If you ever wanted to see two sides of the same person, watch Brian Heckstall play basketball and then talk to him afterward.
On the court and you would see an intense player who goes strong to the hole and is not afraid of getting dirty in the paint.
Off the court Heckstall, a 6-foot-3 senior from Brooklyn’s Erasmus High School, is a polite, well-spoken young man who, despite his calm disposition, clearly knows what he wants.
“I want to play college ball,” Heckstall said moments after his mid-range jumper with under 20 seconds to play snapped a 62-62 tie and helped his Brooklyn Heat (NY) AAU team top NY Rens (NY) 66-62 in the 17U Silver Bracket at the Hoop Group Jam Fest in King of Prussia, PA. “Also I think I’d like to do something in the marine biology field.”
Heckstall has the skills to continue his game at the next level. He is a good shooter with the ability to slash and drive to the hole. Off the ball he sets solid screens to free up teammates and he never lets up the defensive end.
While his skills and basketball abilities cannot be questioned, there is one thing he needs to improve to help make him a sought-after recruit. His strength.
“I’ve talked to a few coaches from low Division-I and Division-II,” Heckstall said. “They’ve all said the same thing I need to get stronger.”
The strength will come over time if Heckstall is dedicated to bulking up his frame a little, and when all that is accomplished, the number of coaches he starts talking to may also bulk up based on his performance through the first five games of the tournament.
Aside from showing he is capable of hitting the money shot with the game on the line, he has also shown his ability to fill the stat sheet, even with all the collegiate coaching eyes on the floor, by averaging over 20 points a game through the tournament so far.
“When I’m on the court I don’t see anyone except my teammates and the opponents,” he said, “I’m not paying attention to who is watching me.”
“But I have to say, it’s nice getting some exposure,” continued Heckstall, who is attending his first Hoop Group event, “and it is good competition.”
Follow Pete Febbraro on Twitter: @pfebbraro