What a 10 months it has been for the Lincoln forward Jahlil Tripp.
The senior is fighting to play another for the Railsplitters, and even though he doesn’t know what school he’ll attend next week, he knows where he’s going next year. Tripp announced last weekend that he verbally committed to play at Rutgers next season, choosing the Scarlet Knights and coach Eddie Jordan over Siena and Qunnipiac.
But he’s unsure if he will remain at Lincoln for the rest of the school year after exhausting all his options for gaining a fifth year of eligibility in the Public School Athletic League.
Waiting this long makes heading to a prep school more difficult — second semesters are underway, and hoops season is already in progress.
“I’m disappointed, but God has a better plan for me,” Tripp said. “I’m going to see what the future holds. I’m still deciding with my family.”
Tripp earned the scholarship playing just two full varsity seasons. He missed nearly his entire sophomore year at Brooklyn Colligate after he caught a stray bullet to the right calf two years ago and a month later broke his left tibia in two places taking a layup while warming up for the game that was supposed to mark his return.
“I think I am blessed, because I don’t think a lot of people would have got a Division I scholarship not playing a whole season of high-school basketball,” Tripp said. “For me, to get one and be able to commit is just a blessing.”
He appeared certain all spring and summer that he would return to the court for Lincoln, but officials kept pushing back the final decision.
Lincoln is a city title favorite with him on the court, but without him, it has suffered three league losses for the first time since 2012 and just the third time in the last 15 years.
For now, Tripp is happy to have one future destination set at Rutgers — even as he contemplates his immediate next move.
“They made me feel like it was a family over there, real comfortable over there,” Tripp said. “I felt like that was the best choice for me and my family. I went to the game, liked the style of play. The campus was lovely.”
His teammates and Lincoln fans have rallied around him. Many of them, including senior Cahiem Brown, wore T-shirts that said “Do It 4 Tripp” on the back. They know how difficult it has been for him and admire his loyalty.
“He still cheers for us, even though he’s not playing, so we have to do it for him,” sophomore guard Tyler Bourne said.
Tripp won’t be playing for Lincoln, but he is staying positive.
“I’m just hoping the future is brighter,” he said.
Landing at Rutgers could be the first step to that future.