By Jerry Del Priore
It has been a magical senior year for South Shore High School student-athlete Sekou Sylla. First, the Vikings won the school’s first ever boys’ PSAL Class AA varsity basketball championship in March. Then, Sylla earned an athletic scholarship to Division II College of Saint Rose in Albany, New York, earlier in the month.
Sylla, 18, said he selected the College of Saint Rose because of its highly competitive nature, and because he felt most comfortable with the upstate school. Plus, the nice balance of distance from home.
The affable forward said he had offers form Southern New Hampshire University, Queens College, Dominican College, Felician University, Pace University and interest from Delaware State, LIU Brooklyn, St. Francis Brooklyn and Binghamton University. But he went with the Golden Knights, who play in the Northeast-10 Conference, in the end.
“They’re really good. Every year they make it to the NCAA tournament,” the six-foot-five-inch, 190-pound Brownsville native explained of the level of play at St. Rose. “On multiple occasions, they beat Division I schools.” Plus, “I felt it was the best fit for me. I loved the campus, too. It’s not too far, it’s not too close. It’s the right balance.”
South Shore spent several seasons being denied PSAL championship glory. But that all changed during the 2017-18 season, when the Vikings knocked off Benjamin Cardozo, 78–66, at the Barclays Center for the title.
One of the reasons why the Vikings were able to climb that elusive championship hill was the outstanding play of their athletic scorer—who transferred from UFT Charter school in sophomore year—Vikings head coach and the school’s athletic director Pat Trani said.
“He runs the floor. The ball seems to find him,” Trani gushed of his player’s stellar hardwood abilities. “The players know where he is. He anticipates well. It seems like he’s always riding the (fast) break with his teammates. He doesn’t run like a six-five kid. He’s smooth when he runs. Plus, he’s left-handed, which is so unfair. He scores a ton of points in paint. And he can also pull up from either the three or from the free throw and hit (a basket). It’s just instant offense.”
As for finally winning a championship for South Shore, Sylla said, “It felt great. It was a big load off my shoulders.”
Although the Vikings lost to Archbishop Stepinac High School in the New York State Federation Boys Basketball Finals, Sylla sees this past season as a success. Now, he said, he looks forward to improving his overall hoops skill set and shining on the college ranks, and possibly playing professionally in the future.
“I’ll play competitive basketball here and there,” he said. “But I’m going to mostly workout in the weight room and work on my basketball skills in the gym. I like to go overseas someday, so we’ll see.”