The Old Spice Red Zone game tipped off Saturday afternoon marking the seventh straight year that New York and Chicago high school All-Stars could compete in one of the better All-Star showcases in the country. The crowd at DePaul's new athletic facility on the Lincoln Park campus was packed with fans, coaches, and scouts watching 20 Division I committed athletes and five athletes who are still looking to sign with D-I programs.
For Marquette fans, Saturday's New York vs. Chicago All-Star game was another chance to watch 6'3'' guard Jerel McNeal. McNeal started the game and played in 20 of the game's 40 minutes. He scored Team Chicago's first basket just 39 seconds into the first half with a pull up three pointer from the top of the key. McNeal went on to shoot 3 of 4 from the field. Much like the EA Sports Roundball Classic game that he played in one month ago, Jerel filled the stat sheet. He finished with 8 points, 5 rebounds, 3 steals, 1 assist, and 4 blocked shots. McNeal was also very active in the passing lanes notching 7 deflections.
Many scouting reports describe McNeal's explosive defensive presence on the floor and they could not be more accurate! McNeal played very solid, fundamental defense possession after possession. He was the only player to actually dive on the floor for a loose ball during a game that was dominated by one on one style basketball. With 5 minutes left in the first half, McNeal came from his "help defense" position to block a dunk attempt on the baseline. McNeal's block started a fast break that resulted in a dunk by Tyrone Kent.
Even McNeal's attitude seemed positive after watching his Chicago squad carry a four point lead into the half only to lose by a final score of 102-84. "I'm looking forward to the summer," said McNeal. "I am taking two classes on campus and am going to start my workouts for the season." McNeal played in his second all star game of the spring, which is the maximum amount of exhibition's he can play in. "Right now I am working on getting a lot of shots up and am hitting the weights hard."
McNeal will join an extremely talented freshmen class at Marquette that already includes Dominic James, Wes Matthews, and Matt Mortensen. "Coach told me that we are going to revamp our offense next year. We are going to run a lot with a three guard offense and I think that will fit my game well. I am comfortable in a half court set but I like to run too," said McNeal. "I've seen Dominic play once and he is just a do-everything player. He can do anything on the floor. I am looking forward to playing with all those guys."
For anyone who has not seen McNeal play, he is a swift-moving, athletic, and intelligent basketball player that will certainly fit the mold of a Marquette guard. He makes good decisions on the floor and never takes a play off. His attitude and body language on the floor was also noteworthy. He is very mature. If McNeal can carry these characteristics to the next level, he should make an impact on next year's team immediately. Don't sleep on him, McNeal can play!
McNeal Solid in Old Spice All-Star Game
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