College Sports

‘On the rise’: With nation’s No. 22 recruiting class, BC men’s hoops is hoping to build something special

“I know we can definitely help change Boston College for the better.”

Boston College head coach Earl Grant speaks during media day. Matt Kelley/AP Photo

As Earl Grant enters his first year coaching the Boston College’s men’s basketball team, he does so with the goal of prioritizing both the program’s short-term success and long-term vision.

The Eagles, who were picked to finish last in the Atlantic Coast Conference preseason poll, hope to surprise some teams this season while also working toward something more momentous. So far, Grant’s big-picture plan appears to be coming together well, as BC currently has the No. 22-ranked Class of 2022 in the nation according to Rivals. This is the first time the Eagles have ever gotten commitments from two four-star recruits in the same class.

Prince Aligbe, a 6-foot-7, 215-pound forward from Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, is a four-star recruit ranked 64th overall and 17th among small forwards on Rivals. Donald Hand Jr., a 6-foot-5, 170-pound guard from Virginia Beach, Virginia, is another four-star prospect who checks in 18th among combo guards on 247Sports. Chas Kelley, a 6-foot-5, 185-pound guard from Houston, Texas, and Armani Mighty, a 6-foot-10, 230-pound big man from Thornhill, Canada, are both highly regarded three-star recruits.

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Time will tell how the pieces fit together, and just how transformative this class can be, but it’s clear it at least has the potential to reinvigorate the program and get the Eagles back to contention and prominence.

“I know we can definitely help change Boston College for the better,” Aligbe said.

Prince Aligbe

As Aligbe weighed his options and plotted his next move, the academics, alumni network, and coaching staff stood out at Boston College. He said Grant is a coach his parents can trust – someone who’s all about family and will always have his back.

Aligbe, who chose BC over Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgetown, Illinois, Ohio State, and UCLA, among others, felt a sense of belonging and purpose when he stepped on campus. He said everything “seemed right” during his visit, and he trusted his gut when making his decision.

“They gave me the sense that they need me, instead of just wanting me or having interest in me,” Aligbe said. “That’s really what set them apart.”

Aligbe has two younger brothers and plays the piano in his spare time. He describes himself as a versatile player who loves guarding the other team’s best scorer, noting that his natural position is the three but that he can play anywhere he’s needed. 

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He said Grant’s philosophy of letting his players learn from their mistakes and grow with guidance resonated. Aligbe, who has won three state titles with Minnehaha Academy, said he’s thrilled to join a recruiting class where everyone has the same mindset.

“It gives me a lot of confidence,” Aligbe said. “It shows the others in our conference that, OK, this school is on the rise.”

Prince Aligbe.

Donald Hand Jr.

Hand, who also fielded offers from Clemson, Georgia Tech, Maryland, North Carolina State, and UConn, among others, comes from a basketball family. His father, Donald Hand, starred at Virginia, and his step-father, Dwight Robinson, is his coach at Landstown High School.

“It’s really helped me become better, on and off the court, having both of them in my life,” Hand said.

Hand averaged 32.9 points per game last season and called himself a big guard who will thrive in Grant’s system. He said Grant “kept everything real” and made it clear he values family, education, and building something special.

When he attended the Boston College-Missouri football game in late September, students showed him some love and helped cement the fact that could see himself at BC. He said he believes his style will mesh well with that of the other recruits and current players who will still be on the roster next year.

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“Once we put it together, I feel like it’s going to be a scary sight,” Hand said. 

Donald Hand Jr.

Chas Kelley

While narrowing down his college search, Kelley asked himself a simple question: Can I see this coach who’s recruiting me attending my wedding someday?

With Grant, the answer was a resounding yes, and he said he views him as someone who could become family. He said Grant told him how he was changing everything and laid out his blueprint for bringing BC basketball back to how it was years ago.

“All of the guys that are committed right now all have a chip on our shoulder,” Kelley said. “We don’t care what you have on your jersey or what school you go to. We want to come and dominate.”

Kelley, who also had offers from Butler, DePaul, and Rutgers, to name a few, described his game as “defense first.” He said he and Hand have almost the exact same playing style, adding that when one of them runs the one, the other can run the two, and vice versa to help the Eagles get out in transition. Kelley said making the opposing team uncomfortable, and getting star players off their mojo, is what invigorates him the most.

Off the court, he’s excited to network in Massachusetts and set himself up for success after college and what he hopes will be a fruitful pro career. 

“The city, the culture, the family, I fell in love with it,” Kelley said. “I knew I wanted to go to Boston College before I even got on campus.”

Chas Kelley.

Armani Mighty

When Mighty first met Grant, he said it took a while before they discussed anything basketball-related. He appreciated Grant’s sincerity and work ethic as they connected on more than just hoops.

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“It was about academics, and he tried to get to know me and what I was into,” Mighty said.

He said he and his twin brother Imani, who also has Division 1 talent, constantly try to motivate and one-up each other on the court. Mighty expects a similar kind of situation at BC, as he and his teammates pursue lofty goals without caring about who gets the glory.

He said his strengths on the court are low-post scoring, rebounding, and defense, and he believes Grant will get the best out of him and help him grow. Mighty, who chose BC over Providence, said he’s watched Aligbe, Hand, and Kelley’s highlights and can’t wait to get in the gym with them to map out their future.

They know they have a tall task ahead of them – as the Eagles haven’t made the NCAA Tournament since 2009 – but they’re eager for the challenge of turning BC into a perennial contender.

“This class that we’ve built, and we’re still building, is really, really special,” Kelley said. “I think years down the line, we’re going to definitely make some noise in the ACC. We have nothing to lose.”

Armani Mighty.
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