Monday, December 16, 2013

St Benedicts Prep To Participate in PR Hoops Tournment

Chino Torres and his PR Hoops outfit have been bringing elite HS teams to play in Puerto Rico for years. This year is no exception with New Jersey's St. Benedicts Prep participating in the PR Hoops Christmas Tournament later this week. St. Benedicts is in a rebuilding year after graduating two potential NBA players in Mike Young (Pitt) and arguably the best freshman PG in the college, Tyler Ennis (Syracuse). Only two players return from last years team in 2014 PG Jon Williams and 2016 SF Nicholas Washington. Third year coach Mark Taylor has won over 70 games in his first three years at St. Benedicts and doesn't necessarily agree that this year is a rebuilding year, "If we stick together and play for each other we are going to surprise a lot of people. We play as tough a schedule as any team in the country. We control our own destiny", said Taylor via telephone. This years roster which includes 12 new players including 6'10 Lithuanian Norbertas Giga. The senior center recently signed to play in the ACC conference at Florida State. Senior PG Jonathan Williams signed with Shaka Smarts' VCU program. This years team will go as far as the two seniors take them. They are the bookends to this years team. In addition to Giga and Williams, the team has atleast 10 other Division 1 prospects including fellow seniors Elijah Cain, Damontas Pavloskis and Carl Brown, juniors Mark Thomas and Kamar Mcknight, sophmores Nick Washington, Josh Colon, Edwin Cancel and Arnaldo Toro and reclassified freshman sensation Trevon Duval. The question is not if the team has the size and talent to compete with anyone in the country but can Coach Taylor get this team to gel and perform at a very high level by the time January comes around. Taylor has proven in his first three years at St. Benedicts that he is capable of beating teams that have more talent and are ranked higher. This years team and its schedule may present his must difficult challenge since arriving at St. Benedicts. Last years team finished the season ranked #2 by ESPN while this years team is not ranked by ESPN and is only ranked in one of the top four national preseason polls. However, their schedule will provide several opportunities to prove they are one of the elite high school teams in the country. St Benedicts plays several preseason nationally ranked teams in January including #2 ranked Montverde Academy in a rematch of last years National Championship game January 3rd on ESPN, #18 ranked Arlington Country Day on ESPN at the Hoophall Classic on January 19th, #6 ranked White Station High School in Memphis on January 24th and #13 Roselle Catholic at the Prudential Center in New Jersey on the MSG Network, January 31st. The PR Hoops tournament starts local team play on Wednesday. St. Benedicts arrives Thursday afternoon and plays their first game Friday night. They don't know who their first opponent will be but nonetheless they are not going to take any of the teams from Puerto Rico lightly. Former St Johns School PG and St. Benedicts sophomore Nick Washington told IPRB, "Josh, Edwin, Arnaldo and I keep telling our teammates and coaches that there are some really good teams in Puerto Rico. This is a business trip for us. Anything less then a championship is a failure for us. And we know every team and coach that we play is going to do their best to beat us. For teams and players from Puerto Rico this is probably the biggest game they will play all year. Coach Taylor, Coach Farrell and Coach P are gonna have us focused on coming down there and handling business. We can't afford to lose a game because we will never hear the end of it from our friends and former coaches."