NEW YORK –– In the closing seconds of regulation of the Jordan Regional Game, Miami commit Ja’Quan Newton let loose a jumper from the right wing that might have won the game for the Away team.
But Desi Rodriguez, a 6-foot-6 forward out of Abraham Lincoln High School, jumped up with his hand extended and blocked the shot, sending the game to overtime.
In the extra period, the Seton Hall-bound Rodriguez had 5 of his team’s 7 points, including a vicious dunk, as the Home team won, 102-99, at Barclays Center.
“I just wanted to contest the shot,” Rodriguez said after finishing with 17 points and 4 rebounds. “I know Ja’Quan is a great player. I knew he was going to take the last shot and I just had to get up and get the block.”
Rodriguez might easily have been awarded MVP honors for the winners, but it went instead to his future Seton Hall teammate Khadeen Carrington of Bishop Loughlin, who tallied 18 points and 7 boards for the winners.
A third Seton Hall commit, Ismael Sanogo of Newark East Side, went for 7 points and 11 rebounds in the win. Rutgers commit Dwayne Foreman also had 11 points and 5 rebounds for the winners.
Angel Delgado of The Patrick School, had a double-double of 11 points and 17 rebounds for the Away team in the loss.
All told, the four Seton Hall pledges combined for 53 points and 39 rebounds in the game.
“It was great,” Rodriguez said. “I think all the Seton Hall guys came out and played hard today, wanted to put on a show. Just for us to bring that energy to Seton Hall next year will be great.”
Isaiah Whitehead, a McDonald’s and Jordan Brand All-American, did not play in the National Game because of a “small tear” in his hamstring, Lincoln coach Tiny Morton told SNY.tv. Morton said Whitehead needs to stay off the court for four weeks but is expected to be OK.
“He’s out for like 2-3 weeks,” Rodriguez said of Whitehead. “He’s gonna get back in the gym, stretch it. Try to get him back on the court as soon as possible.”
With Whitehead and Carrington set to join current freshmen guards Sterling Gibbs and Jaren Sina, Rodriguez figures to be an explosive athlete on the wing, especially in transition.
“They’re great guards, they know how to push the ball,” Rodriguez said. “They know how to find me so that will be great next year.”
He added that he will do “whatever is capable of winning,” he said. “Just go in and play hard, I’ll just play my role.”
Louglin coach, Edwin Gonzalez, coached the winning team and called it “bittersweet” to coach Carrington one last time.
Looking ahead, he said the Pirates are getting a special group.
“They’re going to be a very scary team to deal with down the road,” Gonzalez said. “And once they figure it out and get stronger and learn coach [Kevin] Willard’s system, I think it’s going to be a very, very good team, one that we’re going to be proud of in the tri-state. It’s not too far away from home for me, so I can go visit and watch them play so I think it’s going to be a very great program.”
Added Carrington: “I knew Desi for a while and I’m just starting to get to know Ish, so It’s going to be great playing with them next year.”
Asked how good Seton Hall can be going forward in the Big East, Carrington said, “I think we bring a little spunk. We got scorers, me and Whitehead. Desi can run the floor, Ish [too]. Angel gets rebounds and can run the floor. So it’s going to be interesting to see how practice and the season next year is going to go.”
The Miami-bound Newton earned MVP for the Away team with 23 points. Baylor commit Kobie Eubanks added 10.