Echenique's December Laced With Success

Greg Echenique saw many of the top post players in the country last month. From a basketball standpoint, he was highly successful and the nation's top team captured a pair of prestigious titles. Meanwhile,'s No. 37 prospect earned his stripes.

The holiday season was excellent to 6-foot-9 center Greg Echenique. The native of Venezuela, the starting center on Newark (N.J.) St. Benedict's team, was exposed to many of the best post prospects in the nation.

How many guys get to go up against Greg Monroe and Derrick Favors in a two-week span? Echenique plays alongside arguably the nation's best senior big man Samardo Samuels. Often times Echenique is tasked with guarding the best post.

"One of the things that I do well is keep my head in the game and get rebounds," Echenique said. "I know that the offensive part of the game is going to come. It's not that I don't know how to play offense but on the team we have roles. I know how that Samardo needs his touches and I just get whatever I can."

While Echenique's specialty this year is defense, he's a reliable post scorer around the rim and has shown improvement as scorer. Ranked No. 37 by entering the season, Echenique is sure to rise with a bullet up the charts.

"I think my offense is good but I still need to work on a lot of stuff. I try to work on my outside game and get a better jump shot.

"I really like the physical game. I like playing when the other team has a (good) big man. I like the challenge and I like rebounding. That's what I do."

While Echenique may be the best post defender in his class, he's also one of the top students. Most kids say the right things about academics; Echenique means them.

The big fella has made it clear to schools: books equal ball.

"I think they do (understand)," Echenique said. "If you see my list of schools. For example, Penn and Notre Dame. I really like academics and basketball too. That might stop some other schools from recruiting me because they know I care about both. My mom, when I was a little, was a teacher. (Schools) know my priority is my grades."

Penn, Notre Dame, Maryland, Miami, Rutgers and Duke are among the top contenders for his services. The list is diverse, just the way Echenique prefers.

"I'm trying to visit Miami. I've been talking to the guys. Something that's important to me is a diverse culture with a lot of Hispanic people because I'm far away from home. I care about something like that."

Most high school players didn't have an answer for the Venezuelan U-17 MVP. We stumped him with a simple question: would he rather play in the NBA or be a big time businessman?

"That's a tough question. I don't know how answer that. I do like my academics. I know if I choose business I'll probably do it for life. But, I'd like to play in the NBA. There are not too many people from my country; only like 2 guys made it in the history."

We've got a good idea who the 3rd Venezuelan might be.

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