July 29, 2015

Athens isn't just in Greece

Kevin McCarthy

During the winter on West Hedding Street in San Jose, a very under-recognized and thus little-publicized basketball prospect can be found. He's 6-foot-2, 2017 guard Angelo Athens of Bellarmine College Prep who also takes to the court during the spring and summer with the Top Flight Elite travel team organization. Anyone seeking a plus point on the court and a very solid citizen off it should seriously be looking at Athens.

photo of Angelo Athens

What's beneficial to Athens is the consistency of having Jamon Osby, an assistant at Bellarmine, also being his Top Flight 16U Red coach. Here's Osby on his young talent: “Angelo made First Team All West Catholic Athletic League (WCAL) this season as a sophomore and that's keeping company with the likes of Drew Gordon, Aaron Gordon, Kevin Greene and Trevor Dunbar. He a special kid, quiet and modest, but the hardest worker I've been around and with the competitive fire to win and be the best at everything.”

Athens currently ranks No. 8 on the 2017 Nor Cal Preps Top 25.

Assessing the basketball skills of Athens, Osby offered, “He is a pass first point who can get to the rim and also into the paint and make the right pass. Angelo's greatest strength is breaking down defenses because he is so fast with the ball. We call him a one man press breaker. On defense, he's an absolute nightmare [for opponents], amazing with deflections and steals. He's always in the right spot defensively and with rebounding.”

Athens' Top Flight Elite squad won the recent Pangos Sweet 16 Select Division championship and, displaying his scoring prowess, he notched 30 points on July 18 against the Idaho Select in the Double Pump Tournament held in Anaheim.

Athens himself assesses his best skills this way: “passing and getting to the basket.” Asked how he developed those talents, he replied, “I got it from playing soccer when I'm younger. You have to see ahead.”

So why isn't he on a soccer field rather than a basketball court? “I like the basketball culture better. It's more fun and free flowing in practices, warm-ups and games. My soccer coaches were stricter.”

As for his most influential hoops figures, Athens goes back to his early days. “It was definitely my AAU coaches when I was younger, Dele Sobomehin and David Moore. They raised me on how to play ball.” They positioned him at the point even though he was the tallest player.

His best basketball memory to date is “beating Mitty at Mitty last season. I did well and hit two free throws at the end that clinched the win.” Bellarmine won 51-47 and that foul line steadiness came with 12 seconds left in the game.

The choice of attending Bellarmine was the fulfillment of a longtime wish. “It's 30 minutes away {from where he lives] but I always wanted to go to Bellarmine when I was younger and my Mom wanted me to be at a good academic school.”

Being a leader on the court as a freshman could have been a tough road to navigate but Athens credits his teammates, particularly the upperclassmen. “The older guys handled it really well, they helped me.”

This season, Bellarmine has eight players returning and the Bells are working to build on an 18-11 overall finish, 7-7 in the WCAL.

Osby also shared, “Angelo's dream is to be a D1 player.” Consider the reaching of that goal a soon-to-be accomplishment. It seems just a matter of determining the college/university.