The main event of the 38th annual Wheelchair Charities HS Basketball Classic was supposed to be the boys junior and senior championship between Brooklyn and The Bronx. But it was the underclassmen who stole the show in April 14’s curtain raiser.
Lincoln super-freshman Isaiah Whitehead had 17 of his 21 points in the second half and put Brooklyn ahead three separate times, including for good with one second left, in the borough’s 72-70 win over Queens at Long Island University’s Wellness Center.
“At the end of the game, Isaiah just took over,” said Thomas Jefferson coach Bud Pollard, who was on the bench for Brooklyn. “I’ve seen it a couple of times, but I also am having nightmares that I gotta face this guy for another three years.”
It wasn’t just Whitehead that he’s going to have to deal with in PSAL Brooklyn AA, though. South Shore’s Terrence Samuel had 21 points Thursday night, Vikings teammate Shamiek Sheppard had a solid game and Boys & Girls sophomore Wesley Myers also competed on a stacked roster. Luckily for him, Pollard will have sophomores like Jaquan Lynch and Nazai Stokes to counter the next couple of years.
If that wasn’t an impressive enough team, Queens was led by Cardozo’s Jermaine Lawrence, Jordan Washington of Pathways and Christ the King’s Jordan Fuchs. It was a game loaded with future high Division I talent.
“I think the resurgence at the 10th grade level is like what I’m used to seeing with guys like Ron Artest and Lamar Odom, guys with a chance to make something of themselves,” said Christ the King assistant coach Artie Cox, who headed up the Queens team. “Good talent and good kids, too.”
Whitehead, one of the top freshmen in the country, stood out much like he did all year at Lincoln. He hit two straight 3-pointers, the latter putting Brooklyn up 60-59 with 3:05 left. His 15-footer with 2:13 left broke a 62-all tie and finally a contested jumper from 18 feet, after a wicked pump fake, gave Brooklyn the victory.
“We definitely wanted to win, because we wanted to show Brooklyn was better with the underclassmen,” Whitehead said.
The talk lately is that talent in New York City is down. It was hard to agree with that statement if you were at LIU last Thursday, though.
“I think the city might be down as far as All-American and top 25-caliber players, but there’s great parity,” Pollard said.
Cox said that Brooklyn and Queens, in particular, seem to be pretty talent-rich at the lower levels. The future stars on the court will likely be playing together – and against one another – in many all-star games to come.
“It was definitely cool,” Whitehead said. “I got to see who I’ll be going against next year and the years coming.”