South Shore product signs with Hawaii

Carlotta Mingo barely knew what basketball was when she came to Brooklyn from Guyana at 14. When she started playing the sport as a freshman at South Shore, Mingo didn’t just have to learn the finer points – she had to figure out if it was really what she wanted to do.

“When I started playing it, I didn’t like the game that much,” she said. “But when I started playing and playing, I started to love it. Now when I play it, my problems go away.”

If playing basketball is her own personal paradise, Mingo will continue her career in a real paradise. Late last month, the 6-foot forward, who played the last two years at Harcum junior college in Pennsylvania, signed a National Letter of Intent to play at the University of Hawaii. Mingo said she initially planned on going to a Division II school, but she worked hard to improve on her game and the WAC school came calling.

“Nobody would have ever thought I would have been going D-I,” she said. “I wouldn’t have thought that either.”

Mingo is the first player from coach Anwar Gladden’s tenure at South Shore to earn a Division I scholarship. She’s also the first from the Team Prince AAU program to do it.

“It’s huge,” Gladden said. “It sets the path for the younger kids, letting them know that kids out of South Shore can go D-I.”

Mingo’s signing also has caught the attention of Team Prince’s namesake, current Chicago Sky guard Epiphanny Prince.

“I’m real happy,” the former Rutgers and Murry Bergtraum star said by phone from Chicago. “I’m proud of her sticking with her dream and working hard, achieving what she ultimately wanted.”

“Working hard” is what separates Mingo from the pack, Gladden said. She’s relentless on the boards – Mingo averaged 10.7 rebounds per game at Harcum this past winter – and relishes her ability to impact the game in that way.

“Hard work is her No. 1 thing,” Gladden said. “She came to America, she’s trying to make it. She’s trying to be successful.”

Mingo said that Hawaii reminds her a bit of her native Guyana, especially the climate. She definitely prefers heat all the time, rather than the New York winters. But that isn’t why she decided on the school.

“I just thought I could help the team and the team needs help in rebounding,” Mingo said.

She says that she has been refining her game even more to become a better offensive player. Her size and athleticism make her a natural small forward on the college level, Gladden said. It’s certainly a far cry from her when she first got to South Shore.

“Anwar used to just make me stand in the middle,” Mingo said. “I didn’t start developing until my junior year.”

Three years later she’ll be playing Division I basketball in arguably the most beautiful of the 50 states. Paradise, indeed.

“I’d love to go visit her, catch a few games out there,” Gladden said with a laugh.

Notes: South Shore guard Taylor Lloyd will play next year Connors State College, a JUCO in Warner, Okla.

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