Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Conversation with Brother Martin Coach Scott Thompson

Over the weekend, Saint Joseph's received a commitment from Brother Martin (LA) senior guard Patrick Swilling Jr. On Saturday I was able to speak with Pat Sr about his son's recruitment, college expectations, and college selection. Earlier today I was able to get some insight on Pat's game from his high school coach, Scott Thompson. Brother Martin, under Coach Thompson, won the Louisiana 5A state title this year. Thompson spoke about what makes Swilling such a special player and a terrific acquisition for the Hawks.

Over the past couple years, Saint Joseph's head coach Phil Martelli has spoken about how he loves to recruit "winners" to his program. CJ Aiken's Plymouth-Whitemarsh team won a state title this year. Langston Galloway's Christian Life Academy won a state title this year. Pat Swilling also led his team to a state title, and that desire to be a leader is something that Thompson spoke about. He said that Pat is a natural leader and has a magnetic quality to him. Throughout the season, Thompson said that Swilling played some of his best basketball in clutch situations. No situation as clutch as when Swilling scored ten 4th-quarter points in the state title game.

Next year, the Hawks return Justin Crosgile and Tay Jones in the backcourt, and are now bringing in Swilling and Galloway. I asked Thompson where he thought Swilling would play in college. According to Thompson, Swilling is a tremendously versatile player. He has the footspeed to defend the opposing team's quick lead guards, and on the flip side, has the size and strength to defend the other team's wing. While Swilling projects as a combo guard, it is very possible that he will spend some time at the small forward spot. Thompson said that Pat has a unique game in the sense that he is capable of doing so many things on the perimeter, both offensively and defensively.

Throughout our conversation, Thompson repeated two words over and over again. Those words being "explosive" and "dynamic". As talented an offensive player as Swilling is, Thompson said that he excels on the defensive side of things. That makes sense, considering the fact that he was a high-level college football recruit on the defensive side of the ball. Thompson said that Swilling is successful getting his offense from his defense, via traps and presses. While most high school players come to college with marginal interest in defense, Thompson told me that Swilling takes pride in his defensive ability and has a real interest in being a tough-minded defensive presence. On the offensive side, Pat is strong and tenacious to the basket.

Pat Swilling, as it stands, is a talented basketball player. Thompson said that one of the most exciting parts of this all is the fact that he is really just tapping into his potential. Throughout high school, Pat played football and basketball. Now that he has decided to play basketball at the collegiate level, all of his focus is on the hardwood. With that focus squarely on basketball, Thompson said that he expects Swilling to take his game to another level.

Fortunately for Hawks fans, that next level is Saint Joseph's.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Pat Swilling Jr. to Hawk Hill

The 2010 recruiting class at Saint Joseph's is widely considered to be one of the top in the Atlantic 10 and considered by some to be a top 25 class nationally. That class has included CJ Aiken, Daryus Quarles, and Langston Galloway since last summer. Late last night, that class was further strengthened with the signing of 6'3 Brother Martin (Louisiana) guard Patrick Swilling Jr. If that names sounds familiar to you, you aren't mistaken. Swilling's father, Pat Swilling Sr. was a 5-time NFL Pro-Bowler. I had a chance to speak with Pat Swilling Sr. earlier tonight about his son's commitment to Saint Joseph's.

Swilling Jr. has flown under the basketball radar a bit, and most of that was due to the thought that he would play football at the collegiate level. Apparently, that's never been the case. Swilling Sr. told me that his son never actually chose football, and the plan was to wait until the basketball season ended to make a final decision on college. That high school season, by the way, ended in a 5A state title with Swilling as tournament MVP. Earlier in the year, a website ran an article stating that Pat was going to focus in on only football, and play football at the college level. It turns out that article was not accurate, and that was never the plan. When it came down to it, Pat chose to pursue basketball, and to the delight of SJU fans, he decided to continue his basketball career on Hawk Hill.

A number of other schools were in the mix for the 6'3 guard, including Oklahoma, Ole Miss, UTEP, Tulane, and Louisiana Tech. What is it about Saint Joseph's that stood out to the Swilling family? According to Swilling Sr, there were a number of factors. When they visited Saint Joseph's last weekend, they were "blown away" by a number of things, including the staff, the academics, the fact that SJU is a private Catholic school, and the opportunity to compete at a high level. Swilling said that Hawk head coach Phil Martelli is "one of the greatest in the game." When all of that was taken into consideration, Pat decided that there wasn't a better situation for him at the college level.

A key factor in all of this is Langston Galloway, who signed on with the Hawks in July. Patrick and Langston know are close to one another, having played AAU basketball together for two years. Together, the two are hoping to form a backcourt that will bring the Hawks back into the national spotlight. Swilling was familiar with Galloway, obviously, but also the other 2010 Hawk commitments. The program, in Swilling's eyes, is headed in the right direction with the 2010 signings already in place and the possibility of others in the coming months.

Swilling will arrive on campus alongside his Louisiana backcourt mate this summer. Together, Swilling, Galloway, Aiken, and Quarles form an imposing lineup. There are still players in the mix who could join the 4 next year, including Saint Peter's Prep forward Ron Roberts and Papa Samba Ndao, who was just released from his verbal commitment to Boston College. Ndao, a 6'8 forward from Montverde Academy in Florida, is slated to visit Saint Joseph's next weekend.

Throughout high school, Swilling has been a two-star athlete. Considered a BCS level college football prospect, Swilling played football in the fall and basketball in the winter. Now, he can focus entirely on basketball. Thankfully for SJU fans, that basketball will be played on Hawk Hill.

Video from Swilling's state title with Brother Martin is linked below. In the state title game, Oklahoma head coach Jeff Capel and Marquette head coach Buzz Williams watched Swilling score 10 critical 4th quarter points in the winning effort.

Brother Martin Wins Louisiana State Title

Photo above courtesy of Louisiana Basketball Report

Friday, April 23, 2010

Tuesday's Donofrio Classic

On Tuesday night, I was able to catch some of Philadelphia's top talent in Conshohocken at the Donofrio Classic. In a game between Team Philly and the Keystone Blazers, terrific guard play was the name of the game. Team Philly was led by juniors Juan'ya Green and John Johnson. For the Keystone Blazers, Boston University-bound senior DJ Irving led the show. I will have player evaluations on Johnson, Green, Irving, and Erik Copes up later today.

One of the main reasons for my attendance on Tuesday was the rumored play of Saint Joseph's-bound senior Daryus Quarles. Roughly a dozen Hawk fans turned out in hopes of catching Quarles in action, but he didn't show up for the Blazers.

Jerome Hunter to Robert Morris

In early March, news broke on a number of the recruiting sites, including ESPN and Rivals.com, that Saint Joseph's received a verbal commitment from 6'11 senior Jerome Hunter. The news broke on a Friday, and that Saturday Hunter was seated behind the SJU bench with ex-player and current Graduate Assistant to Men's Basketball Dave Mallon. Despite the reports online, nothing came out of Saint Joseph's on the signing and nothing appeared in the Philadelphia media.

Yesterday, Hunter's situation became more clear as he signed with Robert Morris. In an interview on Rivals.com with Hunter's travel coach, Don Marsh, playing time was cited as a key reason for signing with Robert Morris.

While Hunter is headed to Robert Morris, the Hawks still remain in the hunt for New Jersey forward Ronald Roberts.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Adam Zagoria Article on Ron Roberts

Adam Zagoria of Zagsblog has an update on Ronald Roberts up. The article is linked below:

Ron Roberts Update from Zagsblog

Friday, April 16, 2010

Friday's Odds and Ends

-The spring dead period for recruiting ends today, which means that college coaches are able to meet in person once again with recruits. There are a number of the nation's elite players still unsigned, so it is sure to be a hectic travel day for coaches as they look to sure up their rosters for next year.

-Ronald Roberts, the 6'7 senior from Saint Peter's Prep who received his released from Saint John's earlier this week, is one of those players that coaches are certain to be checking in on. I spoke with Roberts' high school coach, Mike Kelly, yesterday about his recruitment. Kelly told me that there are a number of major schools involved and that "Coach Martelli is right in the thick of things," which should please Hawk fans. I will continue to update the situation if and when news breaks.

-While Saint Joseph's commitments CJ Aiken and Langston Galloway were winning state titles with their teams, their future teammate, Daryus Quarles, was nothing more than a hyper-talented cheerleader on the Paulsboro bench. After transferring back home to Paulsboro from Life Center Academy last March, Quarles had a sit a state-mandated 365 days before playing again. Unfortunately, his team's season ended days before he would have become eligible. I have heard from people close to the situation that Quarles will be suiting up this coming Tuesday, April 20th, at the Donofrio Classic in Conshohocken for the Keystone Blazers. For those interested, this will be a chance to see Quarles in action. I will be on hand Tuesday night and a recap will be posted later that evening.

-The next week or so could be an interesting and exciting time on Hawk Hill, so continue to check back for updates.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Ronald Roberts Released

After weeks of speculation since Norm Roberts was fired at Saint John's, some news broke earlier today about Saint John's one and only 2010 basketball commitment. That commitment, 6'7 Saint Peter's Prep forward Ronald Roberts, was released from his letter of intent at Saint John's earlier today.

I received confirmation of this from Saint Peter's Prep head coach Mike Kelly.

Where will Ronald end up now that his recruitment is once again open? That is the question that many people want an answer to. With regards to Saint Joseph's, Coach Kelly told me, "Saint Joe's is a great option for Ronald as he and his family evaluate his opportunities."

Adam Zagoria of Zagsblog spoke with Kelly earlier today about Roberts' future, and he also spoke then about the Hawks.“Coach [Phil] Martelli has gotten a number of guys into the pros and had some great teams so they’re definitely high on our list. But Ron hasn’t made any firm decisions yet.”

That quote is from the Zagsblog article linked below:

Zagsblog Article on Ron Roberts

The picture of Roberts above is from Northjerseysports.com

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Andrew Nicholas Could Open Recruitment Back Up

I have spent quite a bit of time on here talking about players in the 2011 recruiting class of interest to Saint Joseph's, and also just generally about talented Philadelphia area players. One name that I have not mentioned at all is 6'6 Eastern York junior Andrew Nicholas. The reason for the lack of discussion? Nicholas gave a verbal commitment to Fred Hill and the Rutgers Scarlet Knights last summer. That commitment could be a thing of the past due to the current status of Fred Hill at Rutgers. In the article below, Nicholas discusses his commitment to Rutgers. He also mentions that, should he reopen, the schools from which he would choose are Saint Joseph's, Penn State, and Villanova.

Eastern York Junior Could Reopen Recruitment- Yorkblog.com

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Latest on Ron Roberts

The bulk of my updates lately (which have been marginal at best) have dealt with Saint Peter's Prep's Ronald Roberts. Last week, I wrote that SPP coach Mike Kelly was slated to meet with new Saint John's coach Steve Lavin during the week. I was able to get in touch with Coach Kelly in the past couple hours and got the latest on his star senior forward.

On Wednesday evening, new Saint John's assistant coach Tony Chiles, formerly on Bruiser Flint's staff at Drexel, spoke with Roberts on the phone about his signed Letter of Intent at Saint John's. Mike Kelly then spoke with Chiles on Thursday morning about Ron. As for the meeting with Coach Lavin? That meeting still has not happened due to Lavin being "busy". Mike Kelly's conversation with Tony Chiles was relayed to the Roberts family, and they are going to sit down to discuss what is in Ronald's best interest. Lavin has not done anything up to this point to indicate to Ronald or his family that he is really wanted at Saint John's. Once again, I will say to stay tuned.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Saint Peter's Prep's Mike Kelly Set to Meet with Lavin

Readers who have been following this blog for a while can remember back to the fall when Saint Peter's Prep's senior forward Ronald Roberts narrowed his college choices to Saint Joseph's and Saint John's. In the end, Roberts chose the Big East school due to head coach Norm Roberts and the allure of the Big East conference. In the past week, a number of things have changed at Saint John's, first and foremost their head coach. Saint John's let Norm go on March 19th after 6 years at the program. This week, the Big East school announced that former UCLA head coach and ESPN broadcaster Steve Lavin, pictured above, would be the new head coach.

Lost in the midst of this is Saint John's only 2010 recruit, Ron Roberts. I spoke with Saint Peter's head coach Mike Kelly yesterday about Roberts and his commitment to the Big East school. Kelly told me that he was scheduled to have lunch or dinner with Lavin sometime next week. During this meeting, they are sure to talk about where both parties stand on Roberts' commitment to Saint John's. Will Ron stay committed to Saint John's despite a new coaching staff or will he reopen his recruitment? Nobody is entirely sure, but things will probably become more clear next week after the coaches meet.

Picture above of Lavin is from the New York Daily News at NYDailyNews.com

Friday, April 2, 2010

Donofrio Classic Gets Underway

Now that the high school seasons in Pennsylvania and New Jersey have come to an end, the time for Spring showcase and AAU competition has begun. One of the most well-known, well-respected, and well-liked events in the Philadelphia area is the annual Donofrio Classic held at Fellowship House in Conshohocken. I have not made it to any of the games thus far, but will be there in the coming weeks. Most of the Philadelphia area's best will be competing in the event. I have a few articles worth checking out linked below. In the first article linked below, Mainstreet, featuring four Penn Wood players, blew out the Del Val VC team behind 20 points from Aaron Brown. The article also includes video. The second article linked below is from RecruitRecon and has player write-ups on Friends Central's Amile Jefferson and Devin Coleman, along with Liberty High's Darrun Hilliard and Neshaminy's Ryan Arcidiacono. Both articles are well worth a look.

Times Herald Article on Donofrio

RecruitRecon Article on Day One at Donofrio