October 29, 2006

Standout Perfomances at the Philly-NJ Challenge

The 4th Annual Philly vs. Jersey Challenge was held yesterday at St. Benedict's in Newark, N.J. This event, sponsored by Eddie Griffin of the Minnesota Timberwolves, consists of a tripleheader between some of the top hoops prospects from Philadelphia and New Jersey. The event began with a match-up of Class of 2009 stand-outs, then came the Juniors from the Class of 2008 and the night-cap game featured a sampling of 2007 high school stars. All three games were hotly contested and came down to the closing minutes with the outcome still in doubt. New Jersey lost the opener but won the Junior and Senior games to win the series 2-1.

Here are some notes on players that stood out during the event - primarily from a Villanova recruiting perspective.

First, some players of note from the 102-97 Philly win in the Sophomore game:

Dominique Cheek, 6-5, Guard, Class of 2009, St. Anthony, NJ / Playaz Basketball Club

Cheek has plenty of upside potential! At this stage, he is a skinny, slasher with the athleticism and speed to do plenty of damage in transition. This end-to-end, all-star format was a perfect vehicle to showcase Cheek's best attributes. His handle still needs work and he didn't take enough jump-shots for an observer to get a great feel for just how good a shooter he could be. Very intriguing prospect - should he add more ball skills to go with his hops and speed, he could be a big-timer. High-flying, finisher on the break.

Tamir Jackson, 6-1, Guard, Class of 2009, St. Benedict's, NJ / Playaz Basketball Club

Having not seen Jackson play much before, he was one of the pleasant surprises of the day. He showed composure, a willingness to share the ball, good court sense and the ability to take (and make!) jumpers at key junctures of the game. Not jaw-dropping in any one aspect of his game - but Jackson is a very solid prospect nonetheless.

Dexter Strickland, 6-2, Guard, Class of 2009, St. Patrick's, NJ / Team NJ

Strickland was named MVP for the NJ squad after dropping in 18 points and tallying 5 assists. He is a wonderful athlete with long arms and great leaping ability. He has a solid handle, sees the floor well and has a nice shooting stroke. He is ranked near the top of the Class of 2009 for good reason. He is an electrifying player. Great first step - quick and decisive. A blur in transition. If he grows a couple inches, he could be a great 2 - for now, he is a great combo-guard.

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