And yes, it is only an all-star game. But if you're a New York area basketball fan, and you're looking to see the area's best high school players go at it, it is a virtual tour de force.
The New York City team is a guard-heavy group. Holy Cross's Sylven Landesberg, who, for our money, is the best junior in the state of New York, will be joined by Christ the King's electric duo of Erving Walker and Malik Boothe. St. Raymond's senior combo guard Gerald Colds, who was terrific in the tryouts, and his running mate, junior Darryl "Truck" Bryant, are in the fold.
Recent Hofstra commit Nathaniel Lester of Canarsie is on board, as are a trio of Catholic League guards: Xavier's Nick Hendra (American), All Hallows' Chris De La Rosa (Siena), and Bishop Loughlin's Marcus Matthews (UMass).
Jamie Harris is an underpublicized senior guard from Wings Academy in the Bronx with a great feel for the game. 6-foot-4 senior swingman Phil Martin of Curtis High on Staten Island impressed with his athleticism in the tryouts.
The frontcourt is relatively thin. 6-foot-5 senior power forward Andrew Gabriel of Christ the King could be, pound-for-pound, the best rebounder in New York City. 6-foot-7 junior power forward James Southerland of Cardozo is a slender four-man who is comfortable in the high post. He has as much upside an arguably any player in the city.
Spindly 6-foot-4 senior small forward Mike Cavataio of St. Francis Prep stands to benefit as much from this stage as anybody. He's been a bit under the radar after transferring from Christ the King and sitting out his junior season, and should pick up more Division I interest during the year. He is a competitor who'll slash and go to the glass, with a live body and a long frame.
While last year's suburban entry was composed of entirely of Long Islanders, this year's team is a blend of players from the Island and Westchester County. And this is good news, because the class of 2008 in Westchester County is loaded, and it's an opportunity for city folks to see some of this Section I talent, most of which played with the stellar 16-and-under Westchester Hawks team on the AAU circuit this summer.
6-foot-6 WF Mookie Jones of Peekskill is one of the top juniors in the state of New York. He's long, live-bodied, strokes it to mid-range and impacts the game at both ends of the floor. 6-foot-6 PF Kevin Jones of Mount Vernon has shown the ability to play both in the high and low posts, and is already picking up Big East interest. Mount Vernon senior point guard Mike Coburn is the consummate winner, and he'll be joined by junior understudy Ketema Brooks.
6-foot-3 junior wing Sean Kilpatrick of White Plains High School is one of the best players in the area nobody knows about, but that's beginning to change. His White Plains teammate, 6-foot-5 senior PF Rishawn Johnson has excellent hands and feet. 6-foot-6 senior PF/C Michael Cooper of New Rochelle is a sturdy, physical insider.
Teeng Akol headlines the Long Island contingent. The skillful 6-foot-10 power forward out of Our Savior New American is receiving heavy high major interest. Cerebral Chaminade guard Andrew Beinert (Holy Cross) and waterbug Prentice Small, a 5-foot-8 senior guard from St. John the Baptist High School, are in the fray. 5-foot-11 senior shooting guard Roland Davis of St. Dominic is another Long island Catholic Leaguer on the roster.
From the Long Island public school ranks are burly 6-foot-5 junior PF/C Matt Cajuste of Jericho, 6-foot-5 senior power forward Brian Hutchinson of Elmont, 6-foot-6 senior PF Steven Priestley of Uniondale, and senior guard Chris Obi of Bay Shore. Junior guard Roberto Lyons of Upper Room Christian School was an unheralded entry who we're looking forward to seeing.
So there you have it. The game presents a nice cross-section of talent from the area, and a little bit of everything. As all-star games go, the caliber of play is unpredictable. But for local fans, it should be a treat.