Ny'Mire Little (above, in March 2020) committed to Albany after a strong senior season at Westtown. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Rich Flanagan (@richflanagan33)
When looking at the prospects Seth Berger has helped produce at the Westtown School, players like Cam Reddish, Mo Bamba, Brandon Randolph and Jalen Gaffney immediately come to mind. Through skill work and instruction, Berger has aided in the development of more than a handful high-level Division I players, and a few future pros. Their athleticism and upside combined with the vision of Berger and his staff has allowed players to see their future early on and continue upon the path they forged together.
Yet, recently, Berger had a player who could not see his path forward. It had nothing to do with perspective; it had everything to do with vision.
When Ny’Mire Little joined the Moose program two years ago, Berger noticed that the Archbishop Carroll transfer was not seeing the floor as well as he could have, and knew an area of his game could be improved without physically picking up a basketball.
“The most important thing that Ny’Mire improved upon is we got him contact lenses,” Berger said. “Literally he was playing with his vision, he just hadn’t had an eye doctor appointment in a bit and he was playing without being able to see past 15 feet. Once he got contact lenses, he started making more shots; when he started making more shots, his confidence grew.”
Little certainly displayed the athleticism and potential but he agreed that contact lenses changed his game immensely.
“My first three years, I did not have contacts,” Little said. “Contacts really made me change my game and helped me visualize everything on the court more clearly. When I put them in, I can tell how much better it is.
“A big part of it was helping me improve my shooting.”
The 6-foot-4 combo guard could finally see the court in a new light, and that improved vision set him on the path to his college decision. Little committed to head coach Dwayne Killings and the University of Albany on April 18 and signed his national letter of intent the next day. Coming into his senior campaign, he held only one offer: Stony Brook. Following a strong final season, two more programs swooped in but one stood out.
“Every school that was interested picked things up after my coaches sent my film out,” Little said. “First, it was Loyola (Md.) and I was very interested in them. Then, Coach Killings and Albany came along.”
Killings’ connections to the local southeastern Pa. area from his time as an assistant at Temple under Fran Dunphy played a major part in Little’s decision to become a Great Dane. Matt Griffin, the former Roman Catholic head coach now an assistant on Killings’ staff, “was also a big part of that.”
Playing alongside Florida State commit Jalen Warley, 7-1 forward Dereck Lively II — who boasts offers from Kansas, UCLA and North Carolina, among many others — and Quin Berger, Seth’s son, Little averaged 16 points, four rebounds, and four assists per game while shooting 43 percent from behind the arc this season. He poured in a career-high 39 points in a win over Rocktop Academy during the regular season.
"Ny'Mire embodies the mentality we are trying to establish within our program," Killings said in a statement released by Albany when Little signed his NLI. "His versatility on the perimeter coupled with his size, length, and toughness will help him have an immediate impact on our program. Ny'Mire is a great person that will be embraced on campus, and comes from a winning program having played for Seth Berger at the Westtown School."
Berger witnessed Little’s maturation as a player during his junior year, with a front line of Lively and Oregon freshman Franck Kepnang, and continuing as a senior. He’s ecstatic for Little and knows the young guard made a terrific choice to continue his career.
“Ny’Mire’s a fantastic kid and player and going to play for Dwayne Killings and Matt Griffin, it’s an opportunity that came up and I’m so glad he took it,” Berger said. “He grew so much as a player at Westtown, no surprise I think he’ll continue to do that at Albany.”
Little played his first three seasons at Carroll, the first two under former Patriots head coach Paul Romanczuk and the last one under Francis Bowe. As a junior, Little was named Third Team All-Catholic on a roster featuring Tairi Ketner, Luke House (Drexel), Memphis commit John Camden and Fairleigh Dickinson commit Anquan Hill, who made his decision last week. That team nearly took down top seed La Salle in the Philadelphia Catholic League quarterfinals but lost the lead with six seconds left to play.
While Bowe only coached Little for one season, he has kept in contact with his former player and witnessed how both he and Hill went through similar recruiting situations in a season full of new NCAA bylaws to navigate through.
“When the season ended, where I was with Anquan was the same place Westtown was with Ny’Mire,” Bowe said. “We knew the transfer portal was exploding and just where the game is right now. We were a little worried but also optimistic. There’s no way we should’ve ever been worried because both of these young men are Division I basketball players.”
Following that season, Little decided to transfer to Westtown and reclassify to the class of 2022. He had known Berger for a number of years from playing with his eldest son, T.J. –– who recently committed to the University of San Diego after starting his career at Georgetown –– on the AAU circuit.
“I met Coach Berger in eighth grade,” Little said. “I knew T.J., and we played AAU with Team Final Black together. Coach Berger connected with my dad. I knew it was a better opportunity for me to get more exposure and have more schools looking at me. That played a major part in why I chose Westtown.”
Little also played with Niels Lane, who just completed his freshman season at Florida. The Team Final Black regularly scrimmaged against Team Final Blue. Those teams featured future Division I players A.J. Hoggard (Michigan State), Noah Collier (Pittsburgh), Lynn Greer III (Dayton) and Mikeal Brown-Jones (VCU).
Combine all that he has learned from playing with Team Final to Archbishop Carroll to Westtown and Little has noticed a vast improvement in his game.
“My decision-making was a huge part of me improving my game,” Little said. “Coach Berger made me look at things at a higher level than when I was at Archbishop Carroll. He showed me the game in a different way and focused on timing. I improved my jumpshot, which caused everything else to open up, and I also learned to be a floor general.”
Little joins a contingent of local players who have recently joined the Albany program from 6-9 Bucknell transfer Paul Newman, who won a Philadelphia Catholic League and PIAA Class 4A title with the Cahillites under Chris McNesby, 6-7 Temple transfer De'Vondre Perry, and Matt Cerruti, the Archbishop Wood product who scored 1,265 points in three seasons at Lock Haven. Already on the Great Danes roster are sixth-year guard Chuck Champion (Friends’ Central) and junior forward Jarvis Doles, who played his first couple years at Drexel.
Berger helped Little develop a vision for what he wanted his future to be. Ultimately, the senior is moving onto Albany with the help of improved vision.
“There’s no magic potion, it was just contact lenses,” Berger said. “And tons and tons of hard work -- worked in the weight room, worked on his ball handling, worked on his shooting. At least a half-dozen kids at Westtown have come in and the best coaching we’ve done is ‘let’s get your eyes checked.’”
That improvement, both physically and figuratively, has Little focused on breaking the rotation in his first season. Killings and his staff professed after the season much of what they liked about his game and that bodes well for him in year one.
“Just being a leader,” Little said. “Being vocal and letting my game speak more than my words. They said watching my game and how I carry myself was a huge part of why they recruited me. Being able to run a team and make everybody around me was another reason.”