College Basketball Corner: Teel,Forbes Among Stars on National Stage
Vernon Teel took an unlikely route to the junior college ranks, one that many college basketball fans would consider "backward" in some respects. After a stellar career at Flushing High School where he averaged 27.1 points per game during his junior season, he moved on to Laurinburg Preparatory in North Carolina to get his academics in order for acceptance into a college of his choice.
Once thought to be a potential impact player in the Big East (he was recruited by Seton Hall coach Bobby Gonzalez and Cincinnati's Mick Cronin), Teel eventually decided on Long Island University as the ideal program for him. The 6'3'' natural guard decided to red-shirt his freshman year with the Blackbirds and, following the season, announced that he would be transferring out of Long Island in favor of a junior college.
Teel found his way to Chipola College located in Marianna, Florida, at the start of the 2007-2008 academic year, with hopes of earning himself a solid role in the school's storied basketball program.
The move to Florida turned out to be the right one, as he averaged 9 points per game on the season and was instrumental in the Indians' state junior college championship. After the state championship, the team moved on to the National Junior College Athletic Association Division 1 tournament in Kansas where they finished 7th out of 16 teams.
Chipola ended the year with a 35 win, 2 loss record on the season and is looking ahead to another title run for next year. After Teel completes his twoyear stint at the Florida springboard school, he hopes that Division 1 scouts can reevaluate his play and find him a home in a solid program. These goals should come as no surprise, because when it comes to basketball, Teel is the "real deal."
Teel may be able to seek advice from Richard Forbes, another Rockaway product who took the junior college route to Division 1 success. Following a great career at Far Rockaway High School in which he averaged 32.0 points per game during his senior year to lead the entire PSAL in scoring,
Forbes moved on to Tallahassee Junior College for a brief stint with their program. His sophomore year of college brought on more change, as he transferred to Howard Junior College in Texas to serve as their sixth man. Forbes averaged 10.8 points per game off the bench for the 35 win, 2 loss Howard team before signing with Binghamton University to continue his collegiate career.
Forbes' two years with the Bearcats have proved to be very successful, averaging double figures in both seasons with a 11.1 points per game career average. Binghamton's season, and ultimately Forbes' collegiate career ended abruptly in the America East quarterfinals with a loss to the fourth seeded University of Vermont Catamounts.
Always known to be a scorer, Forbes was touted throughout the America East Conference as "a flashy guard with an explosive offensive game." Hopefully, he will show some of that flash on the asphalt this summer in one of New York City's many amateur leagues.
Until then, Rockaway can only reminisce about the only player who finished ahead of legend Sebastian Telfair in scoring average during the 2003- 2004 PSAL season.
Other Rockaway athletes have made their presence felt within the college ranks. Morgan Kelly, a 6'9''big man out of Archbishop Molloy High School just finished up his freshman campaign at Brown University.
The former pupil of coaching legend Jack Curran garnered valuable experience this season with the Providence, Rhode Island school and hopes to land a bigger role in the Bear's game plan next season.
Brown saw their season come to a close when they were defeated by Ohio University, 80-74, in the opening round of the inaugural College Basketball Postseason Invitational.
On the Divison III level, former Far Rockaway star Warren McAllister played a crucial role in Farmingdale State's earning a berth in the NCAA tournament. McAllister scored 14 points and had 6 rebounds in his final collegiate game, which was an opening round loss in the tournament to Penn State-Behrend. On the season the Rockaway native averaged 7.6 points and 4.3 rebounds per game for the Rams.
At Connecticut's Post University (Division II), another set of Far Rockaway High School players are experiencing great success. Arthur Robertson (who leads the team in scoring) and Mike Brockington both were instrumental in the team's success in the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference.
On the women's side, Samantha Swensen may have been the most successful Rockaway Beach collegiate player of the 2007-2008 season. In her sophomore year at Amherst University in Massachusetts, Swensen averaged 9.4 points and 4.2 rebounds in 20 minutes per contest.
The 6-foot swingman helped the Lord Jeffs to a 27 win, 3 loss record on the season. Also in the Division III ranks, Maureen Carey (formerly of Stella Maris High School) was a member of the Hudson Valley Athletic Conference Champion Mount St. Vincent team this past year. In her second season with the Bronx squad she appeared in nine contests and shot 40 percent from the field.
It should come as no surprise that year after year Rockaway residents' names are found throughout college basketball scouting reports. The peninsula has a vast basketball history being, home to greats such as Brian Winters and Nancy Lieberman. Next season looks equally promising as Rockaway stars plan to, once again, make their native Queens neighborhood proud.