KINGSTON, R.I. – With his first recruiting class at Rhode Island, head coach David Cox has signed three impact players who all bring versatile skillsets to the program.
Guard Greg Hammond and forwards Mekhi Long and Marial Mading have all signed National Letters of Intent with Rhode Island and will be part of the 2019-20 roster.
"They all bring tremendous length, athleticism and versatility to the program," Cox said. "They are also great kids. They are very coachable, and they come stock as far as their families."
The coaching staff was able to get up and down the East Coast on the recruiting trail. Hammond hails from New Orleans, while Long is a Woodstock, Va. product. Mading is a Sudanese national who grew up in Australia, played high school ball in Maryland and is currently at Springfield Commonwealth Academy in Massachusetts.
The ability to hit the recruiting trail hard for his first class was key to Cox.
"It says a couple things. One, it says I hired the right staff. Our assistant coaches did an excellent job of finding and evaluating talent," Cox said. "But it also says a lot about the program, and I have to give credit to Coach (Dan) Hurley and the seniors from the last couple years. They did so much over the last couple years to gain recognition for the program, and it has impacted our recruiting. Whether we are in New Orleans, Florida, North Carolina or the D.C. area, we have done well and people know the name Rhode Island, and they want to be a part of it."
6-5 | 190
New Orleans, La. | Sophie B. Wright
Considered by many to be the top recruit in Louisiana, Hammond is a combo guard out of Sophie B. Wright in New Orleans. He led the school to the state quarterfinals as a sophomore and the semifinals last season. A slasher in transition, Hammond plays a physical brand of basketball and knows how to get himself to the free throw line. A strong defender, he can handle the ball and is a solid shooter that defenders can not play off of. He had offers from Louisiana Tech, McNeese State, Mississippi State, Ole Miss Tulane and Richmond, among others. Hammond is rated as a 3-star recruit by both 247sports.com and Rivals.com. Hammond also is the cousin of former Rhode Island player Dinno Daniels.
Assistant Coach Ty Boswell on Hammond
"He is versatile. He is a combo guard who can play either guard position. He has good size, he is a strong passer and he is a big-time scorer. We saw him first on the Adidas circuit playing against high-level competition, top-rated guys. He stuck out because he was able play on both ends of the court. He could score, and he kept his team poised. He always played under control."
6-7 | 190
Woodstock, Va. | Massanutten Academy
Long has played with current Rhode Island freshman Tyrese Martin in the past. He was invited to the NBPA Top 100 Camp held at the University of Virginia over the summer. He considered playing for Virginia Tech, USF and VCU, also had offers from Kansas State, Murray State, FIU, St. John's, George Mason and several others as well. An athletic wing, Long was the first verbal commit of the recruiting class. He received a three-star rating from ESPN, Rivals.com and 247sports.com.
Assistant Coach Kevin Sutton on Long
"We are extremely excited to have Mekhi join us here at Rhode Island. He is a very versatile player, a swiss army knife who can play multiple positions. His versatility is one of the most valuable things he brings to the table. He has played in the Washington, D.C. area in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference, which is arguably the best high school basketball conference in the country. So he has competed at a high level. He also competed at a high level on the AAU circuit with D.C. Premiere.
"He has a tireless work ethic and he will fit our culture here very well. This is a great kid from a great family. Our culture here has been built on guys who are self-driven and who want to take advantage of all we have to offer in terms of the coaching staff, and Mekhi will fit in nicely to that culture."
6-10 | 195
Hagerstown, Md. | Springfield Commonwealth Academy
At 6-10, Mading played guard for Springfield Commonwealth, despite his long frame. A Sudanese national who grew up in Australia, Mading can defend in the paint. Considered a three-star recruit by 247sports.com and Rivals.com, he had offers from Texas Tech, Houston, Hofstra, Tulane and Quinnipiac, as well as interest from Connecticut. He played AAU ball for the L&L Running Rebels.
Assistant Coach John Carroll on Mading
"The sky has no limit for Marial because of his unique body, size and length. It is all wrapped into more of a perimeter game than in the post. That's what is so unique. He long and athletic, and he plays more like a wing than a post player. His passing, ball handling and court vision are high level skills. He finishes around the basket offensively in so many different ways because of his length. He's not necessarily a shot blocker per se on defense, but he is able to affect a lot of shots because of his length. He is a great passer. He has tremendous vision and he is a very good ball handler, but he passes the ball at an elite level for a big man. His ability to see the open man and get the ball to them impacts the game. This is a kid who has a chance to be special.
"The first time I ever talked with him, I thought I was talking with someone who was much older. Marial is a very mature, thoughtful, appreciative young man. I was struck by the mature way in which he carries himself."