Cruz Headed To Quinnipiac

Cruz Headed To Quinnipiac
By Zach Smart

After weighing his transfer options, Jonathan Cruz has officially found a new hardwood home. Cruz, who had been considering New Hampshire and Boston University, signed with Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Conn., this week.

The 6-foot-7 Cruz averaged a meager 1.5 points and 1.0 rebounds in 21 games for Rhode Island as a freshman this season. Cruz, once a heavily pursued prospect who gave an early commitment to the Rams, was sold on a new coaching staff, a new crop of recruits, and the opportunity to play in the TD Banknorth Sports Center– a sizzling $52 million dollar arena that opened in January and sits over 3,500.

A versatile combo forward who starred at Central Catholic High (Lawrence, Mass.), Cruz will sit out the 2007-2008 campaign due to NCAA transfer rules.

“He could be an all-league player (here),” said Quinnipiac coach Tom Moore during a recent interview with Foxsports.com. “He’s got terrific size and is a smaller version of Caron Butler. We’re going to try and feature him in similar ways.”

Moore, who served as UConn’s associated head coach the past two seasons, has been pinpointed as a springboard for Quinnipiac’s ascension into respectability.

Quinnipiac canned Joe DeSantis in March, shortly after the Bobcats were bounced from the Northeast Conference semi-finals with a 88-69 loss at Sacred Heart. They concluded the 2006-2007 campaign with a 14-15 record, going 11-7 in conference play.

Since Moore’s arrival, recruiting tools have emerged and players have been inked. Moore recently signed forward Louis Brookings, a transfer via Maryland-Eastern Shore and guard Jeremy Baker, a junior college transfer. Moore has received a verbal commitment from Baker’s younger brother, Evann, a top-flight high school player in Maryland this season.

Moore also added Scott Burrell–the first American to be selected in the first round of the NBA and MLB drafts–to his coaching staff. Burrell, a Hamden product who won a ring with Michael Jordan and the 1998 Chicago Bulls, helped Cruz finalize his decision.

After a yo-yo freshman season, Cruz filled out a transfer waiver in May. Cruz played sparingly this season, despite starting seven games.

Following an injury to forward Darrel Harris, Cruz was flushed into the starting lineup. He fell out of favor shortly afterward, however, and logged just seven minutes per game. Cruz was benched in three of the Rams’ final four games.

In making the shift to Quinnipiac, Cruz will be reunited with a familiar face: point guard Casey Cosgrove.

Cosgrove said he grew up with Cruz and the two have been playing together since the sixth grade.

“He’s real smooth,” said Cosgrove, who was selected alongside Cruz for the 2005-2006 Boston Globe Dream Team. “He knows the game. He can do a little bit of everything. What he does best though, probably, is pass from the post. He played the point in high school and he can really pass and shoot. His post game is real solid, too. He should fit in right away here.”

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