Pickett Campus grad Lakeem McAliley isn’t a prototypical big man at East Stroudsburg
THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER
BY RICH FLANAGAN
A staple of East Stroudsburg coach Jeff Wilson’s offense is a quick swing and post entry. While it may seem like a simple concept, so much of his offense revolves around what the post player does once the ball hits his hands.
Wilson has been the Warriors’ head coach for 21 seasons, with seven Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference East regular-season titles, three PSAC championships, and seven NCAA Tournament berths. He’s closing in on 400 career wins and has turned the Warriors’ basketball program into one of the best in Division II.
He has taught players to take that entry pass and turn it into a historic, accomplished career. The next player who is following that blueprint is redshirt junior Lakeem McAliley.
McAliley, a 2019 graduate of Mastery Charter North-Pickett, is doing more than simply scoring around the basket. He’s controlling everything the Warriors do, and it has them scorching this season.
“Coach Wilson saw what I was capable of and felt if it’s working, why not work with it?” McAliley said. “It’s working well for us right now.”
McAliley has changed the dynamic of East Stroudsburg (17-2, 11-2 PSAC East) since entering the rotation in the 2021-22 season. The 6-foot-6, 235-pound forward is averaging a team-high 17.4 points and 6.9 rebounds this season, which includes 16 double-digit scoring games and three double-doubles. He also became the fifth player in program history to surpass 1,000 career points after pouring in 23 points against Clarion on Dec. 18.
His game transcends that of prototypical big men, especially on the Warriors, for whom he typically plays in the middle. He has a strong frame with the build of a linebacker, but he complements that with pure athleticism and a smooth feel by corralling rebounds and leading the break at the other end.
“Lakeem is a really talented kid, especially offensively in knowing how to put the ball in the basket,” Wilson said. “There are a lot of things we don’t teach that he does naturally. That popped when we went to see him as a high school player.”
Assistant coach Sean Hanna put McAliley on Wilson’s radar when the big man was playing under Terrence “Nip” Cook at Mastery Charter North, where McAliley played two seasons after beginning his career at Mastbaum.