The borough known for its basketball lives up to that lofty standard yet again. Boys & Girls repeated as PSAL Class AA champions – the sixth straight year Brooklyn has won the crown – beating archrival Lincoln in the final.
Midwood won the PSAL Class A final behind Fordham-bound standout Bryan Smith. Bishop Loughlin and Xaverian failed to advance past the CHSAA Class AA intersectional quarterfinals, though both enjoyed several memorable moments and a pulled a few mammoth upsets.
Player of the Year: Shaquille Stokes, Lincoln
Scoring, distributing and leading, Shaquille Stokes did it all for Lincoln. He was the floor general coach Dwayne (Tiny) Morton needed while remaining a lethal scorer and a dogged defender. He fit in well with freshman sensation Isaiah Whitehead, the younger praising Stokes’ leadership qualities at every turn.
“He helped me out a lot,” Whitehead said.
A dead-on marksman from beyond the arc and fearless driver, Stokes averaged 18 points, five assists and four rebounds per game. That production helped bring back Lincoln’s aura as the Railsplitters claimed Brooklyn AA – the city’s best division – won the borough crown and reached the Garden for the PSAL Class AA final.
“There aren’t many guys that can do all those things and also help his team win,” Morton said of the uncommitted Stokes, who plans to pick between TCU, Iowa and Colorado State in the near future.
Coach of the Year: Ed Gonzalez, Loughlin
A year ago, Bishop Loughlin reached the CHSAA Class AA intersectional final, losing to Christ the King in triple overtime.
McDonald’s All-American Jayvaughn Pinkston graduated and left for Villanova, star shooting guard Branden Frazier went to Fordham and Kareem Canty, Anthony Givens and Theo Brown all transferred.
This year’s roster consisted of one returnee (Davonte Dunham) and a bunch of inexperienced players, including three talented freshmen.
While outside expectations were low, Ed Gonzalez got the most out of his squad. He was patient early, calling his team’s regular season games “scrimmages” and the Lions peaked in March.
Loughlin might not have gotten back to the title game – the Lions season ended in the Class AA quarterfinals – but with all but one key player back and 20 freshmen playing basketball at Loughlin, the future is bright in Fort Greene.
G Brian Bernardi, Xaverian
The entire city knew about the junior sharpshooter, but that doesn’t mean the 6-foot-3 guard could be stopped. Bernardi, who has offers from Hofstra, Fordham and Iona and strong interest from Siena, Boston University, Boston College, Marist, East Carolina, Fairfield and Wagner, averaged 16.4 points per game.
F Kamari Murphy, Lincoln
Arguably the city’s best all-around big man, Murphy enjoyed a breakout senior season, averaging 13 points and 10 rebounds per game to help Lincoln win Brooklyn AA and return to Madison Square Garden for the PSAL Class AA final after a one-year hiatus.
G Antione Slaughter, Boys & Girls
He was Boys & Girls best player in March, the Kangaroos’ heartbeat who made his lack of size at 5-foot-5 a non-issue. The uncommitted Slaughter was at his best in the postseason, scoring 12 fourth-quarter points to rally the Kangaroos from a 10-point deficit against South Shore in the PSAL Class AA quarterfinals and following that up with 19 points and exceptional defense on Lincoln star Shaquille Stokes in the finals victory.
G Mike Taylor,
Boys & Girls
The Rutgers-bound guard went out a winner, as the player who brought March glory back to Boys & Girls, winning consecutive PSAL Class AA crowns to end the school’s 31-year drought. His senior year was filled with ups and downs, but he will always be remembered in Bedford Stuyvesant for what he accomplished at Madison Square Garden in March the last two years.
F Isaiah Whitehead, Lincoln
The 6-foot-3 guard lived up the hype – Lincoln coach Dwayne (Tiny) Morton said he surpassed it – as the Coney Island school’s next great player, but not with monster scoring outbursts. He did it with poise, clutch play, his high basketball IQ and ability to excel at both ends of the floor, in the paint and on the perimeter.
G Davonte Dunham, Bishop Loughlin
The 6-foot-4 senior guard had to be a leader on and off the court for young and inexperienced Bishop Loughlin and Dunham averaged 17.1 points per game, third best in the CHSAA Class AA, despite being sidelined for several games with a foot injury.
G Darrel Lucky, Robeson
His senior year ended shorter than the 5-foot-7 guard would’ve hoped, in the second round of the PSAL Class AA playoffs to Forest Hills, but that hardly takes away from another impressive season from this pure scorer. Lucky, who will do a postgraduate year at NIA Prep in Newark, N.J. averaged 24 points per game in Brooklyn AA, capping a brilliant three-year varsity career filled with high-scoring performances and shooting displays.
F Malik Nichols,
Boys & Girls
Boys & Girls Ruth Lovelace felt the Hofstra recruit was the best all-around player in the city because of his ability to score, defend, rebound and create. He also proved to be extremely tough, helping the Kangaroos to a huge 62-61 victory over three-time Philadelphia Public School champion Imhotep Charter (Pa.) just two days after his mom, Jeannette died unexpectedly at the age of 46. His best performance, though, was a 22-point, 12-rebound effort to lead The High past Wings Academy and back to the PSAL Class AA finals.
G Bryan Smith, Midwood
He set the school’s all-time scoring mark with 68 points in a blowout of James Madison, led Midwood to the Brooklyn A South crown and its first boys basketball city championship of any kind since 1968. There was little Smith didn’t do in a memorable senior year which culminated with the 6-foot-2 combo guard recently verbally committing to Fordham University.
F Manny Thomas,
The 6-foot-5 Marist-bound swingman averaged 10.2 points per game and had 13 points and 12 rebounds in his final high-school game, a 59-49 loss to St. Ray’s in the CHSAA Class AA intersectional quarterfinals
F Joel Angus, Bishop Loughlin
The future at Bishop Loughlin is bright and the 6-foot-5 junior swingman is a big reason why. Angus averaged 11.2 points per game and had last-second, game-winning baskets against Archbishop Stepinac and All Hallows four days apart.
F Leroy Fludd, Boys & Girls
Fludd had a breakout junior year, averaging 12 points and 12 rebounds per game despite going up against bigger players on a daily basis. Making up for his lack of size was the forward’s remarkable leaping ability and improved jump shot. His best game of the season was its most important, Fludd going for 19 points and seven rebounds in the PSAL Class AA championship game victory over archrival Lincoln.
G Anthony Prescott, Transit Tech
Potent from beyond the arc and lightning quick into the lane, Prescott was Transit Tech’s rock, the Express’s unquestioned leader and primetime performer. After graduating four starters, Transit Tech finished fifth in Brooklyn AA, but pulled off an opening-round upset of Eagle Academy behind 30 points and six 3-pointers from Prescott.
G Jabari Peters, Grady
If he had played a decade ago, the sharp-shooting guard who dropped 50 on local rival Lincoln would’ve fit in perfectly with Grady’s determined and high-scoring clubs. Instead, the uncommitted senior was a one-man show for the struggling Falcons with his 27.1 points-per-game average.
F Shamiek Sheppard, South Shore
One of the PSAL’s bright young stars, the 6-foot-6 Sheppard was an integral piece to South Shore’s run to the PSAL Class AA quarterfinals. An accomplished finisher, improving shot-blocker and solid rebounder, the sophomore forward averaged 14 points and 10 rebounds per game, numbers that will likely increase as the youngster matures and continues to develop a post-up game to match his athletic ability.
G Khadeen Carrington, Bishop Loughlin
G Travis Gill, Xaverian
G Thaddeus Hall, Thomas Jefferson
F Jeffland Neverson, Boys & Girls
G Terrence Samuel, South Shore