SAN DIEGO, CA. - After waiting patiently as a freshman at the end of the bench at St. Patrick's High School in Elizabeth, N.J., Dexter Strickland is starting to come into his own.
The 6-foot-3, 175-pound combo guard is playing great basketball. Check his résumé in the last two months.
Strickland led all scorers in the 15 and under division of the Tournament of Champions last month in North Carolina with 27 points per clip. With a rep as a sure scorer, Strickland has been quick to play the point at the adidas Phenom150 camp this weekend. On Friday, he scored at the rim with his great athleticism. He shot the ball well. He distributed well placed passes.
"I feel like I'm doing good. I'm trying to make players around me better," Strickland said.
Instead of racking up big scoring chunks, which he is certainly can do at any stage of the game, Strickland is dropping assists and grabbing rebounds.
"I want my team to get better," he says.
Perfectly capable of playing both guard positions, Strickland said he would like to be a point guard at the next level.
"I'm more comfortable playing the one," Strickland said. "I want to get people better. I like playing with the ball in my hands."
Sense a trend here? His willingness to make others better might be the reason why he says he is improving at a steady pace. As the youngest player on one of the best high school teams in the country, Strickland watched guys like Corey Fisher (Villanova commit) and others work against all comers.
"I learned how to be patient," Strickland said of his freshman season. "I had to listen more than I ever had. I copied down everything the coaches told me and I used that to make myself get better."
He said he is moving better without the ball, finding guys on offense and using screens better to open up his offense. Getting better is a work in progress.
"I have to keep working hard and keep working on my game," Strickland said. "I'm going to get better. I'm sure of that. You gotta have confidence. If you don't, you aren't going to get better."
The high-majors have him on early watch lists. Strickland said he is hearing from Michigan State, Marquette, Rutgers, Georgetown, Florida State, Miami and plenty more. "I can't think of them all," he says.
No need to worry really. The options will be plenty. He'll wait as long as he has to.