Ithaca Basketball Finds Recruiting Edge in Florida By Connor Weingarten

It began with nothing more than a simple email.

Ithaca College head basketball coach Jim Mullins saw a message come across his computer, one similar to hundreds he’d received from potential recruits over the years. But something about this one was different.

The message came from the head coach at Gulliver Prep in Miami, Florida, who had sent an email blast to somewhere between 50 and 100 schools to gauge interest in one of his players, Marc Chasin.

Marc Chasin

“I was sitting in my office, during the summer, when I got the thing on Marc and I said, ‘Ah, Miami kid, he’s not going to want to come up here.’ I watched the YouTube clips anyway and I’m going, ‘I really like this kid,’” Mullins said.

"Something about this one was different." -Jim Mullins

Mullins proceeded to call the Gulliver Prep coach and ask whether there was genuine interest from Chasin in coming to a school like Ithaca.

“We called him and he seemed like he was legitimately interested. We kept following up… My assistant coach at the time, Jon Tanous, went down and watched him. Marc came up and visited, liked the place and the rest is history.”

Chasin wasn’t always sure Ithaca was the place for him, but he said the visit to campus is what really sold it.

“On my way here from New York City, I would say that I’m kind of looking around, obviously I’m a Miami kid and I’m looking around at the forest and the mountains, ‘like damn, what am I getting myself into… And then as the bus rolled into Ithaca and I saw that it actually was more than just sticks. I don’t know, I thought the campus was beautiful.’”

Chasin, who had a chance to walk-on at a few division one schools, opted to take the division three route in favor of academics, and what he felt was a better fit.

“One of the things that Coach Tanous had told me in the recruiting visit was that it’s better to be the big fish in the small pond than the small fish in the ocean,” Chasin said.

Through his first full season on South Hill, Chasin was already the team’s second leading scorer, averaging just under 15 points per game. It became apparent that the Bombers could benefit from continuing to recruit in Miami.

Florida presented a unique opportunity for Ithaca College, a division three program, because the state doesn’t have a division three league. There was a clear talent pool there, and Chasin was just the beginning.

When Tanous, the man who recruited Chasin, left the basketball program to take a Head Coaching job at Penn State Abington, Mullins looked to one of the best players in program history to make a return to the bench.

Assistant Coach Sean Burton, playing at IC in the mid 2000's

Sean Burton, who was a two-time All-American from 2005-2009 at Ithaca College, accepted the job as assistant coach in September 2015, and in turn became the team’s most important recruiter.

While Burton didn’t recruit Chasin, the two quickly became close and were able to work together to find more talent in Dade County.

“Marc’s in my office all the time. We have a close bond and I kind of use him almost as a recruiting specialist for the area because he knows the ins and outs, he knows a lot of people, he has a lot of connections,” Burton said.

The chance to grab another talented Florida player presented itself to Burton in an annual recruiting report that he received in 2015.

Sebastian Alderete

Sebastian Alderete, now a sophomore at IC, then an athletic wing at Miami Springs High School, showed up on the report. Burton noticed first that Alderete was a good student, as the report noted academics, but when he got to the highlight tape, his eyes opened even wider.

“He wowed me right away. You could tell. Highlight tapes sometimes can deceive you… but you could just tell the kid, the way he moved, his athleticism, the way he could shoot the ball,” Burton said.

Burton followed through on what he saw, and traveled to an All-Star game at Grandview Preparatory School in Boca Raton to see Alderete play in person.

Alderete, like Chasin, was focused on academics first, and his interest in pursuing a degree in physical therapy seemed to be an ideal fit. He had also previously heard of the school through word of mouth.

“I decided that I wanted to be a [PT] major, and I realized that IC had a really good program, and actually my mom has a family friend that graduated from Ithaca College and he told me to look into it,” Alderete said.

Chasin, having been a Miami high school player and an Ithaca Bomber, was able to provide important perspective for Alderete on the decision and what was ahead.

“One of the things that Coach Tanous had told me in the recruiting visit was that it’s better to be the big fish in the small pond than the small fish in the ocean,” Chasin said.

Alderete said, “Marc really helped me with the process because I found out there was another kid from Miami that was actually getting a lot of playing time and doing well up here… I kept in contact with him… It was nice knowing there was another Miami kid.”

In Alderete’s second year on campus, he has joined Chasin not only as an important on-court piece for the Bombers, but also as a recruiter, in the same way Chasin helped him.

Aside from their contributions on the court, where Chasin and Alderete combine to average over 25 points and 47 minutes per game, the two have created a pipeline for the Ithaca coaching staff, to continue to find potential student athletes.

“We’re in talks with a lot of recruits down there right now for the class of 2018. A bunch have applied and they’re good players,” Burton said.

Chasin, who will graduate this spring, will leave behind more than records, such as his standing as the program’s sixth all-time leading scorer. He has also widened the horizons for the Bombers to recruit beyond the northeast and provide unique opportunities for talented basketball players.

“For guys like us, it’s just nice to experience something new. Obviously it’s only four years of your life… It’s nice to get away and experience something different,” he said.


Photos: Ithaca College Athletics

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