Wilson grads triumph in collegiate basketball

Courtesy+of+Jay+Heath

Courtesy of Jay Heath

Alex Cirino

Jay Heath stepped onto the court for his collegiate debut on November 6—and what an atmosphere it was. There was a large home crowd on their feet during the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) season opener, Boston College vs Wake Forest. Wearing his signature number five, Heath went out as a starter for BC and scored an astonishing 18 points, proving to be his season-high. Heath joins five Wilson teammates at the Division 1 level.

“It’s exciting to see,” said Wilson basketball Head Coach Angelo Hernandez. “That’s what I set out to do five years ago when I put together a five-year plan for basketball.” Hernandez assured that his players trained in an environment mimicking the fast-paced collegiate game. All of these players led Wilson’s basketball team to three consecutive DCIAA championships and its first DCSAA championship win.

Aside from Boston College, Wilson graduates have landed spots at the University of Maryland, Morgan State University, and La Salle University. 

Currently ranked seventh in the NCAA, Maryland’s basketball roster has three Tiger graduates who have earned significant minutes this season. With the Mitchell twins and Ricky Lindo headlining an underclassman heavy Terrapin roster, the team has much-needed depth to benefit them throughout a promising National Championship run. Lindo, who earned several minutes last season as a freshman, has become an integral part of the team. With a career-high 13 point game in a convincing, 74-55 win against Fairfield University, Lindo hopes to carry this form into the Big Ten season and potentially the March Madness tournament. Maryland has maintained an impressive 10-1 record and are a favorite to win their second-ever National Championship. 

But the main headlines this season have surrounded Boston College point guard Jay Heath. Since his big performance against Wake Forest, Heath has now started all 12 games for the Eagles this season, averaging 13 points per game—the second best amongst his teammates. “Being a main guy as a freshman has really helped me grow as a player because I get more opportunities when I am put in many different game situations,” Heath mentioned. “It really helps my game grow mentally.” With many opportunities to prove his game, Heath has recorded 10 or more points in 11 out of the 12 games he’s played.

 Aside from the Wake Forest game, BC’s narrow, four-point victory against Eastern Washington University was led by Heath as he made five of his seven three-point attempts that night. Day in and day out, Heath has shown his ability to conquer the challenge that is D1 basketball. “Playing at this level, you get challenged every night so it really brings out the best of you,” Heath added.

Ayinde Hikim has also risen to this challenge. Hikim joined La Salle’s team this season after reclassing this past year at Mount Zion Prep in Maryland. Hikim has featured in every game this season but has yet to start. He has made his presence known by putting up high point games. His season-high came in a loss to the University of Pennsylvania as Hikim put up an impressive 14 points. Like he showed as a guard at Wilson, Hikim has maintained his impressive defensive presence, leading the team with 10 steals this season. With a promising 6-3 start to the regular season, Hikim and the rest of the Explorers squad are looking to make their first NCAA tournament appearance since 2013.

Like Hikim, Morgan State’s Josiah Marable entered this season as a freshman after reclassing for a year. However, Marable was forced to delay the start to his basketball career until next season, also known as redshirting.

“I’ve always told them to stay focused, to go in wanting to learn, and by the time they get done with their college careers they’ll be successful.” Hernandez said. With an exciting season ahead of these players, watch out for these names in the future as they continue their standout performances.