Photos courtesy of News 12 Varsity/Damion Reid
By David Cordova
Basketball in Westchester County gets overlooked very much. But make no mistake, there’s plenty of talent coming out of there. One school in particular has been producing plenty of great student-athletes the last few years.
That school is none other than the Iona Prepatory School, or Iona Prep, as it is most commonly known. For more than twenty years, under the direction of former head coach Vic Quirolo, the Gaels have been one of the more formidable programs in the CHSAA.
The Gaels have produced players such as Justin Jackette (Manhattan), Sandro Carrissimo (Vermont), Tom Capuano (Manhattan), Matt Ryan (Vanderbilt) and Ty Jerome (Virginia). Under Quirolo, the Gaels won four Catholic city titles in the A division in 1998, 2002, 2009 and most recently in 2012.
In the present day, there are two prospects that look as if they are bound to be Division I prospects in the near future. Bryce Wills and Souleymane “Sal” Koureissi are just two of the latest Gaels to make noise in throughout the tri-state area. The 6-foot-9 Koureissi, who hails from Harlem and the 6-foot-5 Wills, a White Plains native, are just two of the area’s top prospects in the Class of 2018.
“[Iona Prep] is a great academic school. The basketball program, we have pretty good talent and our coaches are great and hold us to a high standard,” said Koureissi, who averaged 11.7 points per game for the Gaels this past season.
“Iona Prep is a great school. I knew Ty Jerome and he told me that it was a great place.” said Wills, who averaged 11.3 points per game this season for the Rens.
Both Kouriessi and Wills were key cogs in the Iona Prep offense that led the Gaels to a 15-13 record in the highly competitive CHSAA, in which they went to the quarterfinals, in which they lost to Bishop Loughlin.
When asked about how they felt about their respective junior seasons in general, both had some good thoughts on the season that passed.
Kouriessi: “I think I could have been more consistent, but overall I think I really picked it up and brought my game to another level.”
Wills: “Individually, I believe I did pretty good this year. I led the team for the most part. I tried to do everything good, score, rebound, assist. But we came up short. And next year, we’re going to at it and win the city championship.”
On the AAU circuit, both players have excelled with their respective teams. Koureissi has done well with Castle Athletics on the Adidas Uprising circuit, which has resulted in him gaining offers from Columbia, Boston University, Norfolk State, Towson, Bradley, Stony Brook, Binghamton, UC-Davis, Hofstra, Minnesota, South Florida, Fordham, St. Bonaventure, Rhode Island and Kent State.
In both Adidas Uprising sessions in Dallas and Atlanta, he averaged seven points and five rebounds per game. When asked about his spring, he replied, “I think I played really well during the live period, I had two big-time weekends and picked up a lot of offers as a result.”
Wills did well on the Nike EYBL circuit with the New York Rens, averaging 4.5 points, 3.5 rebounds and two assists per game. At the present time, he holds offers from Villanova, Maryland, Pittsburgh, VCU, Temple, Hofstra, St. John’s, Wake Forest, Gonzaga, Providence, Stanford, Iona and Hofstra.
When asked about his spring experience with the Rens, “It’s been great, I’ve gotten good connections with the Rens. I like playing for Chris Alesi and Andy Borman is also a great coach. I’m just trying to learn every day with the Rens.”
For next season, the Gaels will now have a new coach at the helm, Steve Alvarado, who was most recently the school’s junior varsity coach and varsity assistant and has also coached for AAU programs such as New Heights and the New York Rens. When asked about Alvarado being the new coach, this was response from the players:
Kouriessi: “Great. He brings a lot of a lot energy, new guy, I played for him in my JV year, so I’m excited for the upcoming season.”
Wills: “He’s been my coach since I was 11 years old and he was another reason why I came to Iona Prep. It’s a great feeling to have a coach like him since he’s always been behind me, always done a lot for me, has my best interests at heart, and it’s going to be great to play for him.”
Next season is going to be exciting for the duo, as well as the Gaels. They are poised to make a run at the CHSAA title, which is played in mid-March at Fordham University in the Bronx. If they win it, it will be their first title in the “AA” division.
For now, both Koureissi and Wills both plan to finish out the summer strong as both will be seniors next year, but Wills will do a post-graduate year at a prep school following his last year at Iona Prep. But once the 2017-18 season starts, a lot of attention must be paid to the team from the school on Wilmont Road.
Highlights of Bryce Wills and Souleymane “Sal” Koureissi:
Courtesy of Hoop Major Media.
Courtesy of Hoop Major Media.
Courtesy of Varsity Pro Films.
Courtesy of Eastside Escalades.
Courtesy of Hardwood Insiders.
Courtesy of Krossover.