York County hasn't exactly been a hotbed for NCAA Division I boys' basketball players over the years.
That doesn't mean the area hasn't produced big-time players.
It just hasn't produced them in big numbers.
Put it this way, when Division I men's coaches go looking for talent, York County usually isn't their first stop.
But the York County boys' basketball class of 2011 was truly special.
That was apparent in April of 2011, when four local players earned all-state honors in Pennsylvania's largest classifications (Class AAAA and Class AAA). That's not exactly common in these parts.
It's even more apparent now, when three of the four are excelling in NCAA Division I action, while the fourth is finding his footing in Division II after previously experiencing a measure of success in Division I.
The names of the four players are well-known to any York County basketball fan -- Eastern York grads Andrew Nicholas and Austin Tillotson, Dallastown grad Four McGlynn and York High grad Kelvin Parker.
Their journeys to college basketball excellence have not followed a straight line. None of the four is attending the school he originally planned on. But they are all succeeding, to one degree or another.
Tillotson: The biggest success story, at least right now, has to be Tillotson, who started his career at Monmouth University with Nicholas.
After a year at Monmouth, Tillotson decided to move on. The coach who recruited both him and Nicholas to the school in West Long Branch, N.J., resigned before they arrived on campus. In his freshman year at Monmouth, Tillotson played in 31 of the team's 32 games, starting in 18 of them. The 5-foot, 11-inch point guard averaged 6.1 points a game and shot 50 percent from the floor.
Despite those solid numbers, however, Tillotson wasn't comfortable at Monmouth and he transferred to Colgate in Hamilton, N.Y. Under NCAA rules, he had to sit out a season, but once he became eligible this season, he's made an immediate impact. He leads the Raiders in scoring (13.9 per game), assists (4.4 per game) and steals (1.1 per game). He's also shooting 61 percent from the field and 54.8 percent from 3-point range -- numbers that are simply off the charts for a point guard. At last check, he was fourth in the nation in 3-point shooting percentage. The Raiders, who play in the Patriot League, are 7-10 on the season.
Nicholas: Tillotson's former Eastern teammate, Nicholas, decided to stick things out at Monmouth. Of course, Monmouth wasn't his first choice, either. Nicholas originally gave a verbal commitment to Rutgers, but a coaching change with the Scarlet Knights caused him to reconsider. Of course, he's run into coaching turmoil with Monmouth as well, but has still managed to excel.
The 6-foot, 6-inch wing man averaged 8.8 points and 2.6 rebounds per game as a freshman. He pumped up those numbers to 13.9 points and 3.6 rebounds per game as a sophomore. This year as a junior, Nicholas is averaging 14.2 points per game (second best on the team) and 3.1 rebounds per outing for the Hawks, a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference program that is 9-10 overall.
McGlynn: McGlynn started his college career at Vermont, where he was an immediate success. He was the America East Rookie of the Year after the 2011-12 season, when he led Vermont in scoring (12.0 per game), 3-pointers made (68) and free-throw percentage (88.9 percent), while playing in all 36 games as a freshman. He earned a spot on the America East Championship All-Tournament Team after helping the Catamounts win 24 games, the league's postseason tournament and an NCAA tournament berth. He was the only player in the nation to lead his team in scoring without having started a game.
Still, McGlynn decided that Vermont wasn't for him, citing a desire to be closer to his home and family. The 6-2 shooting guard decided to transfer to nearby Towson. After sitting out a season, his scoring average with the Maryland school has suffered slightly, but he's still nearly averaging double figures (9.8 per game). The 3-point specialist has started 13 of Towson's 18 games and he's shooting a phenomenal 90.7 percent from the free throw line. He's also shooting 40.8 percent from 3-point range. The Tigers are 12-6 overall and 3-0 in the Colonial Athletic Association.
Parker: Parker, meanwhile, started his college career at Mount St. Mary's in Emmitsburg, Md. He excelled as a freshman walk-on at the Division I school, starting the final 26 games of the season. He led the team in steals with 38 and averaged 9.0 points and 4.6 rebounds per game, earning him a scholarship for his sophomore season. After a coaching change, however, Parker's playing time and numbers decreased in his sophomore season.
Like Tillotson and McGlynn, he decided to transfer and ultimately ended up joining his brother Tavon at Division II Millersville, which plays in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference. Kelvin Parker, however, didn't have to sit out a season because he transferred down a level, from Division I to Division II. His debut at Millersville, however, was still delayed when he was suspended for undisclosed reasons. The 6-4 wing man missed Millersville's first dozen games. Since his return, however, he's quickly made his presence felt, starting all three games he's played in and averaging 15.3 points per game. He's also averaging 5.0 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game for the Marauders, who are 7-8 overall. The Parkers are a formidable one-two punch for the Marauders. Tavon Parker, a 6-2 freshman, is averaging 13.4 points per game. The Parkers are the only two Millersville players averaging in double digits.
All in all, it's a formidable quartet of basketball talent, especially for a county that's not exactly known for producing a load of big-time men's college basketball players.
It just reinforces something that most of us already knew.
The York County boys' basketball class of 2011 was truly special.
Steve Heiser is sports editor of The York Dispatch. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.