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Tracking the College Basketball Stars of the Future

ECU & C-USA Hoops Recruiting Report
Monday, January 26, 2004

By Thad Mumau
Special Correspondent

ECU in the mix for Simon Gratz star

CyberEast of New Bern

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Mark Tyndale really likes East Carolina, and he can see himself as a Pirate. But there is strong competition for the Philadelphia forward, some of it coming from the Atlantic Coast Conference.

The 6-5, 210-pounder possesses all-around skills that put him in the "point forward" category as he can score, rebound and pass. And he is doing all three, not only proficiently but prolifically, for Simon Gratz High School.

Tyndale is scoring 24.4 points, grabbing 12.2 rebounds and handing out over eight assists per game this season. Simon Gratz is 13-2 and ranked No. 20 in the latest USA Today national high school basketball poll. He is shooting 52 percent from the floor and is sinking 85 percent of his free throws.

He was sensational in a 66-53 win over Manhattan (NY) Rice (13-1 and No. 13 in the USA Today rankings). Tyndale pulled off a triple-double with 33 points, 15 boards and 10 assists. That was Dec. 29 in the championship game of the STOP-DWI Holiday Classic, with the victory avenging a loss to Rice earlier in the season.

The performance capped a Tyndale showcase in which he averaged 29 points and 13 rebounds in three wins to earn tournament MVP honors. He went 10-for-10 from the foul line on the way to 26 points, a dozen rebounds and seven assists in a 66-52 win over DeMatha in the Hall of Fame Invitational this past weekend.

As a junior, Tyndale averaged 21.1 points, 10 boards and 7.5 assists in a 24-6 season that concluded with a one-point loss in the Philadelphia Public League championship game.

The impressive numbers come on a team that has three other senior Division I prospects (6-2 point guard Tyrone Smith, 6-5 power forward Jason Hickenbottom and 6-9 center Matt Walden), all of whom are scoring in double figures.

"Mark is a great all-around player, very versatile," Simon Gratz coach Leonard Poole Jr. said. "That’s why he will be a good college player. He does so many things well.

"He is an exceptional passer. He can break you down with the dribble, penetrate into the paint and, if they double-team him, find an open teammate. He can also finish. Man, can he finish!

"He handles the ball very well. He can take the ball off the glass and take it all the way down the court, and he handles it to break the press or on our secondary break. And he can run the floor. He will rebound, throw the outlet pass and beat everybody to the other end to fill the lane.

"He scores a lot of different ways. He takes the ball hard to the basket and can pull up and hit the jumper. He doesn’t shoot a lot of threes — he takes about three a game — and is hitting around 32 percent out there.

"Mark can play three positions," Poole said. "His skills make him a small forward and big guard, but he can also play power forward because of his strength. He’s very strong.

"He is also a great defender. He takes the challenge of guarding the toughest forward on the opposing team. Last week, he took on a 5-9 point guard who is really quick, and Mark shut him down. He likes to play defense, and that’s one reason he is so good at it.

"I haven’t found anything he can’t do well on a basketball floor."

Tyndale made an official visit to Greenville in the fall on a weekend when he watched the Pirates host Louisville in football. He has also taken official trips to LaSalle and Rhode Island.

In addition, Clemson, Penn State, Ohio State and Temple are very interested.

"I will probably make Clemson my fourth visit," Tyndale said, "and then go to either Ohio State or Temple.

"I had a real good time on my visit to East Carolina. Mike Cook was my host, and he’s a great guy. I like their coaching staff a lot, and they stress defense like we do here."

If Tyndale decides to pursue the college life in Greenville, he won't be the first prominent Simon Gratz athlete to opt for ECU. Oakland Raiders sack artist Rod Coleman made a name for himself at the Philly school before heading down I-95 to become one of the Pirates' greatest defensive ends ever.

"Mark isn’t leaning to any school," Poole said. "But I could see him ending up at East Carolina. I think they have a very good shot at getting him."

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02/23/2007 02:41:43 PM

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