Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Dexter Strickland- The Top Player in the Top Recruiting Class

St. Patrick's (NJ) is one of the most dominant high school basketball teams in the nation every year, and this season was no different. Athough the team lacked a truly dominant senior, junior Dexter Strickland kept the team amongst the best in the land all season long. The 6'3 point guard will be bringing his game to North Carolina in two years, as part of an amzing recruiting class that also includes Travis Wear, David Wear, and John Henson. The Tar Heels' 2008 class is spectacular as well, ad all three players are McDonald's All-Americans, and their 2010 class is coming along well. Of the nine players in those three classes that are UNC-commits, it's Dexter Strickland that just might be the best of them all. Strickland, a dominant floor leader with scoring ability, was one of the molst impressive players in any class at the Prime Time Shootout. After his team knocked off national powerhouse Oak Hill Academy (VA), Dexter took some time to talk with me.

NB: Dexter, that was a big win for you guys. . . . How were you guys able to recover from the loss last night and come into this game and . . . pull through with the victory?
DS: We just stayed focused. Like you said, we had a big loss last night, and I told my guys, just build from it, don’t look at this like season’s over. . . . Today, Michael Gilchrist stepped it up, Quintrell Thomas stepped it up, Paris Bennett [was] hitting big shots. We just played as a team.

NB: Are there any of the younger guys on the team, . . . maybe some of the freshman or sophomores, who you see some of yourself in [from] when you were their age?
DS: I do, I do. Michael Gilchrist, him not really [being] used to all the big crowds and stuff like that, so he reminds me of a lot of things I used to go through.

NB: [You] talked about the big crowds. You guys [are] still high school kids, you’re a teenager in high school. What’s it like playing in front of these big crowds, getting mobbed for autographs?
DS: Well, it’s exciting, because we’re kids just like them. Them actually coming up to us is just, like I said, exciting. Playing in front of a big crowd, [we] get that experience for the next level in college, and hopefully the NBA. So, it’s been great.

NB: What would you say is the most fun thing about playing high school basketball, specifically at St. Patrick’s?
DS: Traveling, traveling, playing in different tournaments, going to different camps . . . playing with the top players all around the country and in the world. It’s just great, it’s been a great season.

NB: So, you’ve recently committed to North Carolina. What went into that decision? How’d you pick Carolina over all the schools that were looking at you?
DS: I just liked, . . . I liked everything. It was a tough decision. I had Florida, and Michigan St., and North Carolina, but I just felt [at] home when I was in North Carolina. The coaching staff was great, the players, the history, everything was good.

NB: What’s it like being a part of that [North Carolina] class that everyone’s been talking about, with you, the Wear twins [Travis and Davis], and John Henson? Does that give you any special satisfaction to be a member of that class?
DS: Oh, it’s good. We’re great friends, the twins, the kid [from the class of 2010] Kendall Marshall, Larry Drew [from the class of 2008], I’ve been in camp with him. So, hopefully we can win the championship when we get down there.

NB: Speaking about championships, is that one of your goals the rest of the season this year?
DS: It is, it is, yup.

North Carolina could be one of the scariest teams in the nation two years from now, possibly being even better than they are right now. The class of 2008, Ed Davis, Tyler Zeller, and Larry Drew, along with the '09 class combined with the team's current underclassmen, should they still be there, would make for a deep and mightily talented roster. A key part of that roster would certainly be Dexter Strickland, as not only is he highly skilled, but he has the experience playing at the highest level of high school basketball. Dexter Strickland's skills make him a terrific player, and having amazing talent around him will cause him to be one of the top point guards in the NCAA just a few years from now. Strickland's impact on the Tar Heels could be similar to that of current UNC point guard, sophomore Ty Lawson. Both are well-rounded, though Lawson is faster and Strickland is taller. The ACC and the entire NCAA should beware of the North Carolina Tar Heels and their future phenom Dexter Strickland in just a couple of years.

Note- photo is from http://scouthoops.scout.com

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