Tryouts for Section 1's BCANY Summer Hoops Festival team featured a “who’s who” of Hudson Valley's premier varsity players, ranging from Yonkers to Poughkeepsie.
Each player was plying their trade before evaluators and ultimately playing with a purpose. The drive and intensity emanating from the scrimmaging and drills was out of a collective desire to represent Section 1/Hudson Valley on a larger scale.
The tryouts for the Hudson Valley boys basketball team at the upcoming BCANY (Basketball Coaches Association of New York) Summer Hoops festival were arduous and relentless.
Cuts were made after each session. In the end, New Rochelle guard Kirkland Ottey was one of the last young men standing.
“The competition during tryouts was really good, many talented players from Hudson Valley,” said Ottey, an incoming senior who can score the rock in a variety of ways, operate offense and play hounding defense.
“There was a lot of Division-I talent all around. I felt as if my shooting and ability to score was key for me in making the team. Also, my shot selection and knowing when to provide for teammates during scrimmages, that helped me solidify a spot. I think those factors sort of separated me from the bunch,” he said.
The BCANY Summer Hoops Festival was created in effort to supplant the basketball aspect of the traditional Empire State Games (which were cancelled). The tournament will take place the weekend of Aug. 5-7 in the Johnson City School District in Johnson City, NY.
Ottey, who will take some ownership of Bill Murphy’s Huguenots next season (especially now that game changers such as P.J. Torres and Jordan Green have been claimed by 2011 graduation), believes the team has a chance to garner Section 1 some state-wide visibility.
While the BCANY squad—coached by longtime Croton High School coach Bill Thom—has a deficiency in height, they seem to thrive in a go-go, high-horsepower brand of basketball.
“I feel as if Coach Thom did a good job in practice, running plays and giving plays that forced us to find strengths and weaknesses amongst each other," said Ottey.
"We have little size, but I think all of us can make plays off the dribble, and easy baskets are going to be there always, with the defensive strategies Coach Thom wants us to play,” he said.
Ottey, who is embracing his role as a facilitator of this run-and-gun style squad, will be utilized as a combination guard. He’s opened up his shot, firing in a dependable deep jumper and dialing in from behind the arc. The innate court vision of Ottey has helped create easy buckets for astonishingly wide-open teammates. The freakishly athletic guard whips passes at a frantic pace, making his teammates beneficiaries of his presence.
Ottey’s function as the table setter, where his needle-threading and pinpoint passes let a wealth of options eat off the plate, is the role Thom envisioned.
Head Coaches Anthony Nicodemo (Saunders High) and Brian Laffin (Poughkeepsie High) will be assisting Thom during the three-day tournament. All three assessed a torrent of local talent, working to find an identity for this team.
Thom has set the bar sky-high from the very start. He knows this nucleus contains as much player-to-player talent as any of Hudson Valley’s opponents, which includes the Capital District (Sections 2,7), Syracuse and North (Sections 3, 10), and Buffalo (Section 6), to name a few. Lofty expectations are heaped on the core, which will settle for nothing less than a gold medal.
The swagger that’s manifested through Thom’s powerful words of wisdom and attitude seems to resonate with Ottey's teammates.
“We really see the character in Coach Thom and his high expectations on winning gold,” said Ottey. “I can sense that everyone on the team has high respect for him as their coach and we’re really in this together.”
Helping orchestrate a high-powered offensive symphony and taking scoring matters into his own hands will ultimately prepare Ottey for his enhanced role at New Rochelle next winter.
“My coach, Bill Murphy, has been keying me in on taking on that leadership role,” said Ottey.
“I feel as if with the talent our team has, it's not just going to be scoring or creating for my teammates,” he said. “It’s gonna come down to taking responsibility and that ownership role that we really didn't have a lot of last year in order to make it places next year.”
Headlined by Mount Vernon seniors-to-be Randy Stephens and Isiah Cousins and featuring a slew of highly-decorated players—Sky Williams (Tuckahoe), Tyler Sayre (Albertus Magnus), and Jermar Dancy (Poughkeepsie) to name a few—Hudson Valley oozes with promise.
For more information on the BCANY Summer Hoops Festival and the Basketball Coaches Association of New York, please visit http://bcany.org/.