Photo courtesy of Dave’s Joint.
By David Cordova
This month, we are starting a series called, “Coming Into The Season,” in which every week, we will chronicle some of the best players in the tri-state area and beyond. This third installment is about Koby Brea, a senior guard out of The Bronx’s Monsignor Scanlan High School, who recently signed a national letter of intent to play at the University of Dayton next season.
When on the court, Koby Brea finds a way to make his presence felt. It’s his smooth handle and lethal jumper that makes him dangerous to the opposition on the court. Also, when he’s on the court, chances are he’s going to be going on a scoring binge.
The 6-foot-6 shooting guard is one of the city’s finest talents in this year’s senior class and plans to do even bigger things at Monsignor Scanlan this season with his scoring and leadership.
“What motivates me to be successful in the game of basketball is my family, my country, I represent those that helped me become who I am today, so I just wanted to give back to them,” said Brea about what motivates him to be successful on the court.
Since he was young, Brea has been involved with the game. His father, Stephan, was a former professional basketball player in the Dominican Republic. “I always stuck with him and he just like showed me the way, growing up,” said the younger Brea.
A native of the Inwood section of Manhattan, he is from an area that is heavily-populated with Dominican people. Also, in that area is the famed Monsignor Kett Playground court, which is most commonly known as the home of the famed Dyckman Basketball Tournament.
“The culture in Dyckman is just, it’s just unbelievable, like basketball-wise, we probably have the best streetball court in this whole country. So, like, you go there and have a good game, and you’re going to be noticed by everybody. As a neighborhood, there’s a lot of Hispanic people, it’s also like Washington Heights, so it’s a Hispanic neighborhood, so there’s also a lot of people from where I come from, so I can relate to them in every way,” he replied.
On what it’s like to be a native to be a native of the Dominican Republic, he replied, “What it’s like to be a Dominican? The food is a big part, you know, that we eat. Also, it’s just unity, like everybody’s together all the time, like, everybody knows everybody, it’s kind of like a small country.”
This past summer, Brea got to play for the Dominican National Team in the U17 FIBA National Championships this past summer in San Juan, Puerto Rico. He averaged 9.2 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.8 assists through five games of competition.
When asked about the experience of representing his homeland in international competition, he replied, “It was a great experience, like everybody knew I was Dominican, but I never really went to the Dominican Republic myself until now, so going there, it was just unbelievable to see the amount of people that knew me, and they gave me a great amount of love and hospitality, it was amazing.”
And he also has a kinship with New York basketball royalty. His godfather is none other than Felipe Lopez, who was a star at Rice High School in Harlem in the early 1990’s, played four years at St. John’s University and was a first-round draft pick of the Vancouver Grizzlies in 1998, and played four years in the NBA.
“It puts a lot of pressure on me sometimes, but I’m definitely going to work for it, and it’s just great to have somebody like that, because he’s like a role model to me, and he gives me tips on anything I need, and he works me out, so it’s just a great help,” said Brea about Lopez.
When asked about wisdom that Lopez imparted on him, Brea replied, “To me, everything that he’s given me, most importantly, was the mentality, because he was a dog, so what’s that we’re trying to get me into now, because he said I have more skill than him when he was my age, but I just don’t have that mentality yet, so we’ve just been working on that, and being hungry, and having that killer instinct all the time.”
Over the summer, he played on New Heights’ 16U team in the Under Armour Association circuit. When asked about that experience, he replied, “It was great for me because they really let me play my game, they didn’t push me back, they put a team around me. They just helped me do what I had to do, like, I was comfortable with the situation and I had great people around me, Coach Rah [Anderson], and he just helped me a lot. Also, Adam Berkowitz, the director, he helped me in a tremendous way, not only with New Heights, but also with school, so just making sure that I’m eligible for college and stuff.”
Last season, he was one of the focal points of the Scanlan offense, averaging 18 points, five rebounds and 3.1 assists per game for the Crusaders. Being that it was his first year of varsity basketball., he made his mark in the CHSAA and is ready for more big-time performances this season in the Bronx/Westchester Archdiocesan division.
“My junior season to me, was actually like shocking, like, coming in from JV, I didn’t have that good of a JV year. But that summer, it helped me a lot, because it gave me a lot of confidence. I came into my junior year with a lot of confidence. I was still shocked, because I wasn’t expecting to have that good of a season. Like, it didn’t end that well for me, but it definitely motivated me a lot for this year. So this year, I’m coming for everybody,” said Brea about his junior season.
On the strengths and weaknesses in his game, he replied, “The strengths in my game are my shooting, with my height, you know, I’m 6-6 now, and I could dribble the ball, I can pass, I have a lot of offensive skills, and on defense, that’s been something I’ve been working on a lot, staying in front of my opponents. One of my weaknesses is probably strength, and I’m still working on getting faster, because it’s going to help me in the long run.”
On October 8th, Brea decided to end his recruiting and committed to the University of Dayton. Last month, he signed his national letter of intent to make his commitment to the Flyers official. The Flyers are in one of the toughest mid-major conferences in America in the Atlantic 10, or A-10, as it is most commonly referred to. Also, one of the assistants on the staff, Ricardo Greer, who is a native of Washington Heights and is also of Dominican heritage, was a standout at George Washington High School and later at Cheshire Academy in Connecticut, before playing for four years at the University of Pittsburgh and then going overseas to play professionally for over 10 years.
The Scanlan Crusaders are sponsored by the Jordan Brand and wear the best apparel from the brand. When asked about playing for a program that is sponsored by one of the best apparel companies in the sports world, Brea replied, “It’s just awesome, to be honest. I think we’re like the school in this Catholic League [CHSAA] to be sponsored by Jordan, and we’re one of three schools in the whole New York that are sponsored by Jordan and also, it puts pressure on our backs, but we can definitely handle it. It’s just great, they show a lot of love to us, and we’ve been to a couple of Jordan tournaments, that’s helped us out a lot, like to help us unite as a team. Like when we went to Chicago last year, we were shocked because, we didn’t win, but we saw what everybody was capable of, so it helped us a lot as a team.”
Now that his senior season is here, he is ready to help his team make a deep run in the CHSAA playoffs come March. But he also plans to embark on being a better player.
When asked how he feels that his team will perform this season and if he feels that he can lead them to a championship, he replied, “Our team right now, we’re pretty young, but it’s like four or five seniors that we have here, and I think we have a great group and we can definitely pull it off to win a championship, and that’s what we’re all striving for. Every day, we come into the gym, and that’s all we think about. After what happened last year, we look back at that and let it motivate us into this year, and we feel like there’s not any teams or any schools this year that can really compete with us.”
So far, the Crusaders are 2-3 on the season and have played three of their five games outside of New York in places like Dallas, Texas and Charlotte, North Carolina, where they went 2-1. But this season may be a good one for them, as they have Brea on the court with them shooting jumpers and facilitating to his teammates. Next year, he will be doing the same thing in the A-10 for the Dayton Flyers.
“What’s next is, I’m coming for everybody,” said Brea about the future. “So that’s basically it, I’m just working and working every day, night in and night out, just trying to get better as a player in every way, shape and form, just trying to take my game to another level, just trying to get ready for college also and looking forward to my dreams.”