The Friars, who feature two senior co-captains from Paterson, accounted for five of the top 18 spots on the team chosen by a panel of sportswriters from around the state. Led by head coach Bob Hurley, St. Anthony finished a perfect 32-0 and captured the school’s 10th Tournament of Champions crown in the 20-year history of the event. St. Anthony is ranked No. 1 in the USA Today Super 25 rankings.
McDonald’s All-American and Rutgers-bound guard Mike Rosario joined St. Anthony teammates Tyshawn Taylor, a senior guard committed to Marquette, and Dominic Cheek, a highly recruited junior wing, on the first team. Rosario averaged 19 points, Taylor 13 and Cheek 15 and seven rebounds.
The rest of the first team included Cardinal McCarrick swingman Mike Burwell, who led the state in scoring at 27.1 points per game, according to MaxPreps.com; St. Patrick of Elizabeth guard Dexter Strickland, who averaged 16.3 points, 5.4 rebounds and four assists and has committed to North Carolina; and Linden guard Desmond Wade, who averaged 19.1 points, 8.2 assists and 6.1 rebounds and will play for Houston. Cheek and Strickland were the lone juniors on the first team.
Paterson natives Travon Woodall and Jio Fontan of St. Anthony both made the third team.
Even though St. Anthony has had five unbeaten teams, including the 1989 group that featured three future NBA players, Hurley said this was the first incarnation with three first-team selections.
“It’s never happened before,” said Hurley, recently named the Naismith Boys Basketball Coach of the Year.
Paterson Catholic guard Jordan Theodore, the 2007-08 Herald News Boys Basketball Player of the Year, was chosen to the second team, as was Bilal Dixon, the 6-foot-9 center from Queen of Peace who joined Theodore on the Herald News All-Area first team.
Theodore averaged 16.9 points, 6.9 assists and 4.1 steals while leading the Cougars to the Passaic County championship and the North Non-Public B semifinals, where they fell to St. Anthony. PC finished as the No. 1 team in the Herald News Top 10.
He will play for Seton Hall coach Bobby Gonzalez next season.
“Jordan Theodore is perfect for our style of play,” Gonzalez said. “We thought he was the best senior point guard in the state of New Jersey and we felt we got the best senior in the state.”
Dixon averaged 18.4 points and 13.8 rebounds for the Golden Griffins, who won the BCSL American Division title and reached the Bergen Jamboree semifinals. He has committed to play for Providence, which recently fired coach Tim Welsh.
“Bilal Dixon was the single most dominant player in Bergen county,” Queen of Peace coach Christian Boyce said. “He was the only player I have ever seen to block and alter shots without picking up fouls. He was our team MVP all year and he brought a nasty tenacity to the game every night.”
The rest of the second team included T.J. DiLeo, a senior guard from Cinnaminson committed to Temple; Bryan Dougher, a senior guard from Scotch Plains-Fanwood headed to Stony Brook; senior guard Ashton Gibbs of Seton Hall Prep, who will play at Pittsburgh; and Kansas-bound forward Quintrell Thomas of St. Patrick.
Fontan and Woodall, who commuted to Jersey City from Paterson for four years, appropriately ended up as teammates on the third team. The two are best friends and housemates in the Silk City.
Woodall will team with Gibbs at Pittsburgh and came off the bench for the best team in the nation to average 10 points.
“He had a Big East recruit’s season,” Hurley said. “He took a team that didn’t need a lift, and every time I put him in the game, he lifted the team.”
The Fordham-bound Fontan was the floor general for a group that included six Division I bound players and had never won a state title before capturing a national record 25th this season.
“My point guards will be compared to Jio for the next decade,” Hurley said. “He did everything you’d want a point guard to do. He led the team, he guarded, he got everybody shots. He looked for his after he took care of everybody else, and he managed to play with different personnel.
“Both of those kids have intangibles that are through the roof. They’re both going to do very well in college.”
By The Associated Press
The Associated Press’ 2008 New Jersey All State boys basketball team with player, team and class:
Mike Burwell, Cardinal McCarrick, senior.
Dominic Cheek, St. Anthony, junior.
Mike Rosario, St. Anthony, senior.
Dexter Strickland, St. Patrick, junior.
Tyshawn Taylor, St. Anthony, senior.
Desmond Wade, Linden, senior.
T.J. DiLeo, Cinnaminson, senior.
Bilal Dixon, Queen of Peace, senior.
Bryan Dougher, Scotch Plains-Fanwood, senior.
Ashton Gibbs, Seton Hall Prep, senior.
Jordan Theodore, Paterson Catholic, senior.
Quintrell Thomas, St. Patrick, senior.
Andre Byrdsong, Rancocas Valley, senior.
Will Campbell, Paul VI, senior.
Jiovanny Fontan, St. Anthony, senior.
Kenneth Ortiz, Science Park, senior.
Keon Williams, Hackensack, senior.
Travon Woodall, St. Anthony, senior.
Gary Foster, Neptune, senior.
Lorenzo Freeman, Trenton, senior.
Jamil Goodwin, Bloomfield, senior.
Brandon Hall, Colonia, senior.
Darnell McCargo, Collingswood, senior.
Aaron Walton, Camden, junior.