When Kentan Facey decided to leave Jamaica to play high school basketball at Long Island Lutheran in Brookville, N.Y., it was the first time he had left his home, and it was the first time he had to wear a winter coat.
“I had to buy one of those goose (coats),” Facey said. “That was definitely the biggest adjustment, dealing with the winter. We didn’t have that in Jamaica.”
That wasn’t the only adjustment the mild-mannered Facey had to make. Living with a host family, he was searching for a friendly faces which he found in teammate Matt Borer and his mother Eileen Borer.
“Kentan was extremely hard-working, he really cared about his game and always spent extra time in the gym, even after a tough practice,” Matt Borer said. “He was very competitive and you could see that in the way he played.”
Eileen’s focus was on making sure Facey felt welcome.
“I had a soft spot for (Facey),” Eileen said. “Here was a kid that came all the way from Jamaica and he didn’t really know anyone. I did what I could to make him feel welcome.”
During high school, Eileen would cheer on the team from the stands and talk with Facey after games. Once the 2013 New York State Gatorade Player of the Year left to go to UConn, Eileen and her son kept in contact with Facey.
“During Easter time, in Jamaica, we had this Easter bread,” Facey said. “It is something we have every Easter, bun and cheese. I don’t know how she found it, but she did and she sent me a bunch of them … It was definitely great to have someone thinking about me.”
Among other things that Eileen would send – St. Patrick’s shirts, Christmas trees and other Jamaican delicacies.
“He probably thought I was crazy,” Eileen said with a giggle. “But I just wanted to help him with his transition and let him know we were thinking of him.”
Facey, who won a NCAA Championship in 2014 during his freshman year, spent the day prior to the Calhoun Charity All-Star game working out with the current Huskies on campus. He said he knew head coach Danny Hurley and assistant coach Kimani Young during his time in high school through the recruiting process and that he expects the team to rebound.
“I think (UConn) are in a good spot,” Facey said. “Everyone is working hard. We have a whole new coaching staff, so we have to give them a chance and see what they can do. But I feel like everyone is working hard and is on the same page, so it should be a good year.”
Facey went undrafted after averaging 8.5 points per game and 7.1 rebounds per game in 2017 and played overseas in the Greek Basket League. He said that it is likely he will play next season in Poland and he has worked on scoring from different areas on the court and moving outside of the low post.
The 6-foot-10 power forward was one of the former Huskies who played in Coach Jim Calhoun’s Charity All-Star Game where he got to catch up with former teammates and seek advice from UConn greats.
“The biggest thing that Ray Allen was talking about was nutrition,” Facey said. “He’s big on that stuff and he shared with us a few things that he has in our diet that he thinks could help us out.”
The event was a trip down memory lane and Facey said reliving the moment of winning a national championship was indescribable.
“The whole series of events that led up to us winning that championship, we had to win a bunch of games,” Facey said. “It was just fun to be a part of, you know. The atmosphere, we got police escorts going to games. That was definitely something I will remember forever.”
This year’s charity game was the first one Facey has participated in, but he can’t wait for the next one.
“I wish I got to be around those guys more often,” Facey said. “All of them are just so fun to be around. They show you and teach you and show you what to expect in certain situations. It was just a fun environment to be in.”
Michael Logan is the sports editor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.