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Thursday, July 2, 2015: Alkins makes Christ the King departure official

   Leading off today: Basketball's free agency period is opening with a bang -- Tim Duncan staying with the Spurs, Tyson Chandler heading to the Suns ... and Rawle Alkins leaving Christ the King.

   Alkins, the best high school player in New York City, announced via Twitter on Thursday that he will leave to play his senior season at a prep school.

   Alkins' future was uncertain because a Catholic High School Athletic Association decision on his eligibility for next season was not scheduled to come down until after the start of the new school year. The issue stems from him having playing varsity basketball as an eighth-grader in Florida, and the consensus was that Alkins was facing an uphill battle.

   Alkins move to prep school should have no effect on his college recruitment. The 6-foot-4 guard has dozens of offers, and a rock-solid resume that includes helping Christ the King to three straight CHSAA city championships -- the first three-peat in 34 years -- and two state Federation crowns.

   "Christ the King has done wonders for me," Alkins posted on Instagram. "My journey is not over yet, it has only just begun."

   Speaking of prep schools: Former Western New York star Howard Washington transferred to Montverde Academy in Florida before his junior season. The 6-2 point guard capped off his junior year by announcing on Tuesday he'll sign a letter of intent later this year to continue his basketball career at Butler University.

   "My family and I just felt like it was the best fit," he told The Buffalo News of his college choice. "It's a great opportunity -- everything just felt comfortable," said Washington, who said Butler met that criteria with its combination of significant playing time, level of play (Big East) and academics (he does not yet know what he will study). “Coach's exact words were that literally as soon as I step foot on campus, I'll be expected to take on a big role. If not starting, heavy minutes -- and just lead us to win. ... Just knowing the history of Butler, the final fours ... Just the name 'Butler.' The Big East.

   "They were at the top of the order. They were our first visit."


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  •    Washington held 20 college offers. Butler began its pursuit after Washington's arrival in Florida, where he averaged a modest 6.6 points and 2.7 assists in 28 games for nationally ranked Montverde.

       "You're playing against the best players, practicing against the best players, playing under the best coach," Washington said of Montverde and coach Kevin Boyle. "It got me battle-tested. Coach Boyle is one of the best coaches in the country."

       Signed, sealed, delivered: Recent Niskayuna graduate Garrett Whitley officially became an outfielder in the Tampa Bay Rays organization Tuesday.

       Whitley, selected No. 13 overall in the Major League Baseball amateur draft last month, landed a $2,962,100 signing bonus, reported. That's the full slot value for the draft pick at which Whitley was selected.

       Whitley will join the Gulf Coast League Rays.

       "Garrett has all the tools we look for in a young prospect, both physically and mentally," Rays scouting director R.J. Harrison said in a statement. "He has the tools to play center field and hit in the middle of a lineup, and has the potential to impact the game with his legs, bat and glove. On top of that, Garrett is an intelligent young man with a great mental foundation for playing our game."

       Coming up: Former Section 5 great Ryan Blackwell, who went on to a solid career at Syracuse University for Jim Boeheim, will be appointed buys basketball coach at Liverpool at Tuesday's school board meeting.

       Blackwell played professionally and coached in Japan after graduation. In 1995, he was the New York State Sportswriters Association's Class B player of the year as a Pittsford Sutherland senior.

       More coaching news: Former NFL quarterback Mike Buck has been named head football coach for Greenport/Southold/Mattituck. Predecessor Jack Martilotta will remain on the staff as an assistant for the Porters, whose 2014 season ended two games early due to a player shortage.

       Buck, who coached Bishop McGann-Mercy for one season before the switch to G/S/M, played for Sayville and the University of Maine before being selected in the sixth round of the NFL Draft by the New Orleans Saints in 1990. He later played for the Saints, Arizona Cardinals and Miami Dolphins.

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