New York is hailing the return of it’s hometown Prince.
Sagemont 6-4 star guard Prince Ali said the Bronx neighborhood he grew up in is abuzz over Ali returning to play in the DICK’S Sporting Goods High School National Tournament on Thursday.
“It’s such a good feeling,” Ali said Monday. “People have been texting me, asking for tickets. I will see a lot of old faces I grew up with. It’s going to be a great atmosphere, I just can’t wait.”
Ali, a UConn commit, said he plans on visiting the Parkside playground he first showed flashes of big time talent and his favorite barbershop Cutarama, the social hub to his Bronx neighborhood.
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Ali has come a long way from his formative years at Parkside.
Whereas he once had to bide his time hoping he would get picked up for full court games, his more recent returns as a highly coveted recruit draws a red carpet treatment from local playground legends.
Above everything else, Ali is treating his return to New York as a business trip.
The high-flying Ali averaged 18 points to help catapult Sagemont to the Class 3A state title, first undefeated season (33-0) in Broward’s rich boys basketball history and a school-best No. 4 rank in the MaxPreps Xcellent 25 poll.
Ali can help Sagemont put even more separation between itself with an upset of No. 2 Montverde Prep (25-0) in the National Tournament quarterfinals at Christ the King High School on Thursday.
Ali started to build his case for the 2015 McDonald’s All-American team by holding highly touted Duke recruit Grayson Allen to nine points in the Class 3A state semifinals.
Ali can garner even more favor with the McDonald's selection committee if he can somehow steal the spotlight again. This time against a Montverde team led by 6-8 Ben Simmons, a LSU committ ranked No. 3 in the 2015 class by ESPN and 6-5 senior D’Angelo Russell, an Ohio State signee ranked No. 13.
“We are not just going up there to lay an egg,’’ Ali said. “We are going to go up there to compete and to fight. We closed one chapter winning the state championship and now we're opening a new chapter trying to win a national championship.”