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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I just got off the phone with Dexter Strickland and the North Carolina-bound guard said he and his USA 2009 team lost to the USA 2010 team, 95-92, in the championship game of the adidas Basketball Experience in Dallas.
Brooklyn’s Lance Stephenson of the 2009 team (pictured) led all scorers with 34 points after missing the semifinals with a minor concussion. Louisville-bound PG Peyton Siva added 16 points, Strickland 14 and Kentucky commit GJ Vilarino 9.
Jared Sullinger led the 2010 squad with 24 points.
Derrick Favors, Noel Johnson and Trae Golden were all missing and Joshua Smith played limited minutes. Here are the rosters.
“We lost,” the 6-foot-3 Strickland said. “I got an and-one dunk and I missed the free throw with 6 seconds left. We had to foul them and (LaQuinton Ross) made both of his free throws.
Stephenson missed the semifinal win over Latin America and Strickland said it was because he had suffered a minor concussion.
“He got hurt in the first quarter,” Strickland said. “He had a minor concussion. His father didn’t want him to play.”
The US 2009 team edged Latin America, 86-85, in the semifinal when Strickland hit two foul shots with four seconds left. The US 2010 team knocked off Team Europe, 96-92, in the other semifinal.
Josh Smith of the Atlanta Hawks coached Strickland, Stephenson and Favors and came away impressed with all three.
“Dexter’s good defensively,” Smith said. “He can handle the basketball and run the offense. I think he needs to work on being more consistent with his jump shot and just being able to see the floor a little bit better.”
Smith knows the 6-9, 220-pound Favors a little bit, since both play(ed) for the Atlanta Celtics summer program.
Favors lists Georgia, Georgia Tech, Florida, Florida State, Kentucky, Texas, Connecticut, UCLA, Southern California, North Carolina, Duke, North Carolina State and Memphis among his suitors.
“I think Derrick is a manchild. Derrick is a beast,” Smith said. “He could be the next Amare Stoudemire. His work ethic is just so hard. I don’t think he knows how good he is. He’s such a humble guy. He doesn’t complain about not getting the ball or anything like that. He just keeps on rebounding and running the floor and blocking shots.
“I think he has to get a little bit more comfortable with his handle and his outside jump shot, but that’s about it because he plays defense. He’s good around the basket. He has good post moves. He just has to be more consistent with his jump shot and his free throws.
“These young guys, they’re playing hard and theyr’e very talented. It’s just good to see kids who are being successfull and excelling in their sports and just to be able to be there as a mentor and see them grow and hopefully one day meet them in the NBA.”
All three will play in the Boost Mobile Elite 24 event in Harlem Aug 22. Strickland, the St. Patrick of Elizabeth senior, said he then wants to focus on leading the Celtics to a Tournament of Champions title. He won that title as a freshman and sophomore, but St. Patrick lost last season to St. Anthony in the Non-Public North B final.
“Of course, that’s my goal this season,” he said. “I gotta step up and be a leader. We gotta do better. We’re trying to win the states again and hopefully get another TOC before I go to college.”
(PHotos courtesy adidas)
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.