Two former Charlestown High basketball players are headed to college to play basketball.
Omar Orriols and Alijiah Robinson signed nationals letters of intent in the Charlestown High gymnasium Friday afternoon. Orriols will attend Community College of Rhode Island while Robinson is head to Benedict College in South Carolina.
“This is a special day for two of our student-athletes and their parents and guardians,” Charlestown coach Edson Cardoso said. “I’m very excited that these two gentlemen are moving forward academically and with athletic scholarships.
“It is a special day for all of them and I’m very proud of these two young men.”
After transferring to Charlestown from Holbrook for his senior season, the 6-foot-8-inch Robinson averaged 15 points per game to go along with 12 rebounds and 4 blocks.
“It’s great, it’s a blessing, it’s a great opportunity to go out and make something of myself,” Robinson said.
Robinson was accompanied by his brother Perez Veiga, who played for Charlestown as well, and has been a mentor to his brother.
“The big thing for me was not to follow in the footsteps of my family members, my cousins, they are all locked up or in jail, they are all doing bad things and such and I didn’t want to be part of that cycle,” Robinson said. “That was part of my motivation. Also my brother Perez Veiga, whose been with me through it all, has really helped me through school and being that person pushing me forward.
“I’ve really been trying to be good academically all the time because I know without academics you really don’t have anything. Without academics there’s no basketball and I wouldn’t be sitting here today without that. I just want to thank all my coaches, family members and everybody who has been there to support me through the journey.”
Orriols played for Charlestown two years ago, averaging 12 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 assists in the Townies’ run to TD Garden.
But he dropped out of school his senior year and only recently completed his GED.
“Once I figured out how the real world was, I was just sitting at home feeling unproductive so I had to do something and get my GED,” he said. “No looking back at all.
“I thank my coaches today for giving the opportunity and giving me a chance to attend community college in Rhode Island. It’s very exciting, I’m finally moving on, moving forward, it feels good.”
Orriols's mother, Sarail Lopez, broke into tears during the signing.
“I’m happy for him, I’m really proud that he’s moving on,” she said. “He finally made that decision that I was waiting for.”
Cardoso said since he took over the program five years ago, all 40 players he has coached have gone on to college. He said about half are playing in basketball in college.
Last year, former Charlestown player Akosa Maduegbunam signed his national letter of intent to play at Penn State. But after averaging only 6 points and 8 rebounds in 3.8 minutes per game, Maduegbunam will transfer to Long Island University Post, according to Cordoso.
"As I do every year, I talked with each of our players at the end of the season to evaluate where they are and to set a course for success in their future," Penn State coach Patrick Chambers said in a press release announcing the release of two players last April. "Patrick [Ackerman] and Akosa have decided to seek opportunities elsewhere. First and foremost, we want what is best for our student-athletes. We thank Patrick and Akosa for their contribution to our program, wish them the very best, and will try to assist them in anyway we can."
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