College scouts from Monroe, Malloy, St. John’s and UCONN, along with other division one, two, and three institutions came to Bayside last Friday, October 1, to get a glimpse of the prospects on the Benjamin N. Cardozo High School men’s basketball team.
In the past, Cardozo has produced NBA talent such as Rafer Alston and Royal Ivey; while none of these youngsters looks ready for the NBA, several have the potential.
“There’s a lot of potential for kids here either getting scholarships or half-scholarships – there will be a college somewhere [that wants them],” said Coach Ron Naclerio.
The team, ranging from 13- to 17-year-olds, walked into the gym sporting multicolored home and away jerseys in order to break up into groups – and so they would not confuse the scouts about who was a freshman and who was a senior.
Some of the seniors, like 5’11” point guard Reynaldo Walters who has already committed to a college, have a slight baby-face look.
Lanky, towering 6’7” freshman Jermaine [CQ] Lawrence throws down monstrous dunks with ease, despite his looks.
“The team goal is to go as far as we can and get a city title,” Naclerio said. “Individually, when their senior year is over … they get into a good college, get their four-year degree and get a great job,” he added.
After a quick team stretch, the 25 teens took to the hardwood for some layup lines, dribble technique, and jump shot drills. Then they were individually introduced to the scouts by Naclerio.
The coach joked during some of his introductions saying things like “this kid needs a kick in the butt sometimes, but he’s one of my favorites,” and “He’s a knuckle-head off the court, but he’s a bright kid on the court.”
Team play and ball movement was a key element of the practice game. Seniors like Walters and Dwayne Brunson looked like polished athletes – and even some of the underclassmen like Lawrence and Chris Gayot proved that they can compete at a top level.
“I’m starting to get used to playing in front of scouts,” said Gayot, a guard who is going into his junior year. “I’m just getting more confidence by doing this.”
Most scouts stayed for the entire scrimmage and took copious notes on who was a budding prospect that they might want to recruit for their teams.
Now the team will buckle down and practice hard for the season opener on December 1.