Saturday, April 19, 2014

Cimino, Watanabe Sign NLIs to Join GW Men's Basketball

6'10 Forward Matt Cimino

From our friends at GW Athletics Communications...

Coach Lonergan's Colonials Now With Five Freshmen Signed for 2014-15

Forwards Matt Cimino (Falmouth, Maine/Worcester (Mass.) Academy) and Yuta Watanabe (Kita, Japan/St. Thomas More Prep (Conn.)) have signed National Letters of Intent to compete for the GW men's basketball program, Head Coach Mike Lonergan announced on Thursday, April 16.

The two are now part of a highly touted five-player recruiting class set to join the Colonials for the 2014-15 season.

6'8 Forward Yuta Watanabe

Cimino and Watanabe join a trio of previous National Letter of Intent signees from the November 2013 early signing period in Darian Bryant, Paul Jorgensen and Anthony Swan. All three enjoyed standout senior seasons in which they helped their respective schools to a conference title.

"Matt and Yuta are both multidimensional players who make our incoming 2014-15 class extremely balanced and well-rounded," said Coach Lonergan. "All five of our signees are very talented and driven, and we expect them to mesh well with our returning players to help us continue to build the program and capitalize on the success of the 2013-14 season."

Matt Cimino
Forward, 6-foot-10, 200 lb..
Falmouth, Maine/Worcester (Mass.) Academy/Mass Rivals 2014

The 138th-best recruit in the Class of 2014 according to, Cimino averaged 13.8 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1.6 blocks in his final season at Worcester Academy in 2013-14 to earn NEPSAC Class AA Third Team All-League honors. He is also rated as the top 2014 recruit from the state of Maine, 25th-best recruit at the center position, and 29th-best recruit in the East according to

Cimino played the last three seasons with the Hilltoppers after beginning his scholastic career with two seasons at Cheverus High School in his native Maine, helping the Stags to a Class A state title in 2010 and title game appearance in 2011. He is set to be the youngest of three siblings to compete in the NCAA basketball ranks - elder sister, Ashley, was part of four Final Four teams with Stanford women's basketball from 2007-11, and older sister, Caitlin, recently completed her senior season at Connecticut College in 2013-14.

"Matt is a very skilled post player who can stretch the defense with his outside shooting," said Coach Lonergan. "He has a nice inside-outside game and with continued hard work in the weight room he will become a very good player for us."

Yuta Watanabe
Forward, 6-foot-8, 200 lb..
Kita, Japan/St. Thomas More Prep (Conn.)

Known in his native Japan as "the Chosen One," Watanabe is set to become the third Japanese-born student-athlete in NCAA Division I history (K.J. Matsui - Columbia, Taishi Ito - Portland). In his lone scholastic season in the United States in 2013-14, Watanabe averaged 13 points and six rebounds in helping St. Thomas More Prep (Conn.) to a 26-8 overall record and an appearance in the National Prep Championship game, during which he scored a team-high 25 points. His ever-improving play throughout the season helped him earn NEPSAC Class AAA First Team All-League accolades and he was also named to the National Prep School Invitational All-Tournament Team.

Before coming to the U.S., Watanabe led Jinsei Gakuen High School to second place in the 2010 and 2011 All-Japan Tournaments. He has already competed for the Japanese National Team - as an 18-year-old, he helped Japan to third place at the 2013 East Asian Basketball Association Championship for Men and ninth in the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship - and joins Patricio Garino and Kevin Larsen as foreign-born Colonials with experience in international competition. Like fellow NLI signee Cimino, Watanabe comes from a basketball family - both of his parents played in Japan's top leagues, his mother, Kumi, also played for the Japanese Women's National Team, and his sister, Yuki, currently plays for Aishin AW of the Women's Japan Basketball League.

"Yuta is a very versatile player who can play several positions," said Coach Lonergan. "He has the ball-handling and shooting abilities of a guard and the athleticism and height of a forward. We expect him to make an immediate impact for us because of his combination of skills."