High-SchoolNew-York: UCLA

Five Days of List-Mas: NY's A-List

December, 12, 2011

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Whether you’re putting together a grouping of best quarterbacks or worst albums, or you’re making that special list for Santa, there’s nothing quite like a good list. So in honor of the holiday season we’re bringing you lists all week long — Merry List-Mas!

Today: A-Listers.

In the NFL, Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers are A-Listers. In the NBA, it’s LeBron James and Kobe Bryant. But who are the A-Listers in New York? That’s where today’s list comes in. Regardless of sport, here’s our list of the top five A-List athletes in the state. Can you think of an A-Lister we didn’t mention? Let us know in the comments.

5. Justin Combs (SR), Iona Prep, Football
Credentials: son of Diddy, UCLA recruit, played three positions at Iona Prep

4. Isaiah Whitehead (SO), Lincoln, Basketball
Credentials: No. 20 in ESPNU 25, primed to follow former Lincoln stars Stephon Marbury and Sebastian Telfair into NBA

3. Chad Kelly, St. Joe's Collegiate Football
Credentials: Elite 11 finalist, Clemson recruit, Under Armour All-American, only QB in state to ever pass for 3,000 yards and rush for 1,000 yards, nephew of former Buffalo Bills QB Jim Kelly

2. Omar Calhoun (SR), Christ the King, Basketball
Credentials: No. 27 in ESPNU 100, UConn recruit, led Royals to 2010 state Federation Class AA title

1. Dajuan Coleman (SR), Jamesville-DeWitt, Basketball
Credentials: No. 14 in ESPNU 100, Syracuse recruit, led Red Rams to three straight Class A state titles, three-time Elite 24 participant

Click here to check out some of the other states in our Five Days of List-Mas.

Brandon Parker covers New York for ESPNHS magazine and ESPNHS.com. Follow him on Twitter @brandoncparker or email him at brandon.c.parker@espn.com.

Combs picks UCLA

November, 29, 2011
UCLA may have just fired its football coach, but that didn't stop the Bruins from reeling in one of Rick Neuheisel's recruits.

Justin Combs, son of hip-hop mogul Sean "Diddy" Combs, committed to UCLA on Monday. The senior played multiple positions for Iona Prep this past season in leading the Gaels to the CHSFL AAA semifinals.

Click here for more on Combs' commitment.

Brandon Parker covers New York for ESPNHS magazine and ESPNHS.com. Follow him on Twitter @brandoncparker or email him at brandon.c.parker@espn.com.
When a shoulder injury forced Iona Prep (New Rochelle, N.Y.) quarterback Mario Biaggi out of a Sept. 23 matchup with Monsignor Farrell (Staten Island, N.Y.), the Gaels weren't worried. In stepped senior Justin Combs, who threw for 163 yards and totaled three touchdowns during a 28-7 win. Having the spotlight as well as success at multiple positions is nothing new for Combs though, especially when you consider who his dad is.

This story originally appeared in the October issue of ESPNHS magazine.

Justin Combs has heard his share of trash talk while attending football camps and combines. Of course, that'll happen when your dad is hip-hop mogul Sean "Diddy" Combs and your 16th birthday was televised on MTV.

The Iona Prep senior has put up with opponents reciting his dad's lyrics during one-on-one drills and players questioning whether he even deserves to be on the field.

“I've had to go harder than anybody else to prove that I belong because most people think I have everything handed to me," Combs says. "I had to prove them wrong."

Justin Combs
Richard Harbus/New York Daily News/ESPNHSJustin Combs may be Diddy's son, but the Iona Prep (New Rochelle, N.Y.) senior has earned offers from UCLA, Illinois and Virginia.
He's done a good job of that. The 5-foot-9, 165-pounder is a star quarterback, cornerback and kick returner for Iona Prep, and he has received scholarship offers from D-I programs like Virginia, UCLA and Illinois.

Combs has put in the work on the field (he's a two-way starter) and in the classroom (he boasts a 3.7 GPA), so he's now beginning to emerge from his father's shadow.

"I'm extremely proud of him," Diddy says, "due to the fact that he didn't use any celebrity to get to where he's at."

“He’s a good student, and when he’s not doing that, he’s spending every other minute on football,” adds Iona Prep coach Vic Quirolo, who’s in his eighth season at the Gaels' helm. “He’s really dedicated himself. Justin is true to himself, and the kids respect him for it. I don’t know anyone who’s dedicated himself to improving in football like he has. He’s the whole package, and it’s a pleasure to have him.”

This summer, Combs trained seven days a week doing position drills, running on the track and lifting weights to prepare for his senior season. He’s serious about succeeding on the gridiron both this year and when he gets to college.

“It was my dream to play football,” he says. “Football is my first love.”

As for the music industry, Combs says he’s never had any interest in following in his father’s footsteps. His studio is the football field, where he’s starting to make a name for himself. And not just because of who his dad is.