Bobby Chandler looks to close out his career with Albany Academy in style

ALBANY – Bobby Chandler’s junior season for the Albany Academy boys basketball team could be defined by moments of brilliance that didn’t always lead to sustained excellence. That all changed for Chandler as a senior.

The departure of a pair of stars from the 2021-22 national team gave Chandler a chance to showcase a game he had worked on during the spring and summer months. As the team’s clear leader this season, Chandler has grown in many ways for the Cadets.

The senior, who is 6-foot-5 and plays both guard and forward, has taken advantage of the opportunity to showcase her skills following the departures of guards Keyshuan Tillery (New Hampton School) and Shamiere Green (St. Thomas More). Tillery was the Times Union High School Athlete of the Year in 2022 and Green was a second-team all-area selection.

“I’m really proud of the progression he’s made over the last year, both from a skill standpoint, because he’s added things to his game, but more importantly he’s become a leader,” Albany Academy coach Jim Driggs. he said “He has asserted himself in ways that have been influential to the team’s success. He has also made great strides academically. He is an A student.”

“He really stepped into that role,” Albany Academy senior point guard Gianni DiCerbo said. “He took this team and put it on his back to be that guy for us.”

“I was definitely less confident last year,” Chandler said. “I gained confidence over the summer when I was working on my game. I’m ready this year.”

Albany Academy (14-6) returns to the court Saturday for the first time since Feb. 18 when the Cadets host New York State Public High School Athletic Association champion Tappen Zee (26-2) in the Class A semifinals of the Federation Tournament of Champions. at Guideland High School. Game time is 11 a.m. The Cadets, the Independent Schools Association champions, are ranked 12th in the state. The Dutch are in 3rd place.

“We’re more into winning now because nobody believes in us because we’re a younger team this year,” Chandler said. “It will be great to play a talented out-of-town team. That’s what we want.”

The Federation Championship was not played in 2020 and 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic, and was not contested in 2022 after Fordham University won the bid to host the event. Chandler and his teammates are looking forward to playing for the first time since losing to Long Island Lutheran, the top Class AA team in the state, ranked No. 3 in the nation by MaxPreps.

Chandler, who is averaging 16.4 points, 6.0 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game, has shown his ability to get inside, from the midrange or from the 3-point line this season. More than the individual improvements the senior has made, including working on game situations, his belief in his own abilities has been the biggest part of his evolution.

“I’m always up for a challenge,” Chandler said. “I knew once (Tillery and Green) left and stayed, it was going to be more of a challenge for me. I took that to heart and used it as motivation. I was ready to be a leader this year.”

“He’s realized he has size, athleticism and versatility. We needed him to be good this year,” Driggs said. “He’s become more confident and realized he can lead us. Bobby has asserted himself as a leader, player and student.”

“I’ve always enjoyed playing with Bobby. He always has. Now, he believes in himself,” DiCerbo said. “The sky is the limit for him.”

Saint Rose College has offered Chandler a scholarship and several Division I schools have expressed interest and would like the senior to play at the one-year prep level.

“My options are open right now,” Chandler said.

The Federation Tournament of Champions is an annual event attended by college coaches and Albany Academy’s success at the event over the past decade has helped some of its players improve their college prospects. Chandler has that opportunity this weekend and he’s ready.

“I play every game with a winning mentality, so if people come to watch me play, they know I’m a winner,” Chandler said.

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