Thad Mumauâs column runs over at Smartnewsnc.com, and heâs nice enough to let us reprint it on DBR. Thanks Thad!
North Carolinaâs sizzling run on the basketball recruiting trail continued last weekend as the Tar Heels received a commitment from prize junior guard Dexter Strickland.
The eighth-ranked prospect from the class of 2009, as ranked by prepstars.com, chose Carolina over Florida and Michigan State. He is the fourth junior to make a pledge to the Heels, joining John Henson and identical twins Travis and David Wear, all of whom stand at least 6-foot-10.
Travis is ranked No. 20 and David No. 21 in the junior class. The 6-10 Â½ brothers are from Santa Ana (Cal.) Mater Dei. Henson, who is 6-10, is from Round Rock (Texas) High School.
That trio committed to UNC during a week-long blitz that concluded with an announcement from 6-6 sophomore wing guard Reggie Bullock of Kinston High.
Strickland is a 6-3, 175-pound wing guard from Elizabeth (N.J.) St. Patrickâs. He is averaging 15.8 points, 8.1 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 2.5 steals for the Celtics, who are 12-1 and No. 5 in the current USA Today national high school Super 25.
As a sophomore starter, Strickland averaged 10 points, 5.5 boards and 3.5 assists as St. Patrickâs won its second straight New Jersey Tournament of Champions title. The TOC annually pits the six state champions.
The Celtics went 30-2 last year and finished No. 2 in the USA Today Super 25, while winning their third state private school title in a row. He was the eighth or ninth man as a freshman.
âDexter is a great athlete,â St. Patrickâs coach Kevin Boyle said. âI really think he could be a pro some day in football or basketball. He would be an outstanding wide receiver, but we donât have a football team.
âHe has tremendous hands and a great vertical leap, and he is a quick jumper. He is up, down and up again while most guys are just getting up and down.
âHis forte,â Boyle said, âis pulling up at 15 or 16 feet, coming off single or double screens and shooting his jumper. He is a Rip Hamilton (of the Detroit Pistons) type; he doesnât take a lot of threes, but hits a ton of shots just inside the line.
âDexter is more of a two guard right now. I donât know if North Carolina has thoughts of making him a point guard sometime, but he could surely do it. He handles the ball a lot for us and is very good in traffic or on the break. When he rebounds, he is told to push the ball up, not outlet it. And he takes it to the rim strong.â
Strickland enjoyed one of his better games last year when UNC assistant Steve Robinson was in the stands. He went 9-for-9 from the floor, including three three-pointers, and scored 21.
âThe history of Carolina basketball pushed it over the top,â Boyle said. âDexterâs mom said you could see more of a twinkle in his eye when they called. He likes Roy Williams a lot, and he just couldnât have done any better than Carolina.
âItâs a tremendous school; itâs the system, the loyalty of former players, the academics, the tradition and the ACC.â
Boyle said Carolina has been recruiting Strickland since last year.
In November, the Tar Heels signed three high school seniors, two of whom are ranked among the nationâs top 10 prospects. UNCâs future also includes the four juniors, with two promises from the 2010 class (Bullock and point guard Kendall Marshall).