Juniors Christina Foggie of Lenape and Genevieve Okoro of Eastern are considered two of the best basketball players in the state. The other interesting battle between these two comes in the classroom.

Besides being standout players from the Olympic Conference, both Foggie and Okoro are straight-A students.

At Timber Creek, high-flying senior Montez Blair can reach a levitation level that few can even think of approaching. Blair is hoping that Timber Creek can repeat as South Jersey Group 3 champion, but he has an even grander goal.

"I want to keep my class rank as high as possible," he said.

Foggie, Okoro and Blair are among the highest-profile athletes in South Jersey, and any conference in South Jersey or statewide would find it difficult keeping up with this trio when it comes to books and basketball.

Foggie and Okoro are already being recruited by Division I schools. Blair has made a commitment to the Naval Academy, where he plans to play basketball and participate in track. He is among the best high school high jumpers in the country, having gone over the 7-foot barrier despite being just 6-foot-21/2.

Foggie, Okoro and Blair don't let up on opponents or in the classroom. To all three, achieving success in only sports isn't a viable option.

"I like to be an all-around person," Foggie said. "I work at basketball, but I also want to work hard in the books."

Foggie is also honest in self-evaluations. When asked what is better, receiving an A or dropping 25 on an opponent, she hesitated slightly.

"Getting an A, I'm ecstatic, but 25 is pretty close," she said laughing.

Okoro has long had the goal of becoming an orthopedic surgeon, so she is looking to major in premed and chemistry in college.

She has already done her homework on prospective colleges and has a list of prepared questions that coaches better be able to answer.

"I want to know about their tutoring, what percentage of their students graduate and go to medical school, how many days of school will you miss, and does the coach schedule practice around the students or is it the other way around," Okoro said.

Among the courses Okoro is taking this year are accelerated physics and precalculus. And unlike many teenagers, she gets down to business immediately after receiving an assignment.

"If people don't do well in school I think procrastination is a reason why," she said. "I always go home and do my homework immediately because I hate procrastinating."

While the players have success on the athletic field, it is sometimes humbling competing in an academic setting, despite their accomplishments.

Blair, a double-figure scorer in basketball, can leap higher than most, but climbing up the class-rank chart has presented its obstacles. He has a weighted 4.15 grade point average and is ranked 31st in his senior class while taking courses such as honors calculus, physics and Spanish 4. Imagine the résumés of the top 30 in that class.

"My class is ridiculously smart," he said. "It's a challenge keeping up with them."

Somehow he manages to compete.

Like Okoro, Blair hopes to one day become a doctor, specializing in cardiology.

He realizes that attempting to play two sports at Navy while maintaining a difficult academic load will be challenging to say the least.

Yet one reason why Okoro, Foggie and Blair are so successful in sports is that they use the same dedication that has gotten them ahead in the classroom, out on the court.

And most of all, they see themselves as students every bit as much as they do athletes.

Contact staff writer Marc Narducci
at 856-779-3225 or mnarducci@phillynews.com.