Junior Target: Japhet McNeil

Slinky Christ the King point guard Japhet McNeil
was a vital cog in the Royals's staunch effort against
Rice Friday night, collecting 14 points and 9 assists
in the 65-58 loss. The thing about McNeil that is most
appealing in gauging his potential are his instincts,
which are marvelous. McNeil possesses excellent vision
and court awareness. He is particularly adept at
lobbing skip passes over defenders to open teammates
with a deft passing touch. McNeil is opportunistic
offensively, and will pull-up when defenders slough
off him, but is clearly a conventional pass-first,
shoot second point man, and a first rate one at that.
The braided native of Bedford-Stuyvesant won't wow you
with his quickness or athleticism, but with his
slippery handle and craftiness is always a threat to
opposing defenses, particularly with his passing
prowess. You never know when McNeil will zip a liner
through a clogged lane to find an open teammate or
flick a floater over a stymied defender for a
teammate's deuce.
It is this type of creativity that spurs on Christ
the King offensively and leaves beneficiaries Mitchell
Beauford and Justin Marshall with scores of scoring
opportunities. With an even disposition and poise,
McNeil picks apart opposing defenses, sometimes
slipping a pass into the post, at others lofting soft
liners over the defense, while at other times
penetrating off the dribble to draw the defense and
expose an opening. With his teammates blanketed,
McNeil usually pulls up from mid-range or deeper.
McNeil needs to get stronger(5'10'' 155 lbs) and at
times his defensive tenacity wanes, but the colorful
point man is clearly one of the more attractive
options at his position in the class of 2003.
Early on, McNeil has heard from UConn, Rutgers,
Syracuse, Seton Hall among dozens of other schools.
The Big East has been well-represented at this early
juncture in McNeil's recruitment.
McNeil recently raised his scholastic average to 84,
and will take the SAT for the first time in March.