Normally, Kentan Facey does not particularly care for the spotlight. He is not very demonstrative on the court, even after rim-rocking dunks or game-changing blocks. Off the court, he is shy and studious, though quite articulate.
But now that the next step in a basketball journey that began on a farm in his childhood home on the island of Jamaica is the high-profile University of Connecticut, Facey is delighted that, finally, the attention he has attracted will allow his family to see him play on TV.
"The funny thing is that my parents have never seen me play basketball. Hopefully, that will change in college," said Facey, who had a senior year filled with accolades and accomplishments.
The lithe, long-armed 6-9 center led Long Island Lutheran into the state Federation of Champions Class AA title game, was voted New York's Gatorade Player of the Year and was named the winner of Newsday's Dick Sandler Award as the Long Island boys basketball player of the year.
Facey averaged 15 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks per game in leading the Crusaders to a 25-3 record. In a Federation semifinal victory over New York City power Lincoln, Facey registered a triple-double: 19 points, 15 rebounds and a remarkable 10 blocked shots. He scored 16 points in a title game loss to Christ the King.
The Crusaders could do that all season, knowing that if they didn't make a steal or a deflection, Facey was a one-man wrecking crew backing them up. Connecticut coach Kevin Ollie liked what he saw last summer in a kid who didn't start playing basketball until he was 14 years old because soccer and cricket were more popular in his native island nation. Connecticut offered Facey a scholarship in August and he took very little time before accepting it.
"Connecticut was my dream school," said Facey, who came to the United States in 2010 and played for Upper Room as a sophomore before transferring to Lutheran before his junior year. "The year I came here, I was watching the [NCAA] Tournament and UConn, with Kemba Walker, made that great run and won it all. I started taking notice of them. I learned about the school. They had everything that I looked for in a college plus a great basketball program. I developed a great love for the school.''
The feeling became mutual and Facey, who plans to major in civil engineering, looks forward to playing in the newly named American Athletic Conference. With its coast-to-coast collection of schools and the basketball-rich tradition of UConn, Facey knows many games will be televised back to Jamaica. There even is talk of the Faceys visiting Storrs, Conn., to see him play in person.
"They are very proud; I speak to them all the time. They try to motivate me any way they can, even though they both pretty much know absolutely nothing about basketball," Facey said with a laugh.
He has mailed Newsday articles and MSG Varsity videos back home. They wound up being very educational. His three sisters were not basketball fans when their brother left for America. "They are now," he said happily.