St. Joseph’s University coach Phil Martelli has reason to smile lately. Not only did he get a contract extension until the 2015-2016 season, he got his man when Linden’s David Bruce gave a verbal commitment to the A-10 basketball program. Bruce is yet another Jersey recruit headed to the “City of Brotherly Love” to play basketball.
Martelli first say Bruce in an open gym last September, even since then he has been on the Linden’s star radar. Oh by the way, Bruce scored 41 points in that game. Bruce’s 6’ 9” frame also helped too. He is the third Linden player in three years to earn a Division I basketball scholarship (Darrell Lampley-St. Peter’s 07, Desmond Wade-08). St. Joe’s gave Bruce his first of many Division I scholarships.
Martelli attended the Union County semi-final game against Union last year. Bruce averaged 15 points and 12 rebounds last year for the Tigers. “It is a perfect fit for David” said Linden head coach Phil Colicchio during a recent interview. “They were the first ones to offer and David is going to play for one of the top coaches in the country.”
Bruce joins DePaul Catholic guard Justin Crosgile, and 6’8” North Hunterdon power forward Carl Baptiste to round out the 2009 recruiting class. Also on Hawk Hill’s current roster are Roselle native Idris Hilliard and two former St. Anthony Friars — senior Ahmad Nivins and freshman A.J. Rogers. Nivins has the potential to land in the NBA. “I am really big on schools who come after you the hardest and they wanted him the most,” said Collichio.
Bruce is a prototype power forward and has game much like former Seton Hall forward Anthony Avent. With offers on the table, Bruce took off from the summer AAU circuit to bulk up. Playing in the A-10, Bruce will have to add mass to his 215-pound frame. Before that happens, Bruce and Linden will look to win the last season of the Watchung Conference. Linden will have their hands full with an up-and-coming Plainfield team, an athletic Elizabeth team, Irvington, and whoever else emerges in the conference.
St. Patrick senior Paris Bennett gave a verbal commitment to attend George Mason University next year. Bennett, a Linden native, also had offers from Kent State and Rider. Bennett will look to play the three at the Virginia school. He will see more playing time for the Celtics with the departure of junior Markus Kennedy, who transferred to Apex Academy in Cherry Hill.
Jim Whelan can be reached at email@example.com
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