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The McNeese State men's basketball team may have found the replacement for graduating senior forward Sha'markus Kennedy in the form of Carlos Rosario, a 6-foot-8 forward who committed to the Cowboys on March 27.

Rosario spent his last three seasons at Pensacola State (Fla.) Community College. After being productive as a freshman in the 2017-18 season, Rosario redshirted the 2018-19 season after playing five games and missing the rest of the season because of a back injury.

But his redshirt sophomore season in 2019-20 saw the native of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, turn in his best season as he averaged 15 points, seven rebounds, and 1.4 blocks per game in 29 games (28 started) and an average of 24.8 minutes per game. Those numbers earned Rosario first-team All-Panhandle Conference honors.

Rosario said he received an offer from McNeese on Feb. 11 and got in contact with McNeese through his friend and former Pensacola State teammate Yeikson Monteros, whom McNeese recruited last offseason but eventually chose Eastern Michigan. In deciding to commit to McNeese, Rosario said the relationships he made with the coaching staff played a major factor.

"The whole staff," Rosario said. "I really connected with the whole staff. I'm about relationships more than anything. I feel that I have that connection with the staff and that's why I committed."

Another factor Rosario said he found appealing was Kennedy's development into one of the Southland Conference's best players. Rosario and Kennedy played against each other during the 2017-18 season, and Rosario said he thought Kennedy was good, but never imagined he'd turn into the dominant force that earned first-team all-SLC honors for the 2019-20 season.

"I see myself down the road in the same position (as Kennedy at McNeese)," Rosario said. "Or even better."

Originally, Rosario said he had planned to make an official visit to McNeese after the NCAA-mandated dead period was scheduled to end on April 15 at the earliest. But, with the NCAA extending the dead period through at least May 31 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, his official visit will have to wait.

Fortunately for Rosario and others, the NCAA decided on Thursday to extend the Division I and II signing periods to Aug. 1, including football and basketball. So recruits will be able to make official visits during the summer, assuming the dead period isn't further extended, and won't have to sign with a school they didn't have a chance visit.

"It's frustrating to me," Rosario said of not being able to take his official visit as soon as he'd like to. "But, like I said, I feel comfortable enough. (The coaching staff) showed me, over the phone, everything I need to know. I told them I feel comfortable."

Rosario is in Massachusetts with his family. Like most people, he's found it difficult to stay in prime shape because gyms aren't open to play basketball. Rosario said he's doing pushups and sit-ups along with some running, but the cold temperatures where he is are not helping.

McNeese was not the only program vying for Rosario's services, as he said he also received scholarship offers from Canisius, Maryland-Eastern Shore and Tennessee-Martin. Rosario also said he was recruited by McNeese's SLC rival Sam Houston State.

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