The Empire State’s Best
The talent is back at a high level in New York and this year brings another crop of cold hoopers to the D1 level. Here are the freshmen we expect to make an impact at their respective schools.
Joel Boyce – Coppin State
Boyce was a local star at Springfield who left the city for bigger and better things. The gamble paid off and he now has a D1 scholarship to show for it. Coppin State will be getting a polished wing who does a little bit of everything on the floor.
Noah Morgan – Farleigh Dickinson
Morgan was quite underrated heading into his senior year, but a big time season which included scoring 1,000 points, being named Section 1’s Mr Basketball and tournament MVP as well as winning the state chip changed all of that. After filling up his trophy closet with this years accolades though, he signed to Farleigh Dickinson and will start fresh this year. Expect him to break through on the college level as well.
#15: Greg calixte – George Mason
Calixte is coming into school with a college ready frame and while he may be a bit raw offensively, he’s still bringing enough for the Patriots to work with as a freshman. He is an absolute load to deal with on the boards and has a motor that will surely make him a favorite among GMU fans.
#14: Jaheam Cornwall – Gardner Webb
Cornwall starred at Francis Lewis high school in Queens before jetting up north to prep school for more competition and exposure. And rightfully so. The guard can flat out ball. His game may not be the flashiest, but he gets the job done, minimizes his mistakes and makes big plays. Gardner Webb is getting an straight up stud.
#13: Chris Duarte – Western Kentucky
We’ll be the first to call it: Western Kentucky is getting a major STEAL in Duarte. The former Redemption Christian star can do it all on the court and is just as comfortable pulling from trey as he is throwing one down in traffic. The kid is a high major level talent who is skilled enough to play either guard spot. He’ll thrive as a Hilltopper and likely be a player you’ll hear about come March.
#12: Cj Kelly – Norfolk State
The shifty slasher had solid mid major offers, but choosing Norfolk State is a match made in heaven for both him and the MEAC conference school. He has the talent to be a big fish in a small pond and can contribute right away with his smooth off the dribble game and alpha dog mentality. Don’t expect him to take much time sitting and watching either, CJ Kelly can go, and he’ll be ready when he touches campus.
#11: Saquan Singleton – Manhattan
Singleton will be a great addition for the scrappy Manhattan Jaspers. His size and jumper allow him to play the two while his vision and playmaking ability enable him to run the point as well. The Scanlan star hopes to help bring back Manhattan’s winning ways and he turned down big time offers such as Seton Hall to do so.
#10: Ray Salnave – Monmouth
The lone redshirt freshman on this list, Salnave sat and watched stars like Justin Robinson run the team waiting for his turn. The former Cardozo star will now play with a chip on his shoulder, coming for everyone who may have forgotten the days when he was leading his squad to the city championship. The big bodied guard is a proven winner with plenty of toughness to spare. Monmouth is getting a player who has waited his turn and is ready for his time to shine.
#9: Nahziah Carter – Washington
The nephew of Jay-z has carved out his own legacy, which as of now includes putting highly ranked opponents on posters. Five star bigs like Bol Bol and Marvin Bagley will tell you: When Carter gets to the rim, move or be immortalized on highlight reels forever. After initially committing to Dayton, he’ll be taking his high flying act to Washington now. Pac 12 conference, you’ve been warned.
#8: Keith Williams – Cincinnati
Williams didn’t end his year with the championship he’d hoped for but that would’ve just been the cherry on top to an already sweet high school career. The wing is one of the most accomplished players in Bishop Loughlin history, and his game is a nice balance of shooting, slashing and earth shattering two hand slams. He’ll bring his Brooklyn toughness to a notoriously tough school in Cincinnati and wreak havoc on the AAC.
#7: Jordan Nwora – Louisville
Nwora ended his high school career in Vermont, but the New York State native has been a problem with the Rens for a minute now. The 6-7 forward is a lethal combination of size and skill and can light it up from the outside as well as bang down low with the bigs. Rick Pitino is getting a gem for his squad, as the 4 star player can be a incredible player down the line.
#6: Jose Alvarado – Georgia Tech
Jose’s brilliance was taken for granted at CK, and despite going down as one of the most lethal point gods in NYC’s recent memory, a chip is still firmly planted on his shoulder. After sharing the spotlight with Rawle Alkins for a couple years, Jose led a young CK team to an impressive season, hitting big shot after big shot while basically carrying the Royals on his back. He’ll follow in NYC legends Kenny Anderson and Stephon Marbury’s footsteps to Georgia Tech University. His timing couldn’t be better, as the program is reestablishing itself among the cream of the ACC.
#5: Nick Richards – Kentucky
Nick picked the perfect school for his skill set, and will be in a great setting to show off his strengths. He’s at his best when he’s rebounding, defending, catching lobs and running the floor, which are elements that the Wildcats thrive on year after year. Expect him to have a year similar to Bam Adebayo’s of this past season. He’ll throw down alot of dunks and defend the paint, before possibly jetting to the league.
#4: Jordan Tucker – Duke
Tucker took his talents to Wheeler High in Georgia after starring in New York for three years. The silky smooth wing has a lethal scoring package complete with endless stepbacks, jab steps and falls aways. He should fit right in at Duke around other highly skilled players and blue chip prospects. The White Plains native will find his way on the court and shine bright, even around other stars.
#3: Isaiah Washington – Minnesota
There’s not much to say about the Jellyfam Co founder that hasn’t already been said. Washington witnessed his fame grow to near mythic proportions in the city, as every time he touched the court became a must see tv, standing room only kind of game. While he’s known for his flash, Minnesota wings and bigs will love to play with him because of his savvy, willingness to pass the rock and contagious confidence. With that being said, we’re also expecting a few Jelly’s on NCAA defender’s heads this year for the culture.
#2: Mo Bamba – Texas
The Harlem native has never played his high school ball in the boroughs, but the city definitely takes credit for this incredible talent who scouts are murmuring the words “One and done” about. Time will tell what the future holds, but Bamba has all the tools to be successful at Texas this coming year. His length and defensive instincts are insane, and his offensive prowess is catching up by the day. Coach Shaka Smart got a player to build around when Bamba signed, even if it’s only for one year.
#1: Hamidou Diallo – Kentucky
Was there any debate who would be number one on this list? Diallo had the opportunity to hit the league this year, but opted instead to head back to Lexington and build on his ever improving skill set. Already blessed with otherworldly athleticism, Diallo’s ball handling, jump-shot and strength have already came along nicely since he decided to head to Kentucky early. He now is one step ahead of the rest of his star studded freshmen teammates, as he is already familiar with the system and Coach Cal’s expectations. He will be an electric weapon for the fast paced Wildcats this year, and NBA GMs will drool at his long term potential as a pro. After practicing with talents like Malik Monk and De’aaron Fox for a semester, it’s officially Hami season.
Sidebar: This list was created in early June, before the certainty of Sid Wilson’s decision to head to college or back to prep school was decided.