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LIC’s Ebanks will be Mountaineer

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Devin Ebanks was sick of it all last week. The speculation to where he, the top unsigned senior in the nation, would play basketball next year was endless. Would it be Memphis? Or West Virginia? What about Rutgers? Texas?

The truth was, Ebanks, who attends St. Thomas More prep school in Connecticut, had already made his decision. He picked Indiana last summer, but when coach Kelvin Sampson was fired by the school in February for committing recruiting violations, Ebanks opted out of his letter of intent. The recruiting process started all over.

But May 14, a week before the spring signing period would come to an end, the 6-foot-8 man-child of a forward couldn’t take it anymore. He phoned his mother, Yvonne Jackson, back in Long Island City, where he grew up.

“He said, ‘Mom, pick my school,’” Jackson said. “I said, ‘Devin, I can’t pick it. You’re gonna have to make that decision yourself.’”

And he did Sunday morning. At about 9 a.m., Ebanks phoned West Virginia coach Bob Huggins and told him of his intention to play basketball in Morgantown in the fall. Fittingly, the Queens kid officially announced his intention to the public at halftime of his game Sunday at IS 8 in South Jamaica. Ebanks’ Shooting Stars team beat the Playaz Seniors in the IS 8 final, but all anyone wanted to talk about afterward was Ebanks to WVU. He’ll join two other New York City stars there: Kevin Jones of Mount Vernon and Darryl (Truck) Bryant of St. Ray’s.

“I felt that West Virginia would be the place where I can come in and make an impact right away,” said Ebanks, who is ranked 12th in the Class of 2008 by Scout.com.

Ebanks wasn’t the only senior from Queens on the Shooting Stars who will be at a high-major school next year. Christ the King’s Erving Walker, who was named the IS 8 Spring Classic MVP, is headed to Florida and Jamaica resident and St. Benedict’s big man Samardo Samuels, who was the final’s most valuable player, is going to Louisville.

Former Cardozo star James Southerland, a senior at Notre Dame Prep in Massachussets, will forego a potential fifth year in high school and go directly to Syracuse University as a freshman in the fall. Sources said he could redshirt, but Southerland is excited about the opportunity about playing Big East basketball in the Carrier Dome.

“It’s 30,000 people — you don’t see that everyday,” the Floral Park native said.

There weren’t quite as many people at IS 8 on Sunday, but the atmosphere was still electric. The Playaz Seniors boasted players from St. Anthony of Jersey City, the top high-school team in the nation. McDonald’s All-American Mike Rosario, who is headed to Rutgers, and Jio Fontan, a Fordham signee, went up against Walker, Ebanks and Samuels.

“I go to tournaments all over the country,” recruiting guru Tom Konchalski said of IS 8. “This is special.”

Reach Associate Sports Editor Marc Raimondi by e-mail at mraimondi@timesledger.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 130.

Updated 6:58 pm, October 10, 2011
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