Thursday, November 6, 2014

Wagner trio takes talents to professional ranks

Point guard Kenny Ortiz, for three years a backbone of Wagner's defensive efforts, has now turned pro, joining teammates Orlando Parker and Naofall Folahan. (Photo courtesy of Big Apple Buckets)

When Dan Hurley was hired at Wagner in 2010, and subsequently passed the reins of the Seahawks to Bashir Mason two years later, the general consensus around most college basketball circles was that it was only a matter of time before the Staten Island school would see some of its products move on to the professional level, a belief enhanced by Hurley's strong recruiting tactics he ultimately left for his successor.

The vision became a reality recently when three members of Wagner's core over the last several years, seniors Naofall Folahan, Kenny Ortiz and Orlando Parker, signed professional contracts in Canada, Puerto Rico, and Ireland, respectively, raising the current number of Seahawks in professional basketball to seven.

Folahan, the 6-11 mountain of a man who holds the Seahawks' record for most blocked shots in a single game, has inked a deal with the Saint John's (New Brunswick) Mill Rats of the National Basketball League of Canada, and scored two points to go with four rebounds in his debut for the Mill Rats, who feature a fellow Wagner alumnus on their roster in former Northeast Conference first team selection and native Canadian, Tyler Murray.

Ortiz, three times an NEC Defensive Player of the Year before the Newark native graduated this past May, is now a member of Atleticos de San German in the National Superior Basketball League in Puerto Rico, having completed his first season over the summer, competing in 36 games and amassing 11 points and six assists in separate contests, just a sampling of what the tough-as-nails point guard brought to Grymes Hill on a nightly basis.

Finally, Parker, a starter as a freshman before transitioning into a role player in his sophomore and junior campaigns only to move back into the starting lineup as a senior, has already scored 59 points through his first three games with the UL Eagles of Ireland's Premier League, including a 23-point, 11-rebound masterpiece on November 2 against Bord Gais Neptune.

"I'm extremely proud of Naofall, Orlando and Kenny," Bashir Mason said. "First and foremost, these are tremendous opportunities for each of them. At the same time, it illustrates the quality of student-athletes that have been recruited to Wagner, and that we have recruited next-level caliber athletes."

Information from Wagner Assistant Director of Sports Information Brian Morales contributed to this story.

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