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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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Saturday / January 19.
  • Big Night for Jersey; Harkless to Cut List

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    It’s always cool to see guys you covered in high school excel in the college ranks.

    And on Tuesday night, two guys I covered in the preps, Rashad Bishop of Cincinnati (pictured) and Dexter Strickland of North Carolina, both had big nights.

    Bishop, a Paterson, N.J., native who played for Jimmy Ring at Paterson Kennedy and Dan Hurley at St. Benedict’s Prep, put up 14 points, 6 rebounds and 2 blocks as the No. 22 Bearcats routed Texas Southern, 94-57.

    “I thought our defense was good from the start. I think our offense was not together at first. We put it together and got some easy baskets,” Bishop said.

    On a team that features Deonta Vaughn, Yancy Gates and Lance Stephenson, Bishop has been the team’s best player on at least a couple of nights.

    As for the 6-5 Stephenson, he threw a halfcourt alley-oop pass to Darnell Wilks that made SportsCenter’s top plays. Stephenson finished with a team-high 11 rebounds, 7 assists and 7 points on 3-for-9 shooting and is averaging 10.7 points and 5.5 boards for the 5-1 Bearcats.

    “When I signed Lance Stephenson, people asked how I would coach him,” Bearcats coach Mick Cronin said. “I asked if anyone had seen him play. He is an unbelievable competitor. The only question he asked me was if we would really win. He wanted to be atop the BIG EAST. It’s all the guy talks about. He shuts down the top players in Maui. I think it helps our locker room. The only time he gets upset with guys is when the other team scores and we aren’t playing well. Sean Kilpatrick is the same way. They know basketball, and they play to win. That attitude has affected our team.”

    Former Cincinnati great Nick Van Exel is now an assistant at Texas Southern and spoke to the players after the game.

    “We all knew who he was from watching him play. I have seen him play in the NBA. Rashad probably wasn’t born yet. When we were in the hand shake line, Nick told us to beat Xavier,” Vaughn said.

    As for Strickland, a North Carolina freshman guard out of Elizabeth (N.J.) St. Patrick, he scored 9 points, dished 3 assists, had 2 blocks and made 0 turnovers in an 89-82 win over Michigan State in a rematch of last year’s NCAA title game.

    He was all over the SportsCenter highlights with a coast-to-coast drive and a pull-up 3-pointer that ended with him sticking out his tongue a la Michael Jordan.

    “The key thing in the first half was everyone that came in gave us something positive. Dexter Strickland gave us something positive, Z  [Tyler Zeller] gave us something positive,  John Henson gave us positive things,” Carolina coach Roy Williams said.

    Strickland is still making the transition from shooting guard to point, as I wrote last week.

    Yet in this game he showed tremendous aggression and poise, contributing to an 11-2 first-half ending run in which all the points were scored by frosh.

    Carolina has now won five straight against the Spartans.

    Things won’t get any easier for the Heels, who visit John Calipari and Kentucky Saturday afternoon.


    Maurice Harkless, a 6-foot-7 junior wing from Forest Hills High School, will cut his school list to six by the weekend, according to his AAU coach, Nathan Blue.

    Harkless is currently considering Seton Hall, St. John’s, Florida State, Arizona, Pitt,

    Providence, Kentucky, UConn, Hofstra, Cincinnatti, Villanova, and Rutgers.

    “Harkless is coming back from a stress fracture in his left foot and will visit as many schools as possible before his decision is made before Christmas,” Blue said.

    He has a 7-2 wingspan and is ranked No. 50 in the Class of 2011 by Rivals. Blue also said he has an A- average.

    “Harkless will be a similar small forward as Devin Ebanks, Trevor Ariza or Stanley Robinson,” Blue wrote in an email recently. “Playing mostly under the basket in his high school season, Harkless will handle the ball a lot more this season.

    “He’s one of the better small forwards in the country at his position. I don’t see anyone other than Michael Gilchrist, Angel Nunez and Kentavious Caldwell, with the same potential after high school.”

    (Photos courtesy Cincinnati & UNC Athletics; Harkless courtesy Daily News)

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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.