Friday, June 29, 2007

Alumni News: Catching Up with Will Scott

Will Scott, a 6’5” guard (pictured above), played the 2004-2005 season for the Cornell Big Red before transferring to Rick Pitino’s Louisville program. Scott had a solid debut season in the Big East Conference, appearing in 31 games for the Cardinals on an average of 8.2 minutes per game. On the year Scott averaged 3.5 points per game while shooting 38% from the floor and 40% beyond the arc. He has two more years of eligibility with Louisville.

While at Cornell he averaged 4.3 points per game, appearing in 27 games for just under 10 minutes of action per game.

Pictured is Scott driving against the Syracuse Orangemen on January 27, 2007. Scott finished the game with 6 points and 3 rebounds.

Ranking the Ivy League Recruits (2nd Edition)

Cornell's incoming basketball recruiting class is led by its USC transfer, Collin Robinson, pictured here...

We decided to update our recruiting rankings from April due to the addition of a few late commitments around the Ivy League.

First, we moved Cornell up to #2 and dropped Yale down to #3 after Cornell received a commitment from the ultra-athletic junior college player, Andre Wilkins. We also dropped Princeton to #8 and moved Harvard upwards into the #7 position after the Crimson nabbed former Indiana Hoosier, Cem Dinc. We still think Cornell's Collin Robinson is the top incoming recruit in the Ivy League, while Penn's Harrison Gaines is the top true freshman recruit.

We especially love Cornell's late pick-up of Andre Wilkins. He is the Big Red's answer to Penn's Remy Cofield and Don Monckton. All three are known as good athletes with hops. Wilkins, however, may be the toughest of the three with the best vertical leap. He also brings a year of JuCo experience, having played with three other Division I recruits on his Blinn College team.

Cornell's class has as much potential to emerge as the top class as Penn's. In addition to Wilkins, Collin Robinson appears to be a future All Ivy Leaguer, while Adam Wire and Jeff Foote, are somewhat unknown quantities. The Cornell staff seem excited about both players.

Here is our ranking of incoming recruiting classes for players eligible in 2007-2008.

1. Penn
Tyler Bernardini F 6-5 189 San Diego, CA Francis W. Parker School
Remy Cofield F 6-4 205 Newton, MA Roxbury Latin School
Conor Turley F 6-7 220 La Canada, CA Campbell Hall School
Jack Eggleston F 6-7 200 Fort Lauderdale, FL St. Thomas Aquinas
Dan Monckton F 6-6 185 Glenview, IL Glenbrook South HS

2. Cornell
Jeff Foote C 7-0 210 Lockwood, NY Van Etten H.S./St. Bonaventure
Adam Wire F 6-6 Pincrest, NC Pinecrest HS
Aaron Richardson-Osgood F/C 6-9 Overlake, WA The Hill School (PA)
Collin Robinson G 6-0 170 West Covina, CA Diamond Bar HS/USC
Andre Wilkins F 6-4 210 Toronto, CAN Emery C.I./Blinn J.C.

3. Yale
Porter Braswell G 6-0 Lawrenceville, NJ Lawrenceville School
Mike Sands F 6-7 210 Franklin Square, NY H. Frank Carey HS
Garrett Fiddler F 6-9 210 Colorado Springs, CO Doherty HS
Raffi Mantilla G 6-3 Mundelein, IL Mundelein HS

4. Columbia
Asenso Ampim
F 6-7 240 London, U.K. The Groton School (MA)
Zack Crimmins C 7-1 Arlington, VA Bishop O'Connell HS

5. Brown
Jelani Floyd
F 6-7 205 Chicago, IL Phillips Academy (MA)
Evan Schmidt C 7-0 240 Chesterton, IN Valparaiso HS
Peter Sullivan
F 6-5 Chicago, IL Loyola Academy
Chris Taylor
F 6-7 200 Plymouth, MN Wayzata HS
Adrian Williams
G 6-1 180 Atlanta, GA Wheeler HS
Sean Kane
G 6-4 180 Carmel, IL Carmel HS
Morgan Kelly
C 6-9 220 Rockaway, NY Archbishop Molloy HS
Garrett Leffelman G 6-4 Westchester, IL St. Joseph HS

6. Dartmouth

Matt Chisick
F 6-7 210 Carmel, NY Canterbury School (CT)
Ronnie Dixon G 5-11 Danville, IL Phillips Exeter Academy (NH)
John Marciano
C 7-0 265 Roselle Park, NJ Roselle Park HS
Clive Weeden
F 6-9 215 Stow, MA Northfield Mount Hermon School

Adam Demuyakor
F 6-5 210 Suwanee, GA North Gwinnett HS
Kyle Fitzgerald
G 6-5 175 Red Bank, NJ Red Bank Regional HS
T.J. Carey
G 6-2 165 Oyster Bay, NY St. Dominic HS
Cem Dinc F 6-10 250 Germany, Indiana Univ./Marshalltown C.C.

8. Princeton
Jason Liberman
F 6-5 200 Roslyn Heights, NY Roslyn HS
Bobby Foley
G 6-4 Richmond, VA Mills Godwin HS
Kareem Maddox
F 6-6 Oak Park, CA Oak Park HS
Dan Mavraides
G 6-1 San Mateo, CA Phillips Exeter Academy (NH)


1. Collin Robinson G 6-0 170 CORNELL
2. Harrison Gaines G 6-1 175 PENN
3. Tyler Bernardini F 6-5 189 PENN
4. Porter Braswell G 6-0 YALE
5. Mike Sands F 6-7 210 YALE

Alumni News: Andrew Naeve

Andrew "Big Game" Naeve (Cornell '07), had 8 points and 4 rebounds on June 27th in a Iowa Prime Time Summer League game, helping Team Jill Armstrong defeat Dan Wiese Marketing 102-91. Naeve's team is 4-0 in summer league play.

Naeve was a 2nd Team All-Ivy League selection in 2006-2007. He averaged 10.5 points and 7.6 rebounds per game his senior year and received a B.S. in Applied Economics and Management from Cornell's College of Agriculture & Life Sciences, the "host college" of Cornell's Business School.

It is not clear yet as to whether Naeve will pursue a basketball playing career overseas or if he will enter the business world. Should he choose the latter, he should be proud to know that Newsweek ranked Cornell the 10th best Undergraduate Business Program in the United States while U.S. News & World Report ranked Cornell #11 nationally for undergraduate business programs.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Cornell Athletics 55th in the Nation/Top In Ivy League

Cornell athletics has announced that Cornell finished first among the Ivy League schools in the final U.S. Sports Academy Directors' Cup. See the press release here. The Directors' Cup is presented annually by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA), United States Sports Academy and USA Today to the best overall collegiate athletics programs in the country. The Big Red finished 55th overall among the 289 Division I schools that earned points this past season, tallying 369.5 points to finish ahead of schools such as West Virginia, Boston College, Miami (Fla.), Kansas and Syracuse. The U.S. Sports Academy Directors' Cup was developed as a joint effort between the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) and USA Today. Points are awarded based on each institution's finish in up to 20 sports - 10 women's and 10 men's. Only sports with NCAA championships are considered.

Congratulations to all of the Cornell teams which captured titles during 2006-2007.

  • Men's Lacrosse Ivy Champs (NCAA Final Four Semifinals, #1 Final Regular Season National Ranking)
  • Women's Volleyball-Ivy Champs
  • Women's Indoor Track-Ivy Heps Champs
  • Men's Indoor Track-IC4A Champs
  • Women's Outdoor Track Ivy Heps Champs
  • Men's Outdoor Track Ivy Heps Champs
  • Wrestling-Ivy/EIWA Champs (#7 Natl. Rank USA Today, 12th NCAA Championships)
  • Sprint Lightweight Football-CSFL Champions
  • Men's Lightweight Varsity Rowing IRA National Champions

Jeff Foote Brings Size to Cornell

Jeff Foote, a low post transfer from Saint Bonaventure is listed on the Cornell basketball website as standing 7'0" and 210 lbs. Some critics have suggested that Foote was only invited as a walk-on at St. Bonaventure because of his obvious size. However, the Bonnies certainly were not limited with size during Foote's time in Olean, NY and there was no compelling need for SBU to offer him a scholarship. Picured here is the St. Bonaventure 2005-2006 team photo, Foote is #40 on the right in the back row. The picture gives a bit more perspective on Foote's size in comparison to his teammates. To the left of Foote is No. 41, David Fox, listed at 6'10"245 lbs. No. 2 is Paul Williams, listed at 6'10" 240 lbs. and is standing immediately next to Foote. Meanwhile, No. 11 is Ivan Kovacevic, listed at 6'10" 250 lbs. See our earlier story on Jeff Foote's recruiting commitment to Cornell.

Harvard Lands Indiana Hoosiers Big Man confirmed that Cem Dinc, a 6-foot-10 250 lb center from Marshalltown Community College in Marshalltown, IA has made a college decision for next season. Dinc will head to Harvard University and play for new Crimson Head coach Tommy Amaker. Dinc started his college career at Indiana University where he played in just three games back in the 2005-2006 season. Dinc averaged 10.5 ppg and 5.7 rebounds for the Marshalltown Tigers in 12 games played during 2006-2007. Dinc is a member of the Turkish National team and hails from Germany. His father is Turkish while his mother is German. "Cem has come to a decision and he is attending Harvard next season," confirmed Marshalltown head coach Brynjar Brynjarsson. Dinc had visited George Washington, Columbia and Penn before deciding on the Crimson. He is eligible to play immediatey with junior year status and two years of eligibility. He may also apply for a 5th year due to freshman year injuries.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

How Good is Collin Robinson?

When Collin Robinson announced his decision to transfer from the University of Southern California to Cornell during the spring of 2006, fans around the Ivy League certainly took notice. Of course, it is not typical for a player from the Pac 10 to transfer to the Ivy League. However, with the exception of Cornell's annual Red-White intersquad scrimmage, where the 6'0" Robinson scored 14 points, Robinson had to sit out the entire 2006-2007 season due to NCAA transfer restrictions. Accordingly, Robinson's new Cornell teammates, opponents, the fans, and the media did not really get to see what he could do in a game situation.

When Cornell toured France between May 23 and June 1, 2007, Robinson had his first opportunity to "play for Cornell." During the tour he averaged in four games s--20.5 points, 6.5 assists, and 4 rebounds while shooting 49% on FGs (31/63) and 41% (7/17) from beyond the arc. Jeremy Hartigan, Cornell's Director of Athletic Communications, described Robinson in games as, "outstanding....unstoppable, show[ed] a lot of Rucker Park in him with some ankle breaking moves." If this summer is any indication, Collin Robinson is poised for a huge first season at Cornell in 2007-08.

We previosuly posted a story on his recruitment to Cornell.

No Hartford, then Kreefer

While we projected back in March 2007 a starting five for the 2007-2008 season to include an often-injured Jason Hartford, we do believe Cornell has enough talent and size on the roster to compete for a championship even without him. Still, Cornell is hopeful it will not have to deal with an unvaibale Jason Hartford scenario.

In the event Jason Hartford remains injured (broken wrist/broken foot) or is ruled ineligible by the Ivy League due to academic requirements, look for Cornell Head Coach Steve Donahue to slide 6'7" 240 lb sophomore Alex Tyler into the starting center position, while junior 6'7" Brian Kreefer (pictured above) moves into the starting power forward position. Both players were part-time starters last season and bring good experience. Pete Reynolds, a 6'8" sophomore, would rotate in for both power forward and center off the bench until seven-footer, Jeff Foote joins the team in December as a true center. Freshman Adam Wire (6'6") and JuCo transfer Andre Wilkins (6'4"), both have the toughness, athleticism and skill set to play undersized power forward roles as well. Aaron Richardson-Osgood, a 6'9" freshman is another big body available further down the bench.

Cornell Basketball's JuCo Tradition

The recent recruiting commitment of 6’4” Andre Wilkins to Cornell University via Blinn Junior College in Texas is not the first time Cornell has recruited or signed a junior college basketball player. Since 1996, Cornell has had more than a half dozen former “JuCo” players, three of them—Ryan Rourke, Jason Hartford and Wilkins, recruited by current Cornell Head Coach Steve Donahue. Former head coach Al Walker, recruited both Eddie Samuel and John McCord, both of whom finished their careers as All Ivy League selections. Cornell's JuCo players since 1996 include:

Eddie Samuel (Pensacola FLA J.C.) (’96)
John McCord (Monroe NY College) (’97)
Greg Barratt (Univ. of Utah/Utah Valley State J.C.) (’01)
Ryan Cheesman (Utah Valley State J.C.) (’02)
Ryan Rourke (Air Force/Mesa Arizona C.C.) (’06)
Jason Hartford (Chemeketa Oregon C.C.) (’10)
Andre Wilkins (Blinn TX J.C.) (’10)

Cornell’s most recent JuCo commitment, Wilkins, will attend Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and major in developmental sociology. All three of Cornell’s undergraduate statutory/public colleges—the others the College of Human Ecology and the School of Industrial & Labor Relations-- all have a strong commitment to transfer admissions.

Wilkins is a left-handed slasher, known for his athleticism and leaping ability. He is also a physical rebounder and is strong finishing around the basket. He averaged 8.3 points and 7.5 rebounds while shooting 63 percent from the field as a freshman at Blinn, which boasted four division I recruits. He originally committed to the College of Charleston prior to enrolling at Blinn, but a coaching change altered his plans. Other schools that "offered" Wilkins out of high school included Brown (then coached by current Penn head coach Glen Miller) and Central Connecticut State. C of C lost in the Southern Conference Championship game last year, finishing 22-11 overall. Central Connecticut played in the NCAA Tournament, finishing 22-12.

Alumni News: Andrew Naeve Playing In Summer League

Andrew Naeve (Cornell '07), a 6'10" 240 lb center has been playing in the Iowa Prime Time Summer League since returning back to his home state following his graduation from Cornell. On June 18, his Jill Armstrong Team defeated Hodge Construction 112-100. Naeve finished with a respectable 12 points, 10 rebounds and 2 assists. In his second game on June 20th, Jill Armstong knocked of Deli Mart 107-81. Naeve struggled throughout the game, going 0-10 from the floor, but finished with 2 points and 3 rebounds. On June 25, Jill Armstong moved to 3-0 on the season with a convincing 104-86 win over Sportswear. Naeve finished with 4 points and 5 rebounds.

Andrew and his Jill Armstong team return to action tonight.

Pictured above, Andrew Naeve fights for a loose ball with Brandon Roy and the Washington Huskies. Roy is the reigning NBA 2006-2007 Rookie of the Year. Cornell played the Huskies on January 2, 2006.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Alumni News: Eric Taylor

Eric Taylor (class of '05), a 6'8" center is currently playing in the French N2 League with Cahors.

(Taylor, pictured above, shoots over Georgia Tech's Luke Schenscher at Newman Arena on November 23, 2003.)

Rookie Adam Wire Could Make Immediate Impact

In searching for more scouting feedback on incoming Cornell basketball recruit, Adam Wire (6'6" 210 lbs. Pinecrest N.C. H.S.), Heath Vandevender, a former Division I college basketball player and the current head coach of Trinity Christian School in North Carolina told us :

"Great kid and a very fundamental player. I have seen him play several times and he can do a lot of things well. He is a guy who fills up the stat sheet. I don't know what kind of system Cornell uses but I think Adam is a 3 in college. He can defend, rebound, very smart, and very fundamental. I am from Indiana and he reminds me of players from that state. He has had a very good HS coach to teach him the game. I think you will be very happy- not sure who else recruited him in NC, but it is their loss."

Although Wire will be competing for playing time at Cornell with a very deep and talented group of wing forwards/3s, he just may be too good for Steve Donahue not to play. But first he will have to beat out the likes of Ryan Wittman, Geoff Reeves, Andre Wilkins, Jason Battle, Conor Mullen, and Jon Jaques for minutes.

“Cornell is just a great school to go to,” Wire said. “When I went up to visit, I liked a lot about it. They made me feel comfortable from the start. Just the type of basketball they play, it sounds like I could fit in well with the system.” His head coach, Mike Apple described Wire to the Ithaca Journal as a strong all-around player who slipped under the Division I recruiting radar. An ACL injury sidelined him during his sophomore year of high school, and he transferred to Pinecrest during the middle of the 2005-06 school year from West Bend High in Wisconsin, thereby preventing him from playing two years of high school basketball.

Apple said Wire is a strong, physical player with very good passing skills who finished runner-up for the conference's Most Valuable Player award behind Jack Britt guard C.J. Williams, a North Carolina State recruit. “(Wire is) extremely strong,” Apple said. “He had to play around the basket for us, but he's certainly very capable of moving out on the wing. “The biggest thing I hate about it is I only got to work with him for a little over a year. He made our basketball program better, makes players around him better. His best basketball is in front of him.”

Wire averaged 13 points, 11.2 rebounds and about six assists and three steals per gamehis senior year. He will be playing in the N.C. East vs. West All Star Game on July 16th.

Wire's commitment was covered in the Pilot.

Alumni News: Rourke Earns 1st Team All Luxembourg Honors

At the awards banquet on June 11, 2007 for the DBBL, the professional basketball league of Luxembourg, Ryan Rourke (6'8", Cornell '06) was named First Team All-League and earned the League's "Center of the Year Award" for the 2006-2007 season.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Alumni News: Jeff Aubry, Still Getting Paid to Play

Jeff Aubry (Cornell '99), a 6’10” 260 lb. center is continuing his professional basketball career with Leones de Ponce of Puerto Rico. Prior to moving to the Puerto Rican pro league during November 2006, Aubry played with the Miami Tropics, a new team in the American Basketball Association. Best known for his rebounding and shot-blocking abilities, Aubry also played professionally in Argentina, Venezuela, Poland, Spain, Peru, and Chile. He also played for the Fayetteville Patriots in the NBA’s National Basketball Development League.

As a junior at Cornell he averaged 8.9 points, 7.0 rebounds and 2.0 blocks. As a senior, he averaged 10.5 points on 54-percent shooting, adding 8.6 rebounds and 2.4 blocks. And for his career, he shot over 50 percent and averaged 1.9 blocks. Aubry has ties to Puerto Rico - his mother was born there.

The Harvard Problem

Cornell dropped a pair of games during 2006-2007 to Ivy Champion Penn and also lost a game in a season-split series with 2nd place Yale. But one other team dealt Cornell a pair of losses.

In the end, Cornell finished the 2006-2007 season with a 9-5 Ivy League record and 3rd place finish, but the Big Red could have finished higher in the standings if not for the two painful losses at the hands of the Harvard Crimson (5-9 Ivy, 6th place).

On February 3, 2007 in Cambridge, the Crimson shocked Cornell with a 65-64 win as Evan Harris scored a winning lay-up with .8 seconds left on the clock. Harris ended the evening with a game-high 18 points and 10 rebounds for a double-double. Jim Goffredo, a senior, notched 12 points as the Crimson’s second leading scorer.

When the two teams met in Ithaca for the return game on March 2, 2007, Goffredo, pumped in 32 points, including seven 3-pointers, to lead the Crimson to a season sweep of Cornell in an 85-79 victory at Newman Arena. The game was tied at 77-77 with just over one minute left before Harvard pulled away on free throws.

It is not clear why Harvard was so successful against Cornell last year. Nevertheless, the Big Red will have to take care of business against lower division Ivy teams like the Crimson if Cornell expects to finish on top of the Ivy in 2007-2008. Fortunately, Jim Goffredo will not be back.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

The Waiting Game

Jason Hartford (#44), played most of the 2005-2006 season with a broken wrist and then later in the season, suffered a broken foot. The foot's failure to heal properly during the summer of 2006 forced the 6'9" 240 pounder to miss the entire 2006-2007 season as a medical red-shirt.

Hartford now returns to Cornell as a 5th year player and as a virtual unknown quantity around the Ivy League. If Hartford can recover in time for the 2007-2008 season opener, he could emerge as the Ivy League's premier low post player-- competing for the honor with the likes of Columbia's John Baumann and Ben Nwachuku, Harvard's Evan Harris, Yale's Matt Kyle and Princeton's Zach Finley.

During 2005-2006-- Hartford showed signs of Ivy League Player of the Year potential, scoring in double figures in eight games and scoring at least 16 points in three games. On the year, he averaged 7.7 points and 3.8 rebounds in just 19 minutes of action per game in 21 appearances, 20 of which were off the bench. He shot 56% from the floor and 12/26 from three-point territory, making him a multi-dimensional threat to defenses.

For right now, Cornell can only wait and see if Hartford's foot heals enough to allow him to play healthy in the upcoming year.

Cornell vs. Penn (2006-2007)

The road to the Ivy League Championship in 2007-2008 goes through the defending champs, the Penn Quakers. We now look back at the Big Red's frustration with the Quakers during 2006-2007.

In their first meeting on January 12, 2007, Penn knocked off Cornell 74-56 in Ithaca. See game video highlights here. The video is archived on a a Penn fan's website. On February 17, 2007, Cornell visited Penn in Philadelphia, but the Big Red unable to pull off the upset, losing 83-71. See game video highlights here of the game at Penn.

The video clips were edited to display primarily the highlights from the Penn team, but both videos (less than 10 minutes in length each), showcase some nice footage of Cornell's Ryan Wittman, Geoff Reeves, Andrew Naeve, Alex Tyler and Louis Dale.

Recruiting News: Ivies Pursue Frizzelle is reporting that 6'1" combo guard Connor Frizzelle is getting recruitment interest from the entire Ivy League, but Penn appears to be his leader. "I get calls from all the Ivy League schools, including Penn. Others are Santa Clara, Tulsa, SFA, Texas State, Indiana State, McNeese State, Lamar, Navy, and West Point (Army). Frizelle started getting the attention of college coaches this past spring with his three-point shooting. "Right now I am playing ok," said Frizelle. "I need to show more consistency and play intense all the time." Frizelle plays both the point and the two-guard, but says that the colleges that are recruiting him want to see him handle it more on the court. "I told my summer coach, Jazzy (Urban DFW Elite) that I need to play more of the one and so he has split the point guard duties. I am now handling the ball more, but Jazzy still feels that I am the team's top shooter." Frizelle transferred from Red Oak H.S. to Desoto H.S. a year ago and now sits near the top of his class. "My class rank is four out of 647 students in my class," said Frizelle. "I take all honors classes and have maintained a 5.0 grade-point average on a 5.0 scale." Frizelle says that he wants to pursue a Business Management degree and out of his recruiting list, he has found a school that has the top school in Business in the nation. "Penn is real intriguing to me, because of their Business program. I am real interested in them and their basketball program goes to the NCAA tournament every year." ranks him #66 in Texas. The site evaluation states that Frizelle can “really stroke the three either coming off the dribble or setting his feet. He can run the team with the ball in his hands and has very good court vision and will penetrate the defense and make a quick pass to the open man or pull up for a mid-range jumper. He has a very solid frame and is strong with the ball. He will get his teammates involved and is a floor leader on or off the ball.”

Andre Wilkins Arrives at Cornell Despite Obstacles

See the touching story below from about the personal background of Andre Wilkins and his recent recruiting commitment to the Cornell basketball team.

From Jane and Finch to Ivy League

After living in a tough Toronto neighbourhood, Andre Wilkins is well prepared for any challenge at Cornell

BY MICHAEL GRANGE, June 23, 2007

Andre Wilkins knows life at the intersection of Jane and Finch in northwest Toronto. He's heard the gunfire. He knows what it means to live in a place divided, where venturing to the "wrong" housing complex or crossing the street can earn you a beat down or worse. He's even been caught up in the ripple effect of crime and suspicion and been questioned by police for nothing more than being young, male and black.

But later this summer, Andre Wilkins will be leaving that behind, at least for now. The 6-foot-5 20-year-old will be enrolling at one of the most prestigious schools in North America as an eagerly anticipated addition to the basketball program at Cornell University.

His plan is to earn a degree in developmental sociology, embark on a career in teaching or social work and come right back home to help others find their path.

"It's going to be different," said Wilkins, who is preparing for the leap to Cornell with regular morning workouts at Emery Collegiate Institute and a job running the summer camps at the Christian Centre Church. "I've never been in a place where someone's mom is a doctor and someone's dad is a lawyer or whatever. But I've worked for it. It's a challenge, but I think I'm ready."

It's a sharp transition. Instead of being worried whether the colours of his clothes catch the eye of the Crips or the Bloods, the loose gang affiliations that have staked out their territories at home, he'll be playing for the Big Red in Ithaca, N.Y., knocking heads against the likes of Harvard, Yale and Princeton for Ancient Eight supremacy and a chance to play in the National Collegiate Athletic Association tournament.

It's not an athletic scholarship - Ivy League schools don't provide them - but Wilkins's academic standing (an 89-per-cent average leaving high school and a 3.5 grade-point average after a year at junior college in Texas) and economic situation qualify him for a financial-aid package worth $45,000 (U.S.) a year.

The road from Jane and Finch to the Ivy League is at the very least the road less travelled. For a basketball player, it might the road never travelled, at least that anyone can remember.

"I've had lots of good players and lots of guys go to play Division I," said Bob Maydo, who coached Wilkins at Emery Collegiate and has spent 30 years teaching and coaching in some of Toronto's toughest neighbourhoods. "But I've never had a guy go to play at an Ivy League school."

Not surprisingly as those close to him to try to reverse-engineer how Wilkins got from here to there, no one can say for sure.

The obstacles are obvious, but on reflection, some of the perceived obstacles have been opportunities, too. He grew up in a Toronto Community Housing Corp. building at 4400 Jane St., just north of Finch Avenue. But across the street was the Driftwood Community Centre, where he played as much basketball as there was to play. Not far was his church.

Enrolling at Emery meant playing for coach Maydo, who helped develop the likes of Denham Brown and Phil Dixon, two of the best players the city of Toronto has ever produced.

"How do explain Andre? I'm baffled myself," said his mother, Ermin Kelley-Wright, who works for a small publishing company while raising Andre and his younger brother, Trevon, as a single parent in recent years after splitting with Andre's father. "In a good way, he's stood on his own since kindergarten. I always got rave reports from his teachers about his work, he always did well with his school, and I got lucky because he was interested in sports and that helped and he enjoyed being involved in church and that helped and we lived across from the community centre and that helped. Everyone has done their little part."

Even some of the rougher elements have contributed to keeping Wilkins on the straight and narrow, though it's unlikely they could have imagined it would lead to a school that counts both Toronto Raptors minority owner Larry Tanenbaum and club president Bryan Colangelo as graduates.

"When I was 16 or 17, I was looking for a job," Wilkins said. "I mean, I applied for everything. I couldn't get a job at McDonalds. I thought about [street life] for like a day, it's tempting sometimes. You look at the money the clothes, the cars. But for all you might get in a week, in five years you might be in jail or worse. It's not worth it."

He's not sure they would have him anyway. "They [the gang element] see what I'm about and what I'm doing and they tell me to keep doing what I'm doing," he said. "They tell me that they want to get out of [the life] and they can't because they can't get a job or they have a kid. That encourages me also."

But it's hard to avoid trouble some times. He's familiar with Junior Cadougan, another talented player from the neighbourhood. Two summers ago, Cadougan's brother Shaquan, who was 4, was wounded in a drive-by shooting. Just this week, two teenagers were shot while playing basketball at an outdoor court just south of where Wilkins lives.

The death of 15-year-old Jordan Manners - gunned down in the hallway of his high school - has turned the temperature up even more.

In the aftermath of the shooting on May 23, Wilkins was standing in front of his building - his official visit to the leafy campus at Cornell just weeks behind him - when he was asked for his identification by police. Not having it on him, he was accompanied to his apartment so he cold produce it to their satisfaction.

"I understand they have a job to do and they're trying to calm things down, but I'm not sure why it took four officers to escort me to my house to get my ID," Wilkins said. "It was embarrassing to be seen that way. It's been non-stop lately. It's happened three or four times since. Not every young black male fits the description of a young black male, you know?"

In reality Wilkins fits almost no easy categories. His high-school coach's scouting report goes something like this: "He has standards, he has morals, he has empathy, he's honest. He's intelligent.

"He stands out," Maydo said. "I remember when he was in Grade 9 we got tickets to a Raptors game, but he wouldn't go because it conflicted with church. We got tickets again and he turned them down because he was tutoring a kid in Grade 4. I don't care what neighbourhood you're from, you don't meet kids like that very often."

For all those reasons and his rim-rattling athleticism - standing more than 20 feet from the basket, he's only two dribbles and a blink of an eye from an authoritative dunk - the people at Cornell are as happy to have Wilkins on their campus in the fall as he is to be there.

"Almost all of the guys in the program come from very modest backgrounds and receive some form of financial aid," said Steve Donahue, who is entering his 18th season coaching Ivy League and eighth at Cornell. "We don't have a lot of what I call three-car garage guys. But Andre's a little different because he comes from an extremely rough background and has made it on his own. I want him at this university because he deserves it, but I want him here because the university needs guys like him here, too."


Wilkins at a glance

Age: 20.

Position: small forward.

Major: developmental sociology, Cornell University.

Motto: "I look to myself as a thermostat, not a thermometer. A thermostat sets the temperature and I have to look at myself as someone who sets the trend. I cannot be a thermometer, which goes up and down with the temperature."

Friday, June 22, 2007

Cornell Scheduling Fall Scrimmages

Adam Gore and the Cornell Big Red may get some game-situation competition on October 27, 2007. Cornell is looking for a scrimmage partner on Oct. 27th and the program has notified potential opponents that the Big Red are willing to go on road, within 4 hours of Ithaca. Last year Cornell scrimmaged the Naval Academy and a Division II school in preparation for the season opening win over Northwestern.

Alumni News: Cody Toppert ('05) Playing in Portugal

While searching for another story, we found an interesting marketing video for Cornell alum, Cody Toppert (Class of '05). Toppert played briefly in the NBA's Developmental League (NBDL).

Toppert was Cornell head coach Steve Donahue's first recruit signing after taking over the Cornell program in 2000. reports that Toppert played last season with Barreirense (Portugal). See a scouting report on Toppert here.

Recruiting News: New England Point Guard Considers Cornell

Sam Leclerc, a 6-foot-1 rising senior point guard out of Winthrop High in Maine, told that he is receiving recent interest from Maine, New Hampshire, Columbia, Cornell, Harvard and George Mason. Leclerc will play AAU basketball for MBR in July and will head to Orlando at the end of the month. New England Recruiting Report ranks him #46 in the class of 2008 in the region and #3 in Maine. Take a look at our Cornell and Ivy League Basketball Recruiting Update here.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

The Top 144 ranks and previews the Top 144 teams in the nation and releases one ranking and preview per day leading up to the opening of the 2007-08 college basketball season. The countdown begins at the end of June!

Alumni News: Rourke Plays in Experimental Game

Ryan Rourke (Cornell '06) appeared yesterday in front of 1,000 fans in an experimental modified rules basketball game at the University of Washington. Among those organizing the event were legendary basketball instructor Pete Newell, Jim Harrick, the former UCLA coach and Lorenzo Romar, the current Washington coach. See the story on

The 6'8" Rourke averaged 8.6 points and 4.3 rebounds for the Big Red as a senior, but struggled from the field with a 40% shooting average. As a junior, he averaged nearly identical stats, finishing with 8.6 points and 4.2 rebounds per game, while shooting 37% from the floor. Rourke trasferred to Cornell from junior college, playing his sophomore year at Mesa CC in Arizona, coached by former NBA player Alton Lister.

A skilled ball-handler for his size, Rourke struggled finishing his shots during his two years at Cornell and was pulled by Steve Donahue from the starting line-up for three games during his senior year for motivational purposes. Praised as having a "good personality," many close to the program felt that Rourke underachieved in his two years for the Big Red.

Rourke is currently playing professionally in Luxembourg.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Cornell Basketball '07-'08: A Melting Pot of Talent

Louis Dale (#12 pictured) will find himself in the familiar role of starting point guard in 2007-2008. But this year, he will be surrounded by a whole bunch of new faces...

When you sit back and think about it-- the 2007-2008 version of Cornell Big Red basketball is a combination of three distinct groups of players. First you have a pair of guys that played for the 2005-2006 team, neither of which competed the following year due to medical red-shirts. Both Jason Hartford (6'9" Sr.) and Adam Gore (6'0" So.) were among the team's top four scorers during 2005-2006, Gore (12.9 ppg) leading the team in points and in the process, earning the Ivy League Rookie of the Year and 2nd Team All Ivy League honors. Meanwhile, Hartford (7.7 ppg) was tabbed by as a member of the All-Ivy Reserve Team. Gore and Hartford were also the team's top returning scorers for the 2006-2007 season before their "preseason" injuries.

While Hartford and Gore sat on the bench during 2006-2007 recovering, Ryan Wittman (6'6" So.) and Louis Dale (5'11" So.) took over as the team's top two scorers as just freshmen. Wittman (15.6 ppg) finished the year as the Ivy League's Rookie of the Year and 2nd Team Team All Ivy League while Dale (13.3 ppg) finished as an All Ivy League Honorable Mention selection. During the upcoming year, Gore, Hartford, Dale and Wittman will finally have the opportunity to play together on the same floor.

But the story is even more further complicated by a third distinct group added to this mix of players- the newcomers. This third group includes both true freshmen and transfers. The freshmen include Adam Wire (6'6") and Aaron Richardson-Osgood (6'9"). While the rookies are not expected to contribute right away, the transfers are intended to join the playing rotation of regulars. The transfers include Collin Robinson (6'0" So.) via USC, Jeff Foote (7'0" So.) via St. Bonaventure and Andre Wilkins (6'5" So.) via Blinn Junior College.

Heading into the 2007-2008 season, Head Coach Steve Donahue knows he has more talent that he has ever had in Ithaca. He just has to find a way to keep his players healthy and get them to play together as a cohesive unit.

Ithaca Journal 2006-2007 Athletics Review

The Ithaca Journal's review of the 2006-2007 athletic year makes reference to Khaliq Gant's incredible recovery. See the story here.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Alumni News: Naeve to Play in Iowa Summer Basketball League

The is reporting that 6'10" Andrew "Big Game" Naeve, will play in the Prime Time Summer League in Iowa City, Iowa this summer now that he has graduated Cornell. The league boasts a collection of current and former college players from Iowa area schools. Naeve's team includes 6'8" current Iowa Hawkeye, Cyrus Tate.

Can Cornell Stay Healthy?

Alex Tyler (33) and the Cornell Big Red want to raise a championship banner in 2007-2008. But to do so... they need to stay healthy.

ESPN’s prediction that Cornell will win the 2007-2008 Ivy League championship and advance to the NCAA tournament is not absurd, at least not on paper. Cornell has the talent and the personalities to make Ivy League history. However, the Big Red's chances of turning the dream into a reality are largely predicated on the health of the team, a systematic problem in Ithaca over the last several years. Despite finishing the 2006-2007 season with a 16-12 overall record and 9-5 mark in the Ivy League, both the program's best since the 1992-1993 season, Cornell was the most injured team in the conference.

Among Cornell's returning players for the upcoming 2007-2008 season, five missed one or more games during last season due to injury or sickness. Moreover, each of the five is expected and needed to play pivotal roles in Cornell's run for the Ivy crown this year.

The first to go down was Jason Hartford, the 6’9” Sr. Center who missed the entire 2006-2007 season due to a broken foot. Hartford also did not make the team's trip to France during May and was not expected to play in any of the games against the international competition. At this time it is still not clear whether Hartford is in playing condition. However, Cornell is relying on Hartford to fill the starting center spot in place of graduated Andrew Naeve. By the second game of last season, Cornell also lost Adam Gore, a 6’0” So. Guard. Gore missed 27 games during 2006-2007 due to a knee injury suffered at Northwestern. While Gore did make the team's trip to France, he sat out of competitive action. Gore is expected to play the team's 6th man role this season and serve as the bench's top scorer and energizer. He is also one of the team's best perimeter shooters and Cornell is hoping for a one hundred percent recovery from his knee injury. Another key injury was to Alex Tyler, a bruising 6’7” So. Center/Forward who missed four games during early 2006-2007. He also struggled with an ankle injury suffered during the spring and was only able to play limited minutes during the team's tour in France. Tyler is slotted to start at power forward next season and could also see minutes at center. Also with an injury history in a Big Red uniform is Geoff Reeves, a bouncy and athletic 6’5” So. Guard/Forward. He missed 11 games due to a back sprain and a virus last year. Fortunately, he is currently healthy and is expected to play back-up small forward as well as shooting guard. Another recent victim to the injury bug is Jason Battle, the team's defensive specialist. Battle, a 6’4” Jr Guard/Forward, missed one game during 2006-2007, but was also forced to miss the team's trip to France in May due to a sickness. Finally, Louis Dale, arguably Cornell's top player, a 5’11” So. Guard, attended the team’s trip to France, but was unable to play due to a back sprain.

Cornell will need the health of its entire roster, plus a bit of luck if the team expects to be dancing this March in the NCAA tournament.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Hartford Center Looks to Ivies for Transfer

Vincent Aldevinge, a 6'11" 220 lb. center, originally from Sweden, is transferring from the Hartford Hawks. Jeff Goodman of Fox Sports reports that Aldevinge is speaking with Ivy League schools as a potential transfer destination. As a freshman at Hartford, Aldevinge only appeared in 8 games for a total of 34 minutes on the season. He had 1 point, 1 rebound and 2 blocks in a season high 13 minutes against Cornell on November 28, 2006.

It would not surpise us if he ended up at Penn. Aldevinge played on the Under-20 Swedish National Team with Penn's Andreas Schreiber. Moreover, Hartford's head coach, Dan Leibovitz is a 1996 graduate of Penn.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

"The" Cornell Point Guard

Our pick for Cornell's Preseason Most Valuable Player is rising sophomore Louis Dale, a 5'11" 177 lb. point guard. Although Dale's stature is smallish in size, his impact on a game is not matched by any other player in Ivy League.

As a freshman last season, Dale tallied 13.4 points per game (12th in the Ivy League) while hitting 44% from the floor (10th in the Ivy League). Extremely consistent, Dale scored at least 11 points in 12 of the 14 Ivy league games during 2006-2007. His scoring total (372 points) ranks second all-time among freshmen at Cornell. But what makes Dale so special on the floor is his leadership and cool and collected demeanor. This is why as a coach, he is the guy you want with ball with only 10 seconds left on the clock. He has that uncanny ability to find the extra gear shift that allows him to blow by his defender off the dribble and find the gaps down the lane. If he does not score the lay-up, he will usually draw some contact and get the foul call (he is a 79% free throw shooter-- so forget Hack-A-Shaq strategies). Frustrated defenses also can't afford to play off him either as he is a deadly 45% shooter from beyond the three-point arc (6th in the Ivy League). Beyond scoring the ball, Dale also creates scoring situations for teammates as he dished 3.7 assists per game last year (3rd best in the Ivy League).

As a high schooler, Dale won the Alabama high school state tripple jump championship and and placed second in the long jump. His leaping ability and quickness in the defensive backcourt enabled him to pull down an incredible 5.3 rebounds per game last year (9th in the Ivy League). Not surprisingly, Dale's all-around game earned him All Ivy League honors at the conclusion of the 2006-2007 season.

While Collin Robinson (6'0" Soph) and Adam Gore (6'0" Soph) are more than capable of running the point guard position, both are more suited playing off the basketball as shooting guards. This leaves Dale as Cornell's lone true point guard on the roster-- and the Big Red's success or lack thereof, will largely depend upon how far Dale carries the team.

Columbia and Dartmouth Announce Recruits

In recent days, both Columbia and Dartmouth have officially announced their 2007-2008 incoming recruits. Cornell has yet to release its group of newcomers.

Columbia announced the following two recruits:
  • Zack Crimmins 7-0/220 Falls Church, Va./Bishop Denis O’Connell
  • Asenso Ampim 6'7"/240 Accra, Ghana/Groton School (Mass.)
Columbia's need was to recruit frontcourt players to replace Ben Nwachukwu and John Baumann, both set to graduate in May 2008. The Lions did not find immediate impact types, but they did find a pair of recruits with potential and very high ceilings. Crimmins is long, but is still growing into his body and developing coordination. He is expected to be a long term project, but could evolve into a good shot-blocker. Ampin has great size and athleticism, but is still raw in skill. Since Columbia returns every member of last year's team, don't expect to see any of the newcomers on the floor this season for signifcant minutes.

Dartmouth's incoming class includes:

  • Matt Chisick F 6'7" 210 Carmel, N.Y./Canterbury School (Conn.)
  • Ronnie Dixon G 5'11" 170 Danville, Ill./Phillips Exeter (N.H.)
  • John Marciano C 7'0" 265 Roselle Park, N.J. H.S.
  • Clive Weeden F 6'9" 215 /Stow, Mass./Northfield Mt. Hermon (Mass.)
Dartmouth finished last season 4-10 in the Ivy League and graduated Leon Pattman, arguably the program's best player in the last five years. Essentially, the Big Green needed to recruit the best talent available in virtually every position area. Weeden is a blue collar hardworking rebounder and defender and could help out immediately as Dartmouth has struggled finding cosistency and toughness from their power forwards and centers. Marciano will be the Ivy League's biggest player, but still has to grow into his body and develop coordination. He turned down a scholarship offer from Fairleigh Dickinson to play at Dartmouth. Dixon was a role player on a talented New England prep school team, but has the playmaking ability to contribute right away.

Cornell could see as many as eight new faces on the Big Red's active roster for 2007-2008 . They include:
  • Adam Wire 6'6" Freshman Pinecrest N.C. H.S.
  • Aaron Richardson-Osgood 6'9" Freshman Redmond WA Hill School Pottstown PA
  • Jeff Foote 7'0" Sophomore Lockwood, NY Van-Etten HS/St. Bonaventure University
  • Andre Wilkins 6'5"Sophomore Toronto CA Emery HS/Blinn Junior College TX
  • Collin Robinson 6'0" Sophomore Diamond Bar CA HS/University of Southern California
  • Adam Gore 6'0" Sophomore Monrovia IN HS (Medical Red-Shirt)
  • Jason Hartford 6'9" 5th-Senior Tillamook OR HS/Chemeketa C.C. (Medical Red-Shirt)
  • Shawn Oliverson 6'11" Sophomore Preston ID HS (Mormon LDS Mission)