Friday, June 26, 2009

Money Earning Mount Vernon

Bob Cimmino’s Mount Vernon Knights basketball program has been a steady pipeline to the Division 1-A ranks in recent seasons.

This year’s hot prospect is George Mason-bound guard Sherrod Wright, who followed Kevin Jones, who followed Jonathan Mitchell and there was also Keith Benjamin, Ben Gordon and on and on. From all indications, current sophomore point guard Jabari Hinds is next in line.

Hinds’ Division-I stock is starting to soar, as Villanova, Marquette, Virginia, and UNLV are all gunning for the young gun.

They know he can trigger offense and has the right to bear arms from mid-range to downtown.

Hinds said that UNLV and Virginia have already offered, while coaching tycoon Jim Calhoun and the Connecticut Huskies have expressed considerable interest.

UConn appears to be the leader.

The entire Mount Vernon varsity took in the Huskies’ win over Seton Hall at Hartford last weekend, and Hinds got acquainted with UConn’s coaching staff.

“Right now from what I see, I love it,” said Hinds, a budding point guard for the nationally-ranked Knights (10-2).

He's not the first major prospect named Jabari from Mount Vernon. But the last Jabari was more mentally wounded than a shit-house rat. His current whereabouts are unknown, but I'm guessing he flamed out.

“I’ve got a couple of Big East schools looking at me, so it should be interesting," said Hinds, who makes a concentrated effort to get his teammates involved and helps push the tempo.

His small frame may render him guardable, but with the workout system and training programs the kids at Mount Vernon subscribe to year after year...Watch the nifty neophyte balloon like his Division-I stock.

Calhoun, the drill sargeant of a coaching staff widely recognized as one the nation's recruiting elite (see Allen, Ray or Hamilton, Richard) , has been in active pursuit of Hinds.

Since being pinched by a detailed Yahoo! Sports report and going under the NCAA investigation, UConn's success with reeling in top-notch recruits is viewed by some as tainted. Some say a recruiting trip to UConn is akin to a trip to the bank.

Hinds shined at the SNY Invitational at NYU’s Coles Center this weekend, his performance going from efficient to electrifying.

In the Knights’ win over Brooklyn power Thomas Jefferson High, Hinds and explosive scorer Sherrod Wright (32 points) got the better of Jefferson’s three-headed monster in Keith Spellman, Davontay Grace and Joel “Air Jamaica” Wright.

Despite a shaky first half (four assists to five turnovers in a slop-plagued 16 minutes), Hinds dropped 14 points and handed out five dimes. Hinds helped fuel a press-break that gave Jefferson a headache, and Wright scored baskets by the bundles to pace the Knights.

In the title game of the SNY Invitational, Hinds played beyond his years.

The result?

Mount Vernon coasted to a 70-54 drubbing of St. Raymond's, proving that the big Westchester County fish can swim the sharks of the big city.

The wiry 6-foot guard scored 18 points (8-for-13 FG), dished out four assists, and wrapped a straightjacket on whoever he was guarding (Hinds five-fingered the Ravens five times, as the Knights instigated an eye-popping 22 turnovers).

Hinds converted two steals into fast break dunks, showing his bounce and padding his resume reel.

The incoming junior was the the perfect supplement to Wright, an off guard who averages 23.4 points.

THE RIGHT FIT: As a Hall of Fame coach who’s turned UConn into an NBA breeding house and a perennial power in the Big East landscape, Calhoun has a propensity to ink New York guards.

The New York style of play happens to be tailor-made for Calhoun’s souped-up, go-go offensive system.

A.J. Price and Kemba Walker, two of the Huskies top guards last season, both hail from the New York area.

Price, drafted by the Indiana Pacers in the second round of the 2009 NBA draft, starred at Amityville High in Long Island.

Walker re-wrote the record book at Rice High in Harlem.

Former Husky and current Chicago Bull Ben Gordon, who helped lead the Huskies to a 2004 national championship, played at Mount Vernon under legendary game general Bob Cimmino.

Through a surrogate family-like atmosphere and his militaristic zeal, Cimmino has architected a perennial power, Big East pipeline (the aforementioned Jones, Mitchell, Coburn, and Gordon were all cropped up from the school that breeds homegrown talent) and Division-I launchpad.

Bobby C remains tight with the UConn coaching staff.

Since ascending to NBA star status, Gordon—who shelled out a boatload of cash to help prevent the budget crisis-bitten school system from eliminating interscholastic sports—has been a major local presence. As a player who made it out of Mount Vernon and has since climbed up the NBA scoring charts, Gordon could very well have an influence on Hinds’ decision.