30 NJ Players to Watch: Tyler Ennis
MSG Varsity counts down the top 30 New Jersey athletes to watch, in no particular order, for the upcoming school year. Today, we highlight No. 12, St. Benedict's Prep basketball star Tyler Ennis.
Don’t look away this winter -- you might miss the latest feat or singular sequence of beautiful wizardry Tyler Ennis displays on the basketball court. Yes, the St. Benedict’s Prep point guard is one of those rare players that demands constant attention to truly appreciate how special he is.
And that’s just one reason why Ennis -- who will announce his college choice tonight between Louisville, Memphis, UCLA, Syracuse, and Illinois -- enters the school year as one of the top athletes to watch in the Garden State.
Though the Gray Bees will likely open the year as one of two or three favorites to win the national championship, it’d truly be a remarkable feat for Ennis to top the accolades he piled up last season.
"The thing about Tyler is that he's a great player, but a better facilitator," St. Benedict’s Prep coach Mark Taylor once said. "Tyler manages the game, he controls the tempo, he controls the destiny of the team. Not many guys can do that, not the way Tyler does."
The high-profile coach isn’t alone with that sentiment. Ennis’ take-charge ability -- and his robust stats and strong academic standings –was factored in heavily and ultimately impressed voters enough for him to be recognized as the 2011-12 Gatorade New Jersey Boys Basketball Player of the Year.
Ennis, a native of Toronto, Canada, averaged 15.2 points, 7.1 assists, 4.6 rebounds and 2.5 steals as a junior in 2011-12. He was named to the MSG Varsity All-Metro Second Team, alongside fellow Garden State players Reggie Cameron (Hudson Catholic), Chris Jones (Teaneck, Pitt), and Sekou Harris (Plainfield, Fairleigh Dickinson).
St. Benedict’s Prep finished the season No. 2 in MSG Varsity’s tri-state poll, with a 34-3 record. The Gray Bees were comprised of many new faces, including Rice (N.Y.) transfer and VCU commit Melvin Johnson and star freshman Isaiah Briscoe. Forwards Isaiah Watkins and Denzell Taylor helped round out a team with plenty of offensive punch.
Taylor had the storied program playing at a much higher level than the previous winter, and a lot of it had to do with the growth of Tyler as the area’s most talented floor general.
“He’s so mature for his age on and off the court,” assistant coach Bob Farrell said. “It’s amazing for me, as a coach, to see a kid develop like that. He’ll come over sometimes on a free weekend and his demeanor is the same as it is on the court. He’s so level headed. Nothing fazes him and it’s because of his maturity. He’s just an absolute pleasure to coach.
“He’s a leader. The one thing coach Taylor demands is basketball IQ; Tyler brings that and so much more. He’s got a great sense for the game and because of that, it’s like having another coach on the floor.”
Contact Brian Fitzsimmons at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @FitzWriter