Mount's Gill in an Ivy League of his own
One day after Malik Gill sent shockwaves throughout New York City with a 30-point performance in a stunning upset of Christ the King in the CHSAA Class AA intersectional quarterfinals, the calls started flooding Mount St. Michael coach Tom Fraher’s office.
Davidson, James Madison, Vermont and Columbia left messages.
“The word got out quickly that Mount St. Michael has a special point guard,” Fraher said. “When he basically put us on his shoulders against CK, people took notice.”
But Gill wasn’t interested in new suitors. The city’s best pure point guard knew where he was going to play his college ball and he made that official at a signing ceremony Wednesday at the school.
The New Rochelle native will play at Dartmouth next year, joining Gill St. Bernard bomber Alex Mitola in what could be an electrifying Ivy League backcourt for years to come.
“They were there from the beginning,” Gill said. “They showed the most interest, they came to all the games. It was the best situation.”
Gill, who averaged 13.6 points per game this year, said Dartmouth first got involved in the recruiting process in early January. A month later Gill and his parents went to visit the Hanover, New Hampshire campus.
“I liked it a lot, beautiful campus, good people, good teammates, great coaching staff,” Gill said. “It’s a nice place to go to school.”
A year ago, Gill helped guide Mount to the CHSAA Class A intersectional title. There were plenty of question marks as the Mountaineers made the move up to Class AA this year, especially with Pete Aguilar, the school’s all-time leading scorer, now at LIU. But Gill put The Mount on his back in a spectacular outing against Christ the King, helping his team advance to the semifinals.
“He’s been nothing but spectacular for us in so many ways,” Fraher said. “This year I really saw his leadership come out, he was talking to younger guys, whether it was a freshman kid or a JV kid.”
In the stands for every bit of Mount’s magical postseason run was Dartmouth coach Paul Cormier.
“That’s not driving Harlem to The Bronx and those are Tuesday night games at St. Ray’s and Sunday afternoon at Fordham,” Fraher said. “I give Malik and his family credit because they looked at who wanted him badly, who stuck with him, who prioritized their son.”
That dedication wasn’t lost on Gill and his parents, even as more Division I programs entered the fray.
“First of all it’s Dartmouth, it’s Ivy League, one of the top schools in the country, but also the fact that they didn’t come after the playoffs or during the playoffs,” Malik’s mother, Lona Gill said. “They came months before. They were very interested.”
Gill said his plan was always to be able to use basketball as a vehicle to get a college education. The ultimate goal, though, was the Ivy League. And the little big man on Mount’s campus can now say he’s accomplished that.
“He might be 5-foot-9, but he walks around here like he’s 6-7 because he’s really admired by a lot of kids and lots of faculty and staff,” Fraher said.
Gill is walking a little taller now that he can call himself an Ivy Leaguer.
“I feel accomplished when I hear the words Ivy League,” he said. “When I came into high school, that was my goal, to be able to use basketball to get an Ivy League education. I have an opportunity to do that now.”
Joining Gill at the signing ceremony Wednesday was teammate Omari Manhertz, the two-sport standout who will play football, and hopes to also play basketball, at Division II American International College.
“Basketball is my first sport, I like playing football, too. I like playing both sports,” Manhertz said. “To have the opportunity to play both, not a lot of colleges allow it, that’s why I chose [AIC].”
The 6-foot-4 senior, who provided a spark with explosive dunks and monster blocks on the basketball court, visited AIC in late January.
“I went there, met the people, visited the college, saw the whole campus,” Manhertz said. “I felt I could fit in there.”
Manhertz said he wasn’t really getting recruited for basketball, but Merrimack expressed interest in his ability on the gridiron.
As a hard-hitting outside linebacker, Manhertz had 44 tackles and six sacks this year, earning first team all-city defensive honors by MSG Varsity.
He’ll likely line up as defensive end, which Mount football coach Mario Valentini believes is probably his most natural position.
“I think his true position is probably putting his hand down and getting after the quarterback, just let him use his athletic ability,” Valentini said. “Once he gets used to that, I think he’s going to be tough to handle.”
And Valentini believes Manhertz is just scratching the surface of his potential after playing just three years of organized football.
“I do believe he was a little bit under recruited, but I think it’s a great opportunity for him, he still has the opportunity to play both sports if he chooses to, and he’s got a tremendous upside,” he said. “I think people are going to see that on the next level.”
Both Gill and Manhertz will head to college with fond memories of their time at Mount. On Wednesday, Manhertz had one more highlight, sharing the signing ceremony with Gill.
“It feels nice,” Manhertz said. “Malik, I grew up with him, he’s a funny kid. I’m going to miss his jokes, I’m going to miss everything. To share a moment like this with Malik is nice.”
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