CROTON-ON-HUDSON – Two days before tryouts were scheduled to begin, Bill Thom learned his pool for players had grown significantly. The Croton-Harmon coach could now pull the best from local Catholic and private schools, too, on the heels of three strong efforts in the BCANY’s annual Summer Hoops Festival.
So with the possibilities endless, Thom and his staff immediately went to work.
“It was chaotic,” he said.
The result of that chaos is, according to Thom, the most talented team Hudson Valley has produced in the event’s four years. The defending silver medalist will try for gold beginning Friday when the BCANY holds its annual showcase in Johnson City.
“We’ve been in the championship the last few years and we’ve out-coached some of these guys. We don’t out-talent them, but now we do,” Thom said.
Thom and his staff narrowed a group of over 50 players down to 12 for the games, which run through Sunday. Among the talent added: Monsignor Scanlan’s Jonathan Nwanko and Jordan Riullano, Iona Prep’s Matt Ryan and Tom Capuano, Rye Country Day’s Salim Green and the Masters School’s Mike Jurzynski.
They will join some of the area’s top public school players, including Spring Valley’s Rickey McGill, Tappan Zee’s Luke McLaughlin, Clarkstown South’s Conor McGuinness, Woodlands’ Jamil Gambari, Byram Hills’ Andrew Groll and Haldane’s Peter Hoffmann.
“It’s not going to hurt,” said Capuano, a senior guard from Hastings who has garnered attention from Ivy and Patriot league schools. “If you can add any good players to your roster, it’s going to help and it’s definitely a big plus for our team in the tournament.”
The 6-foot-10 Nwanko is one of the state’s top big men. He has fielded offers from Fordham and Manhattan in addition to high-majors Minnesota and Tennessee. (He and Riullano recently transferred to Victory Prep in Florida.)
The 6-7 Ryan, who recently committed to Notre Dame, said he will return to the court for the first time since he had double hip surgery this winter. He traveled to Louisville with the Albany City Rocks last weekend but did not participate.
Ryan practiced twice this week with Hudson Valley. He is anxious to play for the first time since January.
“I think I’m probably 85 or 90 percent, but I know what I can do right now with my body,” Ryan said. “I’m not going to push it too hard. I’ll let my coaches know what I can do.”
Ryan will be one of several star attractions for Hudson Valley. One opposing coach already told Thom he will make it a point to watch the team.
“He said, ‘We were just so excited to see your roster. We can’t wait to go watch you guys because you are loaded,’ ” Thom said.