RI basketball players, NCAA tournament coaches

PROVIDENCE — Like four years ago, two men’s teams from Rhode Island will represent the state in the next version of March Madness.

Providence and Bryant both heard their names called on Sunday night. The Brothers and Bulldogs have won general and automatic selections respectively and will reach the road to the NCAA Tournament this coming week.

Buffalo and Dayton will be home for each club by late Tuesday night. Bryant takes on Wright State Wednesday while Providence partners with South Dakota State Thursday. The Bulldogs replace the University of Rhode Island, who reached the 2018 edition with the Friars as the Atlantic 10 regular season champions.

“We’re setting up for the city,” said Providence guard AJ Reeves. “We’ve got us and Bryant in it – it’s a big moment. Come experience it with us. Come share it with us.”

No less than half a dozen other coaches or players with ties to Rhode Island made it into the 68 squad.

Erickson Bans, Bryant University

Shea High School, Pawtucket, RI

They include Bryant guard Erickson Bans, the former Shea High star and the all-time leading scorer in Interscholastic League history. Bans came off the bench for minutes in each of the Bulldogs’ three Northeast Conference wins last week.

“I’m so proud of Bryant and (coach Jared Grasso) and the job he and his team have done,” Providence coach Ed Cooley said Sunday night. “And for the school, and for the recognition from the state of Rhode Island – for both of us to play on this national stage, they should be really proud.”

Andrew Fonts and Luke Fonts, Providence College

Portsmouth Abbey School, Portsmouth, RI

Providence features crossing guards Andrew Fonts and Luke Fonts, a Portsmouth native pair. They are the first pair of brothers to play for the Brothers in 70 years.

Providence College coach Ed Cooley

Central High, Providence, RI

Cooley, of course, is a native of the city who played at Central High during his days of preparation.

Cooley was named Big East Coach of the Year, the first leader of the Brethren to receive the honour. His milestones this season – 300 career wins, 200 wins with the Friars to surpass Dave Gavitt and 100 league triumphs.

A Coach’s Dream:For Providence’s Ed Cooley, Big East basketball regular season wins a dream come true

David Duke Jr.:He has not forgotten his providential roots while living his dream in the NBA

Dan Hurley, UConn coach

Former University of Rhode Island coach

The brothers will see familiar faces from the Big East and upstate in Buffalo.

Connecticut has been drawn to face New Mexico State in West Region action at the KeyBank Center — the Huskies are led by former University of Rhode Island coach Dan Hurley. Rams transfer Tyrese Martin is a key part of the UConn roster while former assistant coaches Tom Moore and Luke Murray are joined on the bench by former goalkeeper Eric Youncofski and video staff member Tripp Doherty.

UConn coach Dan Hurley's previous training stop was the University of Rhode Island.

Justin Mazzulla, Vermont

Bishop Hendriken, Johnston, RI

The Huskies could meet Vermont in the second round if the Catamounts are capable of creating an upset against Arkansas. Justin Mazzulla has started Vermont’s last 24 games, a transfer from George Washington and former Gatorade State Player of the Year to Bishop Hendriken. Mazzulla shot 58.9 percent from 2-point range in conference and had a top-20 steal rate in America East.

Who are you going to choose? :ESPN’s Jay Bilas predicts Vermont will upset Arkansas basketball in NCAA Tournament

Justin Mazzulla of Vermont is a Rhode Island native and former Bishop Hendricken Gatorade Player of the Year.

Tyler KolekMarquette

St. George’s School, Cumberland, RI

Another state standout guard plays a true college basketball blue blood in his first game. Originally from Cumberland Tyler Kolek and Marquette speak against North Carolina on Thursday afternoon in Fort Worth. Kolek reached the Ryan Center with the Clippers, prepared for St. George’s and was named Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Year in George Mason before take the next step with the Golden Eagles and new coach Shaka Smart.

Make a name:Tyler Kolek felt good that Marquette beat West Virginia. So he sang “Take Me Home, Country Roads”.

Continued:Cumberland native Tyler Kolek is a perfect fit for Marquette University

Colgate's Keegan Records spent his prep days with his hometown South Kingstown Rebels and St. Andrew's in Barrington.

Keegan Records, Colgate

St. Andrew’s, South Kingstown, RI

Keegan Records, from South Kingstown, is making his second consecutive appearance in the event with Colgate, which has become the powerhouse program of the Patriot League. The Raiders have reached March Madness in three of the last four seasons and have drawn Wisconsin to their home state — that tip of the Midwest region is Friday night in Milwaukee. Records spent his prep days with his hometown Rebels and St. Andrew’s, becoming one of the best 2-point shooters and rebounders in the nation.

The state of South Dakota, the parenthesis breaker? :Pundits weigh in on NCAA Tournament game between South Dakota State and Providence: ‘Most upset pick ever’

Rick Barnes, Tennessee

Former Providence College Coach

Tennessee won an SEC Tournament title and the No. 3 seed in the South Region behind former Providence coach Rick Barnes. This is his fourth playoff series with the Volunteers and 26th overall between the Brothers, Clemson and Texas. Tennessee opens play Thursday afternoon against Longwood in Indianapolis.

Jacob Toppin played for URI in the 2019-20 season.  He left URI for Kentucky.

Jacob Toppin, Kentucky

Former University of Rhode Island player

Another player who showed promise in the market is now high on the rotation of another SEC powerhouse. Jacob Toppin left URI for Kentucky at the end of his only season in Kingston. Toppin followed that 2019-20 season with the Rams by becoming a fringe NBA prospect with the Wildcats, who face Saint Peter’s on Thursday night in Indianapolis.

Marcus Santos-Silva, Dana Tate and Jyare Davis

Three transfers with local ties reached the event in their new homes —– Marcus Santos-Silva, Dana Tate and Jyare Davis. Santos-Silva is a Taunton native who started at VCU and is now adjusting to Texas Tech. Tate started his career at URI, failed to stay at Siena, and ended up at Norfolk State. Davis was the Colonial Athletic Association Rookie of the Year with Delaware — his home state school — after spending a year battling injury with the Brethren.

bkoch@providencejournal.com

On Twitter: @BillKoch25

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