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Isaiah Whitehead wants to continue to be the center of attention once he leaves Abraham Lincoln.
That’s why the best boys’ basketball player in New York City verbally committed to Seton Hall at a press conference at the school on Thursday. Surrounded by family, friends and teammates, Whitehead said he picked the Pirates because he wants to be the face of the program’s potential resurgence.
“It appealed to me greatly, that’s the reason I’m going there, to tell you the truth,” Whitehead said.
The 6-foot-4 Whitehead, the No. 12-ranked prospect nationally in his class by Scout.com, picked Seton Hall over hometown St. John’s, Indiana, Minnesota and Pittsburgh. The combo guard visited the Johnnies on Wednesday, but felt Seton Hall showed they wanted him more by being more consistent in their recruitment. St. John’s stopped recruiting Whitehead this past summer, before trying to swoop back in during the final days of the process.
“I don’t think it was tough because they really didn’t see me as the face of St. John’s before,” Whitehead said. “I don’t understand why they would now.”
There could be an added factor leading Whitehead to pick the Pirates, who were 15–18 under fourth-year head coach Kevin Willard. The New York Post first reported Thursday that Lincoln head coach Dwayne “Tiny” Morton is expected to join the Seton Hall staff as an assistant coach next season.
When asked, Morton did not confirm or deny the report. He said he was interested in being a college coach and Seton Hall is one of the places that he would consider if offered the chance. Morton has won eight Public School Athletic League city titles, including one last year.
“I expect to coach Lincoln until somebody’s offered me a [college] job appealing enough for me to leave,” Morton said.
He is close with Whitehead. He taught him in middle school and is his coach at Lincoln and with the Juice All-Stars AAU travel team. Whitehead is supportive of the idea.
“That would make me even more comfortable thnn I am now,” he said.
The decision ends a whirlwind recruitment process for Whitehead that saw early favorites Syracuse and Louisville focus their attention on players who were willing to commit earlier, and teams like Indiana and St. John’s trying to jump in late. Whitehead also wanted to stay close to home and not leave his mother Ericka Rambert, who was supportive of his decision.
“The process was crazy,” she said. “I think Isaiah just went with the team that was dedicated to him.”
If picked to be a McDonald’s All-American as expected, Whitehead would be the Pirates’s first since 2000. He will be the crown jewel of a superb influx of players for Willard that includes a top-50-ranked forward in Angel Delgado and Bishop Loughlin guard Khadeen Carrington for next season.
Seton Hall hasn’t been to the National Colligiate Athletic Association tournament since 2005–06, and Whitehead wants to be the man to help bring the Pirates back. He strives to be one of the programs all-time great players, not just another cog in an already successful program.
“I want to set my path, just like I did in high school,” Whitehead said. “I separated myself from the other guys, why not do it college?”
©2013 Community Newspaper Group
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