Monday, November 03, 2008

Preseason Top 25: No. 4 Brooklyn Lincoln

4. 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: G Lance Stephenson (6-5), Sr.; G Darwin Ellis (5-8), Sr.; F James Padgett (6-8), Sr.; G Shaquille Stokes (6-0), So.
Team strength: Experienced senior class
Question mark: Inexperience outside of senior class
Toughest games: Dec. 11 vs. Putnam City (Okla.); Dec. 13 vs. Duncanville (Texas); Dec. 19-23 City of Palms Classic; Jan. 19 vs. LeFlore (Ala.) at HoopHall Classic; Feb. 14 vs. Westchester (Calif.) at Primetime Shootout
Outlook: Come March, no team in the entire 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 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.

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