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Wednesday, March 18, 2020: Weekly New York City boys basketball update

   The weekly look at the New York City metro area's PSAL, CHSAA and AIS schools for the New York State Sportswriters Association is compiled by Mike Libert:

Class AA

1) St. Raymond (22-5)- The top team in NYC had the chance to truly do something special this season. They were one of the favorites to bring home the CHSAA Championship and would've been a threat for the NYS Federation Tournament of Champions title as well. They do lose Gary Grant '20 and Luis Kortright '20 to graduation but have floor general Malachi Smith '21 returning, along with a handful of important pieces and some players who will surely move up from the JV team that won the CHSAA title.

2) South Shore (21-8)- As the favorites in the PSAL the Vikings had their season cut short as well but make no mistake about it the future is extremely bright for South Shore. They will return Ziare Wells '21 and Kipplyn Richvine '21, two of the key cogs to the Vikings success this season, and with a lot of talent on the JV team that was unbeaten on the season you can easily expect to hear South Shore among the best in the PSAL once again next year.

3) Cardinal Hayes (18-9)- If there is a team in the CHSAA that looks primed for really big things ahead then you can say that is the Cardinals. They will return Tobe Awaka '22 who became a tremendous force inside this season as a sophomore, and when you add in the likes of Tylik Weeks '21 and Darrell Victory '22 to the group that returns then the inside/outside potential of Hayes looks to be on par with anyone moving forward.

4) WHEELS (18-9)- A semifinalist in the PSAL this season for the first time ever in school history, the Wolves may have opened the eyes of many this season but they are also a team built to be pretty strong moving forward into next year as well. Randy Crosby '21 became the go to guy for WHEELS in the backcourt and his return should keep the Wolves among the PSAL's best, and with Jarlin Mathias '21 providing some frontcourt size there is a lot to like about what WHEELS can still be.

5) Brooklyn Collegiate (18-10)- Another team in the PSAL that looked prepared for a title run after making the semifinals, the Lions do lose a considerable amount of talent to graduation as 3 starters are set to depart. They will return Tahron Allen '21 though who has become one of the PSAL's better wing players, and with Jahmere Tripp '22 looking to be one of the better younger prospects around it won't be a shock to see Brooklyn Collegiate making another big run.

6) Msgr. Scanlan (16-12)- After knocking off St. Francis Prep in the CHSAA Intersectional Quarterfinals before the league suspended play on Wednesday, Scanlan were set to be a team who could've made a title run this season with the question now what does the future look like for them? They lose their top 4 starters to graduation which means a good amount of turnover will be to come. Ray Glasgow '21 will be asked to take an even bigger role in the backcourt as he will be the one to watch heading into next season.

7) St. Francis Prep (18-9)- Even though they fell in OT in the CHSAA Intersectional Quarterfinals before play got canceled for the season, the future is without a doubt extremely bright still for the Terriers who only lose 1 of their top 8 players to graduation. Todd Rochelle '21 is a leader, Latiek Briscoe '22 has been a go to offensive force, and with Key'Sean Maynard '22 being a dangerous three point threat it looks as if St. Francis Prep will be a mainstay among the top teams in New York City.

8) Xaverian (18-8)- The Clippers never had their chance to take on Cardinal Hayes in the CHSAA Intersectional Quarterfinals but when we look to what could be moving forward for Xaverian there is a lot to be positive about. Nick Folk '21 and Shawn Fulcher '21 were among the best backcourt duos this season in the CHSAA and both are due to return, and with Jaden Pena '21 inside also coming back there is a lot of optimism about the possibilities of the Clippers competing for a city title.

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9) Thomas Jefferson (14-13)- When you think about how the year started and it's overall 14-13 record it's really impressive to know that the Orange Wave still made it to the PSAL semifinals, and who knows how much further they could've gone had the playoffs continued with how well they were beginning to play. Jaquan Carlos '21 and Ramsey Saleh '21 are both big scoring weapons who should return next season making Jefferson possibly even more dangerous come the 2020-2021 year.

10) Boys & Girls (19-8)- A disappointing loss to WHEELS in the PSAL Quarterfinals can't put a damper of the season the Kangaroos had. For a few years now Boys & Girls haven't been on the minds of many when you think of the best of the Brooklyn AA, but with Khalil Brantley '21 becoming one of the top scorers and playmakers in NYC it all changed. He is due to return next season as well along with big man Zaphion Scott '22 so the future remains looking good for the Kangaroos.

11) John Bowne (24-5)- After falling in the PSAL Quarterfinals to Thomas Jefferson the thought process immediately when to next season for the Wildcats. There is a lot to look forward to for Bowne as well as 4 of their 5 starters are due back including their entire backcourt of Amadou Diallo '21, Tyshawn Trail '21, and Mouhamed Dioubate '22. They will have the weapons to compete for a PSAL title if all return, with a Queens Borough Championship for a third straight year looking very likely for the Wildcats.

12) Eagle Academy (19-10)- Having advanced to the PSAL Quarterfinals this season, the Eagles gave #1 seed South Shore everything they could handle in a 54-47 loss as it wasn't the end of the season that Eagle Academy wanted but they did a lot of things they should absolutely be proud of. Graduating their top two scorers in DaMarco Watson '20 and Vernon Simmons '20 should mean a good amount of change coming up for Eagle but with a lot of talent developing expect them to remain among the best in the Bronx.

13) Canarsie (13-14)- In their first season playing back up in the AA there is no question that it was a massive success for the Chiefs who shocked Cardozo in the PSAL Second Round, making it to the quarterfinals before falling in a close one to Brooklyn rivals Brooklyn Collegiate. A'Mag Tate '20 was one of the top scorers in the PSAL this season and he will graduate but with Alpha Bah '21 coming back as a great outside threat there are pieces to work with as Canarsie heads into year two in the highest level of the PSAL.

14) Archbishop Molloy (14-14)- After winning just 1 game in CHSAA league play a year ago, the Stanners got to 6 league wins this year and advanced to the Intersectional Quarterfinals before falling to St. Raymond just before the basketball season was called to a stop this past Wednesday. The good news moving forward is Molloy has one of the top Class of 2023 prospects in New York in Christian Bliss '23 who was great running the offense this season, and with the Stanners Freshmen Team having won the CHSAA title there is a lot of optimism for sure in Briarwood.

15) Christ the King (14-11)- Not advancing out of the opening round in the CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens Diocesan Tournament, or the CHSAA Intersectional Tournament is a shocker for the Royals who always make deep postseason runs. This just wasn't their year though and the loss of one of the league's top talents in Ryan Myers '20 will sting. They do have floor general Sterling Jones '21 set to return, and with two freshmen in Jahlil Bethea '23 and Brandon Williams '23 having gotten valuable varsity experience you can expect Christ the King to be among the CHSAA's best once again.

Class A

1) Benjamin Banneker (28-2)- For a team that looked destined to win the PSAL Class A Championship it's the Warriors that have to be most disappointed of all with the basketball season being prematurely canceled. They had only lost 2 games all year, but to Class AA teams in South Shore and Holy Cross, and were dominating Class A competition with ease. The good news though is that Takai Simpkins '21 and Tajuan Simpkins '21 both will be back, along with Gabriel Holley '21 meaning the entire Banneker backcourt returns making them extremely dangerous again next year.

2) Murry Bergtraum (24-5)- Maybe just as potent as Banneker will be next season will be Bergtraum who bring back all five starters next season. They were the #2 seed this season in the PSAL playoffs and looked set for a showdown with the Warriors for the title, but with Dior Davis '21, who is

  
averaging a triple-double this season, and Keianu Woodard '21 both coming back it would be a surprise if the Blazers aren't competing for a title again.

3) Beacon (27-2)- Another team who was in the PSAL semifinals that won't get a chance to compete for a title now, the Blue Demons much like the top two teams in front of them here have the talent to again make a run in a years time. Samuel Pohlman '21 is one of the better shooters in the league and he has a strong handle as well, while Graham Allen '22 has consistently been improving all season giving Beacon a nice one-two punch coming back for the 2020-2021 season.

4) Bedford Academy (24-4)- Unlike the top three teams in our rankings, Bedford might be in a bit more trouble when you think about what they are returning for next season. The fourth PSAL semifinalist from this season, the Panthers bring back only Jordan Newsome '21 in terms of their starters, and only one other player on the entire roster will return with him in Lamont Perry '22. They had a solid JV group which means players from there can pick up the cause but it will take a bit more work for Bedford to remain among the best in the PSAL.

5) Fordham Prep (17-10)- The CHSAA Class A City Champions, Fordham Prep had a very up and down regular season but they put it all together when it mattered most in knocking off Msgr. Farrell and St. Edmund Prep in the semifinals and title game respectively to win the championship. This could be just the start of something as well for the Rams who bring back two of their top scorers in Ryan McPartlan '21 and Nate Boateng '22 meaning that come this time next year another title could be being celebrated by Fordham Prep.

6) Graphics Campus (23-4)- It was a season to remember for the 49ers who had their best year in school history making it to the PSAL Class A Quarterfinals before falling in a heartbreaker to Murry Bergtraum 80-79. Joselito Rosario '22 was the tams second leading scorer and he will be back to help Graphics make another deep postseason run next season as even with the 49ers losing a number of important pieces to graduation they still look to be a team to watching as we move into the new year.

7) KIPP NYC College Prep (24-6)- The Bulldogs weren't necessarily a team that had one player lead the charge the season that had them advance all the way to the PSAL quarterfinals, but they were a squad that had depth and quality across the board. Damir Brooks '20 was the leader of the charge and he will graduate, but Amadou Toure '22 will be back and he was a double digit scorer, with Mohamed Soumahoro '22 another young player who came up back to be back as KIPP looks to secure themselves as among the best A teams in the Bronx.

8) Lehman (20-7)- Speaking of quality Class A teams from the Bronx, Lehman really came on strong toward the end of the season losing at the buzzer to the #1 seed Banneker in the PSAL quarterfinals to show just the type of team that the Lions were this season. Unfortunately for Lehman their top three leader scorers will all graduate including big man Bismark Nsiah '20 inside meaning a good amount of newcomers will have to step up to keep the Lions in a strong playoff position.

9) St. Edmund Prep (21-6)- Heading into the CHSAA Class A Playoffs many looked at the Eagles as the favorite to take home the title, and they were in a strong position to do just that before falling to Fordham Prep in the City Championship Game a couple weeks back now. They will need to replace two All-League players in League MVP Shemar Latty '20 and First Team performer Sean Edwards '20 meaning a lot of new talents will need to rise to the challenge to keep St. Edmund among the CHSAA's best.

10) Msgr. Farrell (21-5)- Having the season start out as good as they could've hoped, things turned quickly late on for the Lions as they lost in the SIHSL semifinals to New Dorp before falling in the semifinals again, this time in the CHSAA City Playoffs to Fordham Prep in a game that ended on a buzzer beater finishing Farrell's season. Justin Zieris '20 will graduate and that will be a huge loss but with both Patrick Gardner '21 and Sean Conroy '21 coming back expect to see Msgr. Farrell back in the mix of the best in Class A next season.

Class B

1) Uncommon Charter (25-3)- There was a strong case to be made that the Sabers were the best team in Class B not just in New York City, but in New York State as a whole this season. They swept through the PSAL Brooklyn B East with ease and defeated Abraham Lincoln in a PSAL Brooklyn Borough Playoff Game as well. Losing Ahzariah Douglas '20 and Caleb Brown '20 to graduation will be tough for Uncommon but with a solid coaching staff and good young pieces in place don't expect the Sabers to go anywhere.

2) Poly Prep (21-4)- Already having been crowned the champions for NYSAIS in Class B, the Blue Devils were sitting back and waiting to participate in the NYS Federation Tournament of Champions before the season was ultimately shut down. It was a disappointment for sure for all of the Poly Prep players, but with Max Ragusa '22 and Nasir Muhammad '23 coming back along with Jack Boyle '21, there is a lot of expectations for next season as well for a very talented Blue Devils team.

3) Summit Academy (22-4)- It seemed that if anyone was going to challenge Uncommon Charter this season for the PSAL title that it was going to be the Eagles. Jordan Council '20 was an underrated guard with great facilitating skills and his game will be missed moving forward for Summit, as will the other 4 senior starters as it should be a new look Eagles team come November, though with Philip Grant '22 back at 100% his play should keep Summit Academy as a team to watch.

4) Achievement First (21-5)- Like the other two PSAL Class B teams we have talked about there is going to be a lot of turnover for Achievement going into next season as 10 of the 12 players on the roster this year were seniors who will be graduating and moving on. Neither of the two who return got major minutes this season meaning you will see a lot of new faces who will be needing to step up to keep the Brooklyn B East school in the mix for a chance at a Top Ten position come the start of next year.

5) Adams Street Academy (19-5)- As the #13 seed it was Adams Street who shocked many by advancing all the way to the PSAL semifinals this season, and while they do lose double-double man Samil Melo '20 from this season's team to graduation there should be enough talent returning, including Matthew Bradshaw '21 who averaging over 21 points per game in the postseason, to help the Eagles maintain their position as a force moving forward in the PSAL.

6) Dwight School (18-9)- This was something of an up and down year for Dwight who struggled at the onset of the season but really began to turn it on as the season went along. They would make it all the way to the NYSAIS Class B semifinals before falling to the eventual champions in Poly Prep, but with all 5 starters set to return next season including big man Richard Nweke '22 and lad guard Chaz Jackson '21 it's easy to see why expectations would be high for a NYSAIS title coming their way next season.

7) South Bronx Prep (18-8)- Any time you make it to the PSAL quarterfinals you should consider the season a success, but when you are South Bronx Prep and were the defending Class B champions expectations are a little higher. It was still a very good season as they fell in the quarter's to Summit Academy at the buzzer, and while not the finish to the year they wanted you can easily say that with the return coming of triple-double machine in guard Steven Turner '21 that a big season to come for the Cougars will be expected yet again.

8) Collegiate School (20-7)- Getting to the NYSAIS semifinals this season before losing on the road to Portledge has to be looked at as a win for a Dutchmen team that really hasn't been among the elite in there Ivy Prep League for some time. The positive as well is that Collegiate was extremely young this year as they focused in on the likes of Will Groot '22 inside and Will Franks '22 on the perimeter. With the two Will's coming back for their junior years in September you can expect to see Collegiate in the hunt for even more NYSAIS success.

9) Bathgate Educational Complex (18-6)- Putting themselves in the talk as among the best in Class B again are the Bulldogs who again made a trip to the PSAL quarterfinals before seeing their season end at the hands of Uncommon Charter in a 58-49 defeat. Michael Boafo '20 and Jeffrey Agyeman '20 are two key contributors who won't be back for Bathgate, but lead guard Elijah Gonzalez '21 stepped up and proved to be great on the ball all season and he will return, as will Hasan Harris '21 inside for the Bulldogs who will try to continue to stay among the PSAL's best.

10) Fannie Lou Hamer (22-7)- When you talk about Fannie Lou Hamer you are talking about a Class B power as they have been considered the team to beat for years now in the PSAL. Each season begins with teams thinking about beating the Panthers, and this season was absolutely no exception. Fannie Lou made a run to the PSAL quarterfinals this season before losing by 2 to Achievement First, and with Jamal Kanu '21 back for another season in the backcourt along with Cheickne Toure '21 there is a lot to look forward to once again in 2020-2021 if you are a Panthers fans.


  
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