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January 18, 2007

Top underclassmen from the Hoophall Classic

The Hoophall Classic was primarily dominated by upperclassmen, but some underclassmen made some noise as well.

Rivals.com national recruiting analyst Jerry Meyer takes a look at the top performing underclassmen at the event.

Hoophall Classic top underclassmen
Samardo Samuels, PF, Newark (N.J.) St. Benedict's Prep

Hoophall Classic stats: 22 points on 8-for-15 shooting, 6-for-8 from the line, five rebounds, three blocks, two assists and one turnover in 27 minutes against Towson Catholic (Md.).

Samuels did what he does best against Towson. He bullied his way into position and then finished around the basket. Samuels has a knack for getting an edge on his defender, absorbing contact on the way up and then finishing with touch.

Not necessarily a prolific ballhandler, Samuels does handle the ball with poise and generally makes the right decision. Defensively, he was a strong presence around the basket.

Mike Rosario, SG, Jersey City (N.J.) St. Anthony

Hoophall Classic stats: 22 points on 7-11 shooting, 6-8 from three, 2-2 from the line, 5 rebounds, 2 steals, 4 turnovers against Bellaire (Texas)

Rosario gave his St. Anthony squad what it needed against Bellaire's 1-3-1 zone- a shooter in the corner. He got to his spot quickly and let them fly without reservation. A lot of credit goes to his teammates for getting him the ball in rhythm.

He was also solid on the defensive end where he snagged some tough rebounds and gathered a couple steals. Chances are good that Rosario will provide some shooting touch for a Big East school near his New Jersey home.

Dexter Strickland, SG, Elizabeth (N.J.) St. Patrick

Hoophall Classic stats: nine points on 2-for-3 shooting, 1-for-2 from 3-point range, 4-for-4 from the line, two rebounds, two steals, two assists and two turnovers in 29 minutes against Fairfax (Calif.).

Typically you think of upside in regard to big men, but Strickland is a 2009 guard prospect who is oozing with potential. He has a long and lean body that will eventually fill out, and he moves with a gracefulness on the court.

It is also obvious that he gets it. He doesn't force the action and defers to senior stars Corey Fisher and Jeff Robinson. However, when the opportunities present themselves to him, Strickland takes advantage of them and produces. He is an efficient player who can contribute across the stat sheet.

Jiovanny Fontan, PG, Jersey City (N.J.) St. Anthony

Hoophall Classic stats: eight points on 3-for-8 shooting, 2-for-4 from 3-point range, two rebounds, one steal, three assists and one turnover in 27 minutes against Bellaire (Texas).

Rivals.com loved what we saw out of this competitive floor general. For starters, he kept the speedy four-star guard Jai Lucas in front of him defensively as well as anyone we have seen guard Lucas. Fontan was also pressuring the ball, he wasn't giving Lucas a lot of cushion.

Offensivley, Fontan dissected the 1-3-1 zone with sharp, heady passes, and then knocked down jumpers when he was open. He exuded the confidence and poise of a point guard who you want to run your team.

Greg Echenique, PF, Ridgewood (N.J.)

Hoophall Classic stats: nine points on 3-for-3 shooting, 3-for-3 from the line, 11 rebounds, one block and one turnover in 28 minutes against Towson Catholic (Md.).

Similar to Strickland, Echenique is willing to defer to the older stars on his team. At the same time, he asserts himself on the glass and finishes when he has the opportunities.

Although he is not an overwhelming athlete, Echenique has the strength and mind-set to establish position on the court, hold that position and then produce positive results. Like his teammate Samuels, Echenique also plays with poise when the ball is in his hands.

Tony Chenault, SG, Philadelphia Neumann-Goretti

Hoophall Classic stats: 13 points on 5-for-15 shooting, 1-for-2 from 3-point range, 2-for-2 from the line, nine rebounds, three steals, one assist and two turnovers against DeMatha (Md.).

Chenault played with the toughness that you would expect from a Philadelphia guard, and he did it as a freshman playing against one of the top teams in the country. When Antonio Jardine wasn't probing for his shot, Chenault handled the ball cleanly against the DeMatha pressure and got the ball where it needed to be on the court. He also came up with an impressive nine rebounds from his point guard position.

Still needing to refine his jumper and to learn not to force up shots in traffic, Chenault made a critical 3-pointer and two critical free throws down the stretch. His toughness makes it a lot easier to live with a few forced shots. Chenault's junior teammate Jamal Wilson also showed his mettle in the paint and when defending Austin Freeman.

Sherrod Wright, SF, Mount Vernon (N.Y.)

Hoophall Classic stats: 23 points on 7-for-12 shooting, 0-for-1 from 3-point range, 9-for-11 from the line, 11 rebounds, two steals and two turnovers in 27 minutes against Norcross (Ga.).

Wright, a 2009 prospect, was able to physically match up with the mature and physical Norcross squad. He didn't do anything flashy, but you knew he belonged out there with all that talent. Then you look at the box score, and it's evident that he accomplished a lot more than you realized.

His physical style of play got him to the line 11 times, and he also battled the imposing Norcross front line to haul in 11 rebounds.

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