a member of team white at the regional game. “I thought he was one of the guys jumping on the trampoline out there.”
Usilo was the best player on the floor in the first half, but was overshadowed by Seton Hall products Khadeen Carrington and Desi Rodriguez in the second half.
Still, the third best player on the court is a bargain for the Jaspers.
The loss of guards Michael Alvarado and George Beamon, who will both graduate, will likely open up a spot for Usilo to get minutes next season.
If that’s the case, Ed Gonzalez, head coach of Bishop Loughlin and team white at the regional game, believes Manhattan just hit the jackpot.
“Manhattan College got a steal there,” he said. “They’ve got a great player in him and he’s a great kid…I think he’s going to be a force to be reckoned with down the road.”