Friday, January 28, 2011

Friends' Central Star Having Strong Senior Campaign

This weekend, a number of the top high school programs in the tri-state area will converge upon Plymouth-Whitemarsh High School to participate in the 2011 PrimeTime Shootout. Schools such as Academy of the New Church (PA), Chester (PA), Roman Catholic (PA), Life Center Academy (NJ), and Trenton Catholic (NJ) are among the headliners. In addition to those schools, Wynnewood, Pennsylvania's Friends' Central will be one of the main draws. Friends' Central has a number of impressive victories on their resume already this season, including ANC and Life Center. A key component of their success has been senior guard Devin Coleman. I got a chance earlier this week to talk with Friends' Central head coach Jason Polykoff about his senior guard.

Devin Coleman's name is not a new one to those that follow Philadelphia hoops. He and junior Amile Jefferson have been one of the best one-two punches in the area over the past couple years. While Devin doesn't have quite the national recognition of Jefferson, he is a vital part of Friends' Central's success. While Coleman has long had a reputation as a gifted scorer, he has improved significantly in a number of categories over the past year, most notably rebounding the ball and the defensive side of the game. "While he's traditionally been offensive-minded, over the past two years he's made a conscious effort to be a defensive stopper," Polykoff said. "I have assigned Devin to defend the opposing team's best player for the last two years."

This improvement on the defensive side of the ball and in rebounding can be attributed to Devin's conscientious efforts in the weight room. "Devin made a concentrated effort to improve his overall physical conditioning this offseason and it's paying dividends for him," Polykoff explained. In many instances, Devin, who stands right around 6'3 and 185 pounds, is asked to guard players who have 4 or 5 inches on him. That size difference hasn't posed too much of a problem due to "his wider frame and physical strength, combined with natural athleticism." That athleticism is on display in the video clip at the bottom of this article.

While Devin has played a number of positions for Friends' Central over his time there, Coach Polykoff views Devin as a wing guard at the college level. Although Devin can handle the ball, and has played the point at times, his coach thinks that "he would be most successful as a wing guard at the college level."

Earlier this month, Devin won MVP honors at the Big Apple Invitational after scoring 30 points and collecting 12 rebounds in a winning effort. This performance came against a very talented Quality Education (NC) team that features a number of high-major recruits. Senior guard Anthony Fields is headed to Wake Forest next season and senior forward Sir'Dominic Pointer is one of Steve Lavin's prized recruits up at Saint John's.

As Devin continues on with his senior season, there are many schools that would love to see him suit up in their uniforms next year. According to his coach, Devin is looking for the best fit, both academically and athletically, and will likely wait until after his high school season to make a college decision. At the moment, his recruiting is wide open. While Coach Polykoff didn't get into specifics with schools, Devin is apparently looking at a number. According to TheRecruitScoop's Alex Kline, Saint Joseph's, Drexel, Siena, La Salle, Penn State, Fairfield, Rhode Island, and Clemson are among the schools checking out the Philly senior.

Devin is one of the most talented senior guards in the city, and is paired with one of the country's best juniors in forward Amile Jefferson. Friends' Central is a team worth watching as the season continues to progress. Today they take on George School, and Sunday they have a showdown with Trenton Catholic. Their biggest contest of the season is a February 6th date with Jersey City's Saint Anthony at Philadelphia University.

A youtube clip of Devin Coleman can be found here .

Photo Courtesy of TheRecruitScoop

Friday, January 21, 2011

Wilson a "Vocal Leader" (Part Two)

Earlier today, I posted the first half of my conversation with Terry Sanford High School basketball coach Bill Boyette about his senior guard, Chris Wilson. During our conversation, Coach Boyette spoke at length about some of the intangibles that he feels Chris will bring to Saint Joseph's next year.

This year's SJU team, partially due to their youth, lacks a take-charge, vocal leader. In his written evaluation on ESPN, the site states that Chris "is a vocal leader of one of the best summer squads on the circuit," referring to his play with the CP3 All-Stars. In their evaluation, ESPN also writes that Chris has "a special quality that you don't find in kids his age very often." According to Coach Boyette, this leadership ability is one of the aspects of Chris' game that really attracted college coaches. Boyette described Chris as a "coach on the floor" who "likes to take charge." Of course, it's one thing to do that at the local high school level, and another to do it at the college level, surrounded by other highly-regarded players who already have college experience. That being said, Boyette does believe that Chris will bring that leadership, enthusiasm, and take-charge mentality to Hawk Hill. He has a sense of confidence that he matches with intensity and a strong work ethic.

Due to his size and strength, Chris has the tools in place to be a physical defender at the college level. Referring back to that ESPN evaluation (which is linked here ), he is described as a "relentless" defender who "challenges every shot and every pass." This sense of urgency on the defensive end is something that Coach Boyette also felt strongly about. Each game, Chris' mindset, according to his coach, is to lock down the opponent's best offensive player. Chris even goes so far as saying to his coach, "Coach, I want to guard him." When asked what style of defense he runs, Coach Boyette told me that he is stubborn and relies exclusively on man-to-man. This will obviously benefit Chris, as Saint Joseph's also, almost exclusively, goes man-to-man. Terry Sanford is only giving up 46 points per game, and that is due to a "commitment to defense" that Coach Boyette has his players buy into.

During his 4 years at Terry Sanford High School, Chris has tallied up a record of 98-11. So far this year the team is 13-2, and last year they went 31-1. As the high school season marches on to district and state playoffs, check back here for updates from North Carolina. Every player that is recruited at the college level garners accolades during high school. What most stood out to me during my conversation with Chris' high school coach was the intangibles. Due to these intangibles, his passing ability, and his commitment to defense, Chris will have his shot at earning significant minutes as a freshman at Saint Joseph's next fall. He will join Hofstra transfer Halil Kanacevic and current redshirt Papa Samba Ndao as newcomers on next season's team.

Photo of Chris above is from

Chris Wilson: A First Look

18 games into the 2010-2011 season, the Saint Joseph's Hawks sit with a record of 5-13. This comes after Wednesday night's 64-59 home loss against Rhode Island. Youth is one of the primary issues surrounding the Hawks, as their starting lineup features three freshmen, a sophomore, and a lone senior. Another issue that has become more and more apparent as the season has progressed is the lack of a true point guard on the team. Sophomore Tay Jones has manned the point for most of the season, but more out of necessity than natural ability. Tay's strength is scoring the basketball. On Wednesday night, freshman guard Langston Galloway spent some time at the point. What is the long-term answer for the point guard spot for the Hawks? That's an answer the coaches may have, but I don't. However, one option, and a very realistic one at that, is Terry Sanford High School senior Chris Wilson. On Wednesday, I was able to speak with Wilson's high school coach, Bill Boyette, about his senior point guard. This is the first half of the article, with the second part being posted later today.

When Chris signed with the Hawks officially in November, Saint Joseph's head coach Phil Martelli had this to say: "His game defines the true definition of a big guard." According to Terry Sanford coach Bill Boyette, that comment refers primarily to Chris' upper body strength. Boyette told me that Chris stands between 6'2 and 6'3 and possesses great upper body strength. Terry Sanford High School has a weight-lifting coach that spends a great deal of time with Chris. In addition to working on his strength, the two are also working on improving Chris' quickness and athleticism. A gifted athlete, Chris played quarterback for Terry Sanford as a freshman, but decided to focus solely on basketball in his sophomore, junior, and senior years.

One of the main questions surrounding Chris, and just about every other player billed as a point guard, is whether they are more of a pass-first or score-first point. I asked this question to Bill Boyette, and he told me that Chris does what is necessary for his team to win. Chris looks at the game situation, and determines what role his team needs him to fill on a given night. If he is needed to score, he will. At the moment, Chris is averaging just over 18 point per game, which puts him second in the county in scoring. At the same time, due to his ability to score, Chris is often trapped and double-teamed, in which case his court vision allows him to get his teammates involved. His court vision is something that Coach Boyette referred to a number of times during our conversation. ESPN recruiting analyst Dave Telep had this to say about Wilson when he saw him play last March in a tournament: "Wilson had a pretty good performance when matched up with the best guards in North Carolina. He looked very strong in general and despite being only 6'2", he weighs 200 pounds. He had a few notable passes and has very good court vision." That court vision and desire to get teammates involved in the game is what has most analysts referring to Chris as a "true point guard."

On the offensive side of the ball, Chris is scoring just over 18 points per game. One of his strengths is his ability to get in the lane, and either distribute the ball, or get himself to the free throw line. So far this season, Chris is hitting his free throws at an 82 percent clip. In addition to scoring, Chris is pulling down between 4 and 5 rebounds per game and dishing out between 4 and 5 assists per game. During our talk, Coach Boyette mentioned Chris' ability to post up opposing guards. When Chris is being guarded by smaller players, or taller players that lack his strength, he likes to take them to the post and either look to score or look for open men off cuts and screens.

Later on today, I'll post the second part of our conversation. That will focus on the defensive side of the ball, what Chris brings from a leadership perspective, and also the success that he has had at the high school level.

The picture of Chris above is from linked here

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Hawk Offense Looking for a Point

Earlier this week, the Inquirer's Ray Parillo wrote an article (linked here ) about how a lack of a pure point guard has been a major detriment to the Hawks so far this season. While sophomore Tay Jones is leading the team in scoring, he is playing the point more out of necessity than anything else. In high school, and through roughly a year-and-a-half on Hawk Hill, Tay is a scoring point guard, not one always looking to distribute the ball. This season, Tay has 54 assists to 40 turnovers, for a 1.35/1 assist-to-turnover ratio.

Where do the Hawks turn? One possibility is sliding freshman guard Langston Galloway over to the point. This suggestion was made by Aaron Bracy of here . Looking at the numbers, Langston has 48 assists to 16 turnovers, for a 3/1 assist-to-turnover ratio. Sliding Langston to the point may give the Hawks' offense some new life and give the team a spark. They certainly need it, as they are now 5-12 heading into tomorrow night's home game against Rhode Island.

While that may be a short-term solution, Hawk coaches and fans are hoping that Chris Wilson arrives at Saint Joseph's next year ready to take the reigns at point guard. I will be speaking with Terry Sanford High School coach Bill Boyette tomorrow about his senior point guard. Check back here on Thursday for the article.

In one last bit of guard-related news, Friends' Central senior guard Devin Coleman continues to list Saint Joseph's as a school of interest. He did this most recently after a 30-point and 12-rebound performance in New York over the weekend. Read about the performance and Devin's list of schools here .

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Davon Reed Continues to Collect Offers

According to Alex Kline of The Recruit Scoop ( linked here)
Princeton Day School sophomore guard Davon Reed has picked up his third, fourth, and fifth scholarship offers over the course of the week. The three newest schools to offer the talented sophomore are Temple, La Salle, and Rutgers. Rutgers is the first Big East school to offer Reed. Prior to these 3 offers, Davon had already collected offers from VCU and Saint Joseph's.

I saw Reed play at the end of August and wrote about it here .

On the college front, Saint Joseph's fell on the road at Dayton last night, 65-59. They play next at Saint Louis on Saturday. The Hawks are 0-3 in Atlantic 10 play, as is Saint Louis. One team will finally get their first conference win on Saturday.

Temple hammered Saint Bonaventure by 28 to improve to 3-0 in conference play. La Salle ended a recent skid with an overtime win over Penn last night. One of the most surprising teams so far this A10 season is George Washington, who is now 3-0 in conference play after beating Fordham 72-52 last night.

Monday, January 10, 2011

St. Anthony, St. Pat's, St. Peter's, and SHP Win as Coaches Look On

Some of the top high school talent in the state assembled yesterday afternoon at Kean University in North Jersey for the Scholarship Fund for Inner-City Children Basketball Festival.

Two top-20 teams battled, with Seton Hall Prep getting the best of Hudson Catholic, 63-53. Seton Hall Prep improved to 6-2 with the win. Junior guard Dallas Anglin, a Saint Joseph's recruiting target, had 4 points, 4 rebounds, 6 assists, and 2 blocks in the winning effort.

Saint Anthony blew out Saint Joseph's of Montvale 76-44 behind a well-balanced effort. A player that I watched at the Eddie Griffin Challenge, junior forward Jerome Frink, put together another solid performance for the Friars, scoring 8, grabbing 9 rebounds, and tallying 2 blocks and 2 steals. Unsigned senior Lucious Jones paced Saint Anthony with 17 points and 7 rebounds.

Saint Peter's Prep also won in convincing fashion, beating Trenton Catholic 63-40. Despite losing Ronald Roberts to college (Saint Joseph's), and Myles Davis and Dallas Anglin to transfers, Saint Peter's Prep continues to roll along. Senior guard Stephon Whyatt led the way for Saint Peter's, hitting 3 3's en route to his team-leading 21 points.

Saint Patrick's improved to 7-0, defeating rival Saint Benedict's 73-65. Kentucky-bound senior Michael Gilchrist showed once again why he is one of the most highly-regarded high school prospects in the country, pouring in 25 points and collecting 14 rebounds.

This talent attracted quite a few college coaches, including SJU's head coach Phil Martelli. Martelli was likely there to see junior guard Dallas Anglin, as well as a number of other players in the sophomore and junior classes. Joining Martelli in attendance was Rutgers' Mike Rice, Georgetown's John Thompson III, and Seton Hall's Kevin Willard.

All stats from the game are from the article linked here.

The list of coaches is from the Zagsblog article linked here.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

5-10 Hawks Hit the Road

This time last week, Saint Joseph's, with a 5-8 record, looked to start conference play on a strong note. With the first two games in Atlantic 10 play at home, and both games against what appeared to be beatable opponents, things looked up for the young Hawks. Instead, the 5-10 Hawks begin conference play 0-2, and now head to Dayton and Saint Louis this week. The Hawks will likely be solid underdogs in both games, and an 0-4 start to conference play appears to be a legitimate reality. However, nothing this season appears predictable in the A10. The same UMass team that was absolutely hammered by Central Connecticut State defeated Dayton today 55-50.

Yesterday, at the Hagan Arena, the Hawks fell to the George Washington Colonials 78-71. GW scored 40 first-half points against the Hawks, further illuminating the struggles the young team is having on the defensive side of the ball. Those struggles exist even though freshman CJ Aiken continues to block shots at an alarming rate. CJ had 9 recorded blocks in yesterday's loss. After yesterday's performance, CJ is tied for 2nd in the country in blocked shots per game at 3.8 per contest. George Washington shot 56 percent from three in the win, hitting on 9 of 16 shots. That, combined with a 43-28 edge on the boards, helped GW to the road win. GW is now 2-0 in conference play, while the Hawks drop to 0-2.

They look ahead to a tough road game on Wednesday night at 7 against Dayton.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Hawks Showing Interest in Another Jersey Guard

Year in and year out, New Jersey produces some of the top basketball talent in the country. Yesterday, I was able to catch Saint Patrick's pound a good Trenton Catholic team. The depth, talent, and coaching at Saint Pat's is about as good as it gets. Next year, two of Saint Patrick's players will be moving on to the college level, with Michael Gilchrist going to Kentucky and Derrick Gordon going to Western Kentucky. A bit further south in the state, Life Center Academy has two guards headed to major programs, with John Johnson headed to Pitt and LaQuinton Ross going to Ohio State. Saint Anthony senior guard Myles Mack is going to Rutgers. The list goes on and on. The talent isn't limited to the senior class either. Both the sophomore and junior classes in the Garden State are loaded as well.

Over the years, the Hawks have had success in the state of New Jersey, landing Dwayne Lee and Ahmad Nivins from Saint Anthony's. In the current sophomore class on Hawk Hill, both Carl Baptiste and Justin Crosgile are from New Jersey. Current freshman forward Ronald Roberts played his high school ball at Jersey City's Saint Peter's Prep.

It seems as if the Hawks are looking into their neighboring state in the current high school junior class as well. The Hawks have apparently already offered 6'1 Seton Hall Prep guard Dallas Anglin. Another North Jersey guard with interest from the Hawks is Newark Eastside's Tariq Carey. The newest name is that of 6'3 Teaneck junior Chris Jones. In the video interview linked below with Alex Kline of TheRecruitScoop, Jones claims no offers, but mentions Saint Joseph's as one of the schools involved in his recruitment. Along with SJU, he mentions Penn, Penn State, Rider, and Marist.

Jones had 20 points last night to lead his Teaneck team past Sterling Gibbs, Dallas Anglin and Seton Hall Prep. Anglin had 9 points for Seton Hall Prep in their 60-45 loss.

The Recruit Scoop- Chris Jones Interview

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Hawks Enter Conference Play at 5-8

On Wednesday, Saint Joseph's will begin Atlantic 10 play with a home game against the 6-5 Dukes of Duquesne. The Hawks will enter the contest three games below .500, at 5-8. Saint Joseph's is riding a two-game winning streak after knocking off Siena 58-48 on Friday afternoon. In the win, the Hawks got 17 points from sophomore guard Tay Jones and 11 points from fellow sophomore Justin Crosgile. Freshmen Langston Galloway and CJ Aiken both chipped in 10 points in the winning effort. Aiken also had 9 rebounds and at least 4 blocks for the Hawks.

Another key in the Hawks victory on Friday was the defense of freshman Ronald Roberts on Siena's Ryan Rossiter. Rossiter finished the game with 10 points and 15 rebounds, but was kept in check by Roberts down the stretch. The coaches switched senior Idris Hilliard off of Rossiter after Rossiter scored at will on consecutive possessions. Roberts did a terrific job of preventing entry into the post and keeping Rossiter off the block.

Speaking of Aiken, he currently, as of Sunday morning, sits at 8th in the nation in blocked shots per game. Averaging 3.31 blocked shots per game, according to ESPN Aiken is the leading freshman shot-blocker in the country.

Duquesne comes into Wednesday's contest as the country's 15th highest scoring offense, averaging just under 82 points per game. The Hawks, on the other hand, are 245th in America, averaging 66 points per game. Obviously, in order for the Hawks to have a shot in Wednesday's conference opener, something there is going to have to give.

Senior Charoy Bentley and junior Todd O'Brien were both unable to suit up on Friday due to injuries. Seated on the bench next to those two, as he has been all season, was Hofstra transfer Halil Kanacevic. A new face on the bench Friday was current redshirt freshman Papa Samba Ndao, a 6'8 forward from Florida's Montverde Academy. Papa began practicing with the team this week and will redshirt the remainder of this season, thus becoming eligible in the 2011-2012 season with four years of eligibility remaining. This will put him in the same class as incoming freshman guard Chris Wilson.