Westchester’s Basketball Stars Share The Highs and Lows of Their Athletic Careers
Whether the hoopster is in high school, a pro or on the bench, there’s a story to be told in the midst of Westchester’s solid basketball scene.
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Mookie considered transferring but couldn’t do it. He was getting a great education on a full scholarship, he was part of a winning team, and he was living in a place that he loved.
“Syracuse is like Hollywood without the money,” Mookie says. “Almost like red carpet. Something I’d never seen at Peekskill or any place in the world. Such a great atmosphere. It was just hard to leave.”
In January 2012, Mookie was suspended by the university. He will not go into details, only to say that the suspension was because of cyber-bullying. He says that he was suspended from the school for a year and was told by the NCAA that his eligibility was up at the end of the season. Mookie is hesitant to criticize the school, but his frustration is evident. “In the four years that I’d been there, that [suspension] was the worst struggle that I’d ever been through in my life, and the loneliest part of my time, where I felt like I needed somebody, and I had no one in my corner,” he says.
Now back in Peekskill, Mookie, who has two semesters left to complete, says that he will return to Syracuse as a student this summer, still on a full scholarship. Finishing his degree is the plan, but he’s still confident in his basketball future.
This past fall, he tried out for the Erie Bayhawks of the NBA Development League, and, in December, he played in a showcase in Holland, where scouts from European professional teams were on hand. “It went very well,” says Mookie. “I heard some interest from a lot of teams.”
Kevin was bypassed in last spring’s NBA draft but was signed as a free agent by the Cleveland Cavaliers in November and was assigned to their Development League affiliate, the Canton Charge, where he averaged 23.6 points and 12.6 rebounds per game. He was called up soon after and made his NBA debut on Friday, December 7, scoring two points and grabbing four rebounds against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Would things have been different for Mookie if he had chosen a different college?
“Oh yeah, I definitely do think so,” Mookie says. Maybe he’d be on an NBA roster. Maybe he’d be on his way to Holland for a showcase.
“I can’t fault Syracuse for anything,” he adds. “It was my decision at the end of the day. If you fit the system, you’re fine. You’re going to be great.”
Chong is focused on leading Ossining to a third consecutive section title, but she knows that she has work to do before seeing the court
She knows she’ll have to be in better shape and that, at 5’9”, she’ll need a more reliable mid-range shooting game to complement her ability to attack the basket. She has “no doubt” that she can compete there, but she knows that nothing is promised.
“There’s no guarantee that I will play—or will not play,” she says.
Matt Spillane is the editor of the Lewisboro Ledger and a former high school sports writer. He is a resident of Yorktown Heights and played against Mookie Jones in high school as a member of the Kennedy Catholic basketball team.