Recruiting roundup: COVID-19 and the NCAA ‘dead period’

UB teams navigate NCAA “dead period,” round out 2020 recruiting classes

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COVID-19 has disrupted some of UB Athletics’ normal operations but it hasn’t prevented the school’s coaches from recruiting, within the confines of the NCAA mandated “dead period,” of course.

The program’s 16 head coaches have been busy communicating with student-athletes via phone, email and social media. Some teams have filled out their 2020 classes; others still need to add one or two pieces.

Here’s a look at where things currently stand:

Men’s basketball inks top-50 JuCo transfer, still needs to fill scholarship

In mid-April, 50th-ranked junior college transfer Malik Zachery chose UB over Ole Miss and California. The Syracuse native attended Chipola College in Marianna, FL, where he made a name for himself as a true point guard with a mid-range jumper and high basketball IQ.

After putting up 8.5 points, 5.8 assists and 3.9 rebounds per-game in his freshman season, Zachery was sidelined with knee and finger injuries during his sophomore campaign. Still, he did enough during his freshman year to earn the attention of a number of mid- and high-majors.

Zachery is the second of two incoming recruits in the class of 2020, after fellow point guard Chanse Robinson committed to UB last September. Robinson is a three-star prospect from Grambling, LA, and he had more than 15 offers from mid- and high-majors.

The Bulls have filled 12 of their 13 scholarships, after Josiah Freeman was granted a release from his commitment in mid-March. Freeman later committed to Western Michigan, a Mid-American Conference rival.

Jim Whitesell and his staff can go any number of routes: they can bring in another JuCo transfer (they have offered Southwest Mississippi Community College shooting guard Goodnews Kpegeol), sign a player to a “sit one, play one” arrangement (à la current men’s players Antwain Johnson and Gabe Grant) or offer someone directly out of high school.

Women’s basketball brings in Tennessee State leading scorer

On the same day that Zachery committed to UB, leading Tennessee State scorer Jazmine Young transferred to the women’s team, filling out its 2020 recruiting class.

Young averaged 12.4 points and 3.7 rebounds per-game during her sophomore season. She also shot 81.9% from the free-throw line and recorded 20 or more points six times. She was an honor roll student at TSU, and she will be joining a crowded backcourt that already includes Dyaisha Fair, Hanna Hall and Jessika Schiffer.

Young is one of three incoming players in the class of 2020, along with Detroit native Cheyenne McEvans and Swedish native Sophia Öjhammar. McEvans held nearly 20 scholarship offers from MAC and Big East schools, and she also boasts a 4.2 GPA and was the valedictorian of her high school class. Öjhammar won a gold medal at the U17 Swedish Championship and is a “passionate defender and a relentless driver to the basket,” according to UB head coach Felisha Legette-Jack.

Wrestling brings in 10 recruits, may have more on the way

The wrestling season may have ended prematurely for a pair of UB wrestlers, but head coach John Stutzman and his staff have been hard at work to secure commitments from grapplers across the northeastern and midwestern U.S.

The club has received 10 commitments, as it looks to improve on a 9-11 record from a season ago.

Projected 174 lb. wrestler Dan Torres comes to UB from Jamestown Community College, where he was a NJCAA national runner-up and two-time Academic All-American.

Stutzman has secured the commitments of five other New Yorkers, including Albany native Caleb Svingala, a four-time New York qualifier at Maple Hill High School; Jack Marlow, a projected 141 lb. wrestler from Long Island who was a league champion; Adam Daghestani, a grappler from nearby Grand Island, who placed in the state tournament twice; Justin McDougald, a local product from Niagara Wheatfield, whose older brother, Warren, is a freshman at UB; and Jimmy Ryan, a transfer from Long Island University.

UB is also bringing in Tristan Daugherty, a four-time Illinois state placer; Jay Nivison, a two-sport athlete and a three-time Michigan state placer; Matthew Ryan, a 138 lb. grappler from Trumbull, CT; and Robbie Unruh, a 285 lb. wrestler from Exeter, PA.

Women’s soccer completes 2020 class

Women’s soccer head coach Shawn Burke has filled out his 2020 class with nine recruits from across North America, including four from Canada.

Ontario natives Payton Robertson and Emily Lazenby have both transferred to UB from the University of Memphis. They played in a combined four games for UofM, and are the only two incoming players with prior collegiate experience.

Burke also secured the commitments of Hamburg native Laura Bogner and East Aurora native Grace Kulniszewski. Bogner earned All-WNY honors as a junior and competes at the club level in the ECNL. Kulniszewski scored 120 career goals at Iroquois High School, where she helped the Chiefs to a regional championship for the first time in school history.

Wilson native Skylar Munnikhuysen was a three-sport athlete at Wilson High School, and she also starred as a forward for the Western New York Flash.

Long Island midfielder Ashley Ladner was a three-time ECNL Player to Watch and was named to the 2020 Girls IMG Top 150. In 2016, she was invited to the US Soccer Training Center.

Defender Ashlyn O’Shea was a US Soccer Training Center selection from 2014-17. She is originally from The Woodlands, TX, but she currently plays at IMG Academy, one of the top high schools for athletics in the country.

Ontario natives Alexia Cajilig and Olivia Bizzoni round out the 2020 class. Cajilig was a three-year member of Team Ontario and a member of the U15 Canadian National Team. Bizzoni was a three-time member of the Ontario Provincial Team and was an OPDL Charity Shield Champion in 2018.

Justin Weiss is the senior sports editor and can be reached at justin.weiss@ubspectrum.com and on Twitter @jwmlb1. 

JUSTIN WEISS


Justin Weiss is the senior sports editor for The Spectrum. In his free time, he can be found hiking, playing baseball or doing both at the same time. His words have appeared in Elite Sports New York and the Long Island Herald.