Toews Makes His Pick
Northfield Mount Hermon School and New England Playaz guard Kai Toews announced his commitment to UNC Wilmington on Tuesday.
The decisions comes on the heels of taking three official visits – to Wilmington, Wofford, and Delaware – before returning to UNCW in recent days for a second visit, this time unofficially, that solidified his choice.
Toews is the son of a professional basketball coach in Japan who grew up around the game but didn’t come to the United States until just over two years ago when he debuted at Bridgton Academy. He transferred to NMH for the 2016-2017 school year and while he didn’t make the immediate splash that some thought, he continued to improve with each passing week and ended up being an important piece of the rotation.
He’s played for the New England Playaz throughout his grassroots career in the states, but came close to changing teams just prior to the July evaluation period this summer following a disappointing spring.
His decision making process and the end result of it all, could be a learning experience for lots of young players, regardless of which team they may be playing for.
“I’ll be honest, my first instinct was to leave, like a lot of others kids [would have done],” Toews told NERR, “but after talking to JC [NMH head coach John Carroll], he just made me realize it wasn’t about what team I was playing for but what I was doing. I realized that if I was good enough to start, then I would have started, but I wasn’t playing well. So I just took the role of leading that second group and doing whatever I could to help the team win. That was the most important thing. Whether it was scoring ten points, ten assists, or ten rebounds, it didn’t matter. If we won, more coaches were going to come, and I would get looks.”
An increasingly productive Toews proved to be a big boost for the Playaz as they advanced to the finals of both the Adidas Gauntlet Finale in South Carolina as well as the Adidas Summer Championship in Las Vegas.
“The way JC put it, ‘I used to have an inward mindset’ where when things didn’t go well all I would do was think about how it impacted me,” Toews explained. “Now I have an outward mindset where all I’m thinking about is the team. When I started doing that we won more games and my recruitment picked up.”
"I couldn't be happier for Kai," New England Playaz head coach John Carroll said. "He worked very hard, and it took some time, but when he bought in to what we were trying to do, he embraced it and it all came to fruition. He deserves a lot of credit for making sacrifices, having the maturity to buy into that role, and prioritize winning."
In fact, at the time Toews decided to return to the Playaz, he didn’t hold a single D1 offer heading into the month of July. Three weeks later when the period came to a close, he held four different offers.
Now, he’s the third member of NMH’s 2018 class to accept a full athletic scholarship as he joins Calvin Whipple (Fairfield) and Chuck Hannah (Elon). He and Hannah also join NMH alums Kellan Grady (Davidson) and Andrew Platek (North Carolina) to make a total of four players in the last two years that have committed to schools in the state of North Carolina.