Jahlil Tripp was supposed to arrive last season.
Instead, one of the most highly regarded and talented players in New York City ended up on the bench with crutches. He was shot in the leg early in the league season and later broke his tibia during the warm ups of his return game for Brooklyn Collegiate.
The talented junior wing, who still has plenty of Division-I interest and scholarship offers from Manhattan and Quinnipiac, is prepared to put his lost season behind him at his new home of Abraham Lincoln. The start of the season cannot come quick enough.
“I can’t wait for Dec. 2 to roll around,” said the 6-foot-4, 210-pound Tripp. “The ball will go up in the air and everyone will be there to see me back on the court.”
He will again have a chance to put his name among the city’s elite players. The Railsplitters are in need of a new star with the graduation of Isaiah Whitehead, and Tripp has the talent to be that guy. He can average a double-double, can score inside, and can also step back and hit the jumper.
“He is a miss-match problem for most schools,” said Lincoln senior forward Ezekiel Charles. “If you put a big guy on him, he will go past him. You put a little guy on him, he will post him up.”
First-year Lincoln coach Kenny Pretlow said Tripp is close to 100 percent, but his knee acts up on him now and again. It was tough early on because Tripp was so eager to play, but needed to take it slow in order to comeback healthy. Once Pretlow saw him starting to dunk again he knew Tripp was feeling better.
“I think he is anxious,” Pretlow said. “He realizes that he can be one of the better players in the city.”
Doing so at Lincoln was an easy choice for Tripp. He had wanted to join the Railsplitters out of grammar school, but formed too strong a bond with then-Brooklyn Collegiate coach Jacob Edwards.
With Edwards now an assistant at Lincoln, Tripp felt comfortable coming to Coney Island. Tripp is capable of playing any position on the court and will fill many different roles for Lincoln this season.
He went from an up-and-coming team to the Public School Athletic League’s primer program. The spotlight is really on him now. It is an opportunity he is embracing.
“It’s been really cool to be here, seeing all the trophies and all the legacy that has been left here, with all the players that have been here,” Tripp said.
He has the chance to put his name with them over the next two seasons. It won’t be easy. This year, he can simply return himself to the discussion with the likes of Christ the King’s Rawle Alkins, Benjamin Cardozo’s Rashond Salnave, Thomas Jefferson’s Shamorie Ponds, and St. Raymond’s Sidney Wilson as the city’s premier talent.
A difficult season of bad breaks is well in the past, and limitless possibilities lie ahead of him.