Now that September is here, new prospects have begun to invade prep school campuses throughout New England. That means open gyms packed with college coaches and players from across the globe looking to earn offers against the best prep competition in America!
It's a great time to get familiar with some of New England's Best New Prospects for the '19-'20 season. From today to the end of next week, The Hustle will feature one of the region's talented newcomers every day.......
Despite flying under the recruiting radar for the majority of the last four years, Okani always showed glimpses of what he could become during his high school career at West Orange HS and parochial powerhouse St Benedict’s in Newark, NJ. Those glimpses wouldn't have jumped out to anyone scanning a box score but to a passionate young coach like the PSA Cardinals’ Isaac Green, his immense potential couldn’t have been more obvious.
“Toby is extremely versatile, which was the first thing that really hit me. He’d use his length and athleticism to defend 1-thru-4 on any given night,” said Green after a recent workout in NYC. “For a player who was always considered raw, he’d always make those defensive adjustments look so fluid and effortless.”
Okani’s defensive versatility opened the door to the EYBL this summer but it was the consistent development of his overall skillset that opened the eyes of D1 coaches. Every time they’d get a chance to watch Okani, glimpses became stretches of increased production and his vast potential began shining through on a regular basis.
“Once he embraced his role in our rotation and truly invested in becoming a star in that role, you could see Toby’s game start to take off,” said Green. “He recognized the need to do the little things correctly and he experienced a really big jump in his overall game as a result. Going forward, the sky’s the limit for Toby as long as he remains true to the process.”
After recently deciding to attend Cushing Academy for his post-grad season, Okani seems to be embracing the expectations and wants to prove that he can turn those glimpses into consistent high-level production.
The Hustle spoke with Toby Okani shortly after he made the decision to attend Cushing Academy for his post-grad season in ’19-’20………..
Toby, for anyone who hasn’t seen you play, describe your game in a couple words:
TO: “Unselfish, versatile wing who loves to defend.”
What are some parts of your skillset or physical frame that you're going to work on during your post-grad season?
TO: “I want to keep adding muscle and keep developing my body right along with my skillset so I'm prepared for college. I want to impact games by making winning plays on both ends of the floor. It’s also important to keep excelling in the classroom, it's something that I take a lot of pride in.”
Are there any players or programs that you look forward to squaring off against this year?
TO: “Brewster....I came to the NEPSAC to play against the best prep competition in the country and they definitely own that title right now."
What are your goals this season at Cushing?
TO: “Develop my skillset every day, win the NEPSAC AA title, play in the 2020 National Prep Championship and be a great teammate from start-to-finish.”
What are the most important things you’ll be looking for when it comes time to decide on a college?
TO: “I’m looking for a school that will help me maximize my talents, both on-&-off the court. The developmental plan that each coaching staff prepares for me is going to be key. I want to be challenged every day by a staff that embraces challenges themselves and creates a winning culture.”
Love it bro! That mentality will work wonders off the court for the rest of your life too.
Okani will join an extremely talented core of prospects for HC James Cormier this season. Led by one of the nation's top young floor generals, Bensley Joseph, this Cushing lineup could be the best that Cormier has put together.
6'2" PG/Wing Isaiah Gray will join Joseph in the backcourt to create a menacing UConn-style 2-guard tandem alongside versatile 6'7" wing Alexis Reyes and blue-collar 6'9" big man Malachi Ndur in the post.
Okani provides a perfect compliment to Reyes and the two will form one of the most intriguing wing duos in the region. Cormier might not be done adding talent to this year's Cushing roster either. But we'll just have to wait-&-see on that front......