Monday, November 03, 2008

Preseason Top 25: No. 5 St. Benedict's

5. St. Benedict's Prep (Newark, N.J.)
Coach: Dan Hurley (179-17, 7 years at St. Benedict's)
2007-08 record: 24-1 (No. 2 in final National Prep Poll)
Top players: G Tamir Jackson (6-2), Sr.; F Tristan Thompson (6-9), Jr.; G Myck Kabongo (6-2), So.; G/F Aaron Brown (6-4), Jr.; G/F Mike Poole (6-0), Jr.; F Lamar Patterson (6-6), Sr.; F Gil Beruta (6-8), Jr.; J.P. Kambola (6-10), Jr.
Team strength: Depth, athleticism, versatility
Question mark: Inexperience, youth
Toughest games: Dec. 5 vs. Jackson Provine (Miss.) and Dec. 6 vs. Chicago Whitney Young at Marshall County Hoopfest; Dec. 19-23 Kruell Classic; Jan. 17 at Linden; Jan. 19 vs. Marietta Wheeler (Ga.) at HoopHall Classic; Feb. 7 vs. Mater Dei (Calif.) at Nike Extravaganza; Feb. 14 at Rice (N.Y.)
Outlook: Only two starters are back from a team that beat 10 nationally or regionally ranked teams last season. Still, the Gray Bees might have the deepest talent pool of any team in the country. Jackson, a Rice recruit who averaged 13 points and five assists last year, will be counted on for veteran leadership. Patterson, who has verballed to Pittsburgh, averaged 21 points per game during his junior year at McCaskey (Lancaster, Pa.). Ready for a big season is Thompson, a highly athletic future Texas Longhorn. Two more Class of 2010 standouts are Beruta, member of the Lithuanian U-17 national team, and Kambola, who is the nephew of NBA center Dikembe Mutombo.

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