Omari Phipps is a basketball player at York College. In fact, he is a very good one. His father Oswald Phipps is a native of the West Indies, where he played soccer and cricket as a youngster in St. Vincent.
Omari, himself, grew up in South Jamaica, New York seeing hoop action in various playgrounds and putting on a basketball uniform at St. John’s Prep High School in Astoria.
Now, Omari is a senior and starter up front at York College, which got off to a slow overall start, including competition in the City University of New York Athletic Conference. He, along with teammates Shamir Wilkinson and with junior guard Tony Vails are doing decent work both in scoring and rebound for York.
This trio is getting high praise from Head Coach Ron St. John and his staff.
York and the other CUNYAC colleges is pointing for the league post seasosn tournament to be held at the end of the regular season with an automatic bid going to the winner into the Division III NCAA tournament.
Phipps is competing in his fourth and last year playing the hoop sport in the CUNYAC.
“It’s good to play at York (especially) when we win, because of the atmosphere,” said the 6-4 forward, who is the Cardinals’ top rebounder pulling down an average of almost eight caroms an outing, and exploded for a game high of 14, including nine off the offensive boards against host Brooklyn College during the recent semester recess.
“We have a family atmosphere here and the fact that everybody (including the) alumni come together and support us (helps us a great deal),” Phipps added.
Of course, any individual is expected to step up a notch from the previous year.
“To play here the coaches expect you to play at a certain level because of the people who played before. And we are trying to bring the program to new heights,” said Phipps, who is a movement science major.
Phipps is very high on his teammates, especially Wilkinson, who at a 6-6 junior can see action at either center or forward.
“Shamir came a long way,” Phipps went on after a recent away basketball game. “(At the start of the season in college), he was a little nervous how to play the game. Now he’s getting much better, and he is pulling down (those) rebounds. He’s doing what he has to do.”
“Shamir and Omari have been playing very well,” Coach St. John added.
“We just got to get better.”
So far, at press time, the York Cardinals are still playing way under .500 basketball as a team.”
But overall, the Cardinals lost to Manhattanville, 71-66, in non conference action, and defeated Medgar Evers, 77-74, in league competition in their past two games at press time. Tony Vails is their top scorer averaging 19.6 points a game.