Saturday, October 11, 2014

Alkins Steals Show, Goes Off En Route to MVP Honors

Rawle Alkins scanned the rim and saw Justin Wright-Foreman all alone in the open court. Floating up a lob pass that had a bit too much force on it, the ball ricocheted off the backboard and landed right back into Alkins' hands.

With every eyeball at a standing room-only Gaucho Gym widening, the bullish 6-foot-5, 210-pound two-guard delivered a violently emphatic two-handed dunk.

Not only did the play punctuate New York's 103-93 victory over New Jersey at the sixth annual Sharette Dixon Classic, not only did it send the crowd into a frenzy, it personified Alkins' night.

Attacking, finishing above the rim, infusing a laissez-faire offense with dazzling displays of athleticism, burying quickly-released 3-pointers, and carving through all defenders in his path, Alkins poured in 34 points en route MVP honors.

"The New Jersey guys started to get on a run, we just stayed together and won as a team," said Alkins, who reeled off a personal 6-0 run in a 48-second span in the fourth quarter.

After a jittery first half, New York employed a transition attack.

 A hailstorm of timely 3-pointers erased a six-point deficit and subsequently built a double digit fourth quarter lead.

Notre Dame-bound Matt Ryan bagged the tie-breaking 3-pointer, knotting it at 61-61 following a handful of lead changes. The 6-foot-7, 220-pound Ryan later got free for a corner trey, slicing it to 68-66.

Ty Jerome, a Virginia-commit and Ryan's Iona Prep teammate, cut it to 71-69 with an NBA range 3-pointer.

  Georgetown-commit Jessie Govan emerged with a loud stickback, knotting it at 71-all.

Then, Alkins erupted.

He swooped in for a putback of Ryan's mid-range jumper, converted a steal to a wowing reverse dunk and again went airborne, punching in Ryan's lob pass as New York seized a 78-73 lead that was never threatened.

Alkins is suddenly a marked man, one of the most highly-coveted recruits on the country's recruiting market.

 With a Big East body, sky-scraping athleticism, and an ability to get the right shots off with ease, Alkins was rendered un-guardable Saturday night.

His phone is often bombarded with text messages from high-major coaches all across the country.

He's the high-energy guard inundated with recruiting mail and autograph requests while cameras and microphones are thrust in his face.

"Kentucky's starting to get into the mix, Arizona is starting to get into the mix with Coach Book (Richardson)," said Alkins, now hounded by Louisville, Seton Hall, Indiana, Minnesota, N.C. State, Villanova, Providence and countless others.

"Right now I'm probably getting texts as we speak."

Wright-Foreman and Desure Buie were New York's key sources in the third quarter, knifing to the rim and finishing.

 The team identity, sorely lacking in the first half, developed during the final 15 minutes of the game. New York began kicking in the extra pass and featuring Alkins.

"We got stops and I think we played together more than them," said Jerome, who kicked in a nifty no-look pass to Govan for a bucket and an 86-78 lead.

The team was far from a piecemeal product, as several players established chemistry in the NY v.s. Philly game last weekend.

Each year, this event showcases the top student-athletes from both states.

Dixon is the late, loving wife of Kimani Young, the former New Heights pioneer and current assistant coach at Minnesota.

 New Heights has churned out a steady crop of local talent and is one of the country's premiere grassroots programs and perennial Division-I launchpads.

 Many in attendance shelled out donations for Young's family, for whom the event raises money.

Dixon was an English professor at Kingsborough Community College and the event honors academic success.

While the thrill factor of Alkins and the piecemeal team that found fluidity during a second half surge was the story, the point illustrated was simple: The power is in the pencils.

A significant percentage of the student-athletes showcased are honor roll and high honor roll members.