It was an April night when the weather still screamed December. As did, for Jamal Wilson, the basketball circumstances.

Next December, that is.

Wilson is a 6-5, 190-pound junior swingman for Ss. Neumann-Goretti High, and next year he'll surface as the unabashed franchise. Last night at Father Judge, he and others got a preview in the feature attraction of the Catholic League coaches' oft-delayed, sparsely attended all-star doubleheader.

N-G's heralded seniors, big man Rick Jackson and guard Antonio "Scoop" Jardine, both of whom are bound for Syracuse, were not allowed to play because of the NCAA rule that limits guys to two postseason all-star appearances. But Wilson definitely played, and definitely made an impact.

As South numbed North, 105-84, Wilson totaled 21 points, nine rebounds, three assists and five steals to garner MVP honors.

Speaking about Jackson and Jardine, Wilson said, "I'm going to miss them a whole lot. Just being around, they change the game so much.

"Next year is going to be a challenge for me. One for us, too."

This year? Quite the downer, in the overall scheme. Though the Saints, the defending champions, entered the Catholic League season as everyone's strong-to-overwhelming pick, they were dethroned by Roman and even dropped three of the teams' four meetings.

Not easy, right?

"I'm still trying to think of a different word from 'hard,' and so far I haven't found it," Wilson said. "We really thought we had it . . . That's probably one of the reasons we lost because we did think we had it.

"We won't be as deep next season. It's going take a long run to get back to where we want to be. When you don't have as much talent, you have to go even harder. I'm confident we'll be able to do it. People are going to see how good coach Carl [Arrigale] is. He's going to bring us together every day in practice."

Wilson, who's quite the basketball athlete, uncorked four dunks during the evening and added other feats of runnin' and flyin'.

"This kind of game is about fun," he said. "You get to play against all the biggest names from your conference and see how you match up against them."

He added with a sly, I'm-about-to-bust-cubes smile, "And you see how you can play together, which the North couldn't find a way to do. They just couldn't put it together as nice as we could."

Viewed as a wing-guard prospect for college purposes, Wilson is receiving widespread interest. Before getting distracted by passers-by, he listed Kansas State, Wake Forest, Boston College, George Mason, Virginia Commonwealth and Clemson as schools already making strong bids.

The trend these days for recruits is to decide early. Wilson pictures the opposite.

"I might go all the way through next season [before deciding]," he said. "We'll have a young team. If coaches keep coming around to see me, they'll also see my teammates and that'll be good for them."

Awards for hustle/sensible play went to a pair of guards, St. Joseph's Prep's Matt Griffin (11 points, five apiece of rebounds, assists and steals) and Cardinal Dougherty's Kahlil Mumford (14, seven boards, eight assists). They're headed for Rider and St. Peter's, respectively, so they'll test each other for the next 4 years in the Northeast Conference.

A nice moment came with 8:01 left as Archbishop Wood's Fran McGlinn, sidelined for two seasons by a heart problem, walked onto the court to shoot a pair of free throws after Wilson was hit with a tech for hanging on the rim. He went 1-for-2.

Williams stars in prelim

Mike Williams is bound for Hampton University on a partial academic scholarship with designs on becoming a pediatrician.

Mike Williams is bound for Hampton University on a partial academic scholarship with designs on becoming a pediatrician.

Sports? Who knows?

They now dominate his life, but the end, except for intramurals, could come soon.

"That's why I wanted to go out with a bang," he said. "Coming out of this game with MVP honors makes me feel pretty proud."

Williams, a 6-1, 180-pound forward, totaled eight points, seven rebounds, six steals and two assists as South spanked North, 91-66, in the preliminary.

"I'm not sure what's going to happen at Hampton. I might try to walk on for football or basketball. But who knows if they'll take me? If they'll think I'm any good? I'm not a bad football player and I'll definitely be dedicated. But, if I don't play again, hey, I went out with a good one."

In this one, the extra honorees were South's Ellis Rogers (Archbishop Carroll; eight points, nine boards, six assists) and North's Kevin Schafer (Conwell-Egan; three points, five assists). *