Wednesday, March 30, 2011

3/30 Odds and Ends

On Tuesday, Plymouth-Whitemarsh senior forward Jaylen Bond de-committed from Pitt and decided to reclassify into the 2012 class, attending prep school next year. The 6'7 forward chose Pitt over host of other schools such as Temple and West Virginia. RIck O'Brien's article on Jaylen's change of plans from the Philadelphia Inquirer can be found here.

The Hoop Group is in the midst of their Top 100 schedule right now. Last week, they held their Metro Top 100 at Kean University in North Jersey. A number of local players, like Princeton Day School sophomore Davon Reed, participated in the event. A highlight video from the event can be found here. Individual player highlights are toward the end of the clip. The Philadelphia Top 100 takes place today from 5:30 to 10 at Competitive Edge Sports.

The annual Donofrio Classic in Conshohocken began yesterday, and will culminate with the title game on April 19th. I will be attending and recapping several games throughout the tournament. Rosters and a schedule can be found on Ted Silary's website, which is linked here.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

PIAA Boys' Basketball Round-Up

On the campus of Penn State, three games are down, with one to come this evening. The city of Philadelphia is 3-0, with Math, Civics, and Sciences, Neumann-Goretti, and Imhotep Charter all taking home state championships.

In the Class A championship game yesterday afternoon, MCS Charter downed Lincoln Park 70-55. Sophomore Jeremiah Worthem was the story of the day for MCS, as he took charge in the second half and led his team with 22 points and 12 rebounds. For Lincoln Park, senior Chaquille Pratt led the way with 27 points. Junior center Devontae Watson contributed 13 points, 13 rebounds, and 6 blocked shots for Lincoln Park. Saint Joseph's and Temple are two of the schools heavily recruiting Watson. According to Rick O'Brien's article in the Inquirer (linked here), both SJU's Phil Martelli and Temple's Fran Dunphy were in attendance for the game.

Watson is not the only player that Temple and SJU were looking at. Jeremiah Worthem, who scored his 22 points on an array of jumpers, drives, and emphatic fast-break dunks, has also been offered by both schools. According to Mike White of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (linked here), Martelli offered the sophomore a scholarship after the game. Rick O'Brien's article states that Worthem has offers from SJU, Temple, Drexel, and Rice. That interest, and those offers, are only going to grow as Worthem's stock continues to increase.

Last night, Neumann-Goretti won their second consecutive Class AAA title 55-45 over Montaur. Montaur actually held the lead late in the third quarter before Neumann upped the defensive intensity and just about ran Montaur off the court. The Saints had a balanced scoring attack, but the spark plug for them down the stretch was 6'2 freshman guard Ja'Quan Newton. Newton scored 13 second-half points, mostly coming off steals and fast-break opportunities. He was a terror on the defensive end, doing everything in his power to shut down Devin Wilson and the other Montaur guards. Helping Newton out were Derrick Stewart (14 points and 10 boards) and Johnny Davis (12 points). Neumann lost four starters from last year's state championship team, but still returned to Happy Valley this weekend, and they will return home state champs once again. With four of their five starters returning next year, they will be prohibitive favorites to win Class AAA yet again. Rick O'Brien's article on the game can be found here.

Moments ago, Imhotep Charter's Class AA game came to an end. They too will return to Philadelphia state champs, after a resounding 67-34 win over Greensburg Central Catholic. Greensburg kept the contest close at the beginning but just didn't have the talent or depth to deal with Imhotep.

Tonight, Chester will look for the Class AAAA state title against Mount Lebanon.

Image of Jeremiah Worthem above from Christopher Weddle of the Centre Daily Times.

Friday, March 25, 2011

La Salle's Murray to Transfer

6'10 La Salle sophomore Aaric Murray will be leaving the A10 program, according to La Salle head coach Dr. John Giannini. According to the Ray Parillo article linked at the bottom of this article, Murray is planning to finish the Spring semester at La Salle before looking elsewhere.

Murray came into La Salle two years ago as the most heralded recruit in recent La Salle history. He chose the Explorers over a number of basketball powerhouses, as well local schools like Temple, Villanova, and Saint Joseph's. It was obvious to anyone that followed the Explorers this year that there was tension between Murray and his coach. Despite averaging over 15 points and nearly 8 rebounds a game for the Explorers, Murray found himself in his coach's doghouse throughout the season. He was benched during La Salle's January 8th contest against Richmond, a game that La Salle lost by 21 points.

Where Murray ends up has yet to be determined. Already 21 years old, Murray would have to sit a year before being eligible at another school. According to Jerry Meyer of, Kansas, Oklahoma State, and West Virginia are three schools that have been mentioned as possibilities. West Virginia assistant coach Billy Hahn was head coach at La Salle from 2001 to 2004. It is also possible that Murray declares for the NBA draft. DraftExpress has Murray as their #88 prospect for the 2011 NBA Draft.

Ray Parillo's article on the Murray transfer can be found here.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Pittsburgh Junior Attracting Philadelphia Attention

For Saint Joseph's head coach Phil Martelli and Temple assistant coach Dave Duke to be sitting next to one another watching a high school basketball game is nothing new. In fact, for a number of reasons, most notably the proximity of the two schools to one another, Temple and Saint Joseph's find themselves duking it out for a number of players. The fact that the two coaches were sitting at a gym in Pittsburgh is the part that is most surprising. Last Tuesday night, the two coaches both found themselves in Pittsburgh, watching 6'10 Lincoln Park junior Devontae Watson.

In front of the two coaches, Watson had 31 points, 22 rebounds, and 11 blocks. According to The Beaver County Times (here), both Temple and Saint Joseph's have offered the junior center a scholarship. Temple and SJU have also both offered 6'6 wing Sheldon Jeter from Beaver Falls High School in Pittsburgh.

Another article on Watson can be found here courtesy of

A video clip of Watson can be found here.

Daniel Ochefu a Wildcat

Over the past several weeks, it was becoming apparent that Westown School (PA) junior big-man Daniel Ochefu was nearing a decision. Those tuned in to his recruitment seemed to think that the decision would come down to Temple and Georgetown. When Daniel made his college selection yesterday, it didn't come as a surprise to anyone. The fact that he chose Villanova certainly did, however, come as a surprise to many, myself included.

The 6'10 center is generally viewed as a top-25 player in his class, and his signing is as big for Villanova as it is rough for Temple. With Ochefu now in the fold, Villanova has three of the top four players from the Philadelphia area in the 2012 class. Wing Savon Goodman and guard Ryan Arcidiacono have already given Nova verbal commitments, and Daniel became the third member of that class yesterday. The final highly-regarded junior recruit in the city is Friends' Central's Amile Jefferson. Villanova is viewed as one of the leaders for his services as well.

There is really not any downplaying the signing of Ochefu for Villanova. Coach Jay Wright seems to always have a terrific cast of guards. With the signing of Ochefu (and Yarou in 2009), Jay has shown an ability to get highly-regarded bigs as well.

ESPN Article on Ochefu

Zagsblog Article on Ochefu

Photo of Daniel above is courtesy of

Monday, March 21, 2011

Martelli Talks Analyst Role and Recruiting

Earlier today, Saint Joseph's head coach Phil Martelli spoke live on the Mike Missanelli show on 97.5 The Fanatic. He spoke with Missanelli about a number of topics. Martelli spoke about how his recent appearances on television during Saturday and Sunday's NCAA tournament games could prove beneficial on the recruiting trail. In terms of recruiting, Phil spoke about how he tries to recruit against the local Big East schools. One specific example he gave was about how he can recruit a player for 2 and a half years, and another school can come in and recruit a player for 2 and a half weeks and they can get him. He also spoke about the current criticism facing Villanova's Jay Wright and the officiating during the current tournament. The podcast from that interview can be found at the link below. It's well worth the listen.

Interview Found Here

Saturday, March 19, 2011

March 19th Odds and Ends

I needed to take a week off after the season ended last week, but I'm back now and will continue to talk college and high school hoops here during the offseason. Here are a couple of odds and ends in bullet form:

-Hawk Hill Hardwood is finally up on Twitter. Feel free to follow me here.

-Earlier this week, Vaux High sophomore guard Rysheed Jordan drew a crowd as his team downed Prep Charter 59-44. Among the coaches watching the game were SJU head coach Phil Martelli, Drexel head coach Bruiser Flint, and Rutgers assistant Jimmy Martelli. Jordan had 14 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 steals in the win. Ted Silary's article on the game can be found here. Vaux faces off against Imhotep Charter tonight at Southern High.

-In other playoff action, Constitution defeated Reading Central Catholic on a game-winning layup by Abdul King. Constitution trailed by 10 with 6 minutes remaining, but came back to advance. Ted Silary's article on that game can be found here. They will face Math, Civics, and Sciences on Tuesday.

-Plymouth-Whitemarsh is currently playing Red Land at the Geigle Complex in Reading. The AAAA quarterfinals game will pit PW's star senior, Jaylen Bond, against a talented Red Land front-court. Red Land starts 6'11 senior Steve Zack, who is headed to La Salle next year, and 6'9 junior Mike Zangari, who is being recruited by Saint Joseph's among others.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

March Madness Upon Us

On Saturday afternoon, Saint Joseph's surprise run in the Atlantic 10 tournament came to an end with a 64-61 loss to the Dayton Flyers. Dayton advanced to the A10 Conference Finals, where they were downed by Richmond. With the win, RIchmond earned a spot in the NCAA Tournament, one of three Atlantic 10 teams to do so. Richmond, a 12 seed, will play Vanderbilt in their opening round game. Xavier, a 6 seed, will play Marquette, and Temple, a 7 seed, will take on Penn State. The lone A10 team in the NIT is Dayton, who look ahead to a first-round contest against Charleston.

After beginning conference play at 0-8, the Hawks made small strides down the stretch before their run in the A10 tournament. SJU was 6-5 in their final eleven games of the year. The loss yesterday brought an end to the careers of seniors Idris Hilliard and Charoy Bentley. Both seniors played significant roles down the stretch for the Hawks, especially during the A10 tournament. Hilliard had 15 points and 7 rebounds in his final game for the Hawks, Bentley had three first-half three-pointers in Saturday's contest.

While the Hawks lose Hilliard and Bentley, they bring in three new faces next year. Incoming freshman Chris Wilson will look to earn minutes at the point guard spot next year. Papa Samba Ndao, who enrolled at SJU this winter, will have four years of eligibility starting next year. The 6'8 native of Senegal will help the Hawks on the wing. Hofstra transfer Halil Kanacevic will look to add toughness inside for SJU. During his freshman year at Hofstra, Halil averaged 8.6 points per game, 7.6 rebounds per game, and 2 blocks per game. Halil will have three years of eligibility remaining.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Hawks Live Another Day

Saint Joseph's got 28 points from Tay Jones this afternoon, and knocked down key free throws in overtime to take down Duquesne 93-30 and make the Atlantic 10 semi-finals. There, they will face Dayton, who held on in the tournament's early game to beat rival Xavier 68-67.

During the game's second half, the Hawks built a double-digit lead, only to see it dwindle away down the stretch. The second half was eerily similar to Tuesday night's game against George Washington. In that game as well, the Hawks squandered a double-digit second-half lead, only to force overtime and ultimately win.

While freshman Langston Galloway was the star against George Washington, tonight's leading man was sophomore Tay Jones, who recorded 28 points, 7 rebounds, and 7 assists. Senior forward Idris Hilliard had 18 points and 9 rebounds, and front-court mate Ron Roberts had 19 points and 9 rebounds. As a team, the Hawks out-rebouned Duquesne 35-33.

Senior Charoy Bentley had the biggest plays in his career at the end of regulation and in overtime. With time running out in regulation, and the Hawks down two, Charoy found a wide-open Ron Roberts under the bucket for a dunk. In overtime, Charoy also stole a Duquesne inbound pass and hit a corner three during the ensuing possession.

With the win, the Hawks have the opportunity to play tomorrow for a spot in the Atlantic 10 finals. The game is a 1 o'clock tip at Boardwalk Hall.

The Associated Press article on the game can be found here.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Saint Anthony, Seton Hall Prep Are Champs

The RAC on Rutgers' campus was loud and packed last night. There were 60 Minutes film crews in the house and television broadcast teams sitting court-side. However, none of the activity at the RAC had anything to do with the Scarlet Knights. The North Jersey Non-Public A and B championship games were the draw, selling out the stadium. I was unable to attend the games, but there was plenty of media on hand to give insight and perspective on the night's events.

The first game of the evening, the North Jersey Non-Public A championship game, pitted Seton Hall Prep against Saint Peter's Prep. Coach Mike Kelly's Saint Peter's Prep team forced overtime, but eventually fell 55-47. All season long, guards Sterling Gibbs and Dallas Anglin have been instrumental in Seton Hall Prep's success. The song remained the same last night, with Gibbs scoring 23, including 10 free throws in overtime. Junior guard Dallas Anglin, who is being recruited by Saint Joseph's, had 17 points for SHP, including four 3-pointers. Seton Hall Prep will now take on Saint Augustine Prep on Saturday in Toms River. Mike Moretti's article from is linked here.

While the first game of the night between Seton Hall Prep and Saint Peter's Prep was a good one, the sell-out crowd on hand was mostly there for the evening's second game. The game featured the two top teams, not only in New Jersey, but in America. Saint Patrick's came into last night's game considered the number one team in America, and Bob Hurley's Saint Anthony team was considered next in line. In the North Jersey Non-Public B championship game, it was Hurley's Friars that walked off the court 62-45 winners. While the Friars won by 17, the game was much closer than the final score indicates. Saint Pat's actually held a 5-point halftime lead and a 1-point lead going into the fourth quarter. The Friars outscored the Celtics 23-5 in the final frame though. Saint Anthony will also play again on Saturday in Toms River, taking on Cardinal McCarrick for the state crown. Mike Kinney's article on the Saint Anthony game can be found here. That link also contains video clips from the game.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Hawks Advance to Atlantic City

The Atlantic 10 Tournament will begin on Friday afternoon in Atlantic City, with Dayton-Xavier being the first of four Atlantic 10 quarterfinal match-ups. The eight remaining teams in the A10 tournament are, for the most part, no surprise. Xavier and Temple have been the class of the league all season long. Richmond has been right behind them, and then Duquesne and Xavier. One team that most did not expect to see in Atlantic City is Saint Joseph's. Yet, they find themselves among the eight remaining, and headed to Atlantic City this weekend.

The Hawks will take on Duquesne at 2:30 Friday afternoon at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. The road there certainly wasn't an easy one. Saint Joseph's began Atlantic 10 play 0-8, and ultimately found themselves in a must-win game at Charlotte on Saturday. The winner of Saturday's contest would advance to the A10 tournament, and the loser would see their season come to a close. Freshman Langston Galloway willed the Hawks to a 71-70 win in the contest, netting 27 points. He and fellow guard Tay Jones combined for 46 of the Hawks 71 points. With that win, the Hawks earned a spot in the A10 tournament, and an opening-round contest at George Washington.

On Saturday, the two guards carried the SJU squad. It took a more balanced scoring effort, a stronger defensive performance, and overtime to take down George Washington at home yesterday. Last night, five Hawks scored in double digits, and another (Daryus Quarles) had 8. In addition, only one player (Idris Hilliard) took double-digit shots. SJU carried a 31-20 lead into halftime, only to see Tony Taylor and the Colonials make a strong surge in the second half. GW forward Jabari Edwards actually had a point-black shot at the very end of regulation that he clanked off the rim. Once the game got to overtime, the Hawks regained control and cruised during the extra frame. The Hawks were 71-59 winners down in DC.

With the win, Saint Joseph's improved to 10-21 on the season. They will play Duquesne for the second time this season. In the first meeting, on January 5th, Duquesne held a commanding 42-26 halftime lead at the Hagan Arena. The Hawks made a couple of runs in that second half, but ultimately couldn't whittle the deficit down to single digits. Duquesne took down the Hawks in their A10 opener 75-63 that night. One particular area of concern in that contest was turnovers, with SJU committing 19 of them. In order for the Hawks to have a chance on Friday, they will have to do a better job of holding onto the ball. SJU only committed 6 turnovers at Charlotte and 9 last night.

Jeter Erupts for 36

On February 9th, I posted a link here from the Pittsburgh Basketball Report explaining that Saint Joseph's was one of three in-state schools to offer 6'6 Pittsburgh junior guard Sheldon Jeter. The other two schools that apparently extended offers Jeter's way were Temple and Penn State.

In a Class AA PIAA Play-In game last night, Jeter helped his Beaver Falls team defeat Tussey Mountain 69-61. Jeter had 36 points in the win, which gives Beaver Falls a spot in the State Tournament.

A brief game recap from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette can be found here.

A link to my article from February 9th can be found here.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Weekend Rundown

Over the past two days, a number of noteworthy high school games were played in the area. A rundown on those games, a look forward, and a few recruiting notes are below.

On the recruiting front, Roman Catholic senior big Junior Fortunat attended the Seton Hall-Marquette game last night. Junior has seen a number of schools jump into his recruitment since becoming NCAA eligible last week, which I reported on here.

According to Alex Kline's Twitter, Princeton Day School (NJ) sophomore Davon Reed was in attendance at yesterday's Temple-La Salle game. Both schools have already offered the 6'4 guard. In addition to those schools, Saint Joseph's, VCU, Rutgers, and West Virginia have also extended scholarship offers Davon's way.

Temple also hosted another significant recruit this weekend, as Westtown (PA) junior center Daniel Ochefu took an unofficial visit to campus on Friday with his parents. An article from on his visit is linked here. His final four schools are Temple, Villanova, Georgetown, and Texas.

In New Jersey playoff action yesterday, Teaneck advanced with a 20-point win over Sparta. Chris Jones, a junior wing who has interest from the Hawks, had 11 points in the win, while sophomore guard Joel Hernandez dropped 23. An article on the game can be found here.

On Friday night, another junior guard with SJU interest helped his team advance. Seton Hall Prep junior guard Dallas Anglin had a game-high 28 points to guide his team past Paramus Catholic. Anglin had interest from the Hawks, Boston University, George Washington, Rice, and many others. He has been on a tear during this playoff run, and more schools are bound to take notice.

In Philadelphia, Friday night was full of high school hoops as well. The night's premier matchup was the District 1 Class AAAA title game between Chester and Council Rock North. Maurice Nelson led the way for Chester, scoring 22 points. Chester had four double-digit scorers, and easily dispatched of Council Rock North, 66-43. RIck O'Brien's article from the Inquirer can be found here.

Philadelphia's District 12 Class AAA championship game took place Friday night at Archbishop Ryan, and featured Philadelphia Catholic League champs Neumann-Goretti and Philadelphia Electrical and Technology. Neumann took a 33-23 lead into the half, eventually winning 62-54. Two stars for Neumann were sophomore Johnny Davis, who tallied 18 points and 18 rebounds, and sophomore Derrick Stewart who had 15. PET got 19 points from Hakeem Baxter, and 9 each from Devante Chance and Carrington Ward.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Former Hawk Recruit Rutledge to WVU, a member of the Rivals network, is reporting tonight that junior college standout Dominic Rutledge has given Bob Huggins and West Virginia a verbal commitment. If that name sounds familiar to Saint Joseph's fans, it should. Rutledge was, at one time, committed to the Hawks. The 6'8 forward from Edison Job Corps (NJ) was a 2008 SJU signee, but did not meet NCAA Clearinghouse requirements out of high school. Since that point, Rutledge has bounced around a few junior colleges, and is now playing at West Texas State Junior College. According to WVSports, Rutledge will have two years of eligibility remaining upon graduation in May.

Another former Hawk commit, Harcum Junior College forward David Bruce, was also linked to the Mountaineers. In an article linked here , Bruce mentions his interest in West Virginia. He also lists Xavier and Iowa as schools of interest. Whether Rutledge's commitment has an impact on David is yet to be seen. The fact that both could former SJU recruits could end up in the frontcourt together at West Virginia is certainly a strange turn of events.

Hawks Close to Offering 7-Footer

According to Alex Kline of TheRecruitScoop, Saint Joseph's is close to offering a scholarship to Peddie (NJ) center Blaise Mbargorba. In the tweet, Alex lists Blaise as a 2012 recruit, but most other online publications have him as a senior and 2011 player.

The 7-footer played last season at North Jersey power Saint Benedict's before transferring this year to Peddie School. Last year at Saint Benedict's, Blaise didn't see too much action, playing behind a number of high-major guys. He then transferred to a Peddie team that really struggled during the 2010-2011 season.

Due to his size and competitive nature, many high-major schools have been tracking Blaise over the past two years. The center is a native of Cameroon, only moving to the States in high school.

His ESPN evaluation has this to say:

"Mbargorba is a definite project, but one who has clear potential. Very few players of his size can match his mobility and high motor, and while he needs to get stronger in his upper body and drastically improve his skill level and basketball feel for the game, those are all things that can be accomplished with hard work and experience."

That evaluation can be found here .

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Fortunat Gets Score

Last Wednesday, Roman Catholic went down against Neumann-Goretti in the Philadelphia Catholic League semi-finals. Neumann escaped Roman with a one-point win, and went on to capture their third consecutive PCL title last night at the Palestra. In the championship game, Neumann defeated Archbishop Carroll despite 30 points from Carroll senior Juan'ya Green.

One player for Roman that made his presence felt last Wednesday, and has been a major impact all season long, is senior big Junior Fortunat.

Prior to last week's game, I wrote a piece on Junior and where he stood in his recruitment. That piece can be found here . In that article, I mentioned that Junior was awaiting his ACT scores, and hoping for the best. I got a chance to catch up with him earlier today on the latest.

Junior got the score he needed on the ACT and will be NCAA eligible next season. A number of schools were already going hard after the talented unsigned senior, and those schools are likely to have some new company. Earlier today, Junior told me that Seton Hall, Fairleigh Dickinson, La Salle, Wagner, Rider, VCU, Missouri, and Arizona State are the schools that have been in touch recently. FDU head coach Greg Vetrone watched Junior last Wednesday in the PCL semi-finals. Both La Salle and Rider have recently extended offers Junior's way. As Junior's recruitment intensifies, check back here for updates.