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South Kent School “Chill” about basketball program

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This article marks the first collaboration between South Kent School and the Good Times Dispatch. It was written by students Raijon Dispensa, Mano Idir, Jason Zhou, Gerd Pflucker, Jaewon Kim, and South Kent Faculty Manager Tommy Johnson .

KENT—It might be unexpected in a town like Kent, with a population of only 3,000, to find a powerhouse in high school basketball. But those who know high school hoops appreciate the impressive talent found at South Kent School.

Last year South Kent, home to one of the most prestigious high school basketball programs in the region, took home its first NEPSAC championship and gained further distinction by producing its first McDonald’s All American, Elmarko Jackson.

Jackson is now a star at one of America’s most prestigious basketball colleges, Kansas University, the Jayhawks. He is a freshman starter (he hasn’t started in about a month) for a program that has won four NCAA Basketball Championships. 

Jackson said, “The way the coaching staff pushed us was pivotal for my growth and my teammates around me.”

“South Kent taught me the importance of keeping to a strict schedule,” he continued. “With overnight trips implemented during the season, I had to make sure I kept in touch with teachers to ensure I was keeping pace with assignments. This scheduling helped make my transition to Kansas.” 

As March Madness fever grips the nation, South Kent School again competed in the NEPSAC tournament, reaching the quarter finals. The school’s effort was spearheaded by coach and athletic director Raphael Chillious, a respected figure within national basketball circles. Coach Chills, as he is known, has been an assistant coach at UConn, Villanova, University of Washington, and other esteemed programs. This summer he is expected to work with USA Basketball, the NBA, and outside the U.S. where he supports the growth of basketball beyond our borders.

Chillious coached at South Kent School from 2003-2008, during which time he was the architect of the school’s basketball program and the driving force behind its rise to national prominence. 

Under his leadership, the early Prep Basketball teams achieved national rankings every year, reaching as high as #4 in the 2003-04 school year. With such a remarkable track record, Chillious recruited and developed high-performance talent, with 140 players making it to the college ranks. Twelve former SKS students went on to be professional players, including Jack McClinton, ’04, Dorell Wright, ’04, Andray Blatche, ’05, Isaiah Thomas, ’08, and Dion Waiters ’10.

“The ultimate purpose of our high-performance basketball program is to give our student-athletes the best opportunity to achieve their life and basketball goals through school-wide programs that challenge them to be the best version of themselves on a daily basis,” said Chillious. “We value hard work, collaboration, empathy and most of all service.”

As brackets are filled out across the country this month, enthusiasts are encouraged to follow Elmarko Jackson and six other former South Kent players who may also step on the national stage, such as Jordan Gainey of the University of Tennessee, Isaiah Watts of Washington State, Amarri Tice of Quinnipiac University, Osei Price of Oakland University, and Nazir Williams of Cornell University. 

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