Posted On: 02/12/21 10:23 AM

John Carroll experienced one of the more extreme turnarounds last season in recent memory as they finished the 2019-20 season with a 21-11 overall record. The roster was still extremely young, but the group rattled off impressive wins over the season to help carry momentum for the future. Now as we approach this shortened 2021 season, 2022 forward Cesar TchilomboCesarTchilombo6'8" | CJohn Carroll | 2022State#114NationMD will be one of those players expected to take the next step.

Tchilombo is an active 6-foot-8 big who got off to a dominant defensive start last season. He showcased in spurts that he has what it takes to be a true shot-blocking presence and control a game with his ability to rebound. Although this spring and summer were cut short by COVID, Tchilombo took advantage of the time to get in the gym with Global Squad, his AAU team.

“I spent most of my time with my AAU coach,” Tchilombo told Prep Hoops. “I stayed at his house for a few weeks and we were getting in the gym every morning, day and night. I really wanted to improve my offensive game. I know what I can do on defense, so I tried to improve my offense and that’s what I spent a lot of time on.”

Last season Tchilombo operated the majority of his touches on the block with his back to the basket. His improvements over the spring and summer offer a chance too see an expanded repertoire.

“Now I can pop out and shoot the three a little bit. I feel confident in my shot now and if I get an open shot I’m going to take it.”

Adding a dependable shot even if it’s just 15-to-18 feet out will not only open up Tchilombo’s game, but it’ll make his team even more dynamic and explosive when it comes to scoring. I recently caught Tchilombo in practice and studied his jumper for a period of time. He has good foot preparation leading up to the catch and getting into his shot fluidly. He keeps his shooting elbow straight on the release, snaps his wrist on the follow through and get solid rotation on the ball following his release. He’ll need continuous reps to sure up his efficiency, but that’s to be expected. If he can demand his matchup’s attention outside of the paint, it adds a dynamic to this Patriot offense that we didn’t see last season.

Even though his presence around the rim defensively can cause issues for opponents, Tchilombo began finding himself in foul trouble as the schedule progressed. Teams were focused on getting into his body when attacking the rim or utilizing pump fakes to get him off the floor and draw a foul. This was another area he focused on throughout the summer.

“I tried not to be in foul trouble this summer and it took adjusting myself to not go for every block. I have to be smart about which shots I go to block because a lot of refs will call everything on the big man,” Tchilombo said.

If John Carroll wants to reach their potential as a team and truly make a push for the MIAA title, they’ll need Tchilombo on the floor especially during crunch time.

“I feel like our team this year isn’t the way people see us. A lot of people just think about the team that we were when we were freshmen, but we’ve become a lot better since then. I think if we come together any day, we can really beat any team that is in front of us.”

In what will be the quickest high school season in history, coming together will be key. Tchilombo will look to be the anchor on both ends.

Tchilombo holds offers from Howard, Mount St. Mary’s and Siena. I’m told that Mount St. Mary’s and Temple are the programs that reach out most consistently.