Meet the athletes who made it onto Newsday's All-Long Island boys basketball team for the 2014-15 winter season.
Long Island Player of the Year
Our Savior New American, 6-9 C, Sr.
The journey continues for Cheick Diallo. And what a journey it's been.
He left his home country of Mali, West Africa, at age 15 and settled with a host family in Coram while attending Our Savior New American in Centereach. He learned English, which is now his fourth language. He also speaks two West African dialects plus French.
And, oh by the way, he is completely fluent in basketball. Diallo emerged as a nationally-recruited star this year at OSNA, averaging 19 points, 14 rebounds and 3 blocks per game. He was voted New York's Gatorade Player of the Year and earned MVP honors at the McDonald's All-American Game on April 1 with 18 points and 10 rebounds. For his achievements, Diallo was named Newsday's Dick Sandler Award winner as the Long Island boys basketball player of the year.
"He works hard and developed quickly because he's very, very talented," OSNA coach Ron Stelzer said. "He runs the floor; he jumps; he shoots. He's not a lumbering big man. He's a deer ... and a strong one."
The next leg of Diallo's journey will be determined soon, as he will make a college choice from among St. John's, Kentucky, Kansas, Iowa State and Pittsburgh. After that, it won't be a surprise if Diallo's world-wide, whirlwind journey takes him to the NBA.
Suffolk Player of the Year
Brentwood, 6-1, G, Jr.
Despite earning Newsday All-Long Island first-team honors for a second straight year and leading Brentwood to a second straight trip to Glens Falls, Michael Almonacy feels unfulfilled. After the Indians lost in the state Class AA championship game on March 22, Almonacy declared, "We'll be back. We have one more step to take."
Almonacy's game has taken giant steps. Surrounded by so much firepower - sharp-shooting transfer Tavon Ginyard, slasher Ali Mableton and high-flyer Jamel Allen - Almonacy did not need to match the 20.1 points he averaged last season. Instead, he made sure the high-scoring Indians shared the wealth. "We trusted each other and that's why we kept the ball moving,'' said Almonacy, who averaged 15.3 points and improved his passing and defense enough to attract interest from several Division I colleges, including Stony Brook. For his accomplishments and leadership, Almonacy was named Newsday's Dick Sandler Award winner as the Suffolk County boys basketball player of the year.
Almonacy was also a big-shot maker. He took over in overtime to lead Brentwood to a second straight Suffolk Overall championship. He also excelled in the Indians' only loss before the state final, scoring a season-high 26 points against NYC power Wings Academy, which won the state Class AA Federation championship. That's exactly where Almonacy wants to be next year.
Baldwin, 6-1, G, Sr.
Daraja Rodwell of Baldwin, who sank only six three-pointers last season, was a longshot to become the king of the long shot.
But after a Long Island-best 75 threes this season, you can call him Shotwell. "I knew he would have a good season, but he made himself have a great season," Bruins coach Darius Burton said. "All his hard work, determination and commitment paid off."
Rodwell averaged 17.2 points for the Class AA Nassau County champs. "Preparation and practice are two things that are important to me," Rodwell said. "I wouldn't have had any success this season if not for those things."
Brentwood, 6-6, F, Jr.
Fans loved it when Allen filled the lane on the break and a teammate tossed up a lob - sometimes deliberately banking it off the backboard - for an acrobatic dunk. Allen averaged 15.3 points and 13.2 rebounds and expanded his game with 19 threes.
Long Island Lutheran, 5-9, G, Sr.
Once-shy four-year starting point guard emerged as vocal leader in his final season. Led the Crusaders in assists (4.5 per game) and displayed an overall floor game with 11 points, 4 rebounds and 2 steals per game. Hasn't made a college choice.
Floyd, 5-9, G, Sr.
High-energy guard who led Long Island in scoring (30.9 ppg) and Suffolk County in three-pointers (62). Scored career-high 44 points vs. Bay Shore on Dec. 23 and strung together back-to-back 40-point games on Feb. 3 (Sachem North) and Feb. 6 (Ward Melville).
Holy Trinity, 6-3 F, Sr.
CHSAA Player of the Year led Titans to regular-season crown with 11-1 mark. Versatile player who could score inside and out and frequently took over games in fourth quarter. Averaged 18 points, including 28-point effort in CHSAA semifinal victory over St. Mary's.
Long Island Lutheran, 6-2, G, Jr.
Led Crusaders in scoring (16.5 points) and, despite not being particularly tall, in rebounds (6.5), a testament to his willingness to scrap inside. Considered a Division I prospect, Green also averaged four assists and was an aggressive defender with 2.5 steals.
Brentwood, 6-1, G/F, Sr.
Teammates called him "The Finisher" because of the way he excelled in transition. Mableton scored most of his points on twisting, slicing layups and led Long Island's highest-scoring team with a 17.5 average. Second on Long Island with 185 field goals.
CHARLES MANNING JR.
Bridgehampton, 6-3 G/F, Jr.
Played all three positions and led state Class D champions with a 22.9 average. Scored most field goals on Long Island (196). Earned MVP honors at Glens Falls with games of 31 and 29 points. Acrobatic dunker, skilled shot blocker and quick-jumping rebounder.
Valley Stream South
Nassau Coach of the Year
Guided the Falcons to their first regional title and trip to Glens Falls.
Suffolk Coach of the Year
Former Killer Bees star led his school to its ninth state championship.
Kevin Cluess, Floral Park, 6-5, G, Sr.
Jerrell Cowell, Newfield, 6-2, G, Sr.
Tavon Ginyard, Brentwood, 5-10, G, Sr.
Lukas Jarrett, Northport, 6-6, F, Jr. (pictured)
Isaiah Johnson, Southampton, 6-3, C, Sr.
Dana King, Valley Stream South, 5-8, G, Jr.
Chiazam Nwankwo, Elmont, 6-3, F, Sr.
Tom O'Connell, Chaminade, 6-1, G, Sr.
Shomari Redd, Uniondale, 6-1, G, Sr.
Mike Torre, Kellenberg, 6-4, F, Sr.
Mike Smith, Amityville, 6-1, G, Sr.
Alex Sorenson, South Side, 6-1, G, Jr.