The verbal commitments of the last few busy weeks for the University of Rhode Island men’s basketball team became official last week as Tres Berry, Malik Martin, Makhi Mitchell and Makhel Mitchell signed with the Rams. The school announced the signings last Wednesday.
The Mitchell brothers will each have three seasons of eligibility, while Martin comes to Rhode Island with two seasons remaining. Martin is the younger brother of former URI star Hassan Martin, who led the Rams to the 2017 Atlantic 10 Championship title and an NCAA tournament bid. Both the Mitchell brothers and Martin have all played against Rhode Island in their careers. The Mitchells helped Maryland defeat URI early in the 2019-20 season, while Martin had 16 points, six rebounds and four steals in a loss to the Rams at the Diamond Head Classic in Hawaii in 2018.
“We are very excited to add these young men, each of whom has the opportunity to make a significant impact on our program,” Cox said. “This has been an offseason with a lot of moving parts, but the relationships we have built and established with these men will go a long way toward achieving our ultimate goal, which is winning an Atlantic 10 championship.”
The possible eligibility of the transfers for the upcoming season hinges on a potential rule change by the NCAA, which would allow transfers to play without sitting out a year, as the current arrangement dictates. A vote is expected in the near future.
Makhi Mitchell started five of the 12 games he played for Maryland, which spent the entire season ranked last season, averaging 3.0 points and 3.3 rebounds in 9.3 minutes per game. The 6-9, 230-pound center also blocked eight shots. He had 12 points and eight rebounds in a win over George Mason, arguably his best performance for the Terps.
Rated as a 4-star recruit by 247Sports.com, ESPN, and Rivals.com, Makhi was the No. 2 player in Washington, D.C. by 247Sports.com coming out of high school. Rivals.com ranked him as the No. 11 center nationally and ESPN ranked him as the No. 64 overall on the ESPN TOP 100 Recruits. The Under Armour Association named him as its Defensive Player of the Year in 2019 after he led the UAA in blocked shots.
Makhel Mitchell appeared in 10 games off the bench, averaging 1.0 point and 2.3 rebounds in 6.8 minutes per game. A 6-10, 245-pound center, he blocked four shots. Both played in Maryland’s 73-55 win over Rhode Island on Nov. 9.
Makhel Mitchell also was highly rated coming out of high school. He was a 4-star recruit according to 247Sports.com and a 3-star recruit for both Rivals.com and ESPN. Rivals.com ranked him as the No. 18 center in the 2019 recruiting class and No. 107 overall nationally among all players. 247Sports.com ranked him the No. 3 player in Washington, D.C. in last year’s class.
“Bringing in Makhi and Makhel to the front court along with Jermaine Harris and Antwan Walker gives the program size and depth in the paint that we have not had in a long time,” Cox said. “These are guys who can excel on either end of the floor, and they fill a significant need on the roster.”
The 6-6, 210-pound Martin is very familiar with Kingston and the Ryan Center, having visited campus countless times while his brother played for Rhody. A 2019-20 Conference USA All-Defensive Team selection who started 28 of the 29 games he played, Martin led a Charlotte team that ranked 49th nationally in scoring defense. He was fourth in Conference USA in steals (1.7 per game) and also was in the top 15 in the league in blocked shots. His versatility and physical style allows him to defend the 1-4 spots on the floor.
Martin will make an impact offensively as well. In 54 career games with the 49ers, he averaged 9.2 points and 3.8 rebounds. As a sophomore, he shot .471 from the floor and .378 from 3-point range. Martin also has shown the ability to get to the free throw line, where he has made 74.5 percent of his shots. For perspective, his 70 free throw attempts last season would have been fourth on the Rams, behind Fatts Russell (176), Cyril Langevine (150) and Jeff Dowtin (103).
“Malik is someone we have known for a long time. We know what is important to him, and we know his family very well,” Cox said. “He plays a high-intensity game on both ends of the floor. His versatility will help us create favorable matchups across the board.”
In the 6-4 Berry, the Rams are adding a three-star freshman guard who, along with previous signees Ishmael Leggett and Elijah Wood, give the Rams a deep, highly-talented backcourt for the long term. He led Scotland Campus (Pa.) to a spot in the the National Prep Championship last March. He also played with B. Maze Elite on the Under Armour Circuit. His coach there, Bobby Maze, was a star at Tennessee after playing AAU ball for the DC Blue Devils, the same program that produced former Rhode Island star Jeff Dowtin.
“Tres gives us significant size at the wing,” Cox said. “He can shoot from the perimeter and plays with the type of defensive intensity we want on the floor. Tres’ ability to handle the ball offers us even more flexibility. He values the game of basketball, and it shows on the floor.”