Saturday, October 8, 2016

Ngalakulondi is St. Bonaventure Bound

Three New Hampshire kids, all from the same prep school team and the same AAU team - all going D-I. Caleb Green (Londonderry, NH) has committed to Holy Cross. Geo Baker (Derry, NH) is a Rutgers recruit. Now the trifecta is complete, as Tshiefu Ngalakulondi (Manchester, NH) recently made his commitment to St. Bonaventure University official. This is a great story! Three talented, hard working kids from NH. All with a common goal - to be the best players they can be, and play D-I college ball. All three made it happen.

Ngalakulondi has committed to St. Bonaventure, which is located in New York and competes in the Atlantic-10 Conference. He had a total of 17 scholarship offers. Ngalakulondi is a senior this year at Proctor Academy in Andover, NH. He's a 6-foot-5 wing with explosive athleticism and a deadly long range jumper.

"I narrowed it down to Duquesne and St. Bonaventure" Ngalakulondi told the NH Notebook. "I did a lot of research on both schools. I took an official visit to Duquesne and an official visit to St. Bonaventure two weeks later. I think St. Bonaventure will make me a better student-athlete and a better player. It's more like Proctor. I got to know the St. Bonaventure players on my visit there, and think I fit in well with them. Plus I will have more of a chance to play right away at St. Bonaventure. The two wings on the team when I'm a freshman there will just be me and a senior. They recruited me to be their wing."

Ngalakulondi projects well at the next level as a wing. He's best known for two things - stepping outside to drain three's and throwing down slam dunks. Ngalakulondi is a knock down shooter off the catch or off the dribble. The first time I saw him play it was the 8th grade NH AAU State Championship game - Ngalakulondi was already about 6'2" / 6'3" and was out on the perimeter hitting clutch three's. He knows how to move without the ball, cut to the rim, fill lanes in order to get open inside and when he gets the ball in there he's a strong finisher.

"I've always been shooting three's" said Ngalakulondi. "But I've expanded my game. I've worked to handle the ball better, go by people off the dribble, space the floor and run the floor in transition better. It's all the work I've put in with TJ."

TJ Thompson is the coach and trainer who has coached Ngalakulondi, as well as Green and Baker with the DC Blue Devils AAU team. Anytime you watched the DC Blue Devils play, you could always count on Ngalakulondi throwing down a dunk off at least one alley-oop lob pass.

"That's another reason why I'm really looking forward to St. Bonaventure" said Ngalakulondi. "The point guard they have, he'll be a senior when I'm a freshman. He's a pass-first point guard, a really good passer. There will be more alley-oops."

St. Bonaventure is one of the top programs in the A-10 Conference. Last season they won 20 games, finished in a tie for the regular season conference title and were selected for the NCAA's Division I NIT tournament.

"I think the A-10 Conference is where I should be" said Ngalakulondi. "I got recruited by some higher schools, like Florida. But I see some other kids go to those higher conference schools but not get the same chance to play."

Ngalakulondi doesn't forget his roots, as he is a Manchester, NH kid. He's proud to keep the tradition of NH basketball going. There's three Manchester kids in the span of two years who are D-I bound. Wenyen Gabriel is now a freshman at Kentucky, Ngalakulondi is committed to St. Bonaventure and Monytung Maker is undecided but has a handful of D-I offers. Next up is Akok Akok from the Class of 2019, who already has multiple D-I offers. All are Manchester kids and all have played ball in local gyms together.

"It means a lot to me to come from a small city and accomplish something like this" said Ngalakulondi. "After Wenyen blew up it definitely helped. Now everybody knows about Manchester. Seeing what he did, it motivated me to go out and play D-I ball too."

So you have Nglakulondi (who has the most commonly misspelled and mispronounced name in NH basketball history) to St. Bonaventure in the A-10. Caleb Green to Holy Cross in the Patriot League and Geo Baker to Rutgers in the Big-10. They're all going D-I, but in different conferences. It will be fun to watch if they end up playing against each other in non-conference games.

"I hope we get to play against each other" Ngalakulondi concluded. "It will be a lot of fun."

Until then, the three friends still have one more season to play together as teammates at Proctor. They're expected to be one of the top prep school teams in all of New England. Not only will fans of NH basketball be watching that team, but they'll be watching these three great players and great kids in college as well. It's a great story.

Here's a highlight video from Ngalakulondi's spring 2016 AAU season:

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