De’Jon Jarreau and Brison Gresham were hanging around each other long before they even knew it.
Both were born at Charity Hospital in 1998.
Jarreau on Jan. 23, and Gresham just a day later.
They became best friends years later, first as AAU teammates and then teammates at McDonogh 35.
That close bond between the McDonogh 35 seniors will continue on the next level.
Jarreau and Gresham committed to UMass on Monday afternoon in a ceremony at McDonogh 35’s Media Center.
“We love playing together, and we wanted to keep it going and didn’t want to stop,” Jarreau said. “We developed a great bond, and we started to really feel how each other played. After that, we really didn’t want to go to school without each other.”
The pair visited UMass over the weekend, a week after they visited Miami, their other finalist.
“They (UMass) just rolled out the red carpet, and everything on the visit was perfect,” Jarreau said.
“We felt really comfortable there, like we were already on the team,” Gresham said. “We had a really good connection with assistant coach Shyrone (Chatman) and (head) coach Derek Kellogg.”
The 6-foot-5 Jarreau, a four-star recruit, is rated as the No. 39 overall player in the nation by Rivals and the No. 56 overall player by 247Sports. He averaged 17 points, six assists and four rebounds last season for the Roneagles.
Gresham, 6-8, is rated a four-star by 247 and a three-star prospect by ESPN and Rivals. He is listed as the No. 71 player in the country by 247. He averaged 15 points and nine rebounds last season.
“They are getting two great kids,” McDonogh 35 coach Kevin Sanders said. “Great personalities, great work ethic and capacity to learn the game. Once the recruiting got real serious, it’s like the light came on and they said ‘OK maybe we can go to the same school.’ I told them that they needed to do what was best for themselves, but if it just so happened that they went to the same school, that would be great.”
Sanders gaves high praise to his two UMass-bound players, who can make their commitments official in November’s early signing period.
“Deeky (Jarreau’s nickname) reminds me a lot of Magic Johnson in that he can distribute and he can score,” Sanders said. “He is real charismatic, and people just draw to him. He’s always smiling, but he’s real tough. And Brison has tremendous upside. They are getting a unique set of players to help them build a good foundation.”
Neither player is intimidated about choosing a school some 1,500 miles from home. Or the frigid temperatures that come with it.
“I’m fine with it, Gresham said. “I like how the weather is there. It’s something different. “
Said Jarreau: “I want to experience something different.”
And they want to experience it on the court together, just like they have since playing with the New Orleans Elite AAU team as ninth graders and Greg Monroe’s team in the tenth grade.
“We clicked right away,” Gresham said. “We know each other so well. I know what he’s going to do on the court, and he knows what I’m going to do.”