New School hoopsters getting radically gnarly

Gnarls the Narhwal is the New School’s new mascot.
Gnarls the Narhwal is the New School’s new mascot.

BY ROBERT ELKIN  |  The New School Narwhals basketball team is gearing up for the second half of their season, starting right after the winter break, against Pratt Institute in Brooklyn on Tues., Feb. 3.

The New School is not a member of the NCAA and plays an independent nonleague schedule against such colleges as The Cooper Union, Vaughn College, Medgar Evers, Mt. St. Vincent and Culinary Institute of America, besides Pratt.

The college tries to follow NCAA rules as much as possible and does play some games against Division III opponents.

Toward the end of the schedule, they will compete in a Northeast Arts School Basketball Invitational (NASBI) tournament at the Baruch College ARC gym, at E. 24th St. and Lexington Ave.

The Narwhals don’t have an on-campus home court, and the New School, in general, doesn’t have its own sports facilities. Their home games are basically held in nearby buildings — including office buildings — around the school area, with the athletic office located at 2 W. 13th St.

Though known for its leftist academics, the New School is looking forward to growing its athletics in the future. Basketball is currently probably the school’s biggest sport. Coach David Privat-Gilman is in his second year helming the hoops squad, which is led by Henry Jesse “H.J.” Gaskins, the team’s high scorer and captain.

The Narwhals are 5-3 so far and are certainly looking to post a winning record this season.

Team practices and games can be held at Washington Irving High School, Chelsea Recreation Center, Baruch College or elsewhere.

Gaskins, from Philadelphia, is a 5-foot-9 combo guard who can play either the “one” or “two” position on the court.

“I’ll do whatever it takes for my team to win,” he said. “I do the best on the court and control the tempo of the game for my team — and I can shoot.”

Actually, he is a transfer from Boston University where he saw action on the Division I team.

“I’ve been around basketball and know my thing,” Gaskins added. “Being originally from Philadelphia, where basketball is a big sport, my high school sent players to Division I colleges.”

He transferred to the New School because he got hurt, and also because, as an artist, he felt it would be a good move for his career.

“My goal is to have the New School basketball program exist,” he said. “I want the people to know about it and for it to eventually have its own facilities.”

Joining Gaskins, the other three starters are guard Dustin Sodano, the other captain; Jovan Johnson, at center; and Benjamin Irving at forward. The fifth starting spot is usually up for grabs at each game.

Basketball is not the only sport at the New School. It also offers cycling, soccer, dodge ball, archery, running and intramurals.

Diane Yee is the director of athletics and recreation.

A few years ago, as part of an effort to boost the New School’s athletics, it was decided the school needed a mascot. In fall 2012, as voted upon by the students, the winner was the narwhal. Matthew Wolff Design won the bid to create the logo and named the character Gnarls the Narwhal.