Photo courtesy of Dave’s Joint.
By David Cordova
Since its inception in 2004, the Eagle Academy for Young Men has been one of the premier schools in all of New York City. Founding principal and current New York City Department of Education chancellor David Banks had a major vision when he first created the first school in the South Bronx. It was to make young men of color become success stories and make something of themselves.
Now, the one school has become a part of a foundation that also serves five other schools in locations such as Harlem, Southeast Queens, the Ocean Hill section of Brooklyn, Staten Island and Newark, New Jersey.
On the basketball front, the schools in the Bronx and Brooklyn have become forces.
Eagle Academy I
Eagle I (The Bronx) first came on the scene with former head coach Rodney Plummer, winning the PSAL “B” Division championship in 2007 and moving up to the “A” division during the following season, where they won games by an average of 31 points per game. In the 2008-09 season, they moved up to the main stage, the “AA” division. In the first couple of years, the squad had it rough, losing to counterparts such as Wings Academy and John F. Kennedy.
But then afterwards, they became competitive once again under Ryan Queen, as they became dominant forces in the Bronx AA division, winning the borough championship in 2018.
This season, the program is under new leadership, as the new head coach in Roosevelt “Rose” Byers, best known as the longtime director of the Milbank Flyers program, which is based out of the Dunlevy Milbank Center on the West Side of Harlem, and has produced many talented players over the years, such as former St. Raymond High School star Isaiah Washington and current Orlando Magic center Mohamed Bamba. Also, prior to his appointment as head coach at Eagle, he was the assistant coach for the Ravens under head coach Jorge Lopez and was the head coach of the freshman team, in which he won multiple city championships.
On this year’s Eagle Bronx squad, there is a great assortment of talent, starting with seniors such as forward Asa Kone, a dominant force in the low post, and forwards Kwame Opoku and Khanye Liggan and guard Clinton “CJ” McCullum, Jr., and there are underclassmen in the fold such as junior guard Jaryn Bull, sophomore forward Jaden Zimmerman and junior guard Brandon Perez. And there are also two former Ravens on the squad in senior guard Myron Bennett and junior guard Khalil Robinson.
So far this season, the Eagle squad has been battle-tested with a 13-6 record and have played against tough Brooklyn AA foes such as Canarsie, Brooklyn Collegiate, South Shore and Staten Island powerhouse, Curtis. But in the Bronx, they are currently 13-1 in the AA division after Sunday’s win against Wings. With the impending borough playoffs coming around, this squad looks to be a tough team to beat. And once the city playoffs come around, they’re going to be a force to be reckoned with.
Eagle Academy II
Sitting in the Ocean Hill section of Brooklyn, Eagle Brooklyn has been making headway in the always ultra-competitive PSAL Brooklyn AA division. Just a few years ago, they were a force in the A division.
In last year’s shortened season, Eagle Brooklyn had a record of 5-1 in six games and produced their first Division I player in school history in Zaire Williams, who is currently a freshman at Wagner College.
This season, under head coach Kevin Hamilton, the Eagles have been very successful in their division, as they hold a record of 12-3 this season. On this squad, they have some good talent in high-scoring junior guard Eric Acker, junior forward Treshawn Sheppard, senior forward Jaquel Morris, sophomore guard Taj Bryant (a transfer from Bishop Loughlin), sophomore guard Eddie Munyak and junior guard Isa Abraham.
Throughout this season, the Eagles have been playing a tough schedule in the Brooklyn AA, against teams such as Thomas Jefferson, Brooklyn Collegiate, Canarsie, Erasmus Hall & South Shore and has also played against teams from other boroughs such as Cardozo, Wings Academy and Curtis. With the Brooklyn borough playoffs coming around, it will be good to see how they stack up against some of the premier teams in their division.
On Dec. 4th, both the Brooklyn and Bronx squads came out to battle in Ocean Hill, but Eagle II came out with the W, 70-60. With the way that both programs have played this season, it’s no secret that they will be teams to watch moving forward. As many in the Eagle Network would say, “Real Eagles Fly High!”