WOODSTOCK – Two members of Massanutten Military Academy’s postgraduate boys basketball team have signed on with NCAA Division I colleges to further their playing careers.
Colonels point guard Rasir Bolton and shooting guard Tyrese Martin signed with Penn State and Rhode Island, respectively, on the first day of the signing period on Wednesday and celebrated with a short ceremony inside MMA’s gymnasium on Thursday afternoon.
“It means a lot, really,” Bolton, a Petersburg native, said of signing with Penn State on Thursday. “It’s like a stress reliever, you know. You play your whole AAU career focusing on getting offers, who’s looking at you, what schools are best for you, what fits you, and I finally found the school that fits me. I love the school, so it feels good to sign and be committed already.”
Bolton, who played a season at Huntington Prep (West Virginia) last year before joining head coach Chad Myers at MMA for a year of postgrad hoops, committed to Penn State back in July. He said he had 13 Division I offers and chose the Nittany Lions from a primary list that included St. Joseph’s and Pittsburgh.
The 247Sports composite rating lists the 6-foot-3 Bolton as a three-star recruit and the No. 34 point guard in the country in the 2018 class. Bolton said he has spent most of his AAU career playing for Team Loaded in the Adidas circuit.
Bolton, who said he is using his season at MMA to focus on becoming a better leader on the court, will join a Penn State squad – coached by Patrick Chambers – that went 15-18 overall and 6-12 in the Big Ten last season. But Bolton said his choice of school was as much academic driven as it was about his basketball career.
“The academic part was great. They’re a top-five school in the country academic-wise. The alumni base is huge, the biggest alumni network in the world, so I know if go there and go out to the real world and explore my options, a lot of alumni will help me out and I’ll have kind of an advantage over some people,” Bolton said.
“And me and the coaching staff clicked, like we all have a great relationship. It’s really like a family. They trust me and I trust them, so I just felt like it was great for me to go in as a freshman and they’ll let me play through things and help me get better as a player and a person.”
Martin, an Allentown, Pennsylvania native, made good on the verbal pledge he gave to Rhode Island in September by signing with the Rams on Wednesday.
“Yesterday signing the papers meant a lot because where I come from, a lot of people when I was younger didn’t think that signing a national letter of intent was gonna be something I’d be able to do,” Martin said on Thursday. “So I just worked and proved those people wrong, and it felt good to sign that paper yesterday.”
247Sports composite also lists the 6-foot-6 Martin as a three-star recruit and the No. 57 shooting guard in the country. Martin, who starred at Allen High, helped the We R1 AAU squad win back-to-back Under Armour national championships over the last two years.
Martin cited his relationship with Rhode Island’s coaching staff, led by head coach Dan Hurley, as the primary reason for choosing the Rams.
“The way they recruited me, I felt like they were always calling me, joking with me and when I went up for my visit, the players, I can relate to them,” Martin said. “Rhode Island’s like my style of game and the vision they have for me when I go in there, I feel that’s something I want.”
Martin said he could be in store for significant playing time as a freshman at Rhode Island next season. The Rams went 25-10 during the 2016-17 season and won the Atlantic 10 tournament. URI was an 11 seed in the NCAA tournament and was ousted by Oregon in the second round.
With their college destinations now official, both Bolton and Martin said they can focus solely on the season at hand with MMA, which is off to a 3-0 start and hosted Bristol Prep on Thursday night.
“It takes a lot off my back because now I can focus on playing because now I now have a school that trusts in me and believes in me and wants me to succeed,” Bolton said. “So just gotta focus on myself now.”