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Tracking the College Basketball Stars of the Future=====

ECU & C-USA Hoops Recruiting Report
Tuesday, May 6, 2003

By Thad Mumau
Special Correspondent

Point guard McNeil brushed off late suitors

Catch up on all hoops recruiting headlines...
View thumbnails of 2003 commitments...

Point guard McNeil brushes off late suitors...
NYC guard will get early chance to shine...
Versatile Robinson picks East Carolina...
ECU, South Carolina contend for Gonner...
Pirates chase talent for this year and next...
Cook poised to shore up ECU backcourt...
Son of a coach gets it done with hard work...
Help in the post on ECU recruiting agenda...
ECU backcourt adds "slasher", "shooter"...
Guard's coach wants ECU in recruiting mix...
"Old School" guard has ECU in sights...
East Carolina on the hunt for guards...
Gridiron prospect a rebounding machine...
Pinnock back in Pirates' recruiting mix...
Prolific scorer Atuahene warms up to ECU...
Driesell still thorn in ECU's side...
Reynolds' Foster makes it official...
ECU high on lists of backcourt slashers...
Prospects Cook, King put off decisions...
'Power guard' Cook books ECU excursion...
ECU still beating bushes for point guards...
Fayetteville guard likes ECU's C-USA ties...
C-USA teams lure big men, big names...
Jamaican joins ECU's international cast...
49ers, Cards snare key '03 commitments...
Ranking the Carolinas recruiting classes...
Foster has plans to bulk up for C-USA...
Wiley refining his game for C-USA wars...
Holcombe-Faye 'pipeline' flows eastward...
'Hot Hand Luke' sold on ECU & C-USA...
Juco wings top off dazzling class...
It's a wrap — ECU signs Moberly's Wiley...
Pirate recruiting class almost complete...
JC Transfer Mackay Makes It Official...
Herrion Snares Aussie Shooting Guard...
High-scoring Rivers signs with ECU...
Pirates seek experience in Juco targets...
Rivers attracted by 'tough' schedule...
'Minges Maniacs' impacted decision...
ECU makes early offer to Enloe junior...
C-USA transforms Pirates' recruiting...
ACC schools' pursuit of Rouse too late...
Mumau's C-USA recruiting roundup...
Kinston forward Rouse officially signs...

Catch up on football recruiting news...

Report Card: Recruiting effort a success...
Pirates' D-line, secondary gain recruits...
ECU makes recruiting push Down South...
J.T. connects with prep coaches, recruits
ECU recruits get taste of Dowdy-Ficklen...
Pirates' commitments in holding pattern...
ECU targets Va., Ga., N.J., prep stars...
Pirates faced with new recruiting obstacle...
Recruit "set" on ECU but open to suitors...
Camp Logan grad Adams commits...
First impressions important for OT Brown...
Starmount O-lineman Brown headed East...
Parker, Brim wield multiple talents...
Beddingfield QB Parker picks Pirates...
ECU wins recruiting battle for Brim...
Future Pirates hang out together...
Pace quickens: Howard, Black commit...
Running backs stable gains young talent...
Batten's 2003 Recruiting Crystal Ball...
Scotland Connection Keeps Flowing...
Lineman Devours Barbells & Groceries...
Batten's Signing Day Report Card...
Newest Pirates & Thumbnail Profiles...
Bonesville Scores 92% — 22 of 24 Sign...
Signing Day Reflects Progress at ECU...
Coach Primed for His Favorite Time...
Video Clips from Signing Day...
Signees from the Carolinas & C-USA...

©2003 Bonesville.net

If Japhet McNeil’s telephone demeanor is any indication, he is going to provide a lot of excitement for East Carolina’s basketball team and fans.

Be sure to read Thad Mumau's reports on Franklin Robinson and Mike Cook, who also recently signed with ECU.

Contacted Monday, three days after he sent a signed letter of intent to ECU, the 5-11 point guard spoke with enthusiasm about his decision to be a Pirate.

"I really liked it at East Carolina," McNeil said of his visit. "The gym was nice, the players were nice and the coaches were nice. I like Coach (Bill) Herrion and all of his assistants a lot. And the campus ... well, the campus was the way I always dreamed a college campus should be.

"Conference USA was a factor in my decision, too. It’s definitely a big-time conference. That helped me decide to choose East Carolina because I like playing against the best, and Louisville, Cincinnati, Marquette and Memphis are some of the best teams in college basketball."

McNeil averaged 18 points, 6.5 assists and over two steals per game in leading Middle Village (NY) Christ the King to a 26-8 record and the Catholic class-A state championship. He scored a career-high 27 points, dished out four assists and made four steals in a 71-54 win over Bronx St. Raymond’s in the title game.

Ironically, he had suffered through a miserable shooting night two games earlier against the same team. He went 0-for-13 as St. Raymond’s defeated Christ the King for the city championship.

"I really wanted to play them again," McNeil said. "Our whole team did. We wanted revenge for that loss, and I wanted another chance to play against St. Raymond’s."

McNeil nailed three three-pointers in the title game and sank 10 free throws to thwart any St. Raymond’s hopes of coming back. He was an 82 percent shooter from the line for the season, just what a team needs from its point guard.

"Japhet is your prototypical New York City point guard," said Bob Oliva, Christ the King’s hoops coach for 25 years. "He takes care of the ball, distributes it well, gets everyone involved and runs the break very well.

"He is quick, but not real quick. But he is real smart and knows how to play. He has very quick hands and is a good defensive player, outstanding on help defense. He is real good on the ball, but exceptional helping out. There aren’t a lot of kids like that."

McNeil attributes his defensive skills to Oliva's system.

"Our program emphasizes that," McNeil said. "Coach Oliva really drills it into us about help defense, then it comes naturally. On offense, I always look to pass first, pass second, then shoot. I know my job is to get the ball to my teammates. If they get open, I will get them the ball."

McNeil was named Newsday’s player of the year for Queens and was named to the newspaper’s all-city first team. He was voted MVP of the Gonzaga D.C. Classic after averaging 18 points and seven assists for three games and was also selected all-tournament at the Beach Ball Classic where he averaged nearly 18 points and over six assists for three games.

"One thing you’re going to see about Japhet," Oliva said, "is that he’s as tough as nails. An example was the way he came back after a bad game to have his best of the season in our biggest game of the season. Not everybody can do that."

"I’ve always been tough mentally," McNeil said. "Growing up, I always played against older kids. On the playground, you’ve got to prove yourself or you don’t play. That gave me mental toughness."

Fully qualified for freshman eligibility, McNeil feels he will see plenty of action his first year with the Pirates.

"The coaches told me I have a good chance of playing a lot of minutes," he said, "because the point guard slot is vacant. As far as I know, Belton Rivers is the only player returning with point guard experience, and I think he prefers playing two guard.

"I think East Carolina is an up-and-coming program. They signed Franklin Robinson, who is a good player, and if they keep on getting more good ones, before you know it, we will be a very good team."

McNeil said he visited Greenville with Robinson.

"I called East Carolina on a Friday (April 25) to tell them I was verbally committing," McNeil said, "but I wanted to see the campus. I flew down there Tuesday and left Thursday (April 29-May 1). I signed my letter when I got back home and sent it in Friday."

McNeil chose the Pirates over Ohio University and also had a scholarship offer from Wright State. Clemson and Penn State called the day he committed to ECU. And calls are still coming.

"I got a call from Georgia Sunday," he said, "but I told them I was happy with my school."

Send an e-mail message to Thad Mumau.

Click here to dig into Thad Mumau's Bonesville archives.

02/23/2007 02:40:33 PM

 

 

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