Friday, April 29, 2011

NMH's Cummins, O'Day Getting Attention

Year in and year out, Northfield Mount Hermon (MA) turns out division one basketball player after division one basketball player. Last year, NHM had 8 alumni playing college ball in the Ivy League, so the school is turning out more than just basketball players. Current NMH senior Aaron Cosby is headed to the Big East and Seton Hall next year. The junior class at NMH is looking to also keep this tradition alive.

Two juniors on Northfield Mount Hermon garnering significant attention are forwards Evan Cummins and Ethan O'Day. I caught up with NMH head coach John Carroll about both true student-athletes.

6'8 junior Evan Cummins, who is running with the New England Playaz this AAU season, has a long list of schools pursuing him. Among them are Saint Joseph's, Notre Dame, Stanford, Harvard, Davidson, and Boston University among others. According to Carroll, all of those schools have extended scholarships Evan's way. Cummins stands right around 6'8 and 225 pounds and is having, according to Carroll, a terrific spring.

Another 6'8 junior on NMH is Ethan O'Day. While, to this point, O'Day has not received quite the attention that Cummins has, he is attracting plenty of interest of his own. O'Day is described by his coach as "6'8, long, skilled, and athletic." Ethan's offers are from Holy Cross, Quinnipiac, Vermont, Yale, and Penn. In addition to those offers, he has interest from Virginia, Davidson, Elon, Drexel, Fairfield, Saint Joseph's, and more. O'Day is playing his AAU ball this spring with the Connecticut Basketball Club. Over the next few weeks, Ethan may be headed down to Philadelphia to visit schools.

On April 20th, Saint Joseph's head coach Phil Martelli was one of several coaches at Northfield Mount Hermon checking in. Along with Martelli were coaches from Notre Dame, SMU, and Vermont. According to Carroll, the SJU head coach was watching both Cummins and O'Day.

While neither player appears in any rush to make a decision, it is clear that both will have quite a few options, and that both will be academically prepared for the rigors of college.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

April 26th Round-Up

I know it's been quiet on here lately, but that will hopefully be changing shortly. Over the past few days we had some interesting developments and a Philly senior making his college choice.

Earlier in the day, Roman Catholic senior forward Junior Fortunat made his college choice. Junior will be attending Rider in the fall. I did a piece on Junior over the winter (link here). I will be speaking again with Junior tomorrow, so look for a new article here either tomorrow or Thursday.

On Monday, George Washington head coach Karl Hobbs was fired after ten years at the Atlantic 10 school. With the firing, it is possible that the recruitment of Imhotep (PA) senior Erik Copes will reopen. Copes was a significant signing for the Colonials, and would certainly have all sorts of recruiting attention if he reopened everything.

I was able to catch up with Northfield Mount Hermon (MA) head coach John Carroll earlier today. A more in-depth article will be up later in the week, but he did inform me that SJU head coach Phil Martelli was there last week watching two of his juniors. Evan Cummins, a 6'8 forward that has been on the SJU radar for quite some time was the one name. SJU, Notre Dame, Stanford, Harvard, and Boston University are among the schools pursuing Evan. The other player that Martelli was looking at was 6'8 forward Ethan O'Day. Again, check back later this week for an article on the two junior forwards.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Donofrio Recap: Part Two

Yesterday I gave you part one of my recap of Wednesday night's Donofrio game between I-3 and Players Teaching Players, looking at the I-3 roster. Today we will look at a couple players from the PTP team, including Vaux sophomore guard Rysheed Jordan, Math, Civics, and Sciences sophomore wing Jeremiah Worthem, WVU-bound senior wing Aaron Brown, Roman Catholic freshman Shep Garner, Chester sophomore Rondae Jefferson, and Penn Wood senior forward Darian Barnes.

Wednesday night was my first time seeing Vaux sophomore Rysheed Jordan, who I had been hearing great things about all winter. Well, he certainly met, and even surpassed, my expectations. Jordan plays a very composed, smooth game for a sophomore. Standing right around 6'4, with great length, Jordan looked to me like someone who projects as a point guard with size and shooting ability at the college level. Jordan is already getting significant college interest from Philadelphia colleges Temple, Saint Joseph's, Drexel, and others. On Wednesday, Jordan showed off a smooth stroke from downtown, connecting on at least four 3-pointers. He was able to get into the paint with relative ease and handle the ball against I-3's pressure. Jordan played an unselfish game as well, at one point dishing the ball off to a teammate on a break where he could have easily taken it himself for a slam. From my seat, Jordan was one of the stand-out performers in the gym Wednesday, and that is saying something considering the talent level there.

For a little over three quarters, Shep Garner, a freshman at Roman Catholic, played a relatively non-descript game. However, during the fourth quarter, he stepped up and showed why, even as only a freshman, he is building quite a reputation for himself. During the final stretch, Garner buried NBA three after NBA three. Most came from the same spot on the left wing about four or five feet behind the three-point line. Shep's late-game flurry closed a sizable I-3 lead down to a one-possession game. When the final buzzer sounded, Shep found himself PTP's second-leading scorer, behind Jordan, with 17 points.

Rondae Jefferson, a sophomore wing out of Chester high, has seen his stock shoot through the roof in just the past week alone. After turning in an impressive performance at last weekend's EYBL Hampton AAU event, Jefferson caught the eye of nearly all the major recruiting sites in attendance. ESPN already has Jefferson ranked in the top 100 in his class, and that ranking is sure to go nowhere but up. Jefferson, like Rysheed Jordan, did not disappoint. He showed an ability, as he has all year long, to be a versatile, multiple-position player. He can handle the ball and play some point, play off the ball on the wing, and even play rock-solid defense in the post. For much of the night, he was matched up again Amile Jefferson, and really held his own against the highly-regarded Friends' Central forward. One of the night's highlight's came when Rondae blocked an Amile dunk attempt. Although he is earning a national reputation and some hype, Rondae did not let that affect his play. He played an intense, defensive-minded, clean game on Wednesday. Look for Rondae to be just another in a long line of Chester players making noise in college basketball in just a few years.

6'8 Penn Wood senior Darian Barnes did what he does best on Wednesday. He blocked shots, altered shots, scored around the basket, and showed that he can shoot the ball a bit from the wing. Barnes is still very lean, but has a ridiculous wingspan and a versatile game, being able to play both forward spots. Despite lacking some of the muscle of guys he was going against like Jaylen Bond, he competed relentlessly on the boards. I'll be very interested in seeing what path Barnes takes next year, whether it's college or a prep year. His upside is still very high.

Neither Aaron Brown or Jeremiah Worthem played their best on Wednesday. Worthem, coming off a fantsastic PIAA playoff run that earned him scholarship offers from Saint Joseph's, Temple, Drexel, and interest from Pitt and some others, struggled on Wednesday. As terrific as he was in the state championship game against Lincoln Park (PA), he was unable to find his jumper Wednesday. The same goes for Penn Wood's Aaron Brown. I have seen Aaron numerous times over the past two years, and he was not his typical self Wednesday. Part of that may have been early foul trouble that didn't allow him to really get into the flow of the game.

Donofrio continues next week with semis on the 18th and the championship game at 7:30 on the 19th.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Wednesday Night Donofrio Recap: Part One

On Wednesday night, a packed Fellowship House in Conshohocken watched on as the I-3 All-Stars and Team Bucks County won their quarterfinal games at the Donofrio Classic. Due to NCAA rules, Division 1 coaches are forbidden from attending the games at Donofrio, but that doesn't mean that there weren't a number of familiar faces in the gym. DIck "Hoops" Weiss, Tom Konchalski, and Allan Rubin were among the media that I recognized, while recently hired Holy Family coach R.C. Kehoe was also there alongside Bill Phillips and Donnie Carr.

The night's first game pitted the I-3 All-Stars against Players Teaching Players. I-3 starred former Pitt signee Jaylen Bond, highly-regarded senior forward Amile Jefferson, Clemson-commit Devin Coleman, Academy of the New Church junior wing Marcus Gilbert, and sophomore guard Karron Davis among others. On the other side of the ball, PTP featured West Virginia-bound senior forward Aaron Brown, Vaux sophomore guard Rysheed Jordan, Math, Civics, and Sciences sophomore wing Jeremiah Worthem, Roman Catholic freshman guard Shep Garner, Penn Wood senior Darian Barnes, and Chester sophomore Rondae Jefferson among others. Ultimately, I-3 took the game 90-86, but it wasn't without a fight.

For I-3, the three biggest names on the court were Academy of the New Church teammates Dev Coleman and Amile Jefferson and former Plymouth-Whitemarsh star Jaylen Bond. While he didn't put up the biggest numbers in the game, Bond definitely provided the highlight-reel moments of the night. On the break, Jaylen received a through-the-legs pass from unsigned senior guard Joey Gripper that he threw down with authority. Bond had at least two other crowd-pleasing dunks as well, with one coming off an off-the-backboard pass, again from Gripper. Originally signed with Pitt, Bond is now going the prep school route, reclassifying into the 2012 class, and reopening his recruitment.

Despite what really was impressive defense from Chester's Rondae Jefferson, Amile Jefferson was able to score both inside and out. Although his jumper wasn't the best I've seen from him, Amile still did score 19 points to pace the winning team. Amile scored on a number of post moves down low, got to the line, and played physically on the boards. Coleman, who is headed to Clemson next year, played a very composed game considering how physical and scrappy it got. Coleman displayed his lightning-fast first step and also his ability to lead a break, scoring on one particularly impressive coast-to-coast drive in traffic. Coleman too finished with 19 points.

Two players on I-3 that also impressed, despite not having quite the name recognition yet are Marcus Gilbert and Karron Davis. Gilbert, the younger brother of 6'11 Malcolm Gilbert who is headed to Pitt next year, showed that he too can play. This was my first time seeing Marcus since last winter, and his game has progressed significantly in that time. Marcus, while not being nearly as tall as his brother, showed that he can grab rebounds among the bigs. Marcus also got himself to the line at least 5 or 6 times and displayed what was easily the best free-throw form in the game. While not the most athletic player on the court, Gilbert is deceptively quick and very smart around the basket. He used that intelligence to out-rebound players that had at least 4 inches on him and to also finish around the basket around them. Marcus is a player whose recruitment remains somewhat under the radar but will be worth monitoring this summer, as his game really has matured and progressed.

Karron Davis, a sophomore at Friends' Central, is accustomed to playing with Amile and Devin, and he looked right at home on the court Wednesday night. Davis had 15 points and more than held his own on the court despite being an underclassmen. Karron is very strong, both physically and with the ball. He possesses a great handle, quickness, and very good decision-making skills. The Philly area is loaded in the sophomore class with high-upside guards, and Davis is definitely on that list. He hit jumpers, drove with power to the basket, and played with great confidence. As he continues to grow and mature, he is a player that has significant upside and is a name that you're bound to hear quite a bit about.

Check back later today for a write-up on the Players Teaching Players team and the night's second game.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Davon Reed: A First Look

The Philadelphia area constantly churns out high-level, nationally-regarded basketball talent. This season alone, New Jersey and Philadelphia players made their presence felt during the NCAA tournament; from Philadelphia natives like Rick Jackson, Scoop Jardine, the Morris twins, and Lavoy Allen to New Jersey natives Tyshawn Taylor. Kyrie Irving, and Kenny Faried.

The current sophomore class in Philadelphia and New Jersey is loaded with talent, and one of the first names mentioned in that class is Princeton Day School (NJ) sophomore guard Davon Reed. I had a chance to speak with Davon's high school coach at PDS yesterday and learn a bit about his rising star.

Princeton Day School is coached by 2000 PDS grad, and former La Salle University football player, Paris McLean. The 2010-2011 PDS team had their most successful season since the 2003-2004 campaign, and McLean and Davon Reed are the primary reasons why. According to McLean, Davon has grown since the end of his high school season, and is currently a legitimate 6'5 and around 185 pounds. For PDS, Reed utilizes his versatility on the court, playing everywhere on the court, from the point guard spot to the low block. Down the line, his coach sees him as a shooting guard with serious upside. Something of note, according to McLean, is the fact that Davon is also young for his grade, not turning 16 until June.

As a freshman at PDS, Davon was primarily an athletic slasher to the basket. During his freshman year, he showed his athletic prowess not only on the basketball court, but also on the football field. This year, he put football to the side to focus solely on basketball. This sophomore season, he demonstrated a greatly improved perimeter game and a steady jumper. That jumper from three has improved to the point where McLean described it as one of Davon's greatest strengths. Through countless hours in the gym, Davon's game has improved leaps and bounds even since the end of the high school season.

Throughout our conversation, McLean stressed how Davon was so much more than a terrific basketball player, but also an outstanding student and an even better person. After landing his offer from SJU head coach Phil Martelli, Davon individually thanked every player on his team and every coach at Princeton Day, telling them that he wouldn't be blessed with these offers if it wasn't for them. Davon's family values education above all else, including basketball, which is one of the reasons that he is playing at Princeton Day as opposed to one of the New Jersey schools with more basketball name recognition. While PDS isn't in the realm of a Saint Anthony or a Saint Patrick's, they do have a good young nucleus of players and are likely to draw some incoming talent in the coming years. Another player on PDS to keep an eye on is freshman Langston Glaude, who plays in the backcourt with Davon. Glaude's godfather is the esteemed Dr. Cornel West, who turned out for Princeton Day School's game this year against rival Rutgers Prep. Also in attendance for that game were Temple's Fran Dunphy, Saint Joseph's assistant Mark Bass, and Rutgers assistant Jimmy Martelli.

This summer, Davon will be playing with Philadelphia-based Team Final on the AAU circuit, which will gain him further exposure. Although only a sophomore, Davon already has seven scholarship offers. Those offers are from VCU, Saint Joseph's, Temple, La Salle, Rutgers, Seton Hall, and West Virginia. In addition to those seven offers, Davon also has a number of other schools expressing interest and coming on strong. Those schools, according to McLean, are Villanova, Stanford, Cincinnati, and Providence. When looking at schools, Davon will not only be looking for the best basketball program, but also the best education. He is already open about what he wants to study and has shown great interest in both sports medicine and marketing. In terms of location, McLean seemed to think that Davon was likely to value location, and prefer schools on the East Coast.

Next Tuesday, Saint Joseph's head coach Phil Martelli and assistant coach Mark Bass will be on the Princeton Day School campus paying Davon a visit. With seven offers already in hand, other schools getting involved, and a busy AAU season ahead, Princeton Day will probably get accustomed to the sight of college coaches on campus.

Photo Courtesy of

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Phil Martelli Talks to Chester Youth

On Thursday evening, Saint Joseph's head coach Phil Martelli spoke at the TAP (The Achievement Project) "Tip-Off" reception at Widener University. The photo of Martelli and the press release below are both courtesy of The Williams Group.

Saint Joseph's University Head Basketball Coach, Phil Martelli, Spoke to a Full House at a Reception This Evening to Appeal for Sponsorships for Chester Youth -Study Program

Swarthmore, PA -- April 7, 2011 Saint Joseph's University Head Basketball Coach, Phil Martelli, spoke at a "Tip-Off" reception at Widener University for The Achievement Project's (TAP) "1000 to 1" campaign, this evening.

In typical Martelli style, his passionate address reached out to the hearts of the audience, and appealed to them to look within themselves to find the time and funds necessary to help children, who otherwise may never benefit from the fruits of a higher education. The audience, filled with business people and educators, were visibly moved by Martelli's plea. As well, students who have "graduated" from the TAP program were present to answer questions and offer a "hands-on" explanation of the TAP process.

"We're going to change Chester, just like Philadelphia, with the schools. It all starts in the schools," said Martelli. The coach went on to pledge his devotion to youth by saying, " Anytime young people are involved, you can count on me!"

TAP is an academic and educational advancement program that works with young people of the city of Chester, PA. This year-round program operates after-school and during the summer. It includes tutoring, coaching, classes and enrichment experiences. The students are recruited in the 8th grade and participate in the program through their four years of high school and through the college application and admission process.

TAP is the brainchild of Nicola Tollett Jefferson, a former practicing attorney turned child-education advocate. Nicola first tutored Harlem students as a law student at Columbia Law School in New York City. She watched with great joy as a young woman made the transition from underperforming in a less-than-stellar school, to eventually becoming a college professor in Florida and author of two books. "It's absolutely amazing," says Ms. Jefferson, "what the power of education can do for a young person who faces formidable social, economic and educational challenges. Those of us who hail from more economically- privileged backgrounds can easily fail to comprehend what kids of poor to modest means have to go through, not just to survive, but to thrive and be successful. These young people, just as young people everywhere, have tremendous gifts, attributes and talents. TAP's mission is to help them realize their gifts," says Jefferson.

Coach Martelli, having spent 26 years at Saint Joseph's University (SJU), and 16 seasons as head coach, has built a program that is consistently one of the top in the conference. In the 2003-2004 season, he received The National Coach of the Year award. His efforts to help students are widely known, not only on the court, but off the court as well. His humanitarian efforts have made him a leader, not only in the Philadelphia region, but also on a national level.

Ms. Jefferson, Founder and Executive Director of TAP, joins campaign chairs Debbie Dickinson and Marc Turner to head-up this event. Ms. Dickinson is a Harvard-trained attorney and Mr. Turner is the Managing Partner of Renaissance Advisory Group in Havertown. He is also the head basketball coach of the School at Church Farm's Griffins boys' basketball team. He was a former assistant basketball coach to the Villanova Wildcats.

This event was made possible through the kindness of our generous sponsors.

To find out more about TAP, please visit their website, email them at or
call Nicola Tollett Jefferson at 484-995-0828.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

April 7th Odds and Ends

-Today marks the beginning of the Spring Contact period. From today, April 7th, to April 20th, coaches are able to communicate with recruits in person and via phone. The official explanation, courtesy of the NCAA website is:

During this time, a college coach may have in-person contact with you and/or your parents on or off the college's campus. The coach may also watch you play or visit your high school. You and your parents may visit a college campus and the coach may write and telephone you during this period.

Check back here throughout the Contact period for info on visits.

-The quarterfinals of the Donofrio Classic began last night in Conshohocken. The I-3 All Stars and Team Philly both advanced. I-3, who are led by Friends' Central stars Amile Jefferson and Devin Coleman, will take on the winner of tonight's Just Clean It vs Players Teaching Players contest. Team Philly, who got 42 points from senior guard Juan'ya Green, will take on the winner of tonight's Bucks County vs DeStefano's Electric game. Both of these games will take place next Wednesday, and I will be there for both. For more info, check out Ted Silary's site here.

-In New Jersey, huge news broke this afternoon when it was announced that Saint Patrick's head coach Kevin Boyle would be leaving the school and heading to Florida to coach at Montverde Academy. Both Saint Patrick's and Montverde have produced a number of high-level Division 1 recruits. At the moment, both the Saint Patrick's and Saint Benedict's jobs are open in North Jersey. Both are very appealing jobs on a national level.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Martelli to Speak at TAP "Tip-Off"

On Thursday, April 7th, Saint Joseph's University head men's basketball coach Phil Martelli will be speaking at Widener University in Chester, Pennsylvania. Martelli is the Keynote Speaker at the TAP (The Achievement Project) "Tip-Off" reception, which will take place at Widener from 6:30 until 8 on Thursday evening. A press release on the event can be found here. The TAP of Chester website is also linked here.