College Sports

New England players to watch in the NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments

Elsa
Franklin's Jermaine Samuels starred at the Rivers School in Weston before heading off to Villanova.

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The NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments tip off later this week in Indianapolis and San Antonio, and the New England region will be well represented.

Franklin’s Jermaine Samuels is a senior leader for Jay Wright at Villanova, Hamilton’s Marcus Zegarowski is a go-to player at Creighton, and North Andover’s Wabissa Bede has been on point at Virginia Tech. In the women’s tournament, Wellesley’s Katie Benzan has been lights out from the beyond the arc as a grad transfer for Maryland. Former Cathedral star Masseny Kaba (Central Florida) and Newton South product Veronica Burton (Northwestern) will go head-to-head in the first round in Texas.

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Here’s a look at players with New England connections in the NCAA men’s and women’s tournaments.

Men’s tournament

Jermaine Samuels, VILLANOVA (16-6)

Franklin, MA (Rivers) — The 6-foot-7 senior forward showed a knack for scoring in the clutch last season and has been a vital part of the Wildcats rotation this season, topping out at 39 minutes in win over Creighton on March 3.

Wabissa Bede, VIRGINIA TECH (15-6)

North Andover, MA (Cushing Academy) — The 6-foot-1 graduate student has started in the backcourt in all 20 games for the Hokies this season, dishing out 29 assists over their last five games.

Up next: Florida (14-9)

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Marcus Zegarowski, CREIGHTON (20-8)

Hamilton, MA (Tilton School) – The 6-foot-2 junior guard has followed up a second-team All-American season with averages of 15.5 points and 4.3 assists while shooting 41.2 percent from 3-point range.

Up next: vs. UC-Santa Barbara (22-4)

Moses Flowers, HARTFORD (15-8)

Dorchester, MA (Thayer Academy) — A 6-foot-3 sophomore guard who was named to the America East All-Rookie Team last season, Flowers is averaging 11.6 points and 5.7 rebounds over nine games this season.

Up next: vs. Baylor (22-2)

LJ Figueroa, OREGON (20-6)

Lawrence, MA (West Oaks Academy, Odessa JC, St. John’s) — Also a member of the Dominican Republic national team, the 6-foot-6 forward has scored in double figures in 17 of his last 19 appearances. Led St. John’s in scoring in 2019-20.

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Up next: vs. VCU (19-7)

Adam Seiko, SAN DIEGO STATE (23-4)

Boston (Sierra Canyon) — The 6-foot-3 senior guard provides a spark off the bench for the Aztecs.

Up next: Syracuse (16-9)

Chris Baldwin, TEXAS SOUTHERN

Springfield, MA (Notre Dame Prep/UMass) — After transferring from UMass Amherst, the 6-foot-9 forward set career highs in points and rebounds as a junior in the 2019-2020 season.

Up next: Mount St. Mary’s (12-10)

Marcus Santos-Silva, TEXAS TECH

Taunton, MA (Vermont Academy/VCU) — The 6-foot-7 senior forward is averaging 8.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks in his first season with the Red Raiders.

Up next: Utah State (20-8)

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Josh Reaves, MOUNT ST. MARY’S

Hamden, Conn. (South Kent School)

Up next: East play-in, vs. Texas Southern

Aaron Wheeler, PURDUE (18-9)

Stamford, Conn. (Brewster Academy)

Up next: vs. North Texas (17-9).

Geo Baker, RUTGERS (15-11)

Derry, N.H. (Proctor Academy)

Up next: vs. Clemson (16-7)

Arthur Cordes, SYRACUSE (16-9)

Wallingford, Conn. (Sheehan)

Up next: San Diego State (23-4)

Akok Akok, UCONN

Manchester, N.H. (Putnam Science Academy)

Matt Garry, UCONN

Southington, Conn. (St. Paul Catholic)

Andrew Hurley, UCONN

Glastonbury, Conn. (East Catholic)

Up next: Maryland (16-13)

Tahj Eaddy, USC

West Haven, Conn. (Notre Dame High School)

Up next: Wichita State (16-5)/Drake (25-4)

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Cole Swider, VILLANOVA (16-6)

Portsmouth, R.I. (St. Andrews)

Up next: Winthrop (23-1)

Keegan Records, COLGATE (14-1)

South Kingstown, R.I. (St. Andrews)

Up next: Arkansas (22-6)

Women’s tournament

Masseny Kaba, CENTRAL FLORIDA (16-4)

Dorchester (Cathedral) — The 6-foot-3 senior forward is averaging 8.8 points and 6 rebounds with 17 blocks in 20 appearances this season.

Up next: Northwestern (15-8)

Sayawni Lassiter, FLORIDA STATE (10-8)

Dorchester (Newton North) — Her uncle, Clinton Lassiter, has built a dynasty as the Cathedral girls’ basketball coach, and the 5-foot-10 redshirt sophomore is building her legacy with the Seminoles after missing the 2019-20 season due to a knee injury.

Up next: Oregon State (11-7)

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Nirel Luogbo, MARQUETTE (19-6)

North Andover (Tabor Academy) — The 5-foot-10 sophomore guard was named to the Big East All-Academic Team last year while appearing in all 32 games for the Golden Eagles.

Up next: Virginia Tech (14-9)

Katie Benzan, MARYLAND (24-2)

Wellesley (Noble & Greenough/Harvard) — After starring at Harvard for three years, the 5-foot-6 senior guard has given the Terps a lift with averages of 13.3 points and 3.2 assists while shooting 50.6 percent from 3-point range this season.

Up next: Mount St. Mary’s (17-6)

Aliyah Boston, SOUTH CAROLINA (22-4)

Worcester Academy — The three-time Massachusetts Gatorade Player of the Year was the national freshman of the year in 2019-20. This season, the 6-foot-5 post player from the Virgin Islands is putting up 13.6 points and 11.7 rebounds per game.

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Up next: Mercer (19-6)

Veronica Burton, NORTHWESTERN (15-8)

Newton South — The 5-foot-9 junior guard had 93 steals and was named Big 10 Defensive Player of the Year while averaging 16.9 points and 5 assists.

Up next: Central Florida (16-4)

Asiah Dingle, STONY BROOK (15-5)

Boston (Archbishop Williams/Kent State) — The 5-foot-4 junior point guard dropped 20 points in the America East final to lift the Seawolves to their first NCAA Tournament appearance.

Up next: Arizona (16-5)

Amaya Finklea-Guity, SYRACUSE (14-8)

Dorchester (Noble & Greenough) — The 6-foot-4 senior center has been a mainstay for the Orange with 31 starts last season and 23 points over the program’s last three games.

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Up next: South Dakota State (21-3)

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