New York High School: Myron Hickman

Seniors turn to AAU for one last shot

May, 16, 2012
Mairega Clarke is puzzled.

A talented forward for Holy Cross, he helped guide the Knights to the Catholic High Schools Athletic Association Class AA title game this winter. He thought he had played well enough to earn a Division I scholarship.

Yet, the Division I offers he thought would roll in never came. Some schools were interested, but none pulled the trigger. Thus, with a rapidly closing window of opportunity to remedy the situation, Clarke turned to AAU.

"I want to play to show coaches that I deserve that offer from then," said Clarke, who plays for Raising Champions.

While most seniors skip AAU because they have scholarships, for unsigned seniors like Clarke, playing in the spring and the summer is a final chance to impress college coaches and potentially earn that coveted scholarship.

"I think it's a great opportunity for them," New Heights Athletic Director Kimani Young said. "It's a last look. Maybe a school missed out on these guys. These guys can improve over their senior years. I think it helps."

Young said there's an advantage in playing as an unsigned senior as college coaches will be seeing players just months before they would head to campus. Instead of guessing how a player will develop during his senior year in high school, coaches basically see the player in April that will arrive on campus in August.

Young also added that seniors play with a chip on their shoulder.

"I just know that a kid playing in April in his senior year, he's hungry for that scholarship," Young said. "Kids that are playing now feel like this is their last opportunity to have access to that college scholarship."

For Clarke, he still has not received that offer he wanted, although Florida Atlantic is interested in bringing him in after a year of prep school. Other New York City players have had a little more success, although they're still waiting for their dream offers.

St. Raymond senior Myron Hickman played at the Providence Jam Fest in April with the Jersey Jayhawks to see if he could get a Division I offer, as he only had Division II schools extending. A few schools were interested after seeing him, but wanted him for 2013. He has a visit set up with a Division II school and may try to walk on at Delaware State.

Cardinal Hayes and New Heights teammates Jalen Jenkins and Naasir Williams both saw a rise in interest, but they still don't have that slam-dunk offer. Williams also had schools interested in him for 2013, but schools want to see how he plays this summer.

Jenkins has mid-major offers but wants to grab a Big East scholarship. He has interest from Providence and Cincinnati, as the Bearcats were interested after seeing him in Las Vegas.

Jenkins and Williams had both been planning to attend prep school but have backed off on those plans because of the interest they garnered from AAU. Williams said it's still up in the air, while Jenkins is more committed to the idea of walking on at a school.

"I figure playing shows that I'm able to play at the point where schools that high-major schools will look at me," Jenkins said. "Instead of just playing for the low Division I and the mid-major schools to look at you."

Team SCAN Program Director Terrence "Munch" Williams likes the opportunity seniors have through AAU, but worries that some will get too caught up in trying to get that dream offer instead of focusing on more realistic options.

"It sometimes strings kids along. A kid might be more of a Division II or Division III player and they don't want to jump into that situation," Williams said. "They keep hoping they’ll get that dream team. Everyone thinks they are Division I until the last minute. Sometimes you wait too long and it doesn't come."
The Catholic High Schools Athletic Association's message was heard loud and clear.

After the league advised its players to not play in Saturday's Battle for the City, which had billed as a game between the best of the Public Schools Athletic League and the CHSAA, only five Catholic league players showed up for the event. At least 20 CHSAA players had been slated early in the week to play in the game.

Instead of a strictly CHSAA team, a team constructed of CHSAA and PSAL players was thrown together, and that team fell to the PSAL All-Stars, 110-91, on Saturday at Baruch College.

THE HISTORY: The CHSAA advised its players not to play for fear of the game being unsanctioned as well as rule that says underclassmen cannot play in All-Star games unless there is a tryout. The five players who showed up were all seniors.

Event organizer, Funsport Inc. CEO Rickey Rivers, said that he talked to the NCAA about the contest and was told it did not need to be sanctioned since there would be no college coaches attending. He also said there were no problems with seniors playing in the game since they're allowed two All-Star Games.

The CEO, who at one point asked if CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens President Ray Nash was there, also disputed that an underclassmen's eligibility would be in danger if they played.

"I called the NCAA compliance office when I put together this event and went though all the things, had my checklist in order, I knew exactly what was needed to pull of this event because I've done these things several times," Rivers said. "The things they used against me were not valid points, and that was the point I think I was a little disturbed about."

HOW THE GAME WAS WON: The PSAL team jumped out to an early edge, leading 56-42 at halftime, and cruised to a win.

Pathways Preps junior center Jordan Washington earned MVP honors for his 22-point effort while Boys & Girls forward Leroy "Truck" Fludd had 16. Satellite Academy senior guard Stanley Cepedes led the CHSAA/PSAL team with 21 points.

"It was a lot of fun," Washington said. "There were some top players in the country and I knew I had to come out here and play ball."

ONLY FIVE FROM THE CHSAA: The five players were the CHSAA were Xaverian guard Brian Bernardi, Mount St. Michael guard Malik Gill, and St. Raymond's trio of guard Myron Hickman, and forwards Daniel Dingle and Kerwin Okoro.

Hickman, a late addition, didn't agree with the CHSAA.

"Basically I felt like what they were doing was kind of wrong, telling some of the top kids in the CHSAA they can't play," Hickman said. "I wanted to help out Rickey and I've known him for a long time and that kind of played a factor as well, and I didn't want his event to turn out not to be a good one so I came."

THE OTHER GAMES AND EVENTS: The Blue team defeated the White team, 82-56, in the "Future Game" featuring top freshman and sophomores. Boys & Girls freshman Jamie Killings scored a game-high 30 points in a win.

Okoro won the 3-point shooting contest while Fludd took home the slam dunk crown.

MOVING FORWARD: Rivers envisions this event continuing and said he would make some tweaks if he were to do it differently, including not using the league names.

"I'm very happy for how it turned out. I expected there would be a little bit of turbulence despite everything that was said and going on around it," Rivers said. "At the end of the day, it was a fun event and what I expected it to be. Fun for the kids and celebrating New York City basketball, some of the best kids on display, that's what you want to see."

Rapid Reax: St. Ray's 78, Boys 77

February, 16, 2012
When St. Raymond coach Oliver Antigua first scheduled games against two of Brooklyn’s best teams – Lincoln and Boys & Girls -- just before the start of the playoffs, he said his administration thought he was crazy.

But after senior Myron Hickman scored on a buzzer-beating layup, St. Ray's (15-9) beat Boys & Girls, 78-77, at home Thursday in a matchup of two of the top teams the CHSAA and PSAL have to offer. The Ravens now have back-to-back wins over two PSAL powers and truckload of confidence.

"I said we can practice for five days and get bored or we could load up on two quality opponents and see if we can challenge ourselves," Antigua said.

HICKMAN’S SURREAL LIFE: It started when St. Raymond star Daniel Dingle fouled out with 1:55 remaining and the scored tied at 72 after Rashad Andrews' second of two free throws. Dingle was replaced by sophomore forward Roy Pender, who got caught with an up-fake when Leroy Fludd came charging toward the basket with 12 second left.

Pender bit on the fake and fouled Fludd, who made both free throws and put the Kangaroos ahead 77-75. On the next play, Fludd tried to trap Shane Rector at the top of the key but was too aggressive and sent Rector to the foul line with 6.9 seconds remaining. Fludd immediately looked up at the clock, pointed at his head and said, "that was dumb."

But Rector missed the first free throw before making the second. St. Raymond's fouled Boys & Girls guard Dykwell Bryant off the inbound, but Bryant missed both foul shots. Akil Andrews snatched the rebound, pushed it up-court and dropped it off to Hickman for a layup before the buzzer.

The bench mobbed Hickman, who missed two weeks with a bacterial infection during the Christmas break and had been struggling to regain his rhythm.

"It was the best feeling in the world," Hickman said. "It shows how close we are as a team. We have love for each other. We’re really a family. That’s what makes us special. It was just surreal."

MONSTER TRUCK: Leroy "Truck" Fludd put Boys & Girls (20-6) ahead two with 12 second left and scored 8 of his game-high 25 points in the fourth quarter, while the Kangaroos played without forward Joel Angus, who sprained his right ankle in practice Monday. Fludd bulldozed his way into the paint and was the main reason that Dingle was forced to the bench with less than two minutes to play.

The Kangaroos have now lost two straight after blowing a big lead against Jefferson to lose the Brooklyn title last Saturday. It was a see-saw game Thursday but Boys & Girls lead 61-50 with 1:55 left in the third before the Ravens responded with a 12-0 run.

"We’re not finishing games," Boys & Girls coach Ruth LoveLace said.

ST. RAY'S PEAKING: The Ravens are playing their best basketball of the season headed into the playoffs. Larry Graves led the team with 22 points and nailed a 3-pointer with 1:37 remaining to tie the score at 72. Kerwin Okoro scored 20 and Shane Rector scored 7 of his 16 in the fourth quarter.

UP NEXT: After a bye, Boys & Girls will play Gompers in the second round of the PSAL "AA" playoffs Feb. 28. St. Raymond's will host the Archdiocesan playoffs Sunday.

Rapid Reaction: CHSAA Semis: CK 70, St. Ray's 67 (OT)

March, 9, 2011
NEW YORK – From the tip-off to the buzzer, it would be hard to get a read on the game by looking at Christ the King senior Corey Edwards. It’s exactly the kind of calm that the Knights needed.

Edwards calmly scored the CK’s last five points, including step-back three-pointer with 33 seconds left in overtime. He never showed more than an assured nod. Christ the King outlasted St. Raymond’s, 70-67, in overtime Wednesday night at Lou Carnesecca Arena at St. John’s University in a game that that was every bit as good as a championship final.

“That’s what seniors do,” Christ the King coach Joe Arbitello said. “That’s what seniors are supposed to do.”

Edwards remembered a game against Boys & Girls, his sophomore season, when he blew what could have been a game-winning layup on the same court.

“That game changed my life,” Edwards said.

It’s the sixth-straight trip to the championship final for Christ the King and the Royals second straight time going through St. Raymond’s in the semifinal.

HOW THE GAME WAS WON: The way both teams played, it seemed only right that the game spilled into overtime. Christ the King owned a two-point lead and could have sealed the game but Terrel Hunt, botched two free throws with nine seconds left, which opened the door for Shane Rector, who was making himself into a bonafide star all game. St. Raymond’s sophomore point guard penetrated deep in the paint, drew the defense and found Nkeruwem Okoro for a wide-open layup that tied the score just before time expired.

Myron Hickman opened the extra period with a huge three-pointer but was subsequently called for a technical foul for excessive celebrating. Christ the King then scored the next five points, three of which came on free throws by Omar Calhoun (23 points, 7 rebounds).

Hickman scored again on a layup to tie the score at 65 with 52.3 left. But that’s when Edwards nailed the trey that sealed the game.

“I was just dancing on him, dancing on him, and he budged,” Edwards said. “Right then the basket just looked like the ocean to me.”

TURNING POINT: St. Raymond’s looked like it stole the momentum after Okoro’s OT-forcing layup and Hickman’s three-pointer to start overtime. But Hickman side-stepped downcourt clapping and then clapped near Calhoun’s face and was whistled for a technical that stopped St. Ray’s like a giant pothole.

Calhoun hit both free throws. Then Edwards sliced to the basket for a layup that gave the Knights a 62-61 lead and put St. Raymond’s on its heels.

STAR OF THE GAME: There were a ton of big shots made on both ends but none mattered more than the clutch three-pointer and free throws, Edwards made at the end of overtime. He also hit two foul shots to put Christ the King ahead 58-56 with 1:37 left in regulation. Edwards had 16 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists.

Calhoun finished with 23 points. Chris Ortiz added 15 points, 11 boards and 3 blocks.

BIGGEST SURPRISE: With all the game-changing shots made at the end of regulation and in overtime, it was a technical foul that seemed to make the difference in the clutch. St. Raymond’s coach Oliver Antigua called the sequence of events “weird.”

It was just ironic that one of the biggest made shots of the game was the same shot that may have cost St. Raymond’s a trip to the CHSAA final.

QUOTE OF THE GAME: “He knows he played terrible in the first half. He was terrible. Turnovers. Terrible. He was just trying so hard to win the game. I just told him to relax and go back to doing what he does.”--Arbitello in Edwards

Rice 55, Holy Cross 52: Jermaine Sanders hit two of four free throws as Rice blew a 17-point lead and escaped Lou Carnescca Arena with a 55-52 win over Holy Cross in the CHSAA “AA” semifinal finals. Anthony Libroia’s would-be, game-tying three-point attempt careened off the back rim at the buzzer.

Libroia, who scored 11 in the fourth quarter, buried consecutive three-pointers to cut the lead to one with 32.2 remaining. In fact, Holy Cross twice brought the score within one but the Raiders’ Melvin Johnson responded each time with two free throws.

“I thought it was going in,” Sanders said. “He hit a couple. We just got lucky that time.”

Sanders scored just four points in the fourth, but the Cincinnati-bound senior rattled off 11 straight points, during a 13-point outburst in the third quarter. He finished with 30.

UP NEXT: Christ the King take on its storied rival Rice in the CHSAA “AA” championship Sunday at Fordham University at 3 p.m.

CHSAA AA SF: St. Raymond 59, Xaverian 49

March, 3, 2011
NEW YORK--In a game that appeared as if St. Raymond’s would run Xaverian out of the gym, it was surprising to hear the winning team preaching about defense.

But when St. Raymond’s coach Oliver Antigua called timeout with 5:58 left in Thursday night's CHSAA intersectional tournament quarterfinals, and what looked like a blowout transformed into a scary four-point lead, he reminded his team how it earned a lead in the first place. And what would get it on the court at St. John’s University next week.

“Teams make runs in the playoffs,” Antigua said. “They’re a good team. I give them credit. They were down and they made a good run.”

St. Raymond’s held on to beat Xaverian, 59-49, Thursday night in the CHSAA AA intersectional quarterfinals at St. Francis Prep in Queens.

HOW THE GAME WAS WON: Antigua said he took some advice from his brother, Orlando, an assistant coach at Kentucky, remembering that Xaverian had shot the lights out in St. Raymond’s gym earlier this season. Xaverian hit 13 three-pointers and won 81-64. Orlando Antigua told his brother to let Xaverian have the two-pointers. Just take away the threes.

The problem for Xaverian was it couldn’t make the twos either.

The Clippers missed a truckload of layups and shot a dismal 4-for-30 in the first half. Xaverian’s Brian Bernardi arrived minutes late to the game. Dillion Burns started in his place and Bernardi seemed absent from the game until he scored five straight points with about 4:30 left in the third quarter that started a 13-4 run that cut the lead to six headed into the fourth. Xaverian coach Jack Alesi called it a “cosmetic run.”

“It’s usually pretty predictable,” Alesi said. “A team goes down 20, makes a run, runs out of gas. The bottom line is the bottom. They just outplayed us from start to finish.”

That’s not completely true though. Xaverian finally found their offense in the third quarter and cut the lead to four, 42-38, with 5:58 remaining. That’s when St. Raymond’s sophomore Shane Rector stepped in.

TURNING POINT: Xaverian looked like it had a chance to steal the game after a layup by Manny Thomas cut it to four. But a layups by Nkeruwem Okoro and Myron Hickman, back-to-back baskets by Rector, and a couple more missed layups by Xaverian later and St. Raymond’s posted a 13-2 run that put the Ravens ahead by 15 with a minute remaining.

“We knew that if we guarded the way we did in the first half that we were going to alright,” said Rector, who scored 12 of his 16 points in the second half. “Coach kept telling us that we were going to win the game if we keep playing D.”

STAR OF THE GAME: Daniel Dingle did everything he could to put the team ahead when it stepped on Xaverian early and everything to try to hold the fort when the lead was in danger. He finished with 21 points, 17 rebounds and 3 blocks, including 8 of the team’s 17 first-quarter points.

“Today it was big,” he said. “They came to our house and blew us out, embarrassed us in front of our 1991 alumni. We just had to get payback and move on to the next level and St. John’s.”

BIGGEST SURPRISE: That outside of his spurt in the third quarter, Bernardi never really got into the game. He hoisted three three-pointers that all front rimmed in the second quarter. He scored just nine points.

QUOTE OF THE GAME: “It’s too easy to say we weren’t ready to play. We were ready to play. We just didn’t play well. Sometimes it’s more mental than it is physical. If I had the answer to all that, I’d go write a book on how you get ready to play.” - Alesi

Christ the King 73, St. Peter’s 46: Omar Calhoun led the Royals (20-6) with 24 points and 7 rebounds. He also scored his 1,000th career-point on a thunderous one-hand slam with 2:02 left in the first half. He scored 10 points during an 18-3 run that put the game away in the third quarter.

UP NEXT: Christ the King will play St. Raymond Wednesday at St. John’s University in the semifinals.