Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
When Canadian point guard Tyler Ennis first arrived at St. Benedict’s Prep in January 2011, then-assistant coach Billy Diamond asked him what his dream school was.
“Syracuse,” Ennis told Diamond.
“I called former client Wendell Alexis who called Mike Hopkins to tell him,” Diamond told SNY.tv. “Ennis was basically under the radar at that point. Hopkins never called me back, but when ‘Red’ Autry got the job I told him what happened. Red jumped right on it and the rest is history.”
The 6-foot-3, 185-pound Ennis hopes to make history at Syracuse after announcing his commitment Thursday night.
The Toronto native officially chose his dream school, choosing the Orange over Illinois, Louisville, Memphis and UCLA, among others.
“I say the main [reason] is the role that I’m going to be playing coming in as a freshman,” Ennis said in a video on the CIA Bounce Website.
“A lot of playing time is up for grabs so hopefully I will be able come in and play a lot more than I would at another school. But also the talent that they have right now is going to help me look better and help me get to where I want to be and that’s the pro level.”
Like Pittsburgh-bound teammate Mike Young, Ennis will never play a single game in the Big East Conference because Syracuse moves to the ACC in 2013. Instead, he will battle the Dukes, North Carolinas and N.C. States on a regular basis.
Ennis was the Gatorade New Jersey Player of the Year last year at St. Benedict’s, averaging 15.2 points, 7.1 assists, 4.6 rebounds and 2.5 steals for a Gray Bees team that finished 33-2. He also posted a 3.29 GPA in the classroom.
Autry made Ennis his top priority in July, following him from the Nike Global Challenge in Virginia and Washington, D.C., to the Peach Jam in South Carolina to the Caribana Classic in Brampton, Ontario.
“[Autry] told me before the summer that he’s going to be at all the games,” Ennis told SNY.tv at “Live in AC.” “Everywhere I go he’s gonna go just to show that they want me. So seeing him there at the game and a couple others, that’s awesome.
In Ennis, Syracuse is getting a prototypical point guard who attended his first college game at the Carrier Dome and will get to play close to his home in Toronto.
“Tyler is a true point guard with great intelligence and feel for the game,” St. Benedict’s coach Mark Taylor told SNY.tv. “He is a coach on the floor and brings stability to both ends of the floor at all times.
“On top of that he is a great scorer who keeps the defense off balance. He’s the best true point guard I’ve coached.”
Said Diamond: “When I was an agent during the 1990’s, I represented some very good NBA players like Mark Jackson, Kenny Anderson and Rod Strickland. Out of those three, Tyler reminds me of Mark the most. He sees plays, two plays before they happen.”
“I think he’ll be a terrific college player,” added longtime New York recruiting expert Tom Konchalski. “He’s a guy who has a very good skillset and is a terrific open 3-point shooter. He can run a team.
“Syracuse might be a good fit for him defensively because probably the biggest gap in his game is his ability to contain the dribble right now, to keep his man out of the lane. And Syracuse playing zone will sort of camouflage that weakness.
“But that’s like looking for flaws in the Mona Lisa. He’s really good with the ball. He gets into the lane himself. He’s a good 3-point shooter. He has a good feel for the game and he’s a guy who’s going to work hard and whatever deficiencies there are in his game, he’s going to remedy them.”
***For SNY.tv.’s exclusive video documentary on Canadian point guard Tyler Ennis, click here.
Photo: St. Benedict’s Prep
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.