The Road to the Final Four goes through Putnam.
Thanks to some magical runs and some dominating performances, Putnam Science Academy will be well-represented at the NCAA men’s Final Four this weekend, as FOUR former Mustangs are on teams that have advanced to the season’s final weekends.
UConn’s Hassan Diarra (Class of 2020), Florida Atlantic’s Vlad Goldin (Class of 2020), and Miami’s Bensley Joseph (Class of 2021) have all helped their respective teams win their first four tournament games to get to the Final Four. They are the last of the original 15 former players whose teams got bids into the tournament. Diarra’s older brother Mamadou (Class of 2016) is a staff member at UConn serving as the team’s Director of Player Development. (There were also two former members of PSA’s girls basketball team playing in the women’s tournament.)
“I’m really humbled watching all of our former players play in this tournament,” PSA coach Tom Espinosa said. “There’s nothing like March Madness, and again, it shows you how special Putnam Science Academy is.”
Hassan Diarra, who won two national titles on his way to becoming PSA’s all-time leading scorer, has become more of a role player for the Huskies as the season and tournament has gone on, but he is a key member of the winning culture UConn has developed.
Goldin, the 7-footer who won a prep title alongside Diarra, looked like he was back in a Mustangs’ uniform Saturday night as he posted 14 points, 13 rebounds, and two blocked shots to lead the Cinderella Owls into their first Final Four.
Joseph played in just a handful of games with PSA during the Covid-ravaged 2020-21 season that also saw him suffer a severe ankle sprain. But his leadership qualities were felt on campus as much as they in Coral Gables, and his all-around game has helped the Canes as a key reserve.
Fourth-seeded UConn plays No. 5 Miami shortly before 9 p.m. Saturday. Goldin’s ninth-seeded Owls – the first time a 9-seed has been to the Final Four – takes on No. 5 San Diego State Saturday at 6 p.m.