Thursday, October 23, 2008

Preseason Teams to Watch: Brooklyn Lincoln

We are less than a month away from the start of high school basketball season in many parts of the country. That means in less than a month the first National Prep Basketball Poll of the season will be released.

Over the last several weeks, PrepNation Basketball Contributor Jeremy Plowman and Editor Jamie DeMoney have been analyzing top teams and players, and collecting information from high school coaches across the country.

Today, we continue giving readers a sneak peak at the preseason rankings (which will be released November 3) with another "Team to Watch" capsule.

Lincoln (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
Coach: Dwayne Morton (record unavailable, 13 years at Lincoln)
2007-08 record: 28-4, Federation AA state champion (No. 6 in final National Prep Poll)
Top players: SG Lance Stephenson (6-5), Sr.; PG Darwin Ellis (5-8), Sr.; PF James Padgett (6-8), Sr.; PG Shaquille Stokes (6-0), So.
Team strength: Experienced senior class
Question mark: Inexperience outside of senior class
Outlook: Come March, perhaps no team in the country has played better basketball than the Railsplitters the last two seasons. Led by super blue chipper Stephenson, Lincoln has captured back-to-back state Federation AA titles and three consecutive city titles. Identified as a phenom as early as his 8th grade year, Stephenson is a very explosive and emotional (sometimes to his detriment) player. As a junior, he averaged 23 points, eight rebounds, and four assists per game and was named player of the year by the New York Daily News for the second consecutive year. However, the same newspaper has reported that Stephenson might face school discipline (or worse) after allegedly groping a fellow student. Without question, Stephenson's availability to the team will determine the success of Lincoln's season. The point guard duties will be shared by returning starter Ellis, who averaged 14 points, four assists, and three steals, and St. Patrick (N.J.) transfer Stokes. Padgett, a Maryland recruit who averaged 11 points and 10 rebounds, gives Lincoln a tough and physical inside presence to complement its dynamic backcourt. The Railsplitters will play a grueling schedule that includes a trip to the City of Palms Classic (where the outcome could go a long way toward deciding this year's Prep Poll champion) plus at least three ESPN games versus national powers Putnam City (Okla.), LeFlore (Ala.), and St. Patrick (N.J.). In addition, Lincoln is scheduled to play possible preseason No. 1 Duncanville (Texas) December 13 at Texas Christian University.

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