The 2018 McDonald’s High School All-American basketball games will have plenty of local representation.
While we know the Catholic hoops league has tons of talent, having even just one player from the diocese named an All-American would be a tremendous honor.
Well, this year we are beyond delighted to have three.
Seniors Jordan Nixon from The Mary Louis Academy (TMLA), Jamaica Estates, Emily Engstler from St. Francis Prep, Fresh Meadows, and Moses Brown from Archbishop Molloy H.S., Briarwood, are set to play in the March 28 game at Philips Arena in Atlanta. The announcement was made official Jan. 16.
Nixon and Engstler earned spots on the East girls’ roster, while Brown will suit up for the East boys’ squad. In total, the top 48 high school players in the country will display their skills on the national stage.
Jordan Nixon, TMLA
Nixon, a point guard, follows in the footsteps of Danielle Patterson, an All-American from TMLA last year who is currently playing for the University of Notre Dame, South Bend, Ind.
It just so happens that Nixon has also committed to Notre Dame, where she will be reunited with her former teammate. As a junior, the 2016-2017 ‘AA’ First Team Tablet All-Star averaged 20.0 pts., 8.0 assists and 6.0 rebounds per game for a Hilltoppers team that captured diocesan, city and state GCHSAA titles.
The Harlem native played her first two high school basketball seasons at Horace Mann School, the Bronx. However, she transferred to TMLA since she was searching for more of a balance between academics and athletics.
Nixon said she was shocked that she had been named an All-American and is elated to have the opportunity. The excitement has already spread throughout the entire program.
“Even though I’ll be playing in the (All-American) game, I couldn’t have done it without all the people that have been there supporting me, especially my teammates,” Nixon said.
The Hilltoppers lost five seniors from last year’s championship team, so despite the individual honor, Nixon remains motivated on guiding TMLA back to the postseason.
“It is a great honor and I’m excited and overjoyed by it, but I’m going to continue doing what’s in front of me instead of focusing on the future,” she said.
Emily Engstler, St. Francis Prep
Engstler is the first-ever All-American from the Prep’s girls’ basketball program. The senior forward is set to continue her basketball career next season at Syracuse University, N.Y.
As a junior, she averaged a double-double with 19.0 pts. and 15.7 rebounds to go along with 6.0 blocks per game. She was a 2016-2017 ‘AA’ First Team Tablet All-Star as well as a nominee for N.Y. Gatorade Player of the Year.
Engstler played Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) basketball at Resurrection Ascension parish, Rego Park. However, unlike most of her peers, she played on the boys’ team.
Right before the announcement, she and her teammates were following along on the television sets in the school’s fitness center. She said before she could even look up at the screen, her teammates were screaming, signifying she had made the All-American squad.
“I think it’s wonderful for Prep,” Engstler said. “I think it gives other players on the team confidence to do it themselves when they become seniors.”
While Engstler is ecstatic to have been named among the top players in the country, she is staying in the present. Tough GCHSAA league games remain against fellow All-American Nixon and the Hilltoppers and the always-formidable Christ the King H.S., Middle Village.
“As much as an honor as this was, I’m always focused on my next game,” she said. “It’s midseason, and playoffs are coming up. I think we’re always focused and ready to play the next team in our schedule.”
Moses Brown, Archbishop Molloy
Brown, standing at an imposing 7-feet, 1-inch, is the first All-American from Molloy since 1989, when Kenny Anderson earned the honor. Anderson went on to have a 15-year career as a point guard in the NBA and was named a 1994 NBA All-Star.
The senior center was a 2016-17 CHSAA ‘AA’ First Team Tablet All-Star and a First Team All-League player last season after averaging 20.0 pts., 13.0 rebounds and 4.0 blocks per game.
He credits his teammates for helping him achieve this honor and said the energy level among the team has been enhanced ever since he was nominated.
“We were waiting for it all day so we could see the roster,” said Brown, who played CYO hoops at Our Lady of Lourdes, Queens Village. “Then when it came out we were all excited. It’s the highest honor you could get as a high school athlete.”
Earlier this season, Brown scored his 1,000th point as a member of the Stanners. Only 14 players in program history have reached that milestone.
More honors are likely on the way for Brown, but for now, it’s all about the team and winning basketball games.
“I’m going to continue to apply myself and stay humble and work hard every day on the court,” he said. “I just want to be able to dominate the game defensively as well as offensively.”
Contact Jim Mancari via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.