The ball’s in Amani’s court

The ball’s in Amani’s court
Archbishop Molloy’s Amani Tatum controls the ball in the game against Bishop Ford in Bishop Ford HS in Brooklyn
Denis Gostev
By Joseph Staszewski

YORK, Pa. — Decision time is finally coming for Amani Tatum.

“I feel like I’m getting old,” the Archbishop Molloy rising senior guard joked. “I feel like I was just a freshman playing on varsity fighting for a spot. I have all these colleges and I have choices. It’s obviously a blessing.”

Now that she is embarking on the final travel ball summer of her career with the NYC Bulldogs, a college choice will need to be made soon. Tatum has been highly recruited over her four-year varsity career, Bulldogs and former Molloy Coach Tom Catalanotto said. A travel tournament doesn’t go by that five new college coaches don’t inquire about her.

“There are still people who don’t know about her,” Catalanotto said.

Tatum, an All-City second team selection by the New York Post over the winter, already has offers from Delaware and Hartford. She also has interest from Siena, Marist, Bucknell, LaSalle, Liberty, Syracuse and Northwestern, among others. Catalanotto believes more offers will come as Tatum begins to take more visits, having already gone on unofficial trips to Delaware and Hartford. She hopes to narrow her list down by the end of July.

Tatum is unsure if she will split time this summer with Exodus NYC and the Bulldogs like she did a year ago. She played with them in June and said there is a chance she heads to Tennessee with Exodus later this week. So far over the weekend, the combo guard has helped lead the Bulldogs to a 4-1 record at the Blue Chip USA Invitational at the Toyota Arena in York, Pa. Tatum completed a three-point play with 12 seconds left to give them a 47-46 win over the Renegades (Pa.) Saturday.

“I wanted to win it for my team.” Tatum said. “Each game is more important and each game means a little bit more to me.”

Whatever college lands Tatum will get one of the area’s top breakdown guards, an attribute that helped her lead many Stanners comebacks last season, Molloy Coach Scott Lagas said. Her improved jump shot could make her an even tougher cover at the next level, he said. Tatum has hit the three-point shot more consistently so far this summer.

“She is a very good mid-major player,” said one Division I assistant coach who has seen Tatum play on multiple occasions. “Defense and the strength of her jump shot could determine how high she goes. She will help a Division I team with her speed and her willingness to sacrifice her body.”

Yet, what sets her apart are her intangibles, her insatiable desire to win, her strength on the ball and her ability to rebound against bigger players. Tatum has a knack for coming up with a big steal and even took a charge late to give the Bulldogs a chance to win in the final seconds against Canada Drive.

“That’s what separates her from a lot of these other kids,” Catalanotto said. “She’s an elite athlete.”

Tatum helped lead Molloy to a memorable season last year under first-year Coach Scott Lagas. The Stanners reached the CHSAA Class AA state semifinals after stunning nationally ranked St. Anthony’s in the quarterfinals as Tatum dropped in 20 points. Her finest performance was a 28-point effort in a victory over rival Mary Louis in the Brooklyn/Queens quarterfinals.

“Amani is such a fighter, such a competitor you never thought you were out of the game,” Lagas said. “With Amani on the floor, you never think you are out of the game.”

Tatum says this summer means a little bit more important than previous ones because it’s her last. It makes her play harder at each stop. Decision time is approaching and Tatum is hoping to have made her choice by the time school starts.

“It’s a big decision,” Tatum said. “I don’t want to rush it.”

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