For three years, Michael Tertsea has been one of the Baltimore Catholic League's most tantalizing players, a 6-foot-10, 226-pound defensive stopper with plenty of athleticism and long-term potential. On Sunday, the John Carroll senior decided that Rhode Island would be the best college for him to realize that potential.
"It feels great. I'm excited," said Tertsea, whose other finalists were George Washington and La Salle. "I like the campus, the coaching staff, my teammates and everyone. I'm excited to take my talents to Rhode Island and play for Coach [Dan] Hurley."
Tertsea, who has career averages of 6.1 points, 5.5 rebounds and a shooting percentage of better than 50 percent, came to Maryland from Nigeria before his freshman year. Believing in Patriots coach Tony Martin was an important factor in his decision to come to the United States. In picking a college, it was important for Tertsea to have a similarly strong relationship with his coach.
"It's all about relationships [with the] head coach and player," Tertsea said of Hurley. "I feel like he trusts me as much as I trust him. I feel like I can trust him. The relationship is really good. … It's a great thing to play for him, play basketball and get an education and be part of his program."
Martin noted that the George Washington and La Salle staffs came in to see Tertsea at John Carroll this month, and both did a great job in his recruitment. The appeal of playing for Hurley -- a former Seton Hall guard, the younger brother of Arizona State coach and Duke All-American Bobby Hurley and the son of legendary St. Anthony (N.J.) coach Bob Hurley -- was too much for Tertsea to pass up.
Tertsea, who is 31 blocks shy of John Carroll's school record and will likely end up as the second-leading rebounder in school history, has played more of a supporting role for the Patriots in his three varsity seasons. Rodney Elliott, the America East Rookie of the Year at UMBC in 2013-14, led the Patriots during Tertsea's freshman season. Kimbal Mackenzie (Bucknell) took over from there and was named BCL Player of the Year last spring. Now Martin is counting on Tertsea -- and four-star sophomore point guard Immanuel Quickley -- to lead the way.
"He's a rim protector, an offensive rebounder, a great defender -- a multi-dimensional defender," Martin said of Tertsea. "He can guard multiple positions, is really good defensively in the pick-and-roll. He can cover a lot of ground. He's 7-4 in length. He brings versatility and depth to those post positions."
Tertsea, who's considering a major in economics or business management, said his family back in Nigeria is supportive of his decision. Everyone's looking forward to him starting his college career at Rhode Island.
"I do love the campus. It's really nice," Tertsea said. "Everything is near the beach. I loved it. I feel like everything is fine."