Sage Tolentino is a secret no more.
The Star-Advertiser Boys Basketball All-State selection is now 7 feet, 1 inch tall, an inch taller than he was during Maryknoll’s state championship run last winter. According to Jack Pilgrim of Kentucky Sports Radio, the junior-to-be is drawing attention from Kentucky and Auburn this summer.
Tolentino is currently spending time training with a program, Griffin Elite of Ohio, running with college and professional players. It was 96 degrees in Cincinnati on Wednesday as he worked out with Coach Jordan Griffin and the team.
“Some big things are happening for Sage,” said Becky Tolentino, Sage’s mother. “We are really excited.”
Tolentino also plays volleyball for his father, Grant, coach of Maryknoll’s boys team. The volleyball team’s season was cancelled last spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
On the basketball court, he is a wing in a 7-1 body, Maryknoll Coach Kelly Grant has said. Tolentino was a driving force for the Spartans last season as they repeated as state champions. He was voted by coaches and media defensive player of the year, utilizing his wingspan and shot-blocking skills. Offensively, his 3-point range and passing skills will come into play as he enters the next level. At Maryknoll, he was often unstoppable on the offensive glass.
At 10 points and 10 rebounds per game, Tolentino was voted No. 4 in the All-State Fab 15.
His connection to mainland coaches and trainers is the result of a relationship with East West Private. The company also has a relationship with 7-1 center Kai Sotto, a standout from the Philippines. Patty Scott has played a key role for East West Private. Both Tolentino and Sotto call Scott and East West Private CEO Maria “Chao” Espaldon aunties.
“Honestly, I really think God directed us to be together. We had been trying to get ahold of Sage and his family in June of 2019,” Scott said on Wednesday. “Our company works with clients like Kevin Durant and (the late) Kobe Bryant, and the Philippines national team.”
Scott noted the seamless transition by European players like Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis.
“Sometimes, Europeans figure it out before we do. They take kids at 14. Especially for someone of his size, development is important, that his body is not overused. In AAU, they play hundreds and hundreds of games, and that can be too much,” Scott said.
Tolentino and his parents landed in Atlanta on June 20. He was assessed by P3 Peak Performance Project, and worked out with Coach Rob Johnson of The Skills Factory. He also worked out with Jr. NBA coach Jeremiah Boswell.
Tolentino’s return date, Scott said, is not set. The plan is for him to continue attending Maryknoll while making trips to the continent. Sotto, the hoopster from the P.I., has played with TSF (The Skills Factory) since moving to the U.S. in 2018.
“Every talent like Sage has great attributes and things to work on. His in-goal is to play at an Auburn or Kentucky, so he’s got to know his draft class to know what to do to get offers, to get better at X, Y and Z. If the end goal is the NBA, again he has to play against his draft class, be in tournaments and on teams that get him 1-on-1 in front, just like the kids on the mainland do,” Scott said. “We’re going to have a hybrid model for him to get the best of both worlds.”
That may be music to the ears of longtime Maryknoll fans.
“He’s never going to leave Hawaii. Home is always going to be Hawaii. I don’t want it to get out there that he’s leaving,” Scott said. “I think people will be pleasantly surprised.”