Two former All-Western New York basketball players are headed to Division I.
Former McKinley star Mansa Habeeb is headed to the University of Idaho while former Sweet Home standout Keron Briggs is headed to South Carolina State.
Habeeb, who was a first-team All-WNY pick in both 2008 and 2009, will join the Vandals of the Western Athletic Conference as a junior this fall after helping Southeastern Iowa Community College to this year's National Junior College Athletic Association national semifinals. He averaged 12.8 points on 51.3 percent shooting along with 5.3 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.4 steals for the Blackhawks (29-8).
Briggs, a second-team All-WNY selection last year who played at prep school Evelyn Mack Academy in Charlotte, N.C., this year (there is some very amatuer video of him in action that you can find by googling his name), will sign a letter of intent at the Delavan Grider Community Center next Wednesday. South Carolina State's Bulldogs compete in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.
Very good to see that two players that many people thought had Division I capabilities find their way there even though they took a longer road (time-wise, geography-wise, everything-wise).
Many people asked me about this year's All-Western New York Class of 2011 not having Division I talent. That might be true right now, but players like Marcus Feagin of Niagara Falls (headed to Monroe Community College), Tyler Funk of Clarence (aiming to walk on at Canisius) and Aaron Nevins of Canisius (prep school is a possibility) could possibly end up taking the longer road to Division I.
That longer road is actually the more common one taken by Western New Yorkers to Division I basketball in recent years. Will Regan (Nichols to Virginia) and Jonny Flynn (Falls to Syracuse) are rarities in that they were super-early Division I committed recruits. Prep schoolers that went on to D-I include Paul Harris (Falls to Syracuse), Lazar Hayward (Traditional to Marquette), Jamal Webb (East to North Dakota) and Blake McLimans (Hamburg to Michigan). Walk-ons who have become great stories include Byron Mulkey (Niagara-Wheatfield) and Dave Barnett (East Aurora) at the University at Buffalo and Jake Houseknecht (Olean) at St. Bonaventure.
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In other basketball signing news, Buffalo native and former Sweet Home player Reggie Burke received a scholarship to NAIA school College of Central Georgia. Burke moved after his sophomore year and played his last two seasons at Strawberry Crest High in Tampa, Fla.