NJ Tip Off Classic Program Profile: Blair Academy

By Pat Lawless

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Blair Academy makes its return to the New Jersey Tip-Off Classic with a very talented team from top to bottom. They have key returnees with players like UPenn commit Jordan Dingle, senior wing Henry Mayen, senior forward Keenan Worthington, and sophomore guard Jaylen Blakes. What might be even more impressive about Blair Academy is the pieces they have coming in. The Bucs have brought in Marquette commit Chilu Akanno, highly touted junior Jabri Abdur-Rahim, junior forward Luke Kolaja and sophomore big man Akoldah Gak. Head coach Joe Mantegna will have plenty to work with this season and could accomplish big things this year.

Backcourt

Chilu Akanno, Jordan Dingle, Jaylen Blakes and last but not least Jabri Abdur-Rahim are one of the most dynamic backcourts throughout the northeast. Akanno and Dingle both play on the ball, but complement each other well with how they both contribute in different ways on the floor. Akanno delivers with his physical play and athleticism, while Dingle gets it done from a skill set standpoint. Jabri Abdur-Rahim adds a lot to this team with how much of a matchup problem he is. The class of 2020 small forward is often too quick for bigs and with him standing at 6’7” he is too tall for guards or wings at his position. Sophomore Jaylen Blakes will receive quality minutes off the bench with how consistent a player he is.

Frontcourt

Blair Academy’s front court lives up to its backcourt this year and has a nice mix from underclassmen to upperclassmen. Senior Keenan Worthington will take junior Luke Kolaja and sophomore Akoldah Gak under his wing this year. Worthington is a stretch four man who gives Blair a different look offensively when he is on the court. Kolaja is similar to Worthington in that he is a stretch four and plays to how skilled is. Akoldah Gak, the little brother of former Blair Academy standout Deng Gak, will draw a lot of attention this year. Gak needs some development but has shown tremendous potential thus far. He looks more than capable to undertake a big role, but it will be interesting to see how much Coach Mantegna plays him this year.

Last word

Blair Academy has been known to have talented teams and this year is no different. Not only do they have a talented group of players, but they have a coach in Joe Mantegna that has a lot of experience to draw from. At the New Jersey Tip-Off Classic, they will square off against a tough opponent in CBD Montverde (FL). They are a lot to handle, but Blair is capable of winning this matchup. They will need to play to their strengths with one of the main ones being disciplined basketball. This will be one of the best matchups to watch and is one of the many reasons why the NJ Tip-Off Classic is a must-see event.  

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