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A NEW LEASE ON LIFE

Long Island City native, late of Bishop Loughlin, gets fresh start at St. Thomas More prep

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At the age of 15, the Long Island City native's academics were in disarray and his image tarnished when he was thrown out of Bishop Loughlin HS in Brooklyn after his sophomore year. Credit a few violent incidents for the latter, including one involving a teacher, sources say.There was only one choice for Ebanks and his mother, Yvonne Jackson, at the time: for him to get out and get out quickly. He spent his junior year at The Patterson School in North Carolina before spending the past two at St. Thomas More School in Oakdale, Conn."For me that was necessary," said Ebanks, who grew up in the Ravenswood Houses of LIC. "I wasn't going nowhere if I stayed in the city."Luckily, he's always had basketball. It's what has allowed him to gain this new lease on life. The forward returned to New York City last week with St. Thomas More at the Big Apple Basketball HS Invitational at Baruch College, scoring 31 points and grabbing 16 rebounds in his team's loss to American Christian (Pa.).Ebanks, 18, is a star - he announced over the summer his intentions of playing next year at Indiana University, one of the most storied programs in NCAA basketball history. He chose the Hoosiers over schools like Rutgers, Miami and Texas. Though 6-foot-8, Ebanks has perimeter skills - he can shoot from mid-range and hit the three-pointer. He's a terrific athlete, a good shot blocker and has a very complete game. Ebanks' biggest knock, though, is that he needs to get stronger."His greatest win is his mobility," recruiting guru Tom Konchalski said. "He gets so many cheap points in transition...I think he's going to be a very, very good player (at Indiana)."Ebanks, who says that St. Thomas More is "pretty much in the woods," isn't the first basketball player to leave Queens or New York City for a prep school in a rural area, nor will he be the last. Former Bayside standout Pat Hazel left Queens for Blair Academy (N.J.) and got a scholarship to Marquette out of it. Ex-Cardozo star James Southerland is going to Syracuse next year, but is spending his senior high-school season at Notre Dame Prep in Fitchburg, Mass.There are varying reasons for people to leave - some want to get their grades in order, some want to leave the bad crowd they've fallen in with and some just want to groom themselves for Division I basketball. Ebanks did it for all of the above."Devin Ebanks is almost the poster child for the prep school world," said his coach at St. Thomas More, Jere Quinn, a Flushing native and graduate of Archbishop Molloy HS. "What's nice about the prep-school experience is that they get a chance to start fresh."Without St. Thomas More, it's unclear whether or not Ebanks would now be in the position he's in. His academics have evened out, people around him say he has matured and he has a full scholarship to Indiana waiting for him."It's important that people learn there are consequences to their actions," Konchalski said. "(St. Thomas More) is a second-chance place intended for people who have underachieved."Next year, he'll play for coach Kelvin Sampson, who Ebanks has grown quite fond of."He's a defensive coach, they fit my style," he said. "I need to work on my defense if I wanna get to the next level."Ebanks finally has it all figured out.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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