Share this article

print logo

WNY EXPORTS MAKING NATIONAL IMPACT

They are scattered from Durham, N.H., to Durham, N.C., and beyond.

Western New York basketball fans are familiar with the big names -- Cliff Robinson, Keith Robinson, Christian Laettner -- but there are many more playing across the country.

They are Western New York's gifts to the Division I college basketball world.

In all, Western New York has sent 22 players to Division I schools. Of those, 16 are playing for out-of-town teams, and the remaining six are playing for Little Three teams. St. Bonaventure has Rob Lanier, the Mount St. Joe's alumnus. Niagara has Darren Brown, out of Williamsville North. Canisius has Jerry Kopydlowski (Sweet Home), Brian Brown (Emerson), Ed Book (McKinley) and Joe McCarthy (Canisius).

Local hoops fans will have no problem following the progress of those players this season.

Here's how the season shapes up for the out-of-towners:

Cliff Robinson, Connecticut -- NBA scouts have been traveling to UConn this season to watch the former Riverside High School star. Coming off an excellent junior year (17.6 points and 6.9 rebounds per game), the 6-foot-11 Robinson is a preseason all-Big East pick and has been mentioned as a possible NBA first-round draft choice next spring.

"He is the person who can take us from being a good team to a very good team," coach Jim Calhoun said. "That is a lot of pressure. He could go out and have 14 points and 10 rebounds, and that may disappoint people."

UConn hopes to ride Robinson's shooting, rebounding and "Cliff-hanger" dunks to a top-five Big East finish. Last year, the Huskies were eighth.

Keith Robinson, Notre Dame -- The 6-9 Grover Cleveland product had a solid sophomore season, averaging 9.6 points, 7.1 rebounds and shooting 64.7 percent from the field. He's one of four Irish big men along with freshman phenom LaPhonso Ellis, Scott Paddock and Keith Tower. Two or three will play at a time, with Robinson one of the starters.

Irish fans hope Robinson has no problems with a stress fracture foot injury discovered over the summer. He was in a cast for six weeks, then a pin was placed in it in August. He is fine now, but the pin still is in.

"I'm glad to see the pin is working in his foot," Irish coach Digger Phelps said. "That's been my nervous concern, because we need Keith Robinson badly."

Christian Laettner, Duke -- The 6-11 Nichols product, a high school all-American last year, saw limited action in Duke's first three games and didn't look out of place with the Blue Devils, ranked No. 1 in the nation. Duke, in Durham, N.C., hopes to groom Laettner to take the place of senior all-American candidate Danny Ferry. Laettner can play inside or outside and has better shooting and passing skills (ala Ferry) than Duke's two other 6-10 underclassmen, both power-forward types.

Dan Cyrulik, UConn -- Cyrulik stands 7 feet tall, adding an inch since last year at Williamsville North. He had a good opening game, getting six points and seven rebounds in 12 minutes.

"He's so solid fundamentally," said UConn's Calhoun. "Danny's going to get a good rotation (in the lineup)." Cyrulik is the Huskies' No. 2 center and figures to spell starters Cliff Robinson and Rod Sellers on the front line.

J.D. Sanders, Texas Tech -- A 6-8, 230-pound junior, Sanders got to Tech via Bennett High and Nebraska Western Junior College. He was a red-shirt last season, but is starting this year. He was Tech's leading scorer (19 points) in an 84-62 season-opening loss at UCLA.

Willie Haynes, St. Peter's -- A senior shooting guard out of Lockport, Haynes has been a second-team all-conference pick in the Metro Atlantic the past three years. He averaged 15 points a game last year on 57.2 percent shooting. He has scored 1,226 career points and needs to average 17 ppg to become the No. 1 all-time scorer at St. Peter's. Haynes also has been on the MAAC all-academic team the past two years and carries a 3.23 GPA in business management/marketing. He plans to go to law school after this year.

John Watson, Bucknell -- A 6-7 senior forward, Watson will start again this season for the Bison, picked to win the East Coast Conference. A product of Olean's Archbishop Walsh High, Watson averaged 12 ppg, 5.1 rpg last year. He is co-captain of the team.

Lamar Holt, Prairie View A&M -- A senior out of Turner/Carroll High, Holt starts at point guard. He had 10 assists each of the first two games for the Panthers, who play in the Southwest Athletic Conference.

Terry Hare, Winthrop -- Hare, a 6-7 junior, starts at forward for the South Carolina school. The Lafayette product is averaging eight points after two games.

Nate Gainey, Hartford -- Gainey sat out last year due to Proposition 48. The Traditional alumnus is a reserve off-guard.

Kevin Roberson, Vermont -- A 6-6 Hutch-Tech graduate, Roberson currently is the sixth man for the Catamounts.

James Ben, New Hampshire -- Ben, a 6-8 freshman from Lockport, is a reserve forward at the Durham, N.H., school.

Ryan Ford, Providence -- A guard out of of Olean, Ford is in his third season as a walk-on. Got in four games last year.

Antoine Patterson, St. Francis, Pa. -- The 6-7 Timon product will sit out this year due to Proposition 48.

Fitzhugh Tarry, UMass -- A 6-8 senior, Tarry is academically ineligible the first semester.

Steve Watson, Bowling Green -- The 6-8 Olean Walsh product transferred from Rutgers and will sit out this season.

There are no comments - be the first to comment