The paths of Blaise Ffrench and Trinity Fields crossed again Saturday night. The former Holy Cross teammates both played for the city team in the Jordan Classic regional game at Madison Square Garden. Playing on the same floor together once again, it was easy to see how parallel their journeys have been.
The two grew up playing basketball together on the streets of South Jamaica. Both Ffrench and Fields lost parents Ffrench's mother passed away when he was a freshman in high school and Fields' father was shot and killed seven years ago.
They both attended Holy Cross together and, after Fields transferred to Cardozo after their sophomore seasons, the pair remained close friends.
"We're still boys," Fields said.
And they both have earned a Division I college scholarship for next year. Fields will be headed to Iona and Ffrench recently committed to the University of Texas-El Paso. The pair believe that Fields' transfer benefitted both of them.
Fields is the kind of player who needs to be the focal point of the offense, Ffrench said. At Holy Cross, with McDonald's All-American Sylven Landesberg in the same class, Fields would have never been the go-to guy. Instead, he was supposed to be a pass-first point guard. Ffrench was a shooting guard when Fields was around, but at 6-foot-1, he knew his best shot at the next level was to learn how to run the point.
"He became the man at Cardozo and I became a better point guard," Ffrench said.
Transferring from Catholic schools to public schools has become all the rage in New York City high-school basketball. Before this season, five players from Xaverian in Brooklyn left. Three (James Padgett, Vincent Council and Reggie Davis) went to Lincoln and two (Brandon Romain and Pat Jackson) departed for Boys and Girls. Fields made the most out of his change, getting a full ride to college. So did Jackson, who will play at Rutgers.
It's unclear whether Fields and Jackson would have earned scholarships if they would have stayed put, but transferring doesn't always end well. Davis transferred back to Xaverian after the classes he was put into at Lincoln would not have allowed him to graduate on time.
"Kids in high school, if they're doing well in school, they shouldn't look to transfer at all," recruiting guru Tom Konchalski said. "Personally, I think it's a mistake."
While Fields and Ffrench were playing in the Jordan game Saturday night, Davis was in the Big Apple Basketball Scholarship Games for unsigned seniors Sunday afternoon at Baruch College.
He was joined by Cardozo big man Marquis Grant, who left Christ the King after last year, he said, because he knew Ryan Pearson would be the focal point of the Royals' post game.
Four Holy Cross players were also trying to play their way into a scholarship Sunday, including starter Ernest Freeman, who stood out as one of the more athletic big men at Baruch.
Freeman and Ffrench both admit that they thought about transferring from Holy Cross with Fields, Edy Touissant (Cardozo) and Ryan Davis (Bayside) after the 2005-06 season.
"I was thinking about going to Cardozo, too," Freeman said.
But he didn't and neither did Ffrench. Freeman doesn't have a college scholarship yet, but he did win a CHSAA Class AA city championship Holy Cross' first in 40 years and went to Glens Falls for the state Federation Class AA championship game. He has no regrets.
"We made history," Freeman said.
Fields thinks about that sometimes, too what if he had been on that team?
His signature game, fittingly, came the same day as Ffrench's. On March 5, Fields scored 41 points in Cardozo's second-round playoff win against Canarsie. He then raced over to St. John's University in time to see his pal Ffrench score the game-winning layup for Holy Cross against Rice in the CHSAA intersectional semifinals.
A few days later, the Knights were city champions.
"I was really happy for them," Fields said. "I would have liked it more if I was still there."
Maybe things worked out for everyone.
Reach Associate Sports Editor Marc Raimondi by e-mail at mraimondi@
©2008 Community News Group
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