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Tarik Phillip does Interview with the New York Post

May 1, 2012
Queen City Preparatory Academy



Tarik Phillip said if anyone would’ve told him he would be playing in the SEC a few years ago, he would’ve called them crazy.

His story, however, borders on the illogical, a point guard going from Brooklyn College Academy of PSAL Class B, the league’s lowest of three levels, not playing a minute of varsity basketball his senior year, to a high major Division I program.

But that’s Phillip’s reality – the 6-foot-3 point guard from Canarsie recently verbally committed to South Carolina and new coach Frank Martin. Phillip, who is wrapping up a postgraduate year at Queen City Prep (N.C.), chose the Gamecocks over Mississippi State and Ole Miss.

“I never thought I would be here, I never thought I would get the opposition to play in front of coaches, but I was given the opportunity and I took advantage of it,” he said. “I’m blessed for the opportunity I was given.”

He was drawn to South Carolina by Martin, the intense coach who built a winner at Kansas State. Phillip felt at home on the large Columbia, S.C., campus, thinks he can thrive in Martin’s up-tempo offense and likes the idea of being part of the rebuilding process. Plus, there is the opportunity to play right away.

“It was kind of Frank Martin, just his presence alone made a big deal,” he said. “I like his coaching style, how he lets his guard go. That’s the type of game I like to play.

The presence of good friend Thaddeus Hall, the Thomas Jefferson standout who committed just a few days before him, was a factor as well. Phillip liked the idea of joining the fellow Brooklyn standout because, he said, it would make the transition easier.

Phillip, who led BCA to the PSAL 'B’ city crown as a sophomore, didn’t play as a senior because of issues with school officials he declined to discuss. After a solid summer on the AAU circuit with the Long Island Lightning and Exodus, he broke out at Queen City Prep over the winter. He averaged 26 points and seven assists per game, scoring and distributing at a high level for a program which went 45-5.

“He is going to be a major contributor his freshman year – I can see him starting at the point,” Queen City coach Tony Taylor said. “He defends well, he’s a playmaker and he can also score. At 6-foot-3, he’s long and he can knock down some open shots.”

One Division I assistant coach familiar with Phillip said South Carolina is getting a capable floor general capable of running a team.

“He has a good feel for the game,” the coach said. “He understands how to play. He’s a good passer.”

Phillip always saw himself as a Division I player, he just didn’t have the opportunities. He got that at Queen City Prep. Now he’s headed to the SEC. Befitting his rags-to-riches tale, Phillip spent more time talking about what he hopes to do at the next level than what he has accomplished. He wants this to be a start, not a finish.

“I’m hoping to go in there and make an impact on the SEC and the South Carolina Gamecocks,” he said. “It’s a big step, it’s another test to see where I’m at, how mentally strong I am. It’s just a matter of going there and working hard -- show I belong.”

zbraziller@nypost.com


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