Two men’s basketball recruits sign National Letters of Intent

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Nora Princiotti.

The men’s basketball team recruited two more highly-touted players, the athletics department announced Thursday, with Matt Cimino and Yuta Watanabe signing National Letters of Intent.

Cimino, the big man from Worcester Academy, posted 13.8 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1.6 blocks in his senior season as a Hilltopper. One of the top 25 centers in the 2014 recruiting class, the three-star recruit could make an immediate impact filling in for graduating senior Isaiah Armwood. With his 6-foot-10 frame and solid outside shooting skills, he will serve as a strong counterpart in the frontcourt alongside sophomore Kevin Larsen.

“Matt is a very skilled post player who can stretch the defense with his outside shooting,” head coach Mike Lonergan said in a release. “He has a nice inside-outside game and with continued hard work in the weight room he will become a very good player for us.”

Watanabe is another three-star recruit who will bring solid international experience and a smooth stroke to the Colonials lineup. Originally from Japan, Watanabe averaged 13 points and six rebounds in a 26-8 season at St. Thomas More Prep, making it to the National Prep Championship game, where he scored a team-high 25 points to cap off his first season in the U.S. Back in Japan last May, the 6-foot-8 forward played for the Japanese National Team in the FIBA East Asia Championships.

“Yuta is a very versatile player who can play several positions,” Lonergan said in the release. “He has the ball-handling and shooting abilities of a guard and the athleticism and height of a forward. We expect him to make an immediate impact for us because of his combination of skills.”

Both players will have opportunities to impact next year’s squad, though physical development is a must. Both Cimino and Watanabe are listed at only 200 lbs.

The recruits, which also includes NLI signees Darian Bryant, Paul Jorgensen and Anthony Swan, will join a team coming off a 24-9 season and trip to the NCAA tournament. The Colonials will strive to fill the holes left by the team’s leading scorer, graduate student guard Maurice Creek, and its captain, Armwood, who averaged 12.7 points and 8.4 rebounds per game.

“All five of our signees are very talented and driven, and we expect them to mesh well with our returning players to help us continue to build the program and capitalize on the success of the 2013-14 season,” Lonergan said.

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