By Tom Robinson
On the high school basketball court, their height stands out.
But when college recruiters began projecting a future where Leo O’Boyle, George Tinsley and Victoria Toomey were not going to frequently be the tallest players, it was the ability to do much more that made them attractive prospects.
Instead of simply relying on their height advantages, each showed a willingness to develop well-rounded games and found a place where they could do so.
When they are done dominating the local high school scene – each has one more season to try to do so beginning Dec. 7 – the three JB Hoops alums will take their games to the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I level after formally signing Letters of Intent for their basketball scholarships earlier this month. Versatility will be a big part of what they show in one last high school season and what they take with them into the future.
“The coaches love the fact that they can handle the ball, shoot the ball, move without the ball – and that’s because of our coaching staff, that starts with Bill Callahan and Lauren Carra, the people who are instrumental in their development as players,” JB Hoops owner John Bucci said. “The one thing that separates JB Hoops over everyone else in our area is the quality of coaching that we have.”
Multiple colleges made offers that ultimately resulted in Scranton Prep’s O’Boyle choosing Lafayette College, Abington Heights’ Tinsley picking Binghamton University and Dunmore’s Toomey selecting Rider University.
Bucci said his program takes pride in developing versatile players.
“We don’t pigeon-hole kids,” he said. “We don’t say: ‘You’re a point guard; you’re a post player.’
“Our basic line is this: ‘You’re a basketball player and basketball players shoot; basketball players pass; basketball players dribble; basketball players defend‘.”
Bill Callahan, who coached the boys team on which O’Boyle and Tinsley played, saw first-hand the work the players put in to making sure they got the most out of that approach.
“Both really worked hard to get there,” Callahan said. “Both were very coachable and did whatever they could to help themselves out and also help the team out. That helped them along.
“Everybody wants somebody that wins and they’ve done their fair share of winning, really against a lot of talented competition and I think that makes them attractive.”
That winning took place on the AAU level and in high school where Tinsley’s Comets enter the season as defending division, district and state champions; Toomey’s Lady Bucks are defending division and district champs; and O’Boyle’s Cavaliers are defending district champs.
Callahan sees his two team leaders continuing the personal success that made Tinsley a first-team, Class 5A all-state choice as a junior when O’Boyle was a second-team, all-state pick in Class 4A.
“They’re both very versatile,” Callahan said. “Leo can go inside and out. Same thing with George. They can be mismatch problems on the college level where they’re going to go and play.
“I’d expect both of them to be able to contribute as freshmen and I think they can contribute in a lot of different ways.”
Tinsley will replace former JB Hoops players J.C. Show and Timmy Rose in the Binghamton program when they graduate.
Toomey’s scholarship represents a milestone for the girls program.
“Our girls program is really in its infancy and to have Vic get her scholarship is just tremendous,” Bucci said. “We look forward to the next few years to having some more kids get that opportunity.”
Toomey was a second-team, all-state choice in Class 3A where she led the Lady Bucks into the state semifinals a year ago.
Both Toomey and Tinsley are returning NEPABasketball.com District 2 Players of the Year.
While O’Boyle has been finishing up his fall sports season, as quarterback of Scranton Prep’s state football semifinalist, they have been working with their high school teams that figure to be among the best in the state again this season.
“We have a lot of young players coming in that will be very helpful for us,” Toomey said. “ … I’m real excited.
“We have a lot of young talent AND returning starters.”