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April 16, 2008NEW YORK - They may be the appetizer instead of the main course, but don't try telling that to the recruits in Saturday's Jordan Brand Classic Regional Game at Madison Square Garden.
While the nationally televised Jordan Brand Classic features All-Americans Tyreke Evans and Devin Ebanks (ESPN2, 9 p.m.), the Regional Game (HSBnetwork.tv, 6:30) will feature seven players committed to Big East schools, three to newly minted national champion Kansas and two to the SEC.
Here are the storylines coming out of the Regional Team practices at Long Island University-Brooklyn.
COACHING CAROUSEL HAS IMPACT
A couple of players are dealing with coaching changes and trying to figure out their next move.
"Several schools contacted me," Mann said. "I'm not exactly sure what I'm going to do now. I'm just waiting for the new coach to see if I'm going to de-commit or get out of my Letter (of Intent)."
Mann chose Stanford over Virginia Tech, Virginia, Wake Forest and Penn State, among others. He said he's also considering Seton Hall now that Jordan Theodore, a Seton Hall commit out of Paterson (N.J.) Catholic, is in his ear.
"I'm looking everywhere right now, I'm going to keep it open," Mann said.
Mann added that he and the other Stanford recruits - Jeremy Green, a 6-4 guard at Bowie High in Austin, Texas, and Miles Plumlee, a 6-10 forward at Arden (N.C.) Christ School - would likely make a decision en masse.
"Right now, we're all just going to wait," he said. "And whatever we do, we'll probably do it together, so if we stay we'll all stay together."
Bilal Dixon, a 6-9 forward from North Arlington (N.J.) Queen of Peace, said he plans on honoring his commitment to Providence. On Tuesday, the Friars hired former Drake coach Keno Davis, the reigning National Coach of the Year, to replace the fired Tim Welsh.
"I really don't know much about this guy (Davis), but I'm happy they found a coach and I think Providence made a good choice," said Dixon, a second-team All-State player who averaged 18.4 points and 13.8 rebounds. "I'm going to go up there and talk to him. Everything is good. I like the school and I'm going to stay up there."
Dixon is used to coaching changes. Before his senior season, his high school coach was fired. However, new coach Chris Boyce still led the Golden Griffins to a league championship and an appearance in the semifinals of the Bergen Jamboree.
WEST VIRGINIA IN THE HOUSE
West Virginia is well represented in the Regional Game, with Darryl Bryant, a 6-2 shooting guard out of Bronx St. Raymond, and Kevin Jones, a 6-8 power forward from Mount Vernon (N.Y.). The future teammates are facing each other in this game. Bryant is on the City team, and Jones will suit up for the Suburban.
"It's always fun when we're playing against each other because he's so competitive," Jones said.
A natural power forward, Jones has been working on his dribbling so he can play small forward in college. He also wants to bulk up from 215 pounds to about 225. With West Virginia's Joe Alexander declaring for the NBA Draft, Jones could be asked to play a bigger role as a freshman for Bob Huggins.
"I'm working on my guard play and working on my body because I know the Big East is a physical conference," Jones said.
Jones and Bryant are also putting on their recruiting caps this week.
Devin Ebanks, the multi-talented 6-9 forward from St. Thomas More (Conn.), visited West Virginia last week. He was hosted by Da'Sean Butler, who played for Suburban Team coach Nick Mariniello at Bloomfield (N.J.) Tech.
Jones and Bryant would love to see Ebanks end up in Morgantown.
"Yeah, we're going to see what we can do about that," Jones said with a smile.
"It would be good to have him. It would be good to have another good player and it would definitely boost the program up a lot, too."
KILPATRICK AWAITING TEST SCORE
Sean Kilpatrick, a 6-3 wing out of White Plains (N.Y.) High, has garnered interest from St. John's, Seton Hall, Virginia, Miami, Villanova and Marquette. However, he must first obtain the required SAT score.
"I think I'm going to take it one more time (May 3) just to get a higher score," Kilpatrick said. "Other than that, I'm just trying to enjoy the whole senior (year)."
Kilpatrick, who scored a tournament-record 44 points in a game this past season at the Big Apple Classic, has visited St. John's unofficially and lists that as his current favorite.
"Yes, it is (my favorite)," he said. "I think that would be a comfortable place for me."
If Kilpatrick doesn't get the required test score, he may end up at prep school.
Before those decisions are made, he's looking forward to playing at Madison Square Garden.
"This is my first time playing there so it should be fun, especially playing with my best friends (Kevin Jones and Syracuse-bound small forward Mookie Jones of Peekskill (N.Y.) High)," Kilpatrick said. "It should be a lot of fun."
Adam Zagoria is a sportswriter for the Herald News (N.J.). Read more on his blog, ZagsBlog