Just more than two weeks into Dwayne Killings’ tenure as UAlbany men’s basketball head coach, the connection between Philadelphia-area products and the Great Danes is a strong one.
Paul Newman, a graduate transfer from Bucknell who grew up in Philadelphia, confirmed Friday night that he’d committed to UAlbany. Ari Rosenfeld, scouting director at Elite High School Scouting, first reported Newman’s commitment to UAlbany, which also received a commitment from another Philadelphia Catholic League alumnus earlier this week when Matt Cerruti — a graduate transfer from Division II Lock Haven — committed to join the Great Danes.
“It helped a lot,” Newman said of UAlbany’s strengthening link to Philadelphia. “Knowing people from home helps the process a lot more because you came up with them and you know their background because of that.”
Cerruti played at Archbishop Wood Catholic High School, a rival of Newman’s Roman Catholic High School where UAlbany assistant coach Matt Griffin previously served as the head coach. Griffin and Newman didn’t overlap at Roman Catholic, but knew each other since Newman would work out at Roman Catholic during his summers home from college and because John Griffin III — Matt Griffin’s older brother — helped recruit Newman to Bucknell.
Additionally, Newman counts current UAlbany guard Chuck Champion, who also grew up in Philadelphia, as a close friend.
Newman said he’d first met Killings when he was a high school player, and said he had multiple positive conversations with the coach — who had two different tours working on the coaching staff at Temple University in Philadelphia — prior to making his verbal commitment earlier this week.
“We built a good relationship,” Newman said. “Talking to him on the phone, I felt at home.”
In four seasons at Bucknell, Newman played in 96 games and made 32 starts. A 6-foot-9, 225-pound center, Newman played in all 12 of Bucknell’s games this past season, starting 10 of them and averaging 5.2 points and 4.6 rebounds in 17.2 minutes per game.
“It was a tough decision to leave,” Newman said, “but I also feel like I made the right decision because of the school I’m going to next.”
The majority of UAlbany’s roster from the 2020-21 season is currently in the NCAA transfer portal after the program’s coaching switch from Will Brown to Killings, but several of the in-the-portal players are considering staying with the Great Danes. With only one year remaining of college playing eligibility, Newman said he wants to play for a winning program in 2021-22 and trusts in Killings’ vision for what the Great Danes can be right away next season.
“My goal is to get back to ‘March Madness,’” said Newman, whose Bucknell squad made it to the NCAA tournament when he was a freshman. “I want to fulfill that dream again.”