Tobias Harris: Coming To A Gym Near You

December 14, 2009

Mark your calendar. Thursday, Dec. 17 at 5:45 p.m.

That’s the season opener for the Half Hollow Hills West boys basketball team. The Colts hit the road to face host Eastport-South Manor. It’s also the only glimpse you’ll get of New York’s best basketball player until after the New Year.

Tennessee-bound Tobias Harris is the rarest of sights on Long Island. He’s a transcendent player. The 6-8 senior is considered a top five recruit nationally and the most gifted talent the region has seen since Danny Green (St. Mary’s) and A.J. Price (Amityville) heated up gyms.

Both are in the NBA now. And if father-handler-promoter Torrell Harris Sr. can be believed, then Tobias Harris will jump to the NBA after two seasons of college ball. That’s the plan.

But Harris’ promise recalls another Long Island great: Jason Fraser. The 6-9 Amityville star created a buzz not equaled the last two decades as he led the Warriors on a path to a second straight state championship in 2002. He signed autographs before games, dunked ferociously on foes and no one ever raised an eyebrow when Amityville won by 50 points.

Running up the score? No, the Warriors were simply that good.

Injuries took a toll on Fraser’s pro ambitions. His heyday was in an Amityville uniform, and anyone lucky enough to see him play won’t forget him anytime soon, even if the rest of the basketball world has.

Here is your shot to see the latest and greatest hoops star from Long Island.

In case you forgot, Harris led unheralded Hills West to an undefeated regular season as a sophomore and then claimed the program’s first Suffolk Class AA championship. He transferred to Long Island Lutheran for greater basketball exposure and got it in spades. Harris guided LuHi to a state Federation Class A title last March and then promptly transferred back to Hills West.

This encore season with Hills West includes an added bonus. Tyler Harris is a fast-rising junior who would probably be getting even greater attention if he weren’t playing in the shadow of big brother.

Tobias Harris opens the season as a finalist for the Naismith Award, which goes to the nation’s top high school boys basketball player.

So warm up the car and get ready to follow the Harris Victory Tour as it makes a stop at a high school near you, from Riverhead to Deer Park – and maybe, just maybe the state Final Four at the Glens Falls Civic Center in March.

HALF HOLLOW HILLS WEST BASKETBALL SCHEDULE 2009-2010

DATE OPPONENT TIME
12-17-09 @EASTPORT 5:45 p.m.
1-5-10 @COPIAGUE 4:00 p.m.
1-7-10 DEER PARK 6:00 p.m.
1-12-10 @RIVERHEAD 5:45 p.m.
1-14-10 WEST BABYLON 6:00 p.m.
1-16-10 @ Springfield, Mass. 1:30 p.m.
HOOP HALL CLASSIC vs. Sacred Heart, Conn.
1-18-10 @ Baruch College 5:45 p.m.
BIG APPLE CHALLENGE vs. Bishop Loughlin, N.Y.
1-19-10 SMITHTOWN WEST6:00 p.m.
1-21-10 EASTPORT 6:00 p.m.
1-24-10 @ West Virginia University 12:00 p.m.
PRIME TIME SHOOTOUT vs. Chester, Pa.
1-25-10 @ BELLPORT 7:00 p.m.
1-28-10 COPIAGUE 6:00 p.m.
1-30-10 @DEER PARK 1:45 p.m.
2-02-10 RIVERHEAD 6:00 p.m.
2-04-10 @WEST BABYLON 5:45 p.m.
2-08-10 BELLPORT 6:00 p.m.
2-10-10 @SMITHTOWN WEST 5:45 p.m.
2-14-10 @ Trenton, NJ 3:30 p.m.
PRIME TIME SHOOTOUT vs. Christ the King, N.Y.
2-19-10 SUFFOLK PLAYOFFS

Blog originally posted at LI Pulse.com

Long Island Fall Sports Wrap

November 30, 2009

Memorable plays and magical playmakers marked this high school sport season on Long Island. The fall saw many dynasties continue – from South Side girls soccer to Ward Melville girls swimming – and new faces reach the pinnacle – welcome to the show Half Hollow Hills West football. 

It also saw several great athletes finish high school careers in style from Holy Trinity running back Anthony Brunetti, a four-year starter, rushing for 2,000 yards to South Side girls soccer star Crystal Dunn fulfilling her promise with a state crown.

Long Island Pulse magazine followed it all with giddy excitement. Here are our highlights:

Best Finish: When Freeport lost quarterback Paul Ketchens to injury in the Nassau Conference I quarterfinals, it turned to running back Kevin Allen to show senior leadership and direct the offense. All Allen did was power his Red Devils to the Long Island Class I football championship. Freeport’s 38-14 win over Floyd ended five years of Suffolk dominance over Long Island’s largest classification. In fact, it was the first Nassau victory since a powerhouse Freeport squad blew out Floyd in 2003. Allen rushed for 1,095 yards and 17 touchdowns in four playoff games and finished the season with a Nassau-record 35 touchdowns. Amazing!

Best Career: Rockville Centre is Soccer Town, USA. And after churning out one great team after another, the South Side girls soccer program produced a player who will go down as one of the best in Long Island history, and certainly the area’s best since Team USA forward Christie Welsh starred at Massapequa in 1997-98. Who? Crystal Dunn.  The four-year player wrapped up her senior season by winning her third state title. She blasted four goals as South Side routed Section V champ Greece Arcadia, 6-0, in the state Class A championship game. Dunn, who signed with the University of North Carolina, tallied nine goals and six assists in the playoffs. Not coincidentally, South Side failed to win a state title in 2008 when Dunn missed all but three games playing for the U.S. under-17 national team. That’s a strong finish to a great career.   

Best Repeat: After dropping a 2-1 decision to Newfield and tying with Ward Melville to open the season, the Comsewogue boys soccer team set aside the shaky start and reeled off 20 straight wins. The culmination came in Oneonta on Nov. 23 with a 2-0 win over Section III New Hartford to claim the state Class A championship. Keith Vigorito, a prolific scorer the last two seasons, put a goal in the title game to help the Warriors win back-to-back championships. Only two other boys programs have repeated as state Class A champ since the tournament began in 1978. Sachem claimed consecutive crowns in 1997-98. Section II champ Shenendehowa won or shared the state Class A title four straight seasons, from 1990-93. So give the Warriors their due.

Best Defense: Great defense defines championship football teams on the high school level. But few defenses in recent memory have done more than the unheralded group at Garden City. The Trojans’ immovable D allowed four touchdowns—and 28 points – all season to finish 12-0. That includes nine shutouts. The highlight came in the Long Island Class II title game when Garden City shut down previously unbeaten North Babylon to win 9-6. A fumble recovery on special teams set up the winning 38-yard field goal by Ryan Norton. Now that’s clutch.

Best Marketing Mogul: Nobody jumped onto the national stage quite like Half Hollow Hills West basketball standout Tobias Harris. He was considered a top 100 recruit heading into the summer. But through relentless travel with his AAU team and workmanlike effort at countless skills camps, the 6-8 Harris became one of the most talked-about talents Long Island has ever seen. Adding to his national profile: Harris Twittered his every move and became every basketball fan’s friend on Facebook. After several high-profile visits this fall to hoops hotbeds, from Syracuse to Kentucky, Harris waited until the day after the early signing period ended in mid-November to announce – on ESPNU and in Times Square, no less – that he was attending the University of Tennessee. P.T. Barnum’s got nothing on this kid.

Blog originally posted at LI Pulse.com

Basketball Spotlight Finds Long Island

November 9, 2009

I’ve got a thought your football-shaped brain might struggle to absorb: Basketball season kicks off this week.

I know, I know. Didn’t the Knicks already begin their season of self flagellation in the quest for LeBron months ago? It seems eons longer when you add in the bizarro Stephon Marbury era and other memorable salary clearing moves. Darko Miličić anyone?

For you really hard core New Yorkers, the Nets sans Vince Carter are about as exciting as the New Jersey Turnpike at rush hour. And lest we forget, Syracuse already lost an exhibition game to Division II LeMoyne.

Truth is New York couldn’t be much further from a basketball state of mind. That changes this week when Long Island, hardly a hoops hotbed, becomes the center of attention in the basketball-loving world thanks to two big events.

The first might count as more horror show to this already frightful story. The Hofstra men’s basketball team opens its season on Friday, Nov. 13—that’s always a good omen—against Kansas, the nation’s top-ranked team.

Either way, the Pride can’t lose. This is the highest-ranked team Hofstra has ever faced, and the exposure the program receives can only help. The Pride, coming off a 21-11 season, feature junior guard Charles Jenkins, a natural scorer with a knack for getting to the basket.

This one can’t end badly. A moment in the spotlight, even if it is to play the foil, is an opportunity nonetheless. The game is at Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence, Kansas at 8 p.m. It will air on the ESPN Full Court package on DirecTV. Or you can listen live at GoHofstra.com.

The media glare falls on another Long Islander this week: Half Hollow Hills West hoops sensation Tobias Harris. The 6-8 forward shot up the prep charts in the year since winning a state Class A Federation title at Long Island Lutheran. Harris, of Dix Hills, is considered one of the nation’s top five recruits.

And his journey from unknown scorer as a freshman at Hills to nationally-recognized recruit culminates this week when he signs with a college. The week-long NCAA early signing period begins Wednesday, Nov. 11. The top high school prospects commit amid a frenzy of interest.

Harris has made whirlwind stops at West Virginia, Kentucky, Louisville, Tennessee and Syracuse in the last month. Georgia Tech and Maryland are also on his short list.

But don’t look to Newsday—or even LIPulse.com—for coverage of the Harris announcement. In the age of instant self-reporting, Harris has Tweeted his every move. You can follow the Harris saga at http://www.twitter.com/tobias31.

Blog originally posted at LI Pulse.com

Newsday: Jack Agostino

March 12, 2004

Newsday logo

Title: Coach, confidant & pal; Agostino may not be top tactical guy around, but caring personality and his ability to relate to kids make him No. 1
Publication: Newsday – Long Island, N.Y.
Author: JASON MOLINET. STAFF WRITER
Date: Mar 12, 2004
Start Page: A.78
Section: SPORTS
Text Word Count: 1403

It is the day before a playoff game and Jack Agostino is pacing the gym with precision, pushing a wide brush along the grainy wooden floor as he goes. Watching over this ritual are championship banners that hang proudly from institutional white walls.

Sometimes Agostino, Amityville’s boys basketball coach, enlists a player to do the chore. More often than not, the coach sweeps the court in the quiet time before each practice. A clean gym is the foundation to a productive workout. And Agostino believes games are won – he’s lost infrequently – at these afternoon sweat sessions.

“Really, the work is done at practice,” Agostino said. “You don’t have to over-coach. If you prepare them, they’ll perform.”

Janitor is just one of the roles Agostino plays. He is a trainer, scout, teacher, disciplinarian, counselor and mentor to the teenagers who fill the Amityville gym.

After 17 seasons at the helm, Agostino is more than just the coach of Suffolk’s most successful basketball program. He is the caretaker of a dynasty that won its first Suffolk title in 1932 and was a perennial league champion long before he arrived.

Town of winners

The Warriors (19-4) continue their quest for an unprecedented fifth straight state championship at 7:30 tonight at SUNY-Old Westbury. After dominating the Class B ranks the previous four seasons, Amityville will play Nassau champion South Side in the Class A Southeast Regional final/Long Island championship. And while Amityville has climbed to great heights during this terrific run, winning basketball is nothing new for this South Shore town.

“We breed athletes,” said Detroit Pistons guard Mike James, a 1993 graduate. “Growing up in Amityville, we basically called it the suburban ghetto. You don’t have many options. You either play sports or you get in trouble.”

The kids who grew up on the courts at Bowden Mack Park in North Amityville know the game. What this basketball- rich town needed was something more than a brilliant tactician.

Enter Agostino. Before he began coaching, he taught special education students – and still does. It’s a job that demands patience and understanding. Those interpersonal skills serve him well at the end of the bench.

“Anything I can’t talk to my parents about, I can go to him,” Connecticut-bound guard A.J. Price said. “He’s like a second father.”

So much so that the phone calls come at all hours. Agostino, 41, and Debbie, his wife of 18 years, live in Centereach and have four children.

Joseph, 13, Jenna, 10, Julia, 7, and Jonathan, 4, each plays basketball. But the Agostinos have an extended family that dates to the 1987-88 season. That is when coach Fred Williams died unexpectedly on the eve of the season and the school turned to an unproven junior varsity football coach to fill the void after others turned the job down.

Lifetime relationships

“The relationship he takes on with his players – I joke that I have eight kids,” Debbie Agostino said. “They’re always calling. Mike James still calls. I think most people come home and that’s where the job ends. I have Jason Fraser calling at 11:30 at night.

“He’s so good to these kids. He’s always there if they need help. Sometimes you wonder, do people really appreciate what he does? They really have no clue what he does with these kids. It’s about relationships.”

Perhaps that’s because the coach is a bit of a chameleon. The exterior Agostino presents is of a man who enjoys the trappings of success. His blazers have “Suffolk Coach of the Year” inscribed over the breast pocket. The program has a contract with Nike that nets free warmups and shoes. The clippings of big games fill the walls of his modest office, fighting for space among catchphrases such as “Tradition Never Graduates.” Rick Pitino and Mike Jarvis have been regulars on the other side of his desk in recent seasons.

But that exterior is all just show. The real Agostino, a former three-sport athlete at Centereach who moved on to play basketball at St. Joseph’s (L.I.), readily admits he is not Long Island’s best game coach. So he’s a regular at clinics. And he’s constantly adding tricks of the trade he’s gleaned at the Five Star or adidas camps to his repertoire.

“The good thing about Jack Agostino is, despite his success, he’s worked to become a better X’s-and-O’s coach,” Long Island basketball historian George Davila said. “He’s not the greatest tactician and he knows it. But he tries to improve himself. I see him working to get better.”
Not that there’s all that much room for improvement. Agostino owns a 315-77 record, good for a .803 winning percentage. His teams have won 14 league, nine Suffolk, six Long Island, four state public schools and two state Federation championships. The Warriors have been unstoppable in their own county, ticking off 76 wins in a row against Suffolk schools.

Creating a family

The side of Agostino players see is one who tries to make practice an enjoyable experience rather than some burdensome task. He is an inviting figure who connects with promising third-graders, grooming them to be part of the program in a very few years. Mostly, he brings a level of patience and understanding to inspire players, some of whom don’t have many adult influences.

“He brings unity,” said Al Lorenzano, a volunteer assistant coach who grew up in town. “When one kid goes through something, the whole team does. It’s a family. He bonds with the kids. The kids respect Jack. He brings out the best in the kids.”

Just look at two gems whom he molded into NCAA Division I players. Point guard Tristan Smith and the 6-10 Fraser grew up not far from each other in North Amityville. Their families didn’t have much. But when it came to basketball, there was nothing they didn’t have.

Agostino shepherded them athletically and academically and was a key figure in the recruiting process. Each won state titles and earned Suffolk player of the year awards. Smith moved on to St. John’s before transferring at the end of last season to St. Francis (N.Y.). Fraser became a McDonald’s All-American in 2002 and toyed with jumping straight to the NBA before deciding to attend Villanova.
Agostino had their futures mapped out at an early age.

“Coach Agostino does a good job of getting them young,” said former All-Long Island pick Oliver Hinckson, now a teacher in Orlando. “He lets kids from elementary school see the team. I remember Jason and Tristan coming to games. They saw that and they understood. That’s why Amityville is so good. The players understand what it takes.”

Maybe Amityville’s assembly line of Division I prospects will dry up someday. Maybe players will grow tired of putting in the extra hours needed to be a winner. But so long as Agostino remains coach, inspiration is only a quick sweep of the gym away.

“I always tell them, ‘It’s a privilege to play,’” Agostino said. ‘”That basketball is going to bounce with or without you.’”

Newsday: Jason Fraser, Part 1

October 26, 2001

Newsday logo
Title: FRIDAY SPECIAL / He’s The Man / But when 6-10 star Jason Fraser is in school, he tries to be just another kid Series: The first in an occasional look into the life of Amityville senior Jason Fraser, one of the nation’s best high school basketball players. Part I follows Fraser through a typical school day.
Publication: Newsday – Long Island, N.Y.
Author: Jason Molinet. STAFF WRITER
Date: Oct 26, 2001
Start Page: A.98
Section: SPORTS
Text Word Count: 2284

The sun isn’t up, but Jason Fraser is – barely. His Monday begins in a cramped room cluttered with clothes, sneakers and trophies. The space is tight by anyone’s standards. It is especially confining for the 6-10, 210-pound Fraser.

A look at the bedroom walls tells you something else about Fraser: He is a teenager in demand. There are flattering notes and fawning letters from some of the biggest names in college basketball. With what some believe are the physical tools and mental acumen to jump straight to the NBA, the Amityville basketball star is widely considered one of the nation’s top 10 high school seniors.

“Jason’s defensive prowess is unparalleled in Long Island history,” says Long Island basketball historian George Davila. “What he does defensively is worth the price of admission.”

Long Island has produced an impressive roster of pro players, from Bellport’s Randy Smith to Roosevelt’s Julius Erving to Whitman’s Tom Gugliotta to Cold Spring Harbor’s Wally Szczerbiak. There’s little doubt Fraser will join the club. Will it happen as early as this summer?

“I’m not an NBA scout, but in my personal opinion, he’s not far off,” says Amityville basketball coach Jack Agostino, who has watched Fraser grow from a shot-blocking machine as a gangly freshman to an overall force in the low post.

This is the same kid who put the rest of New York basketball on notice last March with his 20-point, 22-rebound MVP effort in Amityville’s 87-70 win over Section VI champ Williamsville East in the state public schools Class B title game. A Fraser-led team also won in 2000.

On this day, Fraser quietly makes his bed and waits to use the bathroom. He has to move fast. Nine people live in the three-bedroom apartment he shares with his mom, Edmarie, six younger siblings and older cousin. Fraser’s mother emigrated from Jamaica when she was 15. She works as a nurse and raises her children alone.

Fraser understands this is the best she can do. And he loves her for it.

“She doesn’t buy herself anything,” he marvels. “She puts it all into us.”

His father, Raymond Williams, lives in Harlem and has a family of his own. Jason, the lone child produced by Raymond and Edmarie, rarely sees his father.

“It doesn’t bother me anymore,” Fraser says. “My uncle is my father figure.”

After a quick shower, Fraser turns on the TV in the room he splits with his cousin, Shawn Campbell. The Yankees are on “SportsCenter.” Fraser is a big New York sports fan, but he tunes in instead to “The Weather Channel.”

“Do I wear sweats?” he asks, his face covered in a pasty-white Noxema mask.

A quick look at the local forecasts tells him it’s going to be sunny and warm, with highs in the upper 60s. After washing off the facial goop and smearing lotion on his arms and legs, he slips on blue jeans and a black T-shirt. Fraser is finally ready to take on the world. He kisses his mother goodbye and bounces out the door.

Despite all the fame and attention – Agostino refers to him as “The Franchise” and classmates call him “Superstar” – Fraser usually takes the bus to school. Once he’s there, Fraser’s presence is acknowledged by virtually everyone walking the crowded hallway. He exchanges approving nods and elaborate handshakes as he navigates from class to class like a celebrity working the velvet rope at a Hollywood premiere.

“He’s actually pretty modest about it,” says senior Alexandria Gati, who shares a photography class with Fraser and, like Fraser, is a peer leader. “He knows he’s popular. But he doesn’t let it go to his head.”

There’s little doubt Fraser enjoys his position of power among his schoolmates. The 18-year-old with the easy smile has made-for-TV looks and the personality of a used-car salesman. In fact, Fraser has worked as a busboy at a bowling alley, a telemarketer and, yes – a used-car salesman.

The resolve he pours into basketball can be seen in the classroom, too. Fraser, who carries a 3.0 grade-point average and scored an 860 in his first attempt at the SAT, good enough to qualify for freshman eligibility (he will retake the test for good measure next month), is alert and involved in each class.

Fraser checks in at homeroom, grabs his backpack from a corner locker and then goes to his first-period class: chemistry. As Fraser opens his notebook and sets his calculator, he realizes he is missing something important. Teammate and friend Trevour McIntosh is sitting next to him and provides the assist. He hands Fraser a pen.

Fraser spends nearly all of his second-period photography class in the darkroom helping McIntosh develop prints. It seems the two are inseparable. Both have third period free, so they head to the cafeteria, where they crack jokes with teammate Max Rose.

“We’re like brothers,” McIntosh says. “They call us T.J. Max short for Trevour, Jason, Max. We’re tight.”

Once the laughter dies down, Fraser tries to read the 19th-century horror novel “Frankenstein.” Fraser continues to read well into fourth period, one of three breaks in his schedule. He needs to polish off three chapters in time for his Gothic literature course, which is next.

A chilling line in the classic work fits what Fraser has gone through in recent months. “You are my creator, but I am your master,” the Creature told Dr. Frankenstein.

That’s especially true of Fraser’s recruitment process, which has taken on a life of its own. The week-long early signing period begins Nov. 15. That’s when Fraser can finally put a rest to the relentless circus that revolves around him.

The phone calls to his home are now a trickle, but he still uses his caller ID to screen the coaches he wants to avoid. At its peak last spring, the school received 20 pieces of mail a day for Fraser. Even more correspondence went to his apartment. The University of Southern California sent 150 handwritten letters to Fraser in one day. Although Fraser has had a lot of help with the process – the braintrust includes his mom and uncle, Paul Fraser, Agostino and AAU coach Gary Charles – the decision falls squarely on his shoulders.

Family members have weighed in on the subject. Strangers have lobbied him. Students and teachers stop him in the hallway on a daily basis to poll his choices. College coaches have pulled at his heartstrings. And every move is reported via the Internet – true or not.

“Everywhere I look there’s news about me,” Fraser says. “I’ve committed to St. John’s five times. I’ve committed to Illinois twice. I just laugh at it.”

When Fraser showed up for a three-day visit Oct. 12-14 in Chapel Hill, N.C., he was the highlight of Midnight Madness, the kickoff to the basketball season for the University of North Carolina. A capacity crowd at the Dean Dome chanted: “We want Fraser! We want Fraser!”

“It was crazy,” Fraser says. “People had written on their backs: WE WANT FRASER. It just sweeps you off your feet.”

As overwhelming as it all was, Fraser hasn’t committed yet. He’s narrowed his choices to four schools – Louisville, North Carolina, St. John’s and Villanova – and still has three visits remaining. This weekend, Fraser will go to Villanova, where he already has a strong relationship with new coach Jay Wright, who laid the groundwork with Fraser while he was coaching Hofstra.

St. John’s has been in the Jason Fraser sweepstakes from the outset. Many factors favor the Red Storm. Fraser not only grew up a fan of the program but has always wanted to play at Madison Square Garden. He’d have company there, too. Former teammate Tristan Smith is a freshman guard at St. John’s this fall, and McIntosh, a 6-6 senior, said he is being recruited by the Red Storm. Fraser makes his official visit to the Queens campus Nov. 10.

“My heart at one time was beating St. John’s,” Fraser says. “What was that feeling? Was it fate? Now I’m beginning to feel some of the pressure from the tugging and the pulling.”

Louisville became a serious contender only after new coach Rick Pitino watched Fraser dominate at the 325-team adidas Big Time Tournament in Las Vegas this summer while playing for his travel team, the Long Island Panthers. Pitino’s impressive pro and college resume, along with his no-nonsense sales pitch to Fraser, left a lasting impression. Fraser heads to the Bluegrass State Nov. 17.

“I’ve never seen a recruiting process like this,” Agostino says. “This is the kind of stuff you only hear about. But Jason has handled it unbelievably well. He knows it’s just basketball. It’s not life or death. He’ll make the best decision based on all the factors.”

Once Fraser leaves the cafeteria, his book in hand, it’s back to reality. He takes a seat near the front of his English class and actively discusses the torment of the beast and its creator.
“Can you imagine?” Fraser asks. “It’s like he’s living in two different worlds.”

On to sixth period and finite math, where classmate Alexandria Woodward jokingly prods Fraser. “When are your Air Frasers shoes coming out?” Woodward asks. “Can you autograph mine?” The joke subsides and Fraser focuses on the task at hand.

“Some athletes struggle to get by, and you hold your breath,” math teacher Charles Zuar says. “Jason is on the ball. All the kids look up to him, too.”

Zuar also knows there will be a job waiting for him if he ever gives up on teaching. Fraser jokingly promised Zuar could be his chauffeur someday.

After tackling inverse and contrapositive equations, Fraser heads back to the cafeteria. It’s lunchtime. One double cheeseburger and side of chicken nuggets later, Fraser is refueled. Economics is his eighth-period class. The topic centers on labor unions. Pretty soon the discussion turns to something these teenagers can relate to: the labor issues that have gripped – and sometimes interrupted – pro sports leagues in recent years, from the NBA lockout in 1998-99 to the 1994 baseball strike. It’s something Fraser likely will learn firsthand soon enough.

Like any teenager, Fraser says he dreams of playing in the NBA. Three of the top four picks in June’s NBA draft were high school players, signaling a dramatic shift in how the league mines for talent. All of which means Fraser could bypass college altogether.

“My mom wants me to go to school,” Fraser says. “But I can’t give you an honest answer now. If all those zeroes are put in front of you, not many people could turn that down.”

The bell rings, a signal that Fraser’s brain-draining, note- taking day is finally through. Ninth period is when Fraser lifts weights. Fraser’s streamlined frame is the picture of masculinity. On this day he decides to max out on the bench press. Fraser, McIntosh and Agostino are alone in the school’s spartan workout room loaded with free weights and little else.

Fraser bangs the wall with his enormous wingspan in a visceral display of emotion, and yells as he lifts more and more weight. Agostino encourages his players as McIntosh and Fraser take turns, moving steadily past 245 pounds to 255 and 260. When the duo is finally through, each tops out at 270 pounds, a record lift for an Amityville basketball player, Agostino declares.

“Fraser’s all about history,” Agostino says. “He wants to be the first in everything he does. He just wants to keep rewriting the record books.”

Amid all the craziness swirling around Fraser, from the recruiting odyssey to the NBA rumors, he is still living in the moment. His senior season has yet to play out. But if his junior year is any indicator – he averaged 21 points, 15 rebounds, 8 blocks and 6 assists and led Amityville to its first state Class B Federation title – then all the hype is well founded.

All the numbers and accomplishments are impressive, but it’s Fraser’s outlook that reveals the winner within. That is his greatest asset of all.

“You may be better than me,” Fraser says. “But once we step onto the court, I will outplay you.”

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