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Penn men’s basketball welcome in five high school graduates who would be joining the team. Credit: Chase Sutton

As Penn men’s basketball prepares to compete for the first time in almost two years, they welcome in a new batch of recruits to help bolser their roster.

On Tuesday, the team announced that five high school graduates would be joining the team, which is up from four last year. Out of the group, three of the recruits play in the frontcourt, while two play predominantly in the backcourt.

"This was a hard class to evaluate due to the pandemic—not just for us, but for everyone—but we identified all five of these guys pretty early in the process and we are thrilled to have them joining us in the fall,” Penn men’s basketball head coach Steve Donahue said. “We can't wait to get back on the court and see how they fit in with the rest of our guys." 

“This will really be a reset for our entire program after not playing last year, so I'm excited to get everyone out there and see what we have and how we can maximize our roster. The hope is that these five guys help us win a few championships these next several years."

Leading off the group is small forward Ed Holland III, who isn’t straying too far from home, as he went to high school in Philadelphia at Friends’ Central School. Among the 6-foot-6 forward’s other suitors were Yale, Princeton, Columbia, Penn State, and Providence, but Holland chose Penn after fostering a connection with the program during the recruiting process.

“With [Penn], it never felt like a recruiter-recruitee relationship,” he said. “It felt more fluid and more personal. They were like family.”

According to his AAU coach Brandon Williams, Holland, who boasts a 6-foot-10 wingspan, will be a natural fit within Penn’s offensive scheme that Donahue currently has in place.

“He’s become a lot better at making plays [for others],” Williams said. “I think that suits Penn’s offense. They’re big on moving the ball, spreading the floor, and having guys that can shoot it.”

Joining Holland will be 6-foot-10 center Gus Larson, who comes from Northfield Mount Hermon, where the Quakers also recruited current sophomore center Max Lorca-Lloyd.

During his time at NMH, Larson was a vital piece in the school’s 2019 New England Championship run in addition to being a four-year letter winner and a captain during his senior season.

While four of the five new recruits come from areas in the northeast U.S., 6-foot-3 guard Reese McMullen joins Penn from Memphis, Tennessee, where he attended Christian Brothers High School.

Each year of his high school career, McMullen was a starter for his team and was named a captain during three of those, which is especially impressive given the school’s MaxPreps National Top 25 ranking during the 2020-21 season. That same year, McMullen was selected all-state and all-metro, in addition to all-region, which he achieved two other times in his career.

The other backcourt player that the Quakers added in addition to McMullen is three-point specialist George Smith, who played at the Brooks School in Massachusetts and came to Penn after finding the program to be a natural fit.

“The first time I stepped on campus last June I immediately felt at home at Penn,” Smith said. “I love Coach Donahue and his staff. My game fits their style of play because they’re very unselfish, they like to shoot the three-pointer and space the floor for dribble drive and cut actions.”

The 6-foot-3 guard’s high school coach also emphasized how solid a fit Penn was for Smith, as his defensive skills were deserving of attention in addition to his three-point prowess.

“He’s terrific at both ends of the floor, often guarding the other team’s best player,” Brooks head coach John McVeigh said. “Besides being very talented and successful, George is extraordinarily humble, hardworking, and the ultimate team player. Penn is a terrific fit for him.”

Rounding out the recruiting class is 6-foot-9 power forward Nick Spinoso from Kellenberg Memorial High School on Long Island, N.Y. Spinoso, whose father played college basketball at Long Island University (LIU) Post, graduated Kellenberg as the second-leading scorer in the school’s history with over 1,000 points.

During his 2019-20 senior season, Spinoso averaged 22 points, 16 rebounds, and five assists per game and was selected all-state as well as All-Long Island, which he’d been selected as during a previous year as well. Due to COVID-19 shuttering the 2020-21 season, he was unable to see any playing time while at the Canterbury School.

"We are excited to welcome Ed, Gus, Reese, George and Nick to Penn and to our program," Donahue said. "All five of these guys have excellent skill sets and I think they will impact our program over the next four years.”

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