Coach's Corner: Jerel Cokley New Heights 17U
What’s up everyone,
It’s Jerel Cokley, Head Coach of New Heights NYC 17U and Assistant Coach at Christ The King HS. I wanted to recap our achievements at New Heights this past summer, and prove that hard work really does go a long way.
We only have 9 guys on our team - a very proud group of kids who approach each game as a challenge to be the underdogs, compete against the best players and teams across the country, and show that we don’t need a nationally ranked player to be a successful team.
Our program motto at New Heights is “Play Hard. Play Smart. Play Together.” We don’t judge our on-court success on whom we beat or how many championships we win – our basketball success is reflected on how hard our kids play, our defensive pride, and our kids playing the right way – with love and respect for the game of basketball.
We have a special group of players at New Heights – each one bringing something unique to the team. We don’t have the most highly ranked, most highly recruited kids in the country, however we do have kids with the biggest hearts when it comes to competing, learning the game, and getting better as basketball players.
Our practices were grueling and intense while building up to July. The kids were getting after it in practice, working hard, training, conditioning, and preparing for their last summer of AAU basketball together. They act, compete, fight, and interact with each other as brothers.
At New Heights, we really are one big family. After our 17U games on the road, we’ll go watch our younger levels play, cheer them on, hand out Gatorade to them, and encourage them. That’s what we’re all about at New Heights – and I think we’ve done a good job of that. We’re proud to represent New York City the right way wherever we go!
Some of our highlights from this summer include:
Playing on national TV (CBS Sports Network) on two occasions: at the Adidas Invitational in Indianapolis and the Adidas Super 64 in Las Vegas. It was special for me as a coach because a lot of spectators would ask questions like, “Who is your go-to guy?” or “How did you make it back to a national championship game in a prestigious tournament?” There really is no secret to our success except for the fact that we’ve prepared for this grind from Day 1, with the mindset to play hard all the time, and to not take anything for granted. Our kids understand and accept their roles for the sake of the team.
This summer we were also fortunate enough to make the Final 4 at the Adidas VIP Exclusive Run, Final 4 at the Real Deal In the Rock, and Final 4 at the Hoop Group Summer Jamfest. Our only championship victory this summer was at the NERR Memorial Day Classic, where we won at the buzzer! Overall, it’s been a very successful summer for New Heights 17U, finishing ranked No. 18 in the Five-Star Top 25.
I'd like to give special thanks to all the people involved in this memorable summer:
- Tyler Wilson
- Josh James
- Naasir Williams
- Jalen Jenkins
- Jordan Washington
- Malik Harmon
- Mike Bourke
- Bashir Ahmed
- Hassan Martin
- Chris Obekpa
- Shon Taylor
- Adam Berkowitz
- Chris Alesi
- CJ Lipscombe
- Kimani Young (Florida International University)
Program: Everyone at New Heights for the support and most importantly to the parents of these kids for believing in us at New Heights!
Coach Jerel Cokley