Gas up the automobiles and 747’s – grassroots basketball has just finished its cup of morning coffee and is wide awake… the warm-ups and scrimmages are over. Things are about to get real. Student-athletes across the state have been practicing since their high school seasons ended in anticipation of the NCAA April Live Period. From the kid on the mom & pop team with the hopes of he & his friends winning a couple of games and being seen on the main courts; to the kid affiliated with the highly successful organization, that’s known for developing their kids and placing them in schools; to the ultra-talented fully funded sneaker kid, traveling with his team full of Division I talent and potential pros, waiting in the airport hoping his love of basketball translates beyond a college scholarship and oneday onto a private Jet. One thing is for certain, whether they are headed to Pittsburgh, Ohio, New Jersey, Kentucky, Indiana, Texas, or DC, they all have one thing in common. Even tho’ there are Levels to this thing called travel ball…. As of tonight —ALL – still have hopes of performing well on the big state in front of college coaches. By Friday night the best players in the state of Pennsylvania along with many others with a dream will be on the hardwood ripping it up vying for that coveted scholarship. Best of Luck to all.
PREP SCENE will produce weekly rankings for the entire state of Pennsylvania. These rankings will including 5th year prep schools and high schools regardless of governing body affiliations.
Dec. 4th – Dec. 10th, 2017
1. Scotland Campus Sports
Scotland jumps to number 1, they continued their winning ways this week advancing to 7-0 on the season. 2018 PG Koreem Ozier picked up an offer from Grambling State along the way. Scotland has a variety of weapons and is clicking on all cylinders early in the season. Games: 12/6 Easton University JV, 12/7 @Misericardia University JV and ICA Prep (NJ)
2. First Love Christian Academy (Washington)
Khayree Wilson’s outfit beat Tees Valley Christian (TN) and Northeast Prep (OH) this week before losing to national power Capital Christian (MD). The backcourt of Aneury Parra and Shamar Givance have been tough to contain early in the season. Parra tossed in 20 points vs Northeast Prep and Givance had 11 points and 12 assists. Games: 12/7 & 8 Buckeye Showcase vs Athlete Institute & Aspire and 12/9 vs Prep Scene #7 Kennedy Catholic.
3. Westtown (West Chester)
Drops out of the number 1 spot after suffering a 10 point loss to Our Savior Lutheran (NY). However, they remain in the top 3 because the defeat came with 6-9 Cameron Reddish in street clothes. Win’s and Loses matter but are not the tell all. Reddish’s absence is expected to be short lived. Jalen Gaffney (6-0) stepped up from the PG position and was sensational. Games: 12/6 Capital Christian (MD)
4. Imhotep Charter (Philadelphia)
Imhotep Charter looked impressive in their scrimmage this week, they have another Wednesday vs PREP SCENE #13 Nuemann-Goretti. Donta Scott (6-7, 2019) is a mismatch problem for opponents. But, before Tep officially takes the floor for hoops, their football team will be playing Erie Cathedral Prep in the State Championship @ Hershey for the third year in a row.
5. Hill School (Pottstown)
The Hill School took care of Canada Topflight Academy in convincing fashion. Chase Audige (6-5, 2018) lead the way for Phil Canosa’s unit, shooting the ball extremely well and getting into the lane often. Seth Maxwell (6-11, 2018) provided a formidable post presence. Games: 12/6 Episcopal Academy, 12/9 @New Hampton (NH) and 12/10 Choate Rosemary Hall (CT).
6. Archbishop Wood (Warminster)
Coach Mosco’s Pickron (6-3, 2018) and Funk (6-4 2018), can stretch the floor as well as any backcourt within a days drive. When wood takes the floor this weekend you can expect them to do numbers. Games: 12/9 in Scholastic Play by Play vs Brooklyn NY’s South Shore @ Archbishop Carroll and 12/10 @Dematha HS in the National High School Festival.
7. Kennedy Catholic (Hermitage)
Kennedy Catholic opens the season with a December 9th 8:30 PM game with PREP SCENE #2 ranked First Love Christian Academy (Washington, PA). Look for Maceo Austin (6-5), Mattia Acunzo (6-7) and Oscar Tshiebwe (6-8) to play huge for Coach Mancino early and often.
Eric Dixon is a man among boys. His high motor and inside outside game will drive opponent HS coaches, players and fans insane. He is a problem. The backcourt is in solid hands as play begins with Heath, Coppedge and Monroe distributing and scoring when necessary. The Ghosts open up at home in their tip off tournament with Chichester, and Valley Forge Military Academy.
9. Plymouth-Whitemarsh (Plymouth Meeting)
Naheem Mcloud (7-1, 2019) is ready to take the next step toward stardom. His presence in the paint on both sides of the floor should be game changing after a great summer on the AAU circuit. PW also will put a relentless backcourt on the floor in Cooper and the Williams twins. Games: 12/8 Sankofa Freedom.
10. Pine-Richland (Gibsonia)
Phil Jukovic will be under center on Saturday, playing in another football State Championship. The Notre Dame Football recruit wont take long to get his basketball legs back under him… and when he does Pine Richland should be one of the teams standing at the end of the season. Winning is contagious and PR has done a lot of it lately in Football & Basketball.
11. State College
The Little Lions will open up the 2017-2018 season in the always competitive Skip Coleman Tip-Off Tournament this weekend along with trips to Central Dauphin East and a Friday night home game vs previous #22 Harrisburg High. Count on Drew Friberg to spear head a successful start to the season.
Coach Perez’ troops open the season in the York High Tip-Off (York, PA) vs Franklin Learning Center out of Philadlephia, on Saturday they will play either host William Penn (York) or Williamsport.
13. Nueman-Goretti (Philadelphia)
Coach Arrigale group will scrimmage PREP SCENE Top 5 Imhotep Charter on Wednesday before opening the season in the Scholastic Play by Play Showcase on the 9th vs Prep Scene honorable mention Shipley (Bryn Mawr) and Sam Sessoms a Binghamton signee.
14. Bethlehem Catholic
BeCaHi’s production comes in bunches from 6-7 inside out threat Ryan Young. Young is a math-up problem at both ends of the floor. The District 11 powerhouse will also look for heavy productions from a pair of 2019’s in Justin Paz (6-0) and Kyle Young (6-7). Games: 12/9 Martin Luther King @ Archbishop Carroll in the Scholastic Play by Play.
15. Haverford School
The Haverford School finished last week with huge margin’s of victory over the Hun School (NJ) by 20+ and by 30+ over Friends Central. Christian Ray, Gavin Burke and Kharon Randloph have led the way early. Games: 12/4 vs Friends Central, 12/7 @Perkiomen, 12/8 Don McBride Classic vs PREP SCENE honorable mention – Academy of New Church and 12/9 @ LaSalle.
16. Martin Luther King (Philadelphia)
Games: 12/9 vs PREP SCENE #14 Bethlehem Catholic @ Archbishop Carroll’s Scholastic Play by Play.
17. St. Joe’s Prep (Philadelphia)
Games: 12/11 @ PREP SCENE #21 Malvern Prep
Games: 12/8 & 12/9 in the Fairview Tip-Off Tournament
19. Penn Hills
Games: 12/8 Midland Tip-Off Tournament vs Lincoln Park, 12/9 Hickory
Games: 12/9 @ PREP SCENE honorable mention Shipley, 12/10 @ West Chester University vs PREP SCENE honorable mention, Archbiship Carroll.
21. Malvern Prep
Games: 12/6 Phelps, 12/9 @ PREP SCENE honorable mentiion Archbishop Carroll in the Scholastic Play by Play. 12/10 @ West Chester University Showcase vs PREP SCENE honorable mention Bonner-Prendergast.
22. Roman Catholic (Philadelphia)
Games: 12/9 vs Riverside Baptist (MD) @ Gonzaga Classic in DC.
12/9 @Cardinal O’Hara
Games: 12/8 @Avonworth
25. Northeastern (Manchester)
Games: 12/8 & 12/9 Bobcat Tip Off vs Eastern York, Northern York & Delone Catholic
HONORABLE MENTION: Academy of New Church, Alderdice, Allentown Central Catholic, Archbishop Carroll, Berks Catholic, Bonner-Prendergast, Carlisle, Chambersburg, Cheltenham, Chester, Church Farm, Girard College, Kiski Prep, McDowell, Phelps, Overbrook, Sewickley Academy, Shipley, Whitehall, Woodland Hills,
Previous Week Rankings
When P R E P S C E N E initially spoke with recent Lafayette College signee and Trinity High School (Camp Hill, PA) senior Sean Good about writing a piece for underclassman, or coaches, and parents to share with younger student athletes, he lit up like a Christmas tree. The six foot-eleven inch, walking double double, who averaged just under 5 blocks a game as a junior could not hold back his enthusiasm. You could hear it in his voice, the towering star with offers from schools in the Big 10 and ACC wanted to dive right in. He was extremely complementary about the goal of our OVERTIME series; to help athletes grow on and off the court. He has done numerous interviews and has talked all about his decision to attend Lafayette over the last few weeks, but for him, you could tell, this was different. It was a chance to give back, to pay it forward. Success is never an accident, and immediately after speaking with Sean, I was reminded of a book by Jon Huntsman, Sr., a multi-billionaire who started a chemical company from scratch and grew it into a $12 billion dollar enterprise. In his book “Winners Never Cheat” he states that “There are no moral shortcuts in the game of business (I’ll insert basketball here) or life,” … “There are, basically, three kinds of people, the unsuccessful, the temporarily successful, and those who become and remain successful. The difference is character.” .
Young kids looking to play this game at a very high level pay close attention to Sean’s insight about honesty and integrity. The value he places on having quality people in his life, the value he places on the constructive criticism and advice he received along the way. This interview provides remarkably mature insight into “The Process” of becoming a college scholarship worthy basketball player. Insight into character, the often overlooked variable in the high stakes world of win at all cost basketball. The theme throughout our interview and what kept resonating the most in one form or fashion – was Character. For Sean and his inner circle, honesty & integrity is a constant state of mind and is not situational. He is thankful for the benefits he has received by being surrounded with high character individuals along his journey. Individuals that have been truthfully honest with him throughout every step of the process, even when it was uncomfortable or unfavorable. Individuals that not only invest in his athletic skills but in his character and integrity as he follows in their footsteps.
First off, Congratulations on signing on the dotted line with Coach O’Hanlon and the Lafayette Leopards. That is big time, $200,000 dollars worth of education with one of the nations highest ranked Liberal Arts colleges. Good stuff!
“Thank you I appreciate it. It is an amazing opportunity”
What was it that made you say, Lafayette is where I will spend the next four years of my life and grow as a man?
“I had it down to a couple of schools,…Lafayette, Colgate, Rice, and Columbia…It was weird this year, a lot of people committed early so things were a little hectic. (Alluding to the recruiting dominoe effect, of players accepting scholarship offers. This can change the recruiting landscape of several schools recruiting the same players/postions. One commitment can make a player an instant priority, it can also put added pressure on others with offers to make decisions, “guaranteeing” themselves a roster spot. What can unfold is a domino effect in which one highly recruited player makes a selection and others down the line follow suit for a variety of reasons.) I took an official to Lafayette and just loved it there. My shadow… freshman, Justin Jaworski was just amazing, I loved the campus.”
I have seen you mention in other articles about the importance of family to you, did this play into the decision at all to remain in state?
“Yes, Lafayette is in the perfect spot for me, where it is far enough away from home but not unreachable. Games will be easily accessible for family and friends. I have said it over and over but must say it again. I love Coach O’Hanlon, he reminded me so much of Coach Kos (Larry Kostelac, Trinity Head Coach). Same kind of Stand Up Guys. Their word is their bond… The are both genuine, honest and hard working. If you need something done, they are selfless and will be on it in an instant… they get things done the right way. They are just those kind of honorable guys.
What did you like most about the visit?
“Throughout my visit the guys on the team were great, I had a lot of genuine conversations, actually one or more with each team member. The conversations were spontaneous, open and honest… It was great! You could tell it was natural and the guys wanted to get to know me and ultimately play with me in the future. I had the opportunity to shadow a couple classes…absolutely loved the academic environment. It is a lot like Trinity, they are not a huge school…class sizes are pretty small… very well respected, great student to faculty ratio and an amazing Engineering program… and that is what I will be majoring in, Chemical Engineering…..All around the perfect fit! Each school in my final list offered so much… For me Lafayette was just the right combination at the right moment.”
Okay the decision is made, your mind is made up. walk me through the process…
“I called Coach O’Hanlon and told him I am committing to attend Lafayette College… The call was very celebratory. Happy upbeat! Dreams do come true, all that good stuff…I got my school, they got their guy… it’s great everyone is all happy… and then the phone hangs up. Immediately you realize you have to call Coach Langel at Colgate, Coach Pera at Rice, Coach Engels at Columbia… For a young individual it is a tough thing to do but also something you learn from,,,, you have to tell someone, you’re sorry… you loved so much about their school, staff and players… you appreciated all the time we shared as you recruited me, thank you for having me up for my visit but I have decided that Lafayette College is the best choice for my future. I mean it was tough, very tough, extremely tough …. I became friends with all of those coaches and it was really really tough but it is definitely a learning experience…learning to deliver unfavorable news in a professional manner, that’s the one good thing I kinda drew from that. It is definitely that kind of moment when your calling them, the phone is ringing, and your planning in your head what you are going to say… They aren’t expecting it… All three coaches were great… They weren’t thrilled by any means but they all expressed the idea mutually that I had great opportunities in front of me no matter who I choose…
They mentioned each other in a way… They were understanding. You have got to do it, you have to make those calls. The day of… you have to suck it up… Communicate honestly… you can’t leave people hanging …Let people know, be honest. Being honest will carry you through so many aspects of your life. just communication, just quick honest communication… very simple straight forward…It will be awkward but as long as you tell them with honesty they will respect you for it!”
At what age did you begin to get serious about the game of Basketball?
“My gravitivity towards basketball started kind of in a big way with Steve Little out of Steelton, PA. He was huge in pushing this snow ball down the hill for me. When I was in the 5th grade going into the 6th grade, I was really tall, lanky and uncoordinated. I was a work in progress, but I loved basketball. I loved it, really starting to get into it. Coach Little put me on his BrakBred team, we were 12U at the time….a bunch of us guys like Shaquon Anderson-Butts (Harrisburg WR – Penn State Football commit) , Brian Garner (Susquehanna, WR), Shakeel Sheppard (Susquehanna, RB) Yahmir Wilkerson (Harrisburg, QB) just a bunch of really good athletes. It was so much fun, we were really good … I really liked Coach Little and we practiced all the time. He really got me into the game of basketball, his practices were really tough. He instilled that work ethic into me. Made me really think about working on my game after I left practice, when he wasn’t around, you know off days that whole summer, just play at the park… instilled the want to be better in me when I was 11-12 years old. He planted the seed, and we have been watering it ever since. I still keep in touch with him, to this day…I always talk to him. I owe a lot to him I really do.”
Growing up, is there anyone you patterned your game after? Someone that you pretended to be during those hot summer days in the park?
“Looking back when I was younger who I really liked was… It’s funny, I never really watched a lot of basketball when I was young. I can say one of the first people that I started to realistically pattern my game after, like around seventh grade, was Stephan Adams. I watched Stephen Adams in college, when he was at Pitt, I liked his game. I seen a lot of what I could be in him. I still like watching him today. I wasn’t the kid that was always watching basketball when I was young… That was one thing Coach Steve Little did that was huge for me…He was very honest…he presented me with, here are your pluses and minuses and here is what you need to work on to get to the next level. He had me think into the future -plan ahead a little…visualize where I was going. I knew at an early age who I was and tried to box my game up and do what I personally was good at and work on my own at what I was not.
Steve Little coached you for several years, even into high school prior to you joining forces with Nike sponsored Team Final out of the Philadelphia area. Tell me about your decision and what led you to go with Team Final.
“It was a tough decision, because I really loved Coach Little and I knew that he always was looking out for my best interest. He had always been a stand up guy, told me exactly what I needed to work on… you want to play major college basketball here is what you need to develop. His honesty made it easier but I was still worried about it…How would I tell him. I…. at the time I really wanted to play for him, but I also wanted to play for Team Final. We had a great deal of open and honest conversations that winter leading up to the Spring and Summer AAU season… We talked about it and actually he was one of the people who really propelled me to do it. From what I remember he was like Go for it, I mean Team Final, the whole EYBL scene, I mean that’s a big time stage. He was like go for it, you will be missed…not being able to coach you, you will be missed but he knew it was a good opportunity for me. I was fortunate to have him as a selfless mentor looking out for my best interest. Our discussions really helped me down the road.” Uncomfortable, open and honest conversations, I grew up when I had to tell Coach Little my plans…Funny, looking back, I think he even mentioned I would be having these difficult conversations again when it was time to choose a college…at the time I didn’t think anything of it. He was right”
Playing in the EYBL, arguably the premier summer basketball circuit in the country what would you say you learned the most from that experience?
“I loved my time with Team Final. It was a huge time commitment, most of my teammates were from, in or around the Philadelphia area…I had to drive an hour forty minutes to practice every weekend. So I learned time management. The travel is extensive, I’ve seen a lot of the country, so how to travel and perform at a high level…I loved the traveling aspect of it and you room with the guys… I roomed with a bunch of different guys throughout my years with Final… I really grew close with a good amount of them. Just to name a few…Like Sam Sessoms, initially the first year I played for Final… him and I clashed, we were like total opposites but as the years passed… this summer me and him we are really good friends its funny how that worked out. So I learned a lot about myself.”
Who helped you navigate the recruiting process?
“Coach Kostelac was instrumental. Now a days people don’t view your high school experience as important as the summer AAU season. I’ve even heard people express that high school doesn’t really matter. But I will tell you it may be shifting in that direction in but it’s still pretty much a lot of high school involvement. College coaches get a lot of information from your high school coach. Especially with a guy as prestigious as Coach Kos, he is so well respected, for his honesty, again his word is his bond. He is high character. He is a proven evaluator of talent, if he says you’re a good player-anybody who is anybody will believe what he is saying. Coach Kos and Rob Brown (Director of Team Final) actually… its funny…They got to be good friends too along the way. They were working mutually on my behalf. Coach Kos would send out a lot of film from my high school games, make contacts. Rob Brown would put him in contact with the coaches that were contacting him and vise versa. They grew close. They both would relay it back to me and the two of them together were actually an extremely beneficial resource for my family…all around…. I would ask Rob Brown if he had contacts at a certain school that I had an interest in and he was just that guy … I would be on the phone with them.”
At what age did you become familiar or concern yourself with the NCAA requirements, terms such as NCAA Core Credits, Core GPA, & SAT scores ect?
“Its funny… I always wanted to do good in school. I have always been a good student. Coach Kos, when I first came to Trinity he foresaw that I would be going somewhere in four years on an athletic scholarship of some sort and he made it a point to put me in contact with the student adviser/counselor at Trinity. Before I walked in the door he had someone that I was working with, planning ahead to meet the NCAA Core Requirements. It was my 8th grade summer and we planned out my 4 years of high school tentatively… what I would be taking. You can not stress the importance of that enough. It does not take a huge amount of work, but just a little knowledge, diligence and applying yourself… that’s all you need to do… apply yourself and think and plan ahead!!”
Let me know what to expect from the Shamrocks in 2018?
I am excited to enjoy the last year with the team, especially the seniors… 5-6 of us, we came up through the program together. We want to leave our mark on the proud tradition of Trinity Basketball… we have to make it count… Have fun enjoy it and make the most of the season, go as far as we can… League, Districts, States our goals remain the same but you have got to enjoy playing. There will be tough times this season, there are every season but this game is fun… One thing you can count on, we will enjoy it and make it count.
Anything you would like to add to the underclassman reading?
“Absolutely, have fun with the game of basketball, don’t take it so serious that you burn out. Remember to have fun, that still means work hard but make it fun and memorable. Do your research early and often, on the schools that show you interest. Academic curriculm, stlye of play, coaches, players… do your homework…Evaluate yourself honestly. What are your strengths and weaknesses, have people in your corner that will tell you the truth! Work hard that will take you far, farther than most people will get. Outwork your competition.”
There are countless events in the Philadelphia area to keep high school basketball players advancing their skills in the fall. Far to many to name!!! It appears almost everyone is involved in the arms race, that is producing high quality basketball players and teams. Parents, handlers, trainers, A.A.U. organizations and high schools all clamoring for the top spots. There are only so many top spots in a metro area of 6 million, but when you get crowned “King of Philly” (surrounding suburbs included), it tends to carry national juice. It’s not merely a badge of honor to represent the 7th largest metropolitan area in the US. Don’t get it twisted, its a target for everyone else in the city to try and destroy, defame and eventually claim for themselves.
In the age of participation trophies, it is refreshing to see a youth sports culture entrenched in the battle and competition of being the BEST. Even after the A.A.U. season has ended and with scholastic basketball weeks away, there is no let down in competition!! High level, championship caliber basketball is played year round from grade school to high school. With that fierce competition comes negatives. There are drawbacks, its not all national acclaim, P.I.A.A. Gold, endorsements and scholarships, but the good far outweighs the bad. Each of the aforementioned parties play an important role in the pedigree of Philly basketball and hold a stake in its current state of success.
From, parents putting their kids in the best possible academic and athletic position. To, handlers providing insight and opportunities to parents, who may not be informed of the nuances of high level basketball. Ultimately, providing a forum for a player to display their talent. From, trainers building the foundation and skills in players that are necessary when the lights come on, to outshine the competition. To, A.A.U. organizations running college like practices 3 days a week with no events in sight and a season that ended weeks ago. This is Philly in the FALL, all the while high school programs engage in weight lifting programs, run the track and play in countless events up and down the east coast.
Culturally basketball is just different, it truly is a valued commodity! The product speaks for itself. there is nothing magical about it. It’s hard work and a relentless grind that never stops for these kids. SALUTE!
Photo Credits –
Top: Thom Carroll, Philly Voice – Bottom Left: Delgreco Wilson, Black Cager – Bottom Right: http://www.espn.go.com