Posted On: 01/22/20 3:44 PM

The Poly Engineers have not only established themselves as the top team in Baltimore, but are now getting national recognition by earning the No. 19 slot in the latest ESPN Top 25 rankings. This is a team made up of multiple mid-to-high major prospects in the 2020 class and the talent doesn’t stop there. Throughout the roster, there are younger players with high potential who continue to learn from those highly regarded seniors and the dedicated coaching staff. 2021 Trae English is one of those players who has trusted the process during his time at Poly and is now beginning to reap the benefits.

English transferred to Poly following his freshman season at Mount St. Joseph where he had an impressive freshman season on the junior varsity team. Despite posting solid scoring numbers consistently, he had much to learn making the move to both Poly and the varsity level, which meant he didn’t get as much playing time as a sophomore.

“There were adjustments I had to make going from the junior varsity to varsity level,” English told Prep Hoops. “There are bigger players so finishing was tougher. I found myself kicking the ball out more so I wouldn’t get my shot blocked. Last year, I wasn’t aggressive as I needed to be because I was so worried about making the right play instead of just playing my game. Coach [Sam] Brand trusts me now and it’s made me comfortable just going out and playing.”

English went from rarely getting playing time last year to being the first man off the bench for a stacked Poly team. There’s plenty of explosive scorers on the floor at all times, so English knows he needs to impact in different ways in order to stay on the floor. He does so with his defensive mindset.

“I know that I have to bring defense to the floor when I come off the bench. When I do that, I can tell my team gets more energy and we continue to build the lead that we had before I came in,” English said.

I was witness to this last night as Poly dismantled a solid Edmondson-Westside team. The moment that English checked in, Poly’s full court pressure defense went up another level. It’s important that the man guarding the ball forces the ball handler to one side of the floor so they can send their opposite side guard as a trapper when the ball handler turns his back. English is usually the man guarding the initial ball handler, so that responsibility falls on his shoulders. He has quick lateral speed and does a nice job of sprinting to the spot to reestablish his position if the ball handler gets by him. At all times, English has active hands. Stunting, poking at the ball when the opposing guard is trying to get his team in sets often causes a turnover. When Poly gets any chance at fast break opportunities…good luck stopping them.

There still are stints of games where English has to resort back to his scoring ways. He can finish in many ways around the rim and breaks his defender down quickly on the perimeter before doing so. Where the growth in English’s game is evident is knowing when to call his own number on those drives or read the rotating defense and find the open man consistently. 

Poly still has its fair share of big games coming up late in their schedule including a match up against St. Frances this Saturday and down the road in likely the most anticipated game of their season against IMG Academy Feb. 8. English reiterated that the mindset remains as it has all year.

“Just keep building,” English continued, “we just have to keep playing hard and get better every day. We don’t look over no opponents. We see whoever is next up on the schedule and we lock in. That’s what we will keep doing.”