Cruz Pulls Trigger

You may not have heard of Jonathan Cruz, but he's a guy whose mentioned in the same breathe as LeBron James and Jerry Stackhouse - and now he's off the board.

Jonathan Cruz could have waited, but he decided that Rhode Island was the right place.

The 6-foot-7 Central Catholic (Mass.) rising senior forward committed to Jim Baron's program.

``I've been there and I like it a lot," Cruz said. "It's close to home and it's also close to most of my family in New York. The coaches have been recruiting me since I was in the eighth grade and the coach has a great reputation in graduating his players."

Cruz is somewhat of an unknown, and has been nearly non-existent on the AAU circuit after joining LeBron James and Jerry Stackhouse as the only sophomores in the history of Five-Star to win MVP honors.

He averaged 16.8 points and 15.2 boards per game this past season, but really hasn't gotten a lot of exposure. He chose loyalty over exposure and decided to play with the Mass Rivals, a small Massachusetts outfit, over Leo Papile's BABC program.

Ironically, Cruz will attend the same school as former Central Catholic star, Scott Hazelton, who just finished at URI this past season after transferring from UConn.

``He told me about the school and the coach, but he tried to stay as far from the process as possible," Cruz said of the former Central Catholic standout. ``He didn't really help me at all."

Cruz said that a few Big East schools began getting involved of late after his appearance at the Charlie Weber tournament last month and the interest has picked up of late, but it doesn't matter.

``I want to stay with Rhode Island," Cruz said. "I have a good chance to play right away and I think I can be an impact player. If I go to the ACC or Big East, I think it would take more time for me to make an impact."

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