UNC Among Strickland's Suitors

Despite growing up a fan of another sport, Dexter Strickland is one of the top basketball prospects in the country. After a terrific spring and summer, he's a hot topic among coaches and has a serious list of suitors.

"I would never turn on the TV and watch a college game or even the Final Four or something like that," said Strickland, who claimed football as his favorite sport growing up. "I just loved to play [basketball], but I never really watched it on TV."

Now he's taking in more basketball than ever. This summer he traveled the country playing in the top camps and tournaments. During the events Strickland showed great poise and a feel for the game that is unmatched by most prospects his age.

The Elizabeth (N.J.) St. Patrick standout, who is ranked No. 9 overall in Scout.com's 2009 rankings, also made a position change. The transition to point guard was a smooth one and he got a lot of help at one of Nike's Skills Academies, where he was able to pick up some new tricks.

"When I went to the Steve Nash camp I picked up some of those skills on being a point guard. I think I can play the position of combo guard. This year I see myself bringing the ball up sometimes and playing on the wing sometimes. It's somewhat interchangeable."

With the summer circuit complete, the 6-foot-3,175-pound junior-to-be is in the process of examining schools. He's already developed an impressive list and has begun the process of setting up and taking unofficial visits.

"[My recruitment] is going pretty good. My top schools right now are Florida, Michigan State, North Carolina, Villanova, Ohio State and Indiana.

"I'm just being patient and trying to pick the right school. I don't want to rush or make a commitment or anything right now. I'm just trying to take my time because I still have a lot of time left."

Thus far, Strickland has seen the campuses of Villanova, Rutgers, Seton Hall and Michigan State. His next visit will come soon, as he has dates set up to visit Indiana and Florida. "I'm supposed to be going to Indiana for March Madness and I'm supposed to be going to Florida the 15th of September."

Jim Hawkins Photo
Strickland, who has talked to Kalvin Sampson "a lot," likes the fact that the Hoosiers showed interest right away. "They've been there since the beginning of my sophomore year. They've always been on my list."

While the Hoosiers made an impression on Strickland by getting involved early, the Gators got instant credibility because a close friend of his is set to go there and their head coach traveled up to New Jersey to visit.

"Billy Donovan actually came to our school one time to talk to me. I was telling him how my friend Erving Walker, who is going there, was telling me how good of a school it is and how nice the campus is.

"But coach was basically talking about how he wants me to go there and how good his coaching staff is and how he would make me a better player."

Having already visited Michigan State and Villanova, and with visits set up for Indiana and Florida that leaves a pair of schools (Ohio State and North Carolina) among his leaders that he wants to see.

The Tar Heels, who offered Strickland in mid-June, have left their mark with Strickland and his mother. Roy Williams has personally talked to each and indicated that Strickland would get playing time despite the possibility of other players on the roster at his position.

"I like North Carolina," he said. "They have a lot of history, of course. But Roy Williams called me personally at the time when they can call. They've called my mother and my mom likes him and she thinks he's a good guy.

"They were saying if I come there I'm going to play. They said there might be some juniors and sophomores in front of me but that I'm still going to get my spot. I think he's a really good guy. I haven't been to the school or seen their campus yet, though."

Strickland hasn't been on Ohio State's campus either. However, the Buckeyes made it clear to Strickland that he's their top priority. "They said that I'm their top choice in the class of 09 and they are good guys. I plan to go down there too and see their campus."

"[Ohio State] has good coaches. Their coaches text me and I can tell that they are real interested in me. When somebody shows you that, it makes you think highly of their school."

Strickland, who just got back from adidas Nation in New Orleans, plans to take a few weeks off before participating in the Elite 24 showcase at Rucker Park for the second consecutive year.

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