Six-foot-one combo guard Gianni Ford officially committed to St. Francis-Brooklyn last Friday at Boys and Girls High School, where he’s been a staple on their varsity squad for each of the last four seasons.
For the upcoming 2016-17 campaign, Ford will join Thomas Jefferson guard Rasheem Dunn, who will be coming off of a Federation “AA” title run, as part of the Terriers incoming class of new additions.
After drawing interest from a number of Division I schools such as Iona, Stony Brook, LIU-Brooklyn and Hofstra, Ford ultimately chose St. Francis because he felt like it was his best fit.
“The fact that they really accepted me and told me that they need me in their program made my decision,” he said. “I made my decision about a week before I made the official announcement. I honestly love it, Rasheem and I will have a big impact on the game coming in as freshmen.”
Earlier this month at the Unsigned Hype Senior Showcase, which was played at George Westinghouse High School in Brooklyn, Ford was one of the highlighted participants going into the evening, and clearly left an impression with his scoring ability by pouring in 21 points.
Ford has been the Kangaroos top scorer in each of his last two seasons at Boys and Girls. As a junior, he posted 19.7 points and 6.5 assists per game, while draining 35 three-pointers; all of which were in PSAL play and all of which were team-highs.
Ford was at the forefront of a team who finished (19-9, 8-6 PSAL), and reached the semifinals in both the PSAL Brooklyn Borough Playoff Bracket, and PSAL “AA” Playoff Tournament.
In his senior season, the Kangaroos weren’t as successful (finished 11-15, 5-9 PSAL), but Ford managed to provide a bright spot in an otherwise down year for the team. The exciting combo guard led the way by averaging 18.8 points, 4.6 rebounds and 4.1 assists in PSAL regular season play, which was elevated to 25.0 points and 4.5 assists per game in a short playoff run.
“It was a great experience,” Ford said of his time playing at Boys and Girls. “I built a relationship with all of my teammates that I’ve played within the four years and they will always be my brothers.”
Going back to the essence, the very confident Boys and Girls product says he always maintained a level of belief that he’d get to the point of earning a Division I scholarship, even as a kid in elementary school.
“Since I was in 5th grade I knew I would get a scholarship to play somewhere,” he said. “My brother grew up playing basketball first, and I would always travel and watch him play all over the United States. He was best friends with Kyle Anderson and Russ Smith, so I grew up watching all of these guys play. I thank God, my trainers, coaches and family, they helped me the most.”
One of the most significant moments of his high school career came as a sophomore, where he was a key member of one of New York City’s more noteworthy basketball programs.
“When I was a sophomore, we played South Shore at our home, it was an insane game and it was in overtime,” Ford remembered. “They made a layup to go up by two with two seconds left. I shot the ball full court and it went in. It was probably the craziest day of my life.”
Even with an obvious level of talent combined with a superb work ethic, the pressure to perform will always be on when you’re under a microscope. As confident as Ford is, even he could recall a time where doubt surfaced in spite of his high level of play throughout the year.
He pointed out that he’s played “terribly” on multiple occasions with college coaches in attendance, but his self-belief never wavered. Ford isn’t (yet?) media-trained or inauthentic as made evident by his conviction.
“I know my worth,” Ford said confidently. “I feel that I was the best player in Brooklyn the last two years.”
There was no shortage of congratulatory messages for the Brooklyn native, as many were present for his afternoon announcement and countless others reached out to the newly committed Terrier to send their good luck wishes.
“All of them meant a lot,” Ford said of the many thank you’s. “About 700 people congratulated me on Facebook and it really made me feel special.”
As it pertains to his potentially bright future, Ford will now join a loaded St. Francis backcourt.
Guards listed for the 2016-17 Terriers include senior to-be, Yunus Hopkinson, who earned All-NEC third team honors after seeing major minutes for the first time in his college career, and Glenn Sanabria, who will be a sophomore after receiving a medical redshirt for this past season, will return to the floor as a likely starter with Hopkinson.
Ford joins the aforementioned Dunn as incoming freshmen, while Dagur Jonsson and Gunnar Olafsson, both of whom played major minutes for the Terriers last season, will return to the mix.
As for as his expectations for what the next level brings, Ford is eager to compete just like anybody else, and prove that he belongs at the D-I level. The Terriers are one of a few programs that has never earned a trip to the Big Dance and play a part in March Madness, but came dangerously close in their 2014-15 campaign.
Two seasons ago, the Boys from Brooklyn tied a school record with 23 wins, captured an NEC regular season title, and lost in the NEC Championship, earning a trip to the NIT.
The soon-to-be former Boys and Girls star wants to be part of the breakthrough that finally lands the Terriers into the March Madness.
Like really wants to be part of that kind of history.
“To play in the Big Dance, that was always a dream I had,” he said. “Yeah, it is my biggest goal and we will get there, I guarantee that!”
It’s safe to say that Ford has the right mindset in order to combat the next stage in his life.
New York City basketball just got a lot more interesting.
Follow Bryan Fonseca on Twitter at @BryanFonsecaNY.