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November 12, 2009

Top BB recruit Irving can perform on any stage

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Kyrie Irving, one of the top high school basketball recruits of 2010, was torn.

Not necessarily between Duke and Kentucky, but that his recruiting visits were causing him to miss practice.

Drama practice.

A video or other embedded content has been hidden. Click here to view it.

In a perfect example of life imitating art, Irving got the role of the star basketball player - torn between sports and drama - when Elizabeth (N.J.) St. Patrick High School put on High School Musical this fall.

Then basketball nearly cost him his role in the play.

"My teacher got mad at me because when I was taking my official visits, I was missing days of school," he told Vincent Velasquez of The Star-Ledger. "So I kind of had a conflict.

"I was about to lose my role, but after I started coming to rehearsals consistently, then it was fine from there."

Irving, a 6-2 point guard rated as the No. 9 player in the Rivals.com Top 150 ratings, gave it his all, even chasing after the high notes in a solo (you gotta watch the video on The Star-Ledger's web site, nj.com.)

But while it's obvious his future is on the court, Irving wants to make sure people know he's not just about points and assists.

"I don't want to just be labeled as a basketball player," he said. "Off the court, I'm a normal kid. ... I'll do anything just to get out of my element, have fun."

St. Patrick principal Joseph Picaro told the paper he was glad to see it.

"Basketball is important, but it's secondary," he said. "We encourage our students to explore and do things - like a school play - that make the well-rounded individuals."

Irving, in fact, is carrying on a tradition at St. Patrick that started more than a decade ago with its most famous alum.

"It all started with (longtime NBA player) Al Harrington joining our gospel choir and doing the play," Picaro said. "Since then, we've had athletes in our play year after year."

Irving's dad enjoys seeing him in a different role.

"My son is trying out his Denzel [Washington] side," Dredrick Irving said. "Just kidding, but this is something he wanted to do so we support him."

He needs it. While basketball comes easily to Irving, acting was a bit different.

"I was still a little shy, but once I got it going, it was just like a basketball game, once you hit your first layup, it's smooth," he said.

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