MSG Varsity will visit the top boys basketball teams in New York City during the preseason and unveil our preseason power rankings each day leading up to the start of the season. Today we look at No. 1 Christ the King.
Black Friday is a day to awake from a food coma and shop. Or relax and perhaps eat more turkey.
For the Christ the King boys basketball team, it’s a work day. So there were the Royals, an hour early for a 10 a.m. practice.
In a mixed bag of a preseason, this was a positive sign for the defending New York State Federation Class AA champions.
“Everyone was here, everyone was running hard,” coach Joe Arbitello said. “It’s tough to do after two days off, but they’re back in the gym ready to go.”
The Royals aren’t getting fat off their previous success, off a 28-3 season that was capped with a third-ever Federation crown. This team wants to make their mark and Arbitello said there’s early signs the DNA of a championship team is there.
Everyone on the team, one Arbitello believes has seven eventual Division I players on it, is already buying in.
“Everybody understands their role,” he said. “Our sophomores aren’t trying to start, they’re not trying to take time from Adonis [Delarosa] or Andre [Walker]. I think that’s our big positive.”
Leading the way for the Royals is Delarosa, a 6-foot-10 center who had a huge postseason a year ago. The senior, who has offers from Purdue, Wake, St. John’s, Fordham and Hofstra, had 28 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists in the Royals first scrimmage.
“Adonis is ready to take the step as that championship guy, that senior that wants to lead and win,” Arbitello said. “He’s shooting jump shots, rebounding, he had three monstrous dunks off 3-on-2 breaks.”
Arbitello thinks Walker is ready for a breakout season, much like Jon Severe did a year ago. Severe spent his junior year in the shadows of Omar Calhoun before erupting into the first Mr. New York State Basketball in school history.
Similarly, last year Walker, who is being recruited by Boston University, took a back seat to Severe, who is having a red-hot start to his freshman year at Fordham.
“Andre Walker has been absolutely incredible,” Arbitello said. “He can score any time he wants, but he’s our point guard. He’s that guy who is going to be a stabilizer, plus he guards. In my opinion he’s the difference maker. People don’t know how good he really is.”
There’s no shortage of people who know how good Rawle Alkins is. Brought along slowly last year, the 6-foot-5 wing showcased his athleticism and shooting acumen during the Federation tournament.
Now he’s one of the top-ranked sophomores in the country who already has interest from Kentucky, Cincinnati, Villanova, Hofstra and Fordham. Yet, he’s still humble, a trait that reminded Arbitello of former Royals standout – and his teammate – Lamar Odom.
“Rawle is a really good basketball player, but he’s playing his role, which is better than anything else,” Arbitello said. “A lot of guys ranked [high] in the country act a different way than he does. He’s about the team and wanting to win.”
Travis Atson, a 6-foot-5 forward who has also drawn interest from BU and has an offer from Adelphi, is also a terrific shooter and athlete who allows Arbitello the luxury to really spread the floor with his offense.
Bryler Paige follows in the footsteps of Terrel Hunt, Jordan Fuchs and James Coleman as a guy coming from the gridiron to the hardwood.
“I love them because they’re the glue guys,” Arbitello said. “They know what it is to get hit.”
Arbitello said James Leonard and Thomas Caldwell are seniors who will lead off the court and in practices, while sophomores Yashawn Bright and Jared Rivers will bring athleticism off the bench.
“They’re really good, athletic, run the floor,” Arbitello said. “All they want to do is learn.”
And all these Royals want to do is win another CHSAA Class AA and NYS Federation title.