Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Iozza Transferring to Proctor

It is always a tough decision - to go to an NHIAA school or go prep. There are many options and variables to consider. However, we continue to see a trend, with more and more athletes from NH going the prep route, especially in basketball. Concord High's Christian "CJ" Iozza has become the latest player to make the move.

Iozza, a 6'2" wing player, is officially transferring from Concord to Proctor Academy. Proctor is a prep school located in Andover, NH and competes in NEPSAC, which is the most competitive prep school conference in the country. He will be repeating his sophomore year, and reclassify to the Class of 2014.

"My decision on going prep was mainly due to the level of competition" Iozza told the New Hampshire Notebook. "I know that I will develop and have a better chance at reaching my potential as a player because of it."

Iozza is a highly skilled player and a hard worker, who is very athletic and versatile as well. He has a solid frame, and at 6'2" he has the quickness and ball skills to play on the perimeter but also possesses the size, length and strength to battle it out in the paint. Perhaps Iozza's best asset is his mid-range game, as he is very good at finding the seems in a defense, whether it's just inside the free throw line or at the elbows and hitting shots either off the dribble or the catch. He's a tough defender and also has a high basketball I.Q. His stock will surely rise due to not only reclassifying, but also receiving a higher level of exposure and competition at Proctor.

"The things that interested me about Proctor is that the campus is nice and the coach and everyone I met there was very laid back" said Iozza, who started for Concord last year as a sophomore. "Academically, I am interested in many of the classes they offer, how everything is very hands on and that you work in groups a lot because I'm a social person. Basketball-wise, I was happy that the team has many minutes to be played for them."

Nobody knew about Iozza a year ago, but since then he's gained exposure by performing well at events like the Elite 75, North vs. South Clash, and BST Positional Showcase.

"I first became interested in Proctor through Brett Sellingham from BST Basketball" Iozza stated. "Brett has looked out for me in the past year and a half, making sure that I'm doing what I need to do to put myself in the right place. I wanted to go to a prep school after my sophomore year and repeat so he gave me a list of schools I should check out and that best fit me. Also, my AAU coach Brandon Yeo reached out to schools like Tilton and Brewster and got me into some workouts. He also made sure my name was getting out there so coaches knew me."

These prep schools charge a lot of money, and that is usually what makes the decision to go prep so difficult. But Iozza got lucky in that regard, especially considering this all happened so close to the beginning of the new school year.

"When my mom and I visited the school I really liked it. Then about four hours after I got home, the basketball coach called me saying that the school's quarterback is sick and won't be able to return to the school, and that he was on full financial aid. So he offered that kid's full financial aid to me."

From there, things just fell into place for Christian and Proctor.

"That night my mom and I filled out all the paper work and handed it in the next day to the head master of the school" said Christian, who will be joining Michael Lombard (Pelham, NH) on Proctor's basketball team. "when I went to meet with . Then the financial aid went through, they accepted me into the school and I got the okay from my mom to enroll there. I'll be heading off to the woods for a camping trip with the athletes of the fall sports this Friday to get to know my new classmates."

Iozza mentioned BST Basktball co-woner Brett Sellingham as an influence on his development as a player and getting him set up at Proctor. Here's what he had to say about Christian and his transfer.

"CJ came to us about to 2 years ago after a call from his mother" said Sellingham. "He had just moved back to NH from the DC area, where his Dad is the head coach at nationally ranked Gonzaga High School. CJ and his mom were looking for a program that would continue to develop CJ's game. He already had a good feel for the game, being that he has been around it for a long time. The thing that sets CJ apart is his desire to get better. He loves the game and truly wants to work to get better at it. We've had many conversations about the game itself and what he needed to do to progress - he is a sponge. At this point his body has begun to catch up with the tools he has developed, which makes him an intriguing prospect for prep and college coaches."

Iozza leaves a Concord basketball program that has struggled in recent years. Many of the city's top players have instead gone to schools like Bishop Brady, Pembroke Academy or to one of the many prep schools that are nearby. The school also loses players to Manchester Central. Brett Hanson, an incoming freshman who was Concord's starting point guard all summer during the BST Summer League, will instead be attending Central High. Hanson lives in Deerfield, whose residents have the choice of either Concord or Central. So with Iozza transferring, that makes 2 of the Crimson's projected 5 starters for this winter's high school basketball season who have gone elsewhere.

"As far as the jump to prep goes, its important to know - that's all on CJ" Sellingham continued. "I applaud him for that, he worked his butt off and he knew what he wanted to do and went after it. The only role we played in him going prep was helping make the proper decision. It's important that kids look at all aspects when making that decision. One of the things that we offer to any kid that comes through the BST Academy or our showcases is ourselves a resource for them when making the jump to prep and/or college. In CJ's situation that's what I was able to assist him with. I'm happy for CJ, Proctor is a good place for him. It will give him an opportunity to continue to progress as a basketball player, as a person and as a student. CJ is a great role model for the younger kids to see what it takes to progress and capitalize on your opportunities. I wish CJ all the best, he we will be missed at the academy program."

In addition to attending the North vs. South Clash 2011 (which was run by the BST Basketball as well as the NH Notebook) and BST's Elite Positional Showcase, Iozza has been working out with Sellingham, Will Flowers and the rest of the BST coaches all summer. They have helped him out both on the court and off.

"The #1 reason CJ has been able to find success in basketball is first and foremost he is able to recognize who/what type of player he is and focus his workouts and game progression on that" said Sellingham. "Too many young prospects watch and emulate their workouts after players like Kobe, Dwayne Wade, etc. The problem with that is about less than 1% of prospects have the ability to play the game that way. CJ recognized that in order to be successful he had to train more like a Paul Pierce. CJ is not super quick and he cannot jump out of the building, so with that his workouts are based off from understanding where to be on the floor, how to read his defender, where to be off the ball and how to make moves off the dribble with 'his' game. This is why CJ has been able to succeed to this point - he is efficient and focuses on things that will be productive for him on the court."

For Concord basketball this is a big loss. Iozza could have been an all-state player for them for each of the next 2 years. He could have teamed up with Hanson and the Marquis brothers, Kaleb and Sam to bring the program back to respectability. Instead, both Iozza and Hanson are gone, putting the pressure on Kaleb and Sam (who's only going to be a freshman) to carry the team.

But for Iozza this is a great situation for him. Not only will he get more competition and exposure at Proctor, but he has a full ride to go there as well. Congrats to him and best of luck.

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