Thursday, April 26, 2012

Cohen Commits to Manhattan

"If you were to look up the definition of a gym rat, you would see the name Alex Cohen in the fine print" said Tilton School girls basketball coach Tara Brisson.

"Alex is the true definition of a gym rat" said NH Rivals girls AAU coach Scott Hazelton.

Both coaches hit the nail on the head, no question about it. Tilton junior guard Alex Cohen has has the work ethic, dedication and passion for the game of basketball that is second to none. Her goal was to become a Division I player. And by constantly getting in the gym, working on her game and getting shots up she has made that goal a reality. Cohen (Nashua, NH) has given a verbal commitment to Manhattan College - a Division I program in New York which competes in the highly competitive Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC).

"Words cannot express how happy I am for Alex" said Hazelton, who has coached Cohen on the Rivals for the past three years. "Alex proved that through hard work and dedication you can achieve your goals. Alex was an original member of my first Rivals team that was assembled 3 years ago. And in that time she went from being the 12th person on the bench to a bonafide scholarship player. Alex took the road less traveled and it truly paid off for her in the end. She's a great player and an even better person!"

Cohen transferred to Tilton from Bishop Guertin following her sophomore year. She repeated her sophomore year at Tilton in 2010-2011, and helped lead the Rams to the NEPSAC Class C championship. She is only a junior now, so she gives Manhattan head coach John Olenowski an early commitment for the Class of 2013.

Cohen becomes the second player from New Hampshire for the Class of 2013 to commit to a Division I program, with the other being Katharine Fogarty who committed to Marist College over the winter. At Manhattan, Cohen will be conference rivals with Fogarty as well as former AAU teammate Madeleine Blais who will be a freshman at Marist this fall. The Manhattan Jaspers finished 18-15 this season, in Coach Olenowski's second season as the program's head coach.

"From the first showcase I worked with Alex, I knew she was someone I wanted as a member of my program" said Coach Brisson. "Her non-stop work ethic was enticing as a coach because that combined with her potential to improve meant she work around the clock to achieve her highest goals - and that she did. There were even times I had to ban her from extra workouts in the morning because she was starting to acquire some overuse soreness! But Alex's stubbornness, dedication and refusal to be less than the best has earned her the opportunity to play basketball at Division I level. Having coached her now for two years, she has shown tremendous improvement in her game and her attitude. She has put in the extra time and effort to get better defensively which combined with her already excelled offensive skill set makes her a valuable addition to any collegiate program. I believe this decision will only continue to fuel her into a successful summer and senior season at Tilton. It will allow her to play free without the pressure of having to perform for coaches and to gain interest.I could not be happier for Alex and told her the only way I could be happier is winning another NEPSAC Championship in her senior season!"

Cohen is a 5'9" two-guard who also has the ability to slide over and play the point. She is an excellent outside shooter off the catch or the dribble. She moves well without the basketball in order to set herself up for open looks from the mid-range area or beyond the arc. Cohen can shoot the lights out, can also hurt you off the dribble, she's effective leading or finishing on the break and is also an underrated passer and defender. Cohen is a hard worker, a fundamentally sound player and is a student of the game of basketball. She understands floor spacing, help side defense and all of the fine points of the game. I definitely wouldn't be surprised if she ended up coaching when her playing days were over.

Here is what Alex had to say when we interviewed her following her commitment to Manhattan.

Jeremy Leveille: Talk about your recruitment and what factors led you to choose Manhattan over the other schools you were considering.
Alex Cohen: I was looking for a school that would offer me excellent academics and competitive D1 Basketball. I have been visiting schools unofficially for a last two years whenever I can. When I visited the Manhattan campus the first time I loved it right away. It felt like home. I love NY and its a small campus in a big city, has a strong science program, and a competitive team - so it's the best of everything for me. They sent me a letter as soon as September 1st came, which was the first day allowed for contact by NCAA for 2013.

JL: At what point did you start to receive interest from Division I schools?
AC: I received a bunch of letters and emails on September 1st this year from D1 schools. I was playing with older girls my first year with the Rivals and that July Live Period when I was a sophomore was crazy. So many coaches came to see our team play in Kentucky at Run for the Roses, and Tennessee for Battle in the Boro. I think that a lot of the interest I got was from my exposure early in my sophomore year from that July Live Period.

JL: What do you attribute your uncanny work ethic to?
AC: My work ethic is just part of me - my parents raised my brother and I to do something 150% or don’t do it at all. My parents put me in all sorts of things from the moment I could walk. I did karate, soccer, tee-ball, gymnastics, dance. Basketball was just what stuck. I fell in love with it right away. I just wanted to learn and be the best I could be at it.

JL: What do you see your role being on the team at Manhattan?
AC: My role on the team will be whatever they ask of me. I am a combo guard and they were looking for a 2 guard, but whatever the coaches need from me is what I will do. I have not practiced with the team but I have met them multiple times. The team is great, the coaches are great and I am very excited - the atmosphere at Manhattan is awesome.

JL: Talk about your decision to transfer from BG to Tilton, and how that move and playing for Coach Brisson helped with your development as a player and your recruitment.
AC: I loved BG but I transferred to Tilton so that I could take my game to the next Level. At Tilton you play all over New England, not just in New Hampshire. The exposure is greater. The competition is greater. These are all factors that help improve a player. Tilton also offers things that BG didn’t, because it’s a boarding school it's more like college. I have the gym available to me at all times, the training schedule and practices are more intense, we have our own scrimmage squad and we also have the opportunity to train with the boys team in the off-season and play pick up with the boys team. All these things provide a much more intense atmosphere than NHIAA schools are able to do. Playing for Coach Brisson is great. She is very intense, competitive and pushes me to be better. She believes in her players and is always available for extra workouts for me. She sets up open gyms during the viewing periods with other prep schools, and is constantly supporting her players with whatever they need.

JL: Talk about your experience playing with the Rivals, playing for Coach Hazelton and how that helped with your recruitment and development as a player.
AC: Going to the Rivals is what took my game to the next level. I was part of Coach Hazelton’s first girls elite team three years ago and there was only 12 of us and practices were intense and competitive. After my first year with Coach Hazelton I reclassified and was able to play for him for two more years. Coach Hazelton was always available for extra workouts one-on-one with me as well. He always pushed me to be better and make the right decisions. I have learned a lot from him, he helped me develop my game instincts as well as improving my skills. He is also a great advocate for all of his players. He is very proactive in promoting his players and teams with college coaches and making sure we are in the right places and events. Every time our team is on the court we have tons of coaches watching.

JL: What do you plan on studying at Manhattan?
AC: I am planning on a strong science program - pre med track. They have a great science program.

Congratulations to Alex, and best of luck at Manhattan!

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