Coach Mike Martin enters his fourth season at the helm for the Bears, looking to improve on last season’s 4-10 Ivy record. With Martin’s early recruits coming of age and the addition of some under-the-radar talent, there’s reason for optimism in Providence.
First and foremost, this is Cedric Kuakumensah’s team, as the imposing senior center and captain looks to build upon the greatest defensive reputation in the league. Outside of Kuakumensah, the Bears will look to replace the contributions of reliable big man, Rafael Maia, and they’ll look to a young cast to do so. Watch out for Travis Fuller, the 6-9 freshman from Encinitas, Calif. The early returns are positive on Fuller, as the skilled big man looks to fill Maia’s void in the frontcourt.
There’s a lot more depth in the backcourt where Martin will have a plethora of weapons, both familiar and new, at his disposal. Tavon Blackmon returns to man the point; his quickness and vision will be a big asset for the Bears in his third campaign. Another newcomer who is expected to contribute immediately is sophomore Jason Massey’s twin brother, Justin, a combo guard transfer from Florida Atlantic. At FAU last season, Justin scored 17 points in a loss at Harvard, so the incoming guard already has some Ivy experience and word out of Providence is that he will be a bigtime player for this year’s team.
Steven Spieth, who has started 59 of 60 games in his Brown career, will return to his starting role on the wing, where he scored in double figures 17 times last season. Meanwhile, Corey Daugherty is a local freshman (Barrington, R.I.) who has folks at the Pizzitola excited. A source in the program called the 6-1 guard a real playmaker and a top performer in the Bears’ closed scrimmage earlier this fall. Other players who promise to make an impact this year include returning deadly sharpshooter, JR Hobbie (39.9 percent from three-point range last year), as well as Jason Massey, who looks to build on last year’s contributions off the bench.
The Bears seem to have an unusual level of depth this year that should lead coach Martin to implement the uptempo, exciting brand of basketball that Brown has successfully employed frequently over the last two seasons. While the biggest question mark rests with the Bears’ ability to compete inside (besides Kuakumensah), the league is wide open enough that Brown should have the opportunity to break back into the top half for the first time since Martin’s first year at the helm in 2013. As is often the case, the success of this team will likely be determined by how quickly the young newcomers can adjust to the rigors of league play.