Courtesy Daily New High School
Written By Michael Wursthorn
Tuesday, November 4th 2008, 3:04 PM
Fusco for News
Helping younger teammates seems to come naturally to Mike Poole, but sometimes he still marvels at his new role as a mentor.
The 6-6, 185-pound guard from Rosedale attends St. Benedict's Prep. He played at Rice HS as a freshman, but transferred to the Newark school last year, frustrated over a lack of playing time.
Poole wound up on one of the nation's most talented squads, a team that went 24-1 and captured its third state title in five years. They finished the season ranked second in USA Today's national rankings, just behind Garden State rival St. Anthony's.
He still found frustration, however, playing scant minutes on a Gray Bees squad that was powered by Samardo Samuels, a 6-9 big man who's now at Louisville, and Rutgers freshman Greg Echenique.
Even this year, he's playing sidekick to forward Tristan Thompson, a junior who's already committed to Texas. But Poole has still managed to find a role - as a mentor. He says he'll help the team in any way he can: he wants the squad to finish the season ranked No. 1.
Here, he talks about meeting challenges while trying to become a role model.
"Playing my best every game and working hard every game is going to be a big challenge. Every time I play, I play like I am an underdog, because I am not physically like the main guy on every team. (This) makes me want to be the best. I expect to have a good season, averaging good numbers and hopefully have a stellar season.
"All the new guys look up to all the returning players, and I'm one of the returning players on my high school team. A freshman came up to me and he wanted to know how he can be a better shooter. I woke up at 6:00 in the morning, went to the gym and started working out with him. I was just thinking I'm actually helping people now. I'm like the captain to them.
"I'll do anything that my team needs at that time. I want to win the championship so bad that I will change my game to do that. If we're not rebounding and we gotta get rebounds, I'll go rebound. If we're not scoring, I'll go score. If we need defense, I'll go play defense."