Ghanaian Archbishop Carroll sophomore basketball player Ernest Aflakpui 205x300 BOYS BASKETBALL PREVIEW: 6 10 Ghana native Ernest Aflakpui making big impact for Archbishop Carroll

Ernest Aflakpui

The tone gets a little bit more serious and the already-deep voice drops an octave when he discusses the toughest part of it all.

It can?t be easy for Archbishop Carroll sophomore Ernest Aflakpui to be in this situation, but at the same time, he recognizes that he?s been blessed with a great opportunity. For any 16-year-old kid, though, being more than 5,000 miles away from his home, his family and everything he?s ever known can?t be easy.

Aflakpui arrived at Carroll Sept. 9, but he?s not like most transfers. Most transfers don?t come via Ghana and they don?t get noticed at NBA Youth and Basketball Without Borders camps. That?s where Aflakpui first caught the eye by a scout, who went through some channels to contact Carroll coach Paul Romanczuk. The result? A 6-10, 225-pound beast in the middle for Romanczuk to work with and the biggest player on what Romanczuk calls, ?the biggest team I?ve ever had at Carroll.?

?I went for a scholarship. I had a camp in Burkina Faso, an NBA Youth camp. I performed tremendously and they got me a scholarship,? Aflakpui said. ?Then they called me and told me that I had a scholarship to come study in the States to play basketball. Before I came here, we had a camp in South Africa, which was Basketball Without Borders, an NBA camp. Then I had to come here Sept. 9 to start studying and playing basketball here.?

The toughest part of being so far from home is pretty predictable. It?s been a struggle to get acclimated to an entirely different way of life, both on the court and off of it. The third of four boys, Aflakpui admitted that it?s been difficult to not be able to see his family the way he?s used to seeing them.

?From the beginning, it wasn?t easy. It?s a new environment, new people, new everything,? Aflakpui said. ?Since I?ve been here, my teammates, coach Paul, and all of the other coaches have been really good to me, and my host family, they make me feel like I?m at home. So I don?t really feel like I?m away from my parents.?

But at the same time?

?It?s really tough. Since I have another family here, I?m OK. I do miss my family, but I get to talk to them during the week any time I feel like, so I talk to them,? Aflakpui added.

Aflakpui came in at the right time, though, because the Patriots will be a threat to win the Catholic League this year. Carroll made the PIAA Class AAA quarterfinals last year before bowing out and it brings back senior All-Delco point guard Yosef Yacob as the headliner of an otherwise young team. The Patriots aren?t being talked about in the same breath by most prognosticators as defending AAA state champion Neumann-Goretti or St. Joseph?s Prep, but according to Yacob, that?s nothing new.

?I think we?re the best team in the Catholic League, easily,? said Yacob, a Chester resident and Binghamton commit. ?That?s how it?s always been. Last year, they had us fourth or fifth. We came out second in our league. That?s how it?s always been with Carroll.?

Carroll?s Delco PCL rivals, Cardinal O?Hara and Bonner-Prendergast, would love to knock the Patriots down a peg. The Lions bring back three starting guards in Mike Louden, Chris Duffin and Sean Havink, and coach Tim Kelly expects them to be the go-to guys for O?Hara.

?We?re basically going to be playing with four guards,? Kelly said. ?Size is definitely our biggest issue.?

Varsity rookie Mark Plousis, a 6-5 center, will be tasked with providing the Lions the little bit of size that they do have.

As far as Friars coach Tom Meakim is concerned, though, just having a team at this point is a blessing. With all of the uncertainty that the school faced last year, Meakim is glad that his seniors will close out their careers at Bonner-Prendie.

?I think it does take some pressure off of them,? Meakim said. ?These kids, especially the seniors, were so concerned about what their future was going to be like. I would never ask to put what we went through last year on anyone.?

Pat Vanderslice, Jack Carden and Nick Czibik will be relied upon heavily for the Friars.

Elsewhere in the county:

Inter-Academic League

Henry Fairfax?s team at The Haverford School has a different feel to it this year. No 6-11 Tao Xu, who?s moved on to the University of San Francisco. Second-team All-Delco point guard Sammy Foreman, who was exceptional as a freshman last year, transferred to Vaux. But ?

?I love ?em,? said Fairfax of his team, which thumped Shipley, 72-41, to open the season. ?I really do. We?ve got a really good, young core.?

That core is led by sophomores Shawn Alston and Sean Lloyd and junior Eric Anderson, who are 6-4, 6-5 and 6-6, respectively, so size will be definitely be an asset for the Fords. Alston recorded a game-best 20 points against the Gators, while Lloyd and Anderson were right on his heels with 18 each. Because Lloyd transferred in from Franklin Learning Center, he?s ineligible to play in Inter-Ac league games, but he?ll be there in the PAISAA tournament.

The Fords? biggest rival, Episcopal Academy, won?t have the same top-end talent as Haverford School, but coach Craig Conlin likes what he?s seen in his team?s 2-0 start.

?We?re going to rely heavily on our seniors in Markuan Stutts, (Daily Times Football Player of the Year) Adam Strouss, Matt Angelos and (lacrosse All-Delco) Kevin Gayhardt,? Conlin said. ?Last year, we threw a lot of young guys to the wolves and they gained experience and learned how to win.?

Bicentennial League

If experience means anything, Delco Christian should be in line for good things this year. Coach Don Davis welcomes four starters back, including Henry Miller, the Knights? MVP and leading scorer from a year ago. Miller canned 46 percent of his 3-pointers, and if Austin Stephens, Austin Fischer and Ron Burrell can make big contributions, DC will make a run.

Tri-State Christian Conference

For The Christian Academy coach Jon Thompson, a lot will hedge on a pair of sophomore guards, along with center and three-year starter Andrew Boykin.

?We had Damone Jones and Jeremiah Williams start at guard last year as freshmen, and they had some rough moments and some growing pains that come with dealing with freshman guards,? Thompson said. ?But as sophomores, I think they can take a step forward.?

Boykin brings the experience and a strong low-post presence, but that?s as big as the Crusaders get.

Ches-Mont League. At Sun Valley, the Vanguards are short on experience and returning scoring. Expectations are high for center Kevin McGarvey, while J.P. Evans and Juwan Chandler will also be counted upon to post big numbers.



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