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McGair: H.S. coach expresses optimism regarding PC prospect Ricky Ledo; Friars in good shape in pursuit of JUCO big man Sanchez

April 2, 2012

Ricky Ledo

With the All-American Championship behind him and an appearance in the Jordan Brand Classic on tap for April 14, Ricky Ledo’s days of competing against fellow high schoolers are dwindling to a precious few.
Naturally, the hot button topic surrounding Ledo is whether the acclaimed prospect and Providence native will face eligibility issues in his quest to suit up for Providence College next season. Such concerns largely stem from the number of high schools (a total of four) he’s enrolled at since the fall of 2007, when Ledo attended Bishop Hendricken.
To help clarify a situation that those involved with the NCAA Eligibility Center are no doubt keeping an eye on, Ledo’s head coach at Connecticut’s South Kent exuded nothing but strong confidence when reached Monday afternoon, one day after Ledo went for 15 points on 6-of-12 shooting in the All-American Championship, a high school showcase event held against the backdrop of the Final Four in New Orleans.
“Off the court he’s got to finish up strong here (at South Kent) which I think he’s going to do,” was the picture of optimism painted by South Kent mentor Kelvin Jefferson. “He’s got to concentrate on getting his degree, which he’s on course to get.”
Jefferson reiterated his positive stance upon asked if he foresees any holdups that could prevent Ledo from qualifying. South Kent is scheduled to hold graduation exercises on June 3. The plan is to send Ledo’s final transcript off to the appropriate parties soon after receiving his diploma.
“He’s just got to finish strong and is more than capable of doing just that. He’s a bright kid and is on track to do everything he needs to do,” noted Jefferson. “We have two months left and the finish line is right in front of him. It’s time for him to concentrate on academics and make sure we can get him in a PC uniform next year.”
Jefferson tuned into Sunday’s All-American festivities and came away with a favorable impression regarding Ledo’s individual performance. Playing 20 minutes on a squad that included UConn recruit Omar Calhoun, the 6-foot-6 Ledo swished three 3-pointers to go along with four rebounds, three assists and six turnovers.
“I thought he played pretty well and actually turned down some shots that he would normally take in an attempt to get others involved,” Jefferson stated. “Even though he had more turnovers than we would have liked to see, he really did try to incorporate his teammates.”
Speaking like a basketball evangelist, Jefferson referenced several vital on-court areas that Ledo can improve upon prior to becoming property of PC and head coach Ed Cooley. “Just continue to work on his ball-handling skills, not to mention decision making. That’ll come with repetition and if he does that he can step in and be a young man who helps [the Friars] on day one.”
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Speaking with Monroe (N.Y.) College head coach Jeff Brustad, three schools remain in the biding war for JUCO big man Orlando Sanchez – Providence, St. John’s and Auburn. Visits to all three campuses are in the process of being lined up with Brustad expecting the 6-9 sophomore to render a final decision sometime over the next two weeks.
“By then school will be done and he’ll go home [to the Dominican Republic] to see his family,” Brustad said. “He’ll have all of his requirements for his associate degree done by April 15.”
If Brustad had to handicap the Sanchez Sweepstakes, the coach right now would give the edge to Providence based on the degree of intensity in which the Friars have pursued the prospect. This past season saw Sanchez post averages of 10 points and eight rebounds. In Monroe’s four games in the national junior college tournament, held last month in Kansas, he averaged roughly 10 points and 10 rebounds.
“From a comfortable standpoint, I know that Providence has been there from the get-go. Then came St. John’s with Auburn coming on as a late arrival,” says Brustad. “Providence has done a good job. (Cooley) has seen him and has a relationship with him. I guess you could say it’s not that [the Friar coaching staff] has done a better job; they’ve done a longer job. That in mind, I would think PC has the inside edge to get this done.”
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RIM RATTLERS: Regarding what kind of player the Friars are getting in point guard Ian Baker, ESPN.com senior basketball recruiting analyst Dave Telep noted that, “At the point, he was one of the top available guys in the spring. I think he can be a solid backup to [incoming PC freshman] Kris Dunn in the Big East. If he takes care of the ball and tightens up his decision making, he'll be a secondary handler and help the Friars deepen their backcourt.” … Pawtucket native Rakim Sanders snagged an invite to the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament, set for April 11-14 in Virginia. The event provides college seniors a chance to enhance their draft stock in the eyes of NBA talent evaluators. Sanders averaged 17 points and eight rebounds this past season at Fairfield, numbers that earned him first team all-conference honors.

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