By Frank Rizzo
CORNING January 2, 2001 There are some eyebrow-raising affinities in Jason Mizrahis life and basketball journey.
While playing for Tri-Valley CS (where he graduated in 2000) he was brought to the attention of Corning Community College coach Wayne Kenner by former Sullivan County Community College coach Dave Possinger.
Kenner, who has since died, faced the ex-SCCC coach in what turned out to be the last game Possinger has coached to date: the 1995 National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division III national championship tilt, which Possingers Generals won 93-80. It was Possingers 499th career win.
Possinger was for a time Mizrahis pseudo stepdad, an item with Mizrahis mother, Leslie Raphael.
Raphael recognized her ex-boyfriends contribution to her sons hoop development.
Id like to thank Dave, and [Mizrahis Tri-Valley coaches] Andy Taggart and Jason Semo, said Raphael, who has been going to watch her son play since he was a seventh grader.
Taggart and Semo, in fact, went up to the Delhi Tech tournament to support Mizrahi earlier this season.
To prep for the 2000-01 season, Mizrahi joined the cross country team at Corning.
I knew I had to be quicker, and ran to lose weight, Mizrahi said.
He worked out with the other recruits and Corning coach Roger Hover saw him in the gym often.
We were hoping to play Jason at the 2 or 3 position. I was impressed by his three-point range and outside shooting ability, Hover said. Unfortunately, we havent been able to use him there.
Hover said that injuries forced him to juggle his lineup, and as a result Mizrahi is playing inside, more akin to a small forward.
Jasons a bit out of position, Hover acknowledged, but I think its helped to improve his game. Hes much more physical, in much better shape, and stronger. Hes definitely much quicker.
Hover came to see Mizrahi play against Roscoe last February. He spotted Roscoe Superintendent George Will known to him from basketball camps and Will sang Mizrahis praises. So did Tri-Valley Superintendent George Vanderzell and Roscoe basketball coach Fred Ahart.
People thought highly of him as a player and as a person, Hover noted.
Mizrahi became close with Raman Hunsucker of Charlotte, a Division I prospect who became team captain. Hunsucker leads the team with a 14 point per game average.
[Hunsucker] brings a Division I mentality to practices, which are intense. He gets on my case, pushes me all the time, Mizrahi said.
Mizrahis best game this season came against Bunker Hill College in the opening round of Cornings Tip-Off Tournament. The freshman sank five three-pointers and added three free throws for 18 points in the win.
Through the first 10 games (the Red Barons are 19 at the semester break) Mizrahi is averaging 6.9 points and four rebounds per game.
The most important thing, he noted, was to improve his defense, and to this end he jumped rope and did other exercises to improve his foot speed.
Hover hopes to add several players in the second semester and change his teams fortunes. The roster changes will mean that Mizrahi will be moved to his natural position outside.
Im looking forward to next year, said Mizrahi who related that he has received inquiries from four-year schools. I want to be a captain, and a offensive and defensive leader. I want to play basketball for four years in college.