Stony Brook, N.Y. - Chris Braley, a native of Newport, Maine and current student at Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, N.H., has signed a National Letter of Intent to play basketball at Stony Brook University, head coach Steve Pikiell announced on Wednesday. Braley will join the Seawolves roster and compete in the 2013-14 season.
“We are extremely excited to welcome Chris to the Stony Brook Basketball family,” Pikiell said. “Chris comes from one of the great academic schools in the country in Phillips Exeter and has been mentored by one of the top prep school coaches in Jay Tilton. He is tough, physical, athletic and smart on the basketball floor and a dedicated student in the classroom. He is the kind of player that can do it all for you, and we’re looking forward to having him develop into an All-Conference player for us.”
Braley is a 6-4, 195-pound physical wing, who captained Phillips Exeter to a historic 2012-13 season that saw the program go 25-1 and win its first-ever New England Prep School Athletic Conference (NEPSAC) Class A Championship. Braley earned first-team All-NEPSAC Class A and team MVP honors for the second straight season after averaging 15 points and nine rebounds. He is one of only two players in the league to earn first-team honors in each of the last two seasons. One of his signature games this season was a 25-point performance in a win over the Hotchkiss School in the NEPSAC Quarterfinals. In addition, Braley has shown dedication in the classroom. According to Phillips Exeter varsity boys head coach Jay Tilton, Braley has disciplined himself into a focused student-athlete, who puts in three hours of study time in addition to his committments to classes and athletics.
“Chris is one of the most focused, well-rounded and college ready players I’ve ever coached,” Tilton said. “He is a tough, gritty player. Chris is an outstanding leader and is an unselfish kid whose ability to adapt to new environments is remarkable. Stony Brook is getting a committed athlete, and game ready player who has played against some of the best college prospects in the country. Chris is a complete player. He doesn’t have to score to have an impact on a game.”
Braley also competed on the AAU circuit last summer, playing for the Middlesex Magic and head coach Michael Crotty. Braley helped the Magic win the Hall of Fame National Invitational in Springfield, Mass., last July. He was named the tournament MVP and buried a three-pointer in the waning moments of the game to secure the championship over MB Nation.
“Chris is the toughest guy on the court; he’s rugged, athletic and strong, and his best qualities are his ability to get to the basket and his offensive rebounding,” Crotty said. “Chris is a winner, an incredible leader and a guy I’m glad was on my side. He was the identity of our team last season; his determination, tenacity and will to win are incredible intangibles. Off the court, he’s a tremendous, fun-loving and confident kid. He’s a guy other players gravitate towards.”
Both coaches agree that Braley is joining the perfect college basketball program.
“I’ve known Coach Pikiell for years, and I’ve always respected him as a mentor and leader for student-athletes,” Tilton said. “Chris has wanted to play for a passionate coach, challenge himself and compete for a conference championship. Chris will flourish under Coach Pikiell and his staff. Stony Brook is the ideal fit for him.”
“Stony Brook is playing great basketball and is a program on the rise,” Crotty said. “I am thrilled that Chris is going to join Coach Pikiell and his staff. They have done a great job building a winning program, and I believe Chris will make an immediate impact and help Stony Brook continue to compete for championships.”
Prior to his transfer to Phillips Exeter Academy, Braley attended Nokomis High School for three years, where he was a thousand-point scorer and a first-team All-Maine and All-Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference selection. He helped the program improve from 2-16 in 2010 to 12-8 in 2011, earning an Eastern B playoff berth. He averaged 25.5 points and 12.7 rebounds in his final season there.
Braley’s two seasons as Phillips Exeter raised his profile significantly. ESPN.com has rated Braley the No. 1 recruit from Maine. According to the New England Recruiting Report, “[Braley] was perhaps Exeter’s most consistent offensive threat this season, able to beat defenders with jumpers and drives alike, while also showing the toughness and hard-nosed floor game that will make him a good fit at Stony Brook next season.
“While Braley may be best known for his ability to shoot the basketball, his versatility has always been somewhat underestimated. He’s a terrific rebounding guard and strong defender who attacks the rim in straight lines and has learned to move well without the ball over the years.”
Braley joins a Stony Brook program that has become one of the elite teams in the New York Metropolitan area and in America East. Under Pikiell, who will be entering his ninth season at the helm, the Seawolves have captured three of the last four America East regular season championships and earned three NIT bids. In 2012-13, Pikiell led the team to a Div. I program record 25 wins, the most of any team in the New York Metropolitan area, and the team’s first-ever national postseason victory, a 71-58 win over Massachusetts in the NIT first round.
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