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Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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Tuesday / May 22.
  • Bearcats Earn Latest Key Big East Win; Rashad Bishop Still From Paterson

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    The Big East improved to 51-4 on the young season after Cincinnati downed No. 24 Vanderbilt 67-58 in the Maui Invitational.

    Seven Big East teams are ranked in the latest AP poll, including Syracuse, which was unranked a week ago but vaulted to No. 10 — with one first-place vote — in the latest poll after routing defending NCAA champ North Carolina last Friday at MSG.

    Cincinnati, which next plays the Maryland-Chaminade winner, could move into the polls with a strong week in Maui.

    On a night when senior point guard Deonta Vaughn managed just 8 points on 1-for-3 shooting, sophomore big man Yancy Gates was a monster with 16 points and 10 boards.

    “I think this is a statement game for us,” Gates said, according to the AP. “We were actually watching it this morning, me and my roommate. We watched it and we saw they were No. 24 and that kind of gave me some incentive. We feel we needed to get the win and after breakfast some of the guys were texting about it.”

    Lance Stephenson, the Big East Preseason Rookie of the Year and reigning Rookie of the Week, made a few really nice athletic plays, including a driving layup off a hesitation dribble, and finished with 8 points on 4-for-10 shooting and 5 rebounds. He still has a lot to learn to play within the team concept, but he showed flashes of tremendous athleticism.

    Dion  Dixon added 12 points and Paterson, N.J.’s Rashad Bishop put up 9 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists while playing great defense.

    Speaking of Bishop, I texted ESPN’s Jay Bilas at halftime to let him know Bishop was from Paterson, not Newark, and to his credit, Jay made the correction on air in the second half. Where’s the shout-out, Jay?

    I continue to get Tweets from people believing Rashad is from Newark, but here are a few facts. He was born in Paterson, aka the “Silk City.” His parents both live there. And he attended Paterson Kennedy High School and played for legendary coach Jimmy Ring for four years. I know because I covered his games during that time.

    He then spent one year as a postgrad at Newark St. Benedict’s Prep under Dan Hurley before attending Cincinnati. During that year, he commuted from Paterson and didn’t live in the dorms.

    By any reasonable criteria, he’s from Paterson, not Newark.

    I recently posted a chart featuring all the Paterson kids in Division 1 hoops and it’s pretty impressive:

    Speaking of Bishop, here’s the commitment story I wrote in December 2006 while at the Herald News in, you guessed, West Paterson, N.J.

    By ADAM ZAGORIA

    Herald News

    Rashad Bishop, the 2006 Herald News Boys Basketball Player of the Year, realized a dream come true on Wednesday night when he gave a verbal commitment to play basketball at The University of Cincinnati.

     

    The 6-foot-6, 212-pound Bishop has dreamed of playing in the Big East throughout his high school career, and chose Cincinnati after taking an official visit to the school on Oct. 13 for Bearcat Madness, when the school’s basketball team made its first public appearance of the year. Seton Hall and Rutgers also made offers, and Marquette was involved but did not offer. Bishop, who is projected as a small forward at the college level, said he wanted to get away from home for college.

     

    “I just like the campus,” Bishop, a Paterson native, said Friday. “I like what was around the campus. There were a lot of things to do things outside the campus. I like the coaching staff. I got along with the players good, too.”

     

    A physical and athletic player capable of scoring in the paint and from beyond the 3-point arc, Bishop averaged 21.9 points and 11 rebounds last year at Kennedy, while also leading his team in assists (5.4) and blocks (2.0); he also made 36 of 97 3-point attempts (37 percent).

     

    A first-team All-Area and All-Passaic selection, Bishop notched a double-double in 22 of 26 games for Kennedy, which finished 19-7 and No. 3 in the Herald News Final Top 10. He also had two triple-doubles on the season. Bishop scored 30 points or more three times, including a career-high 38 against Montclair. For his Kennedy career, Bishop scored 1,006 points, more than half of which (548) came this year.

     

    Bishop entered last season with only mild interest from lower Division I programs, but that all changed dramatically when he scored a game-high 34 points against St. Benedict’s at The Tip-Off Classic at Seton Hall in December. During that game, several players, including Lance Thomas, tried defending Bishop to no avail.

     

    Against bigger players like the 6-9 Thomas and Samardo Samuels, he drove by them for layups or dish-offs. Against the smaller Eugene Harvey, he turned around and hit jumpers in his face. Bishop opened the game by canning two 3-pointers to show his range.

     “That’s probably one of the two or three best performances that anyone’s ever had against us,” St. Benedict’s coach Danny Hurley said then. “He was a tough matchup from the start, and (he’s) playing with a lot of confidence. He’s a tough kid

     

    In a twist of fate, Bishop then opted to attend a fifth year of high school to work on his grades, choosing St. Benedict’s, the reigning state Prep A champion that last year sent Thomas to Duke and Harvey to Seton Hall.

     

    “If he works up to his academic ability, he should be able to do a good enough job in his core classes to be a qualifier,” Hurley said of Bishop.

     

    Hurley said that Bishop needs to continue to work hard during every practice and every game, and that playing for Cincinnati was a good fit.

     

    “I think him going away to school is going to make him more independent, make him a harder worker,” Hurley said. “Mick Cronin is the type of young, aggressive coach that will get him to play as hard as he needs to play consistently.

     

    “Part of it is that they’re taking a leap of faith that after being here for the year he’s going to look like a different player during the late signing period. He’s got enough talent and the work habits will develop by him being here.”

     

    Bishop said he considered waiting until the late signing period to see if more offers developed, but ultimately chose the security of an early commitment.

     

    “Yeah, I thought about (committing late), but I talked to a couple of people and they said it would be better to get it over with and get it out of the way,” Bishop said.

     

    Bishop said Rutgers wanted him to take an official visit, but that he already visited the school and didn’t feel he needed one. He also reiterated that he wanted to get away from home.

     

    Now his longtime dream has been realized.

     

    “I think it’s a great move,” said Dennis DuBois, coach of the St. Benedict’s fifth-year prep team. “I think he fits the personality of the bearcats and I think it’s a good fit all-around. It will give him an environment that he can mature further and evolve as a person, and it gets him away for this area and further broadens his environment.”

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    Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle. A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.