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Tom Crotty Memorial Player Profiles

February 11, 2004 Columns No Comments

The Tom Crotty Memorial Boy’s Classic – Player Evaluations

by Keith Irizarry

About a week ago, I wrote an article about the Tom Crotty Tournament, which was played in the memory of some of the great people, including Thomas Crotty a four-year basketball standout at Marist, who were lost during the tragic moments of 9/11. The tournament showcased 12 solid high school basketball teams from throughout the tri-state area. I gave all the readers a breakdown of who won, who scored the most points, you know, the essentials. But, alas, you wanted more. One thing I pride myself in, is taking care of my readers, and you emailed me telling me to discus some of these great players. Some of the comments I received included: tell me more about what the tri-state has to offer. Where are these kids going to school? Which underclassmen should I be paying attention to? Who was the best team? You wanted answers and dissection; knowledge shall be bestowed upon thee.

St. Raymond’s had the deepest squad in the tournament. They’ve got a coach, in Oliver Antigua, who has lost just 4 games in his 2-year career at the helm of the Ravens. Gavin Grant is one of the most complete players I’ve seen in a while. He is headed to NC State next year. Gavin can play the 1, 2, or 3 and at 6-7, 190 pounds, that is a true commodity. Grant’s got a good build, to go along with a tremendous stroke from outside. He’s strong, quick, and agile. The Wolfpack have found themselves a keeper. His partner in crime is Brian Laing, a 6-5 slasher who is headed to Seton Hall. He’s a beast. If you look at just his frame, you’d think he was in his mid to late twenties. Brian might need some work on becoming more of a guard on the next level, but there are so many positives to his game. He is adept at hitting the short-range jumper, he loves to post a smaller guard (reminds me a little of a Jimmy Jackson type of player), and he has adequate vision on the floor. Both of these kids, along with senior center, Frank Elegar (headed to Drexel) will be missed when they graduate next season, but Antigua has some big guns looming on deck. Ricky Torres is a dynamo of a shooting guard. Straight up, this kid has a feathery soft jumper. Torres is a junior, and no doubt many colleges are beating on his doors. He’s not that quick, but always finds ways to get open. He’s great at coming off screens or making teams pay for leaving him open around the three-point line. Keep a lookout for Ricky next year; he should lead this team in scoring. Chris Bethel is a mammoth. He’s another junior (6-5, 190). He doesn’t look like he has grown into his body yet. Chris is a bit undersized to be a power forward at the college level, but he will have the ability to dominate high schoolers on strength alone.

The trio of seniors at Rice High, Russell Robinson, Arturo Dubios, and Weyinme Efejuku are poised to lead the Raiders to a championship. Russell is lights out; he’s one of the best players in the tri-state area. At 6-2, 175, he’ll need to make the move from shooting guard to point guard when he attends Kansas next year. The question isn’t what he can do, it’s what Mr. Robinson can’t do, and that’s a very short list. Don’t be surprised if in 2 or 3 years, Russell is one of the best players in the nation. Dubios has verballed to Manhattan. Arturo (6-8, 240) is a little awkward with his footwork, but he has good hands around the rim. I wouldn’t be surprised if, as this season progresses, he starts getting more letters from some big-time schools. If not, Bobby Gonzalez and the Jaspers may have found a prize that can help them down the road. Efejuku is pure energy and athleticism. He has yet to commit to any schools. Weyinme is probably on a mid-major school level. His shot needs work and so could his handle.

Don Bosco Prep has junior stud, Tyrell Biggs, and scouts love this big-time animal (6-8, 270). For such a large boy, he’s quite nimble. He tries to take over too much, at times, and sometimes forces shots. He’s able to shoot well around the basket, and has very good moves on the blocks. His senior teammate, John Oates, has yet to commit to a college. Oates is a legit power forward (6-10, 255). Not as a refined as Biggs, but with some work he’ll be a good catch for a college program.

AJ Price of Amityville could make an argument that he was the best player at this tournament. There is nothing he can’t do. He plays defense, drives to the cup with ease, jacks up shots effortlessly, is a solid free throw shooter, and leads his team vocally. An earlier season suspension has marred what might have been an All-American senior season, but AJ will head to UConn and battle for a starting role as a freshman next season.

St. Mary’s has just one senior, John Ager. They will be a force to be reckoned with next season. 6-5, junior guard, Danny Green will have his pick of the litter when it comes time to choose a college. He played at ABCD Camp last year and held his own; watch out for him. His brother Rashad [Green] is a year younger, 2 inches shorter, but already possesses many tools to make him a future star. Tyrone Hanson (6-6, PF) and Tyson Johnson (6-5, F) hold down the lane. St. Mary’s as state champions next season; that would not be a shocker.

Christ the King has some monster juniors in Akeem Gooding, Chris Martin, and Niko Scott, who surround rising senior Brian Beckford. None of the four have made decisions on college. Gooding hovers around the free throw line and makes things happen, Martin is learning to be a point guard and picking it up rather easily, and Scott is the long-range bomber that all teams need. If you want to know more about Beckford, check out my last feature.

Mount Vernon is lead by their senior guard, Keith Benjamin (6-2, 190). Keith will head to Pitt next year. Unfortunately, he was injured before his Crotty Tournament game, and did not play.

Other notable players who are still out on the market or are underclassmen to pay attention to include: Dave Kennedy (6-3, Senior shooting guard from St. Dominic), Sean McCurdy (6-1, Junior guard from St. Anthony), Ahmed Nivens (6-10, 220 lb, PF from St. Anthony), Marcus Williams (6-2, Senior guard from St. Anthony), Carl Augustin (6-3, Junior guard from Don Bosco), Michael Coburn (6-2, Freshman point guard from Mount Vernon High).


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