Christ The King Forward Has New List

Reporter Brian Towey has a story on a player from Christ The King High School ...

Andrew Gabriel is a hard guy not to like.

He has played with bigger names in his three years as a starter for Christ the King, the straight man to Erving Walker and Larry Davis's outsized acts. His specialties are the unglamorous, the screening and the scuffling, trench warfare, and any other thankless task that needs to get done.

At 6-foot-5 and 210 pounds his frame yelps power forward, and that is his natural position, but he has been Christ the King's center since his sophomore season.

With a chronically undersized roster and a program that hasn't had a true center practically since Mark McCarroll patrolled the post, someone has to fill that void, and for the even-keeled senior, it might as well be him.

"I'll do whatever the team needs me to do," said Gabriel. "College coaches like me because I play hard. If you need me to score, I'll score. If you need me to rebound, I'll rebound."

It is that type of selfless attitude that has made Gabriel such a critical, if overlooked piece to Christ the King's success the past three years. He is the guy lunging for and tapping up the rebound to keep it alive. Tumbling to the floor in pursuit of a loose ball. Hauling down the rebound on his second-or third- jump.

"He's definitely a company man," said Christ the King coach Bob Oliva. "Defensively, he's good. He rebounds. He's one guy who has started every game for us for three years."

He's also somewhat underappreciated. Gabriel is a player whose quiet, relentless productivity- his boardwork, post defense, and the little things he does- can be background noise on a team with dynamic offensive players like Walker.

A story going back to the spring relates this well. Facing the Pittsburgh JOTS. and highly-touted New Mexico State signee Herb Pope with Team Odom at the King James Classic in Akron, Ohio, in April, Gabriel came alive.

Matching up with Pope for much of the game, Gabriel exploded for 28 points, 15 rebounds and eight blocks. Afterward, Team Odom coach and Christ the King assistant Artie Cox was approached by a Big East head coach.

"He said to me, 'Artie, who is this kid?'," said Cox. "I said 'Coach, he plays for Christ the King ... how many times have you seen us play this year?"

Andrew is one of the top unsigned seniors in New York City at the moment, and has fielded interest from a number of mid-level programs. "The schools recruiting me are Manhattan, Boston University, Duquesne, Providence, Coastal Carolina, Charleston," said Gabriel.

"Manhattan, B.U., and Coastal have offered, really. Everything else depends on whether I'd take the visit. I haven't taken any of my visits yet."

Manhattan is a program that has pursued Gabriel strongly going back to the summer. "Manhattan would take him tomorrow," said Oliva. "They love him, and they're offered."

Gabriel would like to wind down the recruiting process sooner than later. "I'd like to get it done as soon as possible," said Gabriel. "So I can clear my mind of that and get focused on winning a city championship."

According to sources close to the situation, college coaches may have to wait and see to make sure that Gabriel predicts academically. Gabriel's toughness, rebounding ability, and energy would be assets on the next level.

He is a lengthy athlete who uses his quickness inside to outthwart bigger players in the post. He can rebound in traffic and has a good motor. He can step out and knock down the occasional mid-range jumper, but gets most of his points in the low post, and a good number on effort baskets. Andrew's contributions will be vital for Christ the King in CHSAA play this winter.

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