Fresh off a fourth national prep championship, Putnam Science Academy is set to watch 15 former players vie for an NCAA championship.
The names kept popping up Sunday as the men’s and women’s NCAA Tournament fields were announced – 14 teams featuring 15 past Mustangs in all.
Jose Perez’s West Virginia Mountaineers kick off the first full slate of games when the tournament begins in earnest Thursday, having earned a 9-seed and a matchup with Maryland.
A Friday night matchup in the Midwest features Bensley Joseph and Miami taking on Darnell Brodie and Drake in the 5-12 matchup.
PSA is represented in six other games Friday as well. The Mustangs’ all-time leading scorer, Hassan Diarra, and the fourth-seeded UConn Huskies have a tough first-round contest against Iona. Hassan’s brother Mamadou is UConn’s Director of Player Development.
Desmond Claude was named to the Big East’s all-rookie team and looks to keep it rolling as Xavier, a 3-seed, Kennesaw State. Should the Musketeers win, a meeting with Osun Osunniyi and Iowa State could await in the second round. The Cyclones are the 6-seed in the Midwest and have a first-round game against the winner of the Pittsburgh-Mississippi State play-in game.
Ugonna Kingsley, who was teammates with Claude last year at PSA, and the Kentucky Wildcats earned a 6-seed and a date with Providence College, while another former big man, Vlad Goldin, leads ninth-seeded Florida Atlantic against Memphis.
Gabe McGlothan and 14th-seeded Grand Canyon face perennial power Gonzaga.
Thursday’s games also feature former Mustangs in the underdog role: Nic Louis-Jacques and No. 15 Colgate face Texas; Mohamed Sylla and No. 10 Boise State take on Northwestern; and No. 16 Howard featuring Bryce Howard have a tall task against Kansas.
On the women’s side, Niya Fields, faces perhaps the biggest challenge of any former Mustang, as her Norfolk State team is a 16-seed and gets the daunting matchup with undefeated South Carolina, the prohibitive favorite in the tournament. Finally, Xianna Joesphs and her 13th-seeded East Carolina Pirates face Texas Saturday night.
Also, Southern New Hampshire University and Ari Koivisto earned a spot in the Division II Tournament, though their season ended in the regional semifinals Saturday.