By Rob Abruzzese
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
It's not unusual for high school kids to copy or emulate NBA players, but usually they're copying the clothes they wear or the music they listen to. However, a trio of high school basketball players from Brooklyn are emulating their NBA heroes in a different way -- how they go about picking their teams.
Much like LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh teamed up to win a championship with the Miami Heat, Isaiah Whitehead and Desi Rodriguez, from Lincoln High School, and Khadeen Carrington, from Bishop Loughlin, will head to South Orange, New Jersey together next season hoping to restore the former glory back to Seton Hall.
"We're just trying to create a powerhouse like how Seton Hall was back in the day," Carrington said. "We thought we could go somewhere and turn a program around and we feel like that's what we're going to do at Seton Hall."
Carrington was the first of the three to commit back in September because, he said, that he felt a good fit with Kevin Willard and his coaching staff. After that the three-star recruit immediately went to work on recruiting his friend Whitehead.
"Khadeen called me right away," Whitehead recalled. "He told me that the school was great and talked me into taking a visit. I took a visit and I saw that it was something that we could build up starting from the bottom to the top. He was a big influence because he's a top player in the city just like me so for him to go to that school, I had to go see what they had and when I got there it impressed me a lot."
Whitehead committed to Seton Hall a week after Carrington did. At that point, Rodriguez was coming off a season where he averaged just 11.9 points and 8.4 rebounds per game. His numbers improved as the season went on though and he eventually won the MVP of the Public School Athletic League's city championship.
That only got Rodriguez light attention from high-major colleges and offers from low and mid-major schools like Buffalo, Central Connecticut, Niagara, Southern Mississippi and Towson. He was also considering reclassifying to 2015 in an effort to improve his chances at landing at a larger program when Seton Hall assistant coach Fred Hill Jr. watched him play at the City of Palms tournament.
It was at that tournament where he averaged 20 points and 10 rebounds per game while playing against some of the top high school talent in the country. Between that tournament and the improvement Rodriguez showed during the regular season, he averaged 25.5 points and 13.7 rebounds per game leading up to the tourney, Hill Jr. had decided that he'd seen enough and offered Rodriguez a scholarship that weekend. Rodriguez accepted it the same night.
"Khadeen, (Angel Delgado, another Seton Hall commit from the Bronx), Isaiah and I went to a couple of Seton Hall games together, unofficial visits, and I thought we had a great bond together," Rodriguez said. "The four of us were hanging out and they would tell me how great that it was going to be. Eventually, I knew that if they made me an offer I was going to take it."
The three of them never exactly sat in a room together and decided that they would go to Seton Hall together, but they did often talk about how great it would be to play together, to go to a school and turn it into a national champion. Each of the friends heavily influenced each other as well. Now that it has actually come together they are all genuinely excited.
"I think they discussed it a little bit beforehand, but the timing also came together perfectly," said Lincoln's head coach Dwayne "Tiny" Morton, who has never denied rumors that he has accepted an assistant coaching position at Seton Hall for next year. "They all figured they could play high-level basketball together and Seton Hall had the scholarships available."
"It's going to be like home again, like Lincoln again, just in Jersey," Rodriguez said.