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UMass men’s basketball lands three-star Memphis recruit

BOSTON — The early signing period is still over a month away, but the University of Massachusetts men’s basketball program appears to have locked up its recruiting class.

C.J. Anderson, a 6-foot-4 perimeter player from Memphis, Tenn., has committed to the Minutemen after making an official visit this weekend.

Anderson’s father, Cedric Anderson, confirmed the commitment.

“For him, the relationship with the coaches and the camaraderie of the players in the program was the reason he chose UMass,” said Cedric Anderson, who added that his son’s friendship with current UMass freshman Demetrius Dyson helped as well.

C.J. Anderson is likely either a shooting guard or small forward, but can handle the ball well enough to play point guard. According to Yahoo, he also had offers from Arizona State, Middle Tennessee and VCU, and interest from Arkansas and Cincinnati. Rivals.com and Scout.com ranked him as a three-star recruit.

Anderson, who is on track to qualify academically, according to his father, will join a freshman class that includes New Jersey big man Rashaan Holloway and North Carolina guard Donte Clark.

Clark is already on campus, sitting out this season as an academic nonqualifier.

TRIPLEHEADER — The state’s seven Division I coaches gathered at the TD Garden’s Legends Club Thursday to promote the Nov. 10 Coaches vs. Cancer Boston Tip-Off, which will pit six Baystate teams against each other.

UMass will play Boston College, Northeastern will play Boston University and Harvard will face Holy Cross. UMass-Lowell, which is in its first year of Division I, won’t participate this year.

After not playing last year, UMass coach Derek Kellogg and Boston College coach Steve Donahue were enthusiastic about the matchup.

“I think it’s great. Steve and I have had conversations. This is a good venue and a cause to put everybody together,” Kellogg said. “Maybe last year in the schedule it wasn’t good for his program or our program. Now we’re both at a point where it’s good for our programs. It’s good for the New England basketball communities. A lot of people want to see UMass and Boston College play. It was a great game when it was the Commonwealth Classic back in the 1990s. Now it’s great that it’s back in this venue.”

Added Donahue, “I think it’s going to be a great game. I think they’re a terrific basketball team, an NCAA (tournament) caliber team. Hopefully we’re at the level as well.”

Donahue said there are talks in place to create a five-year contract for the event. He also said the event wasn’t easy to pull together.

“The Garden is historic. I think people will all gravitate toward it with all of us together at the Garden,” Donahue said. “It was difficult because we all have different philosophies of what we want to do. We thought it was better for college basketball and our own program for us to all try to give a little bit and make this a reality.”

UMass senior Raphiael Putney was glad to have BC back on the schedule.

“It’s a fun game,” Putney said. “It’s very much bragging rights for us. Hopefully, we come out on top and show we’re the team from Massachusetts.”

START OF PRACTICE — The NCAA moved up the start of Division I men’s basketball practice three weeks from mid-October to late September. The Minutemen and everyone else will begin full-time work for the 2013-14 season Friday afternoon.

“We’ll see at the end of the year whether guys are tied, but right now I like it,” Kellogg said. “For coaches who have to do media days to promote your program and those sorts of things, it’s nice to give your guys days off that are convenient so you can be at all the practices.”

The seniors thought the extra time would help the Minutemen’s four freshmen.

“We want to get the young guys acclimated and accustomed to how we play,” said senior point guard Chaz Williams. “They’re looking pretty good. They’re all impressive in their own way. They’re all bringing something different. When coach calls their number, some of those guys will be ready.”

Senior forward Sampson Carter agreed.

“I’m excited about us getting out here early,” Carter said. “It cuts out the preseason and allows us to get right to business. We have a lot of freshmen who are going to help us. I think there’s going to be some games where they’re really going to help us.”

UMass will have everyone at full strength except freshman Seth Berger, who is battling a minor wrist injury that Kellogg estimated wouldn’t hold him back longer than a week.

“He’ll do cardio this week and by next week he’ll be back at 100 percent,” Kellogg said.

Matt Vautour can be reached at mvautour@gazettenet.com. Get UMass coverage delivered in your Facebook news feed at www.facebook.com/GazetteUMassCoverage.

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