Posted On: 01/13/20 3:13 PM
The 2022 class in the DMV has no shortage of talent. With that being said, no many can argue that John Carroll forward Cesar Tchilombo is one of (if not the) most improved player from his freshman season. The 6-foot-8 Congo native took time to adjust to the American game. In fact, he’s still working on adjusting to the speed and style of play, but over the past summer, Tchilombo put in plenty of work in the gym individually and while on the UAA Circuit with Global Squad and Team Thrill.
John Carroll has already exceeded many expectations as a team, and much of the success has to do with the play they are getting from Tchilombo. The Patriots’ defensive schemes are based around Tchilombo’s ability to block and alter almost any shot in the paint. The guards and wings apply heavy ball pressure with an emphasis of funneling their man to the middle while Tchilombo awaits to swat their shot around the basket. It’s one thing to contest shots, it’s another thing to block them with consistency. Such a skill takes great timing and anticipation. Even this facet of Tchilombo’s game has improved drastically from last season.
“Last year was very difficult for me on both ends of the court,” Tchilombo said. “I was pretty good on defense, but I wasn’t that good on offense.It was all very new for me, so this summer I focused with my coaches on my offense to become better so that I could be a better player on both ends of the court.”
His improvement offensively shows in John Carroll’s attack as well. In the majority of games, they want to establish Tchilombo early inside, so he is ultra aggressive in getting to the block, sealing his man and not taking much time to get a shot up. You can tell it’s a system that is bought in by everyone, because the guards are even aggressive in getting the ball into him the first few possessions. It actually reflects the way the Washington Wizards religiously got Marcin Gortat early touches inside to establish his involvement in games.
His focus is on doing whatever is needed to get his team wins. It’s likely that defensive player of the year in the MIAA and BCL will come down between both Tchilombo and 2021 St. Frances forward Julian Reese. Both players have been human erasers when it comes to blocking shots this season. I asked Tchilombo his thoughts on the subject and if it’s something on his mind as the season progresses, “No, not really,” Tchilombo said as he laughed.
The Patriots sit 13-4 overall and 4-2 in league play. They’ll face a tough stretch of games in the coming in the next week with match-ups against Pallotti, St. Frances, Loyola Blakefield and Mount St. Joseph. Tchilombo had one of his worst outings last time against Mount St. Joseph as he got into foul trouble early on. He’ll look to correct those wrongs and continue to lead his young team in the paint as they pursue conference titles.