``We're not just an AAU team," said Blatchford, who changed the name from the CAS Warriors to New Heights. "We train leaders and we do it through basketball. What we really want is for all our kids to make an impact on their high school teams and in the community."
Well, he's picked a good group of kids, including St. Anthony's (N.J.) 6-1, 180-pound junior guard Sean McCurdy, who is first in his class with a 4.02 GPA.
``He's just a floor general," Blatchford said of McCurdy. "He's a tough competitor and he shoots it so well. He's like having a coach on the floor."
New Heights will have plenty of athletic size to go along with McCurdy. Fellow St. Anthony's player Ahmad Nivins, a 6-8 ½ junior, will start alongside Scotch Plains High's 6-7 ½ sophomore Lance Thomas, Cardozo's 6-5 power forward Skyler Khaleel and 6-8 Cameron Lewis out of St. Albans (D.C.). Both Khaleel and Lewis are expected to go the prep school route next year.
``Ahmad has crazy potential," McCurdy said. "He's got good touch, but he just didn't get to show it much this year. He's only been playing basketball since his freshman year, so not a lot of people got to see him."
If there is a question mark surrounding these guys, it could be depth. All Hallows (N.Y.) 5-10- freshman Chris De la Rosa and 6-9 junior Noah Levine will see action off the bench – as will 6-foot guard Devon Baker.
``All of our big guys are athletic," Blatchford said. "They can all run the floor. Of our top eight guys, half of them are 6-8 or above." ``We have great kids who seem very interested in playing with a team rather than an all-star AAU club," he added. "We work very hard to distinguish that."
New Heights (New York, N.Y.)
Coaches: Nick Blatchford, Chris Matesic
Top Prospect: PG Sean McCurdy (6-1, 180, JR)
Projected Starters: BF Skyler Khaleel (6-5, SR*); BF-C Ahmad Nivins (6-8 1/2, JR); WF Lance Thomas (6-7 ½, 185, SOPH); F Cameron Lewis (6-8, SR*)
Others: PG Chris De la Rosa (5-10, FR); BF Noah Levine (6-9, JR); G Devon Baker (6-0, JR)
Opening Tourney: Playaz Spring Fling (N.J.) – April 2-4
Famous Alum: Luis Flores