By Jeff Nations
WOODSTOCK -- Melvin Abrams' office phone started ringing early one morning in March, and it just wouldn't stop.
It was the same day Massanutten Academy postgraduate boys basketball player Ryan Singer decided to de-commit to the University of Penn, and as news spread the calls started coming in fast and furious.
"That morning the phone started ringing," Abrams said. "We must have had seven or eight phone calls from coaches that day, and the calls kept coming right up until he made his decision."
Singer, a 6-foot-11 forward/center, officially gave Abrams' telephone a break on Thursday when he signed his national letter-of-intent to play collegiate basketball at San Jose State next season. Singer signed his paperwork during a ceremony in Massanutten's school library.
Singer, who lives in Littleton, Colo., said his visit to the San Jose State campus sold him on the program, and he cancelled his other scheduled visits shortly after returning home.
"It was a great experience," Singer said. "I felt very welcomed by the coaching staff and the team. They play in the Mountain West Conference, so it's good competition. And I'll be able to come back to Colorado twice a year when we play Air Force and Colorado State."
Singer's lone season at Massanutten was cut short by injury. During a game against rival Hargrave Military Academy, Singer tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. He returned home to Colorado, underwent surgery on Feb. 20, and started his rehabilitation program 10 days later.
"My knee is a lot better," Singer said. "I'm a couple weeks away from being fully cleared to play basketball, but I feel very comfortable with it."
Singer played in 23 games for the Colonels this past season, averaging 5.5 points and 4.0 rebounds per game. Abrams said his team especially missed Singer's defensive presence after the season-ending injury.
"It made us more of a guard-oriented team," said Abrams, whose squad finished with a 24-9 record. "There were times when that worked to our advantage, but just his defensive presence and having him in the paint was discouraging for opposing guards."
Singer and his father flew from Colorado on Wednesday to do the official signing at Massanutten Academy.
"I felt like I wanted to do my signing here because it was a great opportunity to come and play. Taking this extra year to come out was very helpful and gave me the chance to play against top-notch basketball players," Singer said.
One Singer highlight that stood out for Abrams came during the Colonels' November trip to New Haven, Connecticut, for the National Prep Showcase. Singer had his hands full defending Canarias Basketball Academy's 7-2 center Matz Stockman (committed to Louisville) and 6-8 power forward Tory Miller (committed to Colorado) on consecutive nights.
"Ryan definitely worked his butt off and made it difficult for both of them," Abrams said.
Singer, a mobile big man capable of running the floor in the transition game, thinks he'll fit in well with the Spartans' three-guard offense under second-year coach Dave Wojcik.
"Ryan embodies the type of pedigree in a person and player we want in our classroom," Wojcik stated in a school news release announcing the signing. "What I love about Ryan is that he has an impeccable character, cares about his success in the classroom and has gotten better every year as a player. He played a major role in Massanutten's success this year and competed at a very high level. I am excited about Ryan's future and am very happy to add another quality student athlete to the program."
Singer is the third member of Massanutten's postgraduate team from this past season to sign with an NCAA Division I program, joining 6-8 forward D.J. Foreman (Rutgers) and 6-4 combo guard Isaac Fleming (Hawaii) as major-college commitments.
"This is why we do what we do as coaches," Abrams said. "At the postgraduate level, it's about helping young men reach their goals, and for most of them the goal is to play college basketball."
Contact Sports Editor Jeff Nations at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or firstname.lastname@example.org>