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November 21, 2007

ZAGS ON NYC: New York Reps the Rivals Rankings

New York represents strongly in the latest Rivals.com team rankings of the NCAA early signing period.

We count no fewer than nine players with ties to New York among the top 30
teams ranked.

At No. 3, Louisville features 6-9 PF Samardo Samuels and 6-4 SG Melquan Bolding of Archbishop Stepinac in White Plains, NY, the No. 143 overall rated prospect in the class and No. 33 among shooting guards. Although Samuels(No. 7 overall, No. 2 PF) plays for Danny Hurley at St. Benedict's in Newark, NJ, he lives in Queens, NY on weekends with his legal guardian and plays for the MetroHawks AAU squad.

Samuels averaged 19 points and 12 rebounds as a junior for St. Benedict's, which finished 24-1 and was ranked fifth nationally in the final USA Today poll, losing only to No. 2 St. Patrick's.

"Samardo is extremely physical," said Louisville coach Rick Pitino. "He has really improved dramatically from his sophomore season to now, becoming one of the premier players in the country. He is physically overpowering in the low post, has an improved jump shot, passes very well out of the low post and is extremely long. He's a very tenacious basketball player and is extremely hungry to be the best he can be."

The No. 5 Florida team features 5-6 PG Erving Walker of Christ the King in Queens, NY. Walker is the No. 128 overall player in the class and No. 29 among point guards.

Indiana chimes in at No. 15 and features 6-9 Brooklyn, NY native Devin Ebanks. Ebanks is in his fifth year at St. Thomas More (Conn.) and is No. 13 overall and No. 2 among small forwards. New York native Terrell Holloway is No. 100 overall and No. 20 among point guards.

"Devin is the epitome of a guy that doesn't have a position," Indiana coach Kelvin Sampson said. "He is just a 6'8" basketball player. He can really score, make three's and make plays off the dribble. He just has knack for scoring. He has a demeanor on the court, where he just plays with unbelievable confidence. When he has the ball in his hands, you can tell that he thinks he can go score. He is a kid that needs to continue to develop. He is going to get bigger and stronger. He can play three positions, so if you have a point guard and a center, he can play anything in between because he can shoot so well. He can also get to the free throw line and he is still getting better. I saw him in October and I thought he was better then than when I saw him in July."

UConn is the No. 20 team and signed Rice (NY, NY) star Kemba Walker, No. 36 overall and No. 7 among point guards.

Virginia ranks No. 21 and got a commitment from 6-6 Holy Cross (Flushing, NY) shooting guard Sylven Landesberg, No. 54 overall and No. 11 among shooting guards.

At No. 28, Syracuse landed Peekskill High's Mookie Jones, No. 40 overall and No. 6 among small forwards, and James Southerland, formerly of Cardozo and
now at Notre Dame Prep.

West Virginia was not rated among the Top 30 classes, but the Mountaineers did land 6-8 Mount Vernon, NY forward Kevin Jones and St. Raymond's (Bronx, NY) guard Darryl "Truck" Bryant. Jones is No. 77 overall and No. 24 among power forwards.

As a junior, Jones averaged 21 points, 12 rebounds and two blocks per game. He has helped lead Mount Vernon to back-to-back New York State PHSAA championships.

"Kevin exemplifies what the all-around basketball player ought to be," West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said. "He scores inside and out, he rebounds and
he defends the perimeter and the post. We think Kevin has tremendous upside as well."

Bryant averaged more than 15 points a game the last two seasons. In the final 10 games of his junior season, he averaged 20 points and helped St. Raymond's to the CHSAA City Championship game.

"Truck gives us somebody who can play right away because of his physical strength and experience against high level competition," Huggins said. "By losing Darris (Nichols), we need somebody who is physically capable of
playing minutes immediately."

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