Amauro "Amar" Austin is another of our
trusty observers. He is not to be confused with Ruben Amaro, the
Phillies' assistant general manager. Like "Huck" Palmer, Amauro
is a West Catholic graduate. He will make reports on the MANY games he sees. You may
e-mail him at Thurlbough@hotmail.com.
SPRING REPORT #1
I've been roughly off the scene for the past two months (I am alive and well thank you and have even been to a gym or two -- smile), but I've basically been taking it light as of late, however I must mention how on Sunday afternoon I received three phone calls about how 5'11 Dougherty Jr. PG Kyle Lowry has done it yet AGAIN! His Philly MJC AAU club trecked to Fort Wayne, IN for the Spiece Run-N-Slam Tournament (one of the top events of the Spring) and won the whole thing behind Kyle's MVP performance. In the Quarterfinals, MJC took out the loaded Ft. Sooy - No Limit sqaud out of IL 72-64. FSNL is led by some accounts, the Nation's top player in th Class of 2004, 6'7 PG Shaun Livingston. Then came the Semis and MJC faced a tougher task as the ran into the Tourney favorites the Family, a Nike sponsored team based in Detriot. This squad boasts three of the top wings in the Nation. Two are Top 50 caliber prospects and already committed to Michigan. The other is a Top 20 prospect who choose his own path. There are also said to be 5 or 6 more D-1s on the squad. MJC, led by Lowry's 41 POINTS took care of the Family by a 85-69 count. National guru Van Coleman, who has a McDonald's All-America vote, was quoted saying, "It looked all weekend as though The Family out of Michigan was the odds on favorite to run away with the Title, but someone forgot to tell 5'11 point Kyle Lowry and the rest of the tough hardnosed competitors on the Philly MJC squad that. Philly MJC collided with The Family on the Semi-Final round on Sunday afternoon, and Lowry showed that he was indeed the best player in the tournament with a MVP-like performance. Lowry was absolutely amazing slicing through the usually formidable Michigan defense and sticking jumpers from all over the court to go off for 41 Points in leading his team to a 85-69 victory!, ect." Finally, Lowry and Co. took the floor against some familiar faces as the other area squad reached the Final as well in the South Jersey's DaJuan Wagner Rising Stars. The Rising Stars are led by Roman Catholic manchild Charron Fisher, who was also said to be a standout here raising his stock Nationally. MJC took out the Rising Stars in what was said to be a hard-fought war, 62-53. Besides Lowry, Southern 6'2 PG Antoine "Doo Dirty" Brown & CD teammate/best buddie 6'7 SF Shane Clark were named All-Tourney. Also keys to the MJC squad were 6'6 Mansion Sr. Forward Delton Morgan-Hines, West Catholic 6'5 Wing Marshall Taylor & normally Southern 6'6 Forward Shawn Sabb (not sure if he attended). Off of the performace, the buzz is that Lowry will probably be ranked in many PreSummer Top 30 National lists and thought of along with Penn Charter's Sean Singletary as one of the Nation's top 7 or 8 Lead Guards in the Class of 2004. Fisher has raised his stock from just a known prospect to possibly a Top 150 Prospect after this according to one publication. Lowry's performance made me flash back to two years ago this time which was the 1st time I saw him. It was a Saturday morning at a Positive Image League game and this small/fiesty freshman guard scorched Gratz' summer league team led by eventual Temple recruits Micheal Blackshear & Mardy Collins for 38 Points. I had heard of him, but had never seen him before this and didn't even know who he was that day. I remember asking someone sitting next to me that day, "Who the %&$# is this kid." Anyway, the kid has come full circle these days on a different level. It was indeed a great weekend for Philly.
There have been many movings and shakings this Spring besides that. One of the biggest names on the rise has been Edison 6'3 Sr. G Tim Young. Young made a big Splash at an AAU event a few weeks ago causing evaluators to ask where has he been all this time? Well Young has options these days. There are a few Top notch Jucos that'll take him in a heartbeat. He wants to do a year or Prep and there is some interest so stayed tuned... The 4 Gratz rising Seniors, Wing Mark Tyndale, Forward Jason Hickenbottom, Center Matt Walden & Guard Tyrone Smith have all been impressive in various settings. ALL will receive interest from Division II on up... Two Wings 6'5 Bilal Benn (Dougherty) & 6'4 Dionte Christmas (Fels) have sparked much interest. Benn hasn't come down from his CL All-Star performance impressing many with his versatility and unrelenting play, while Christmas has been the fastest rising player of the year... The aformentioned Singletary has dominated the AAU circuit and other top PGs while drawing interest from many of the Major schools in the land... While two City kids who have left the area and reclassified at Prep Schools have made large names for themselves with the scouts. They are Mt. Zion's (NC) 6'4 205-lb Combo-Guard Tasheed Carr (via University City) & Northfield - Mt. Hermon's (MA) 5'9 Kashif Payne. Both have been seen and liked by many upper echelon coaches this Spring. Carr lists LaSalle, Providence, George Washington, Ohio State, Florida State, Michigan & Indiana as his schools. Payne lists LaSalle, Providence, U.Mass & Virginia Tech. I'll be monitoring both situations closely.
Finally, this year's Philly USA All-City Classic is set to take place on Saturday June 7th at LaSalle University at 1 PM. This year not only wil there be a Freshman game, Soph. game & Slam Dunk contest, but the feature will be not 1, but 2 Junior games due to the quality of players there are in the area in the Class of 2004. Many alumni will be in attendance as well. Some will even coach. It should once again be a great event. The rosters will be released and posted later this week on this site so stay tuned. I'll chime in two or three times a month with a report all the way up unil the end of September so stay tuned...
CATHOLIC LEAGUE QUARTERFINALS
SJ Prep 58, Carroll 37
This was my first look at Carroll. I liked what I saw. If they just had ONE true scorer, they just might still be involved in the mix because they caused the Prep into an off Offensive performance... 6'4 Jr. G-F Mike Springman became one of my favorites quickly. He's X-TRA gritty and tough. He was also Carroll's top skill guy. As a matter of fact I don't think I've ever seen a team with this kind of make-up as each and every Patriot lived off of Grit. Even the more skilled ones... I like the improvement of Jr. PG Matt Chambers. He seems to be rounding right into form... In the battle of big men, Mark Zoller (6'6 215) got the best of Jordan Ingram (6'7 215). Zoller went for 29 Pts (9-for-13, 10-for-12) & 10 Boards. Ingram went for 14 Points & 11 Boards. Both will be solid College Prospects... Normally sharp shooting Jr. G John Griffin was off in the 1st half only to score all 13 of his points in the 2nd. He's another kid that has really grown on me as he finds ways to get the job done. The Prep fans came out in drothes and it looks to me as if the crowd'll only get bigger as the playoffs go along. Damn near every seat was filled for the Neumann-Roman game...
PUBLIC LEAGUE QUARTERFINALS
FLC 60, Frankford 47
The Bobcats came through with an extra gritty performance to pull out a not-so-easy 13 Point win. The Pioneers came out with guns blazing and made things extra tough at both ends of the floor. Their effort deserves to be commended. The Bobcat leader was once again Sr. PG Micheal Green. He was extra gritty in this as he found a way to get 19 Points (10 in the 4th) while only shooting 7-for-23. He made all 4 of his free throws down the stretch and also grabbed 13 Rebounds, dished 4 Assists, plucked 4 Steals and even blocked 2 shots. He seemed to be everywhere. I also believe that he went over 1000 Points as by my records he needed 36 Points coming into the playoffs and he got 41 in the first two games. You could truly see that this kid was a 4 year Varsity performer. He played with pride and brass. He was ready for the music to stop. His backcourt mate, 6'5 Sr. G-F Tyreek Byard quietly put together a nice performance as well with 14 Points, 5 Rebs, 4 Assts, 4 Stls & 2 Blks. He was very valuable. Jr. F Josh Grier battled early foul trouble to get 10 Pts & 8 Rebs. The Bobcats also got strong play from its bench as Jrs PG Micheal Scott (6P, 3R, 3A, 3B) & G-F Meril Branch (7P, 8R, 2A, 2S, 5B) both came up big and were in the game down the stretch. They'll be needed BIG TIME in the Semis. The Pioneers leader was 6'4 Sr. G-F Cerone Brown. Brown had been reduced to bench duty as of late and had been in a major funk. He had alot of fun today going for 16 Points on 6-for-9 shooting (3 treys). He also plucked 5 Steals and blocked 4 shots. Many times, the long armed wing guarded Green and gave him fits. Sr Fs Darrell "DJ" Turner (9P, 12R) & Darryl White (10 Boards) both battled hard. White was in game long foul trouble and couldn't be as aggressive as normal. Turner was tough throughout. Frankford has much to look forward to as all three of the guards in the rotation are Sophs (PG Ryan Smith, CG Maurice Miller & WG Alfred Thomas). All three will be quality players in the Pub in time.
PUBLIC LEAGUE ROUND OF 16
Gratz 40, Lincoln 38
This was a MAJOR SCARE for the Bulldogs who at times this season have looked like the best team in the area and others have looked like well something no where near as good. In the first half, today they looked like the former by rolling to a 30-17 lead, but after halftime they let off a stinker by only scoring 10 Points and letting Lincoln have the last shot of the game which could of won it. Here's the sequence: Sr. PG Omar Johnson went to the line for a 1-and-1 at :16 he missed the front end and ever-improving Jr. strongman Maurice McPherson (13 Pts, 8 Rebs & 5 Blks) snatched the rebound. No timeout was called and the Railsplitters went the other way. Jr. G-F Steve Hassell, a lefty, handled then gave it to Sr. PG John "Wes" Davis (who ironically used to attend Gratz). Davis used a high screen to dash to a spot around the deep left elbow in front of his team's bench. He raised up in perfect form and the shot looked good from the time it left his hands. The crowd was silent as the ball went in and popped out. Jr. G-F Mark Tyndale (9P all 1st half, 6R, 4A) snared the rebound and locked up the gym. Sr. Gs Tyree Watson and Brandon Void both played tough throughout for the Dogs. Jr. G Tyrone Smith came in cold off the bench in the 4th and nailed a huge jump shot. Lincoln FB ace Brahin Bilal did the same for the 'Splitters. McPherson, who is built like a big country boy, was extra impressive as he owned the post at both ends. He even blocked dunk attempts by both Tyndale & 6'8 Jr. C Matt Walden. This was indeed his coming out party. I was SURELY impressed! Lincoln will be back next year as all of their key players except Davis will return. Replacing him will be tough, but can be done if one kid in the building happens to pan out.
Judge 52, North Catholic 37
Not much to talk about here. North looked to hang early on and led 7-4 midway through the first and then Judge hauled off then went on a 17-2 run over the next 6 minutes and never looked back. Bookend Forwards: Jr. Steve Wolf (17 Pts, 8 Rebs) & Sr. Tom Keenan (15 Pts, 5 Rebs, 4 Assts, 4 Stls & 4 Blks) were the kings during that stretch. Wolf was solid throughout. He plays aggressively and with a purpose. He's one to watch this summer as I'd like to see him keep honing his ball skills. He already has an inner fire. Should be interesting. Keenan was everywhere today and played just like a Sr. should. He'll have a solid career somewhere after hs. As I always say, he is my favorite player in the city this year. Its always fun to watch "Mr. Grit" get after it out there. Brassy Sr. PG Bill Geiger didn't score, but dished all 6 of his Assists in the 1st half. His brother Jr. WG John Geiger was solid with 8P, 5R & 3A. No one really put up good numbers for the Falcons. I like the way Jr. WG Charlie Evans (9 Boards) plays. He struggled with his normally reliable shot today, but played hard all afternoon. Though this has been a tough year for the Falcons, you get the feeling that good times are ahead. Coach Mike McCarron surely has them moving in the right direction. Judge plays Ryan later this week for a PrePlayoff to see who draws the assignment of taking on the Powerful Cards of Cardinal Dougherty, should be interesting. I never count out legendary Crusader Coach Bill Fox. X for O, he just may be the best Coach in the League and that's no bull. Its always fun to watch him work the sideline.
King 76, Washington 63
This game had large implications as King went undefeated in League play for the 1st time ever and with the loss the Eagles were doomed with the fate of going into Strawberry Mansion's wild/crazy gym (where they've lost once in 4 years) for a 1st rd tilt... King didn't have an easy time of it and nor will anybody have one with G-Dub at this point... The most important player for the Golden Cougars was Sr. PG Quincy Marshall. He only dished 13 Assists to 1 Turnover. He also played his usually hawking defense... Sr. 3-man Stefon "D.J" Jackson (23 Points on 11-of-18 shooting, 1-for-2 at the line and 8 Boards) continued to impress. Does he ever miss from 12 to 15 feet?... In the battle of the Big guys 6'10 Wayne Marshall (28 Points on 11-for-16, 6-of-10, 13 Boards & 2 Blocks) clearly got the best of his good friend/counterpart 6'81/2 Dontay Tabbs (15 Points, 9 Boards, 2 Blocks). Marshall was on top of his game as he had 4 powerful slams. Tabbs did impress, however, but he battled through foul trouble throughout. Also in his defense, he didn't touch the ball enough in prime scoring position and many times had to create his own shot... After the game, I found out that he and Marshall had a friendly bet on the game... Somebody slept in the rain last night (smile)... Jr Guards Mykol Hutson (5 Assists), Ricardo Laing & 6'2 Ricky "Smooth" McClain all gave solid contributions. McClain is a Rec legend and JV star. He could star on the Varsity level in time. "Smooth" ain't what they call him for nothing... King had 26 Assists on their 31 Baskets. I don't get much better than that... The Eagles had even more troubles as their most important player Sr. PG John Hampton (3A, 5S) also battled foul trouble and their tough guy 6'4 Sr. F Tariq Benn (11 Pts on 5-for-8 with 1 trey) sat out most of the 4th with a leg injury. He should be ready for Monday. I really like this kid and hope somebody comes to give him a look. He could thrive one day... Sr Guards Joe Ndanu (13) & Kasid Bland (10) both played well, but had trouble running the offense. Ndanu is the master of the wild shot. He got a bit too happy in this one. Bland shot 5-for-6 from the floor including a breakaway slam at the end of the game. He's ONLY 5'9!... It was good to see some G-Dub (led by Jameel McClain) FB players and King (led by Dion "Flee" Whittington) FB players in the house. All were loud in the stands...
Neumann 69, West Catholic 50
This one was pretty simple. West jumped out to an early lead as the Pirates started some of their lesser light Srs on Sr. night and then Buccos came in with their regulars and controlled throughout. Many guys contributed for Neumann, but the best player on the floor was 6'5 So. G-F David Burton (17 Pts, 8 Rebs, 2 Assts, 4 Stls, 2 Blks). He game is really starting to become complete as he is now playing staunch defense, something he wasn't doing in the past. Burton just may be the most impressive Soph. I've seen in the City this year. he has a bright future is he channels his emotions and stays on course. Bookend PGs Jr. Richard "Tabby" Cunningham & Sr. Antwain Wynn combined for 12 Pts & 9 Assists. Sr. F Todd Johnson went for 11 & 7 including 4 high-flying slams. Is that the only way he scores? He must lead the league in dunks. 6'5 Jr. PG-WG-SF-PF-C Marshall Taylor (14 Pts, 12 Rebs, 2 As, Ss & Bs) was solid, but could have been better. For some odd reason, he didn't seem to have any legs. He did play every position out there last night. He did 80% of the ballhandling and team running and guarded the Pirates biggest guy. Athletic Freshman Fs 6'3 Chris Mayo (10 Pts, 3 Stls) & 6'4 John Maddox (6P, 7R, 2A, 3S, 2B). Maddox is extra active especially for a Freshman. Mayo had an impressive dunk over somebody early on. They both have bright futures. It was great to see Neumann deep sub Sr. G Jamal Harris get some light. He closed the Neumann scoring with a breakaway slam. He might be 6'0, but I'd say more like a shade under 5'11.
NOTES REPORT #2
With all this snow on the ground and cancellations abroad, I found this to be an ideal time for another notes column. This go 'round, I'd like to focus on first the success of the St. Joseph's Prep Hawks this season. How about those Hawks? I'll admit, I wrote them off thinking that they'd have problems with the more aggressive teams, but they are indeed our area's best as today their record stands at 23-1. You look at the team and you ask? How do they do it? In a nutshell, this team has 1 true rebounder, 1 true ballhandler (atleast one that can go around defenders) and one reliable bench player. However, all 6 of the Prep's contributors make the open jumper and play a disciplined brand of ball that is a reflection of their coach William "Speedy" Morris. This may just be the best coaching job Coach Morris has ever done. Zoller (a.k.a. Joe Millionaire), Griff, C.C & Co. still have a ways to go, but it should be an interesting ride. If they play the way they against Neumann on Friday, they might beat some of the local small colleges. No lie...
Secondly, the Pub Playoffs will begin on Thursday and this year's edition will be very interesting as many teams can do some damage. It was a tough loss with Southern having to forfeit 17 of their 18 wins and having to miss the playoffs, but things will move on and the competition will be the best its been in years. Don't believe me? There are atleast 5 teams (King, Bartram, Gratz, FLC & Mansion) with legitimate shots at winning it all, but there are also atleast another 5 teams that have legitimate shots at spoiling those teams dreams. Remember Dobbins took both Gratz and King down to the wire before bowing out. Overbrook has been consistent for the most part all season. West Philly is young, talented and hungry. Parkway has 4 good multi-skilled guards all capable of getting 20 a night. Northeast has been there before and they just may have the most consistent player in the League in Troy Roundtree and not to mention one of the more underrated backcourts (Sammons & Jakeman) in the League. Finally, there's George Washington who is just as talented as the upper echelon teams and now seems to know it. I would not want to draw them in any round. I'm predicting atleast 1 first round upset and a 2nd rd upset as well.
Next I'd like to show love once again to some of our City's rising stars. This time it'll be only Juniors that have made a name for themselves this year:
Ricardo Lovelace 6'2 175 WG West - Ricky L has made a splash on the scene this year. In my opinion, he has become the top Speedboy. This slick Wing guard has perfect jump shooting form and the feel of a scorer. He also has a strong build and the heart of a lion. As I said in earlier reports, if this kid does and listens to the right things, he'll one day be a star.
Jerome "Huss" Allen 6'1 155 PG-WG Edison - Allen just may be the most underrated Guard in the Junior Class! There are many good ones and he belongs up there with any of them. He was a deep stroke, a controlled handle, a wiry frame and an inner fire that allows him to be a menace at both ends of the floor. It'll be interesting if he makes himself seen this summer?
Amarildo Matos 6'2 185 WG-PG Kennedy Kenrick - I know, I know, he isn't put up great numbers. He's barely putting up any at all, but Matos can still play and I think he wants to make that known this Spring & Summer. The Mozambique native is having a tough time running with an inexperienced group. I'm confident that 'Rildo will be a known commodity at some point again.
Michael Scott 5'10 150 PG FLC - Mike Scott always seem to make the timely play. He's a pure PG who will truly breakout this summer and next year after understudying star PG Michael Green for 2 years. Scott is a both a quality shooter and distributor who is said to be a top flight student.
Dionte Christmas 6'3 180 SF Samuel Fels - Christmas has made a name for himself by leading Fels in scoring. He likes to slash and finish athletically around the basket. He also plays with alot of energy and heart. Don't be shocked if he makes a bigger name for himself during the summer season.
Jason Hickenbottom 6'4 210 PF Gratz - Nobody ever seems to talk about Gratz enforcer/toughman. Hickenbottom plays the game more physically and harder than anybody. Undoubtedly, he learned alot from the All-Time Bulldog enforcer himself Micheal Blackshear Jr. in the last two years. He's already a great rebounder and post defender. He is working on becoming a better finisher around the basket.
Buddy Rose 6'1 170 WG-PG & Lamar Rigney 5'10 145 PG Mastbaum Tech - Rose and Rigney are two sleepers in 04'. Rose has an excellent feel for the game and a sweet stroke. Rigney is slight, but he's a warrior. He's unorthodox, which makes him very effective. He also shoots it well. These two could be a top 5 backcourt in the Pub by next year.
Lastly, I'd like to shift gears a bit and touch on a subject that often bothers me. I haven't talked much about the PIAA's invasion on the city and won't say much about it right now. I'll save that for my main topic in my next Notes report, but one thing that I do hope that the State takeover will bring to the Pub is to make the coach's more aggressive and more outgoing in making sure the kids attain the best possible experience they possibly can at this level and furthermore have options at going to the next level. At this point, some of the Pub Coaches are not doing that and it gets me mad. Check this scenario, not saying any names, but there's a Ultra-talented kid in this City who just finished his career with 954 Points. Not bad huh? What's the fuss you ask? Well this kid should have somewhere between 1200-1400 Points and be his school's all-time leading scorer. Why doesn't/isn't he? Well for some strange reason his coach only scheduled 4 out of a possible 12 Non-League games this season and I'm pretty sure much of the same happened the other 2 years that this kid has been on the Varsity. This is a crying shame! This doesn't go down in the burbs! It happens no where else in the country except here in the Philadelphia Public League. If for nothing else, these coaches should schedule atleast close to the maximum numbers of games if for no other reason that to give the kid (who happens to be the most important party here) a chance to maximize his opportunities. You never know who may be in the stands. The more games a kid plays, the more chances they have to be seen in front of College Coaches/Scouts. Also if the team is headed for the playoffs, they are battle tested because they have game experience and should have cohension. Right? This Spring I hope to sit in the Public League Coach's meeting and give the brass my proposals for a better league and guess what will be #1 on the list? This not directed at every coach just the ones that it concerns. There are many that do a commendable job year in and year out. Stay tuned...
Mastbaum 51, Engineering & Science 45
This was a weird contest to watch as there were many injuries to key players and because of the fact that the Engineers played with absolutely no urgency knowing the fact that this game had high stakes, as a playoff spot was on the line. Mastbaum started the game sluggishly as well, but picked things up after halftime and took the game as their own. Congrats go to Panther first year Coach Jim Taylor as he made the playoffs in his first year after succeeding the legendary Ralph "Bones" Schneider, who had had 44 years on the job. His team at this point is the walking wounded as three starters went on bum ankles. Sr Fs 6'3 James Robbins (4P, 4R) and 6'4 210-lb James Norcome (4P, 5R, 4B), both normally great athletes, played at 70% tops. However, they gave game efforts that surely aided the cause. The other key Sr. is strong WG George Johnson, a deadly shooter from DEEP. He had been the key cog in the takeover with 11 Points (3 treys) until he turned his ankle at the start of the 4th. The Panthers three underclassman, who I feel are the best three players overall on the team, held down the fort in light the circumstances. Jr. PG Lamar Rigney, who is a sleeper, had the most consistent performance with 13 Pts (2-for-3, 9-for-13 at the line) & 5 Assists. He made his first 5 from the line in the 4th. Rigney is very herky-jerky. He gets in the lane at will and welcomes contact despite his slight 5'10 145-lb frame. He also has an honest (albeit funny-looking) set shot. He also competes like crazy and has an inner-fire. That said he's a very unorthodox player. Jr. WG-PG Buddy Rose (9 Pts) has the best overall feel for the game on the team. He also has a deadly perimeter shot. He made for the game most important play as he stripped E&Ss star PG Tramaine Jackson at mid court and went the other way for a tough contested finish with a round 3 minutes left in the 4th. This seemed to take the wind out of the Engineers sails. I could see Rose having a breakout summer and really starring next year. Finally there is the team's best overall prospect slim/long 6'6 (maybe taller) So. C-F Tariek Belcher (10 Pts on 2-for-2). He has a very impressive array of skills for a young big guy. He's easily one of the 10 best Sophs that I've seen in this city. He made two nice catch and finishes in traffic that some Srs don't make! He also showed a soft touch in draining 6-for-9 from the line. He has a very nice form. He, too felt the game very well. His potential lies in his intriguing frame that could two years from now be 6'8-6'9. His progress certainly bears watching. Check out these stats: the Panthers as a team shot 14-for-24 (58%) with none of their players taking more than 6 shots. That's an efficient effort. For the Engineers its a tough way to go out as their top dog Jr. G Kechan Myers was deemed out for the season with a torn knee ligament that he suffered against Masterman last week. Also it seemed that his impressive Jr. backcourt mate Jackson (13 Pts, 5 Assts, 5 Stls) was the only wanted with any juice. Jackson is indeed a SLEEPER. He wasn't effective after the first tonight as the Panthers keyed on him, but he makes shots. He plays hard on both ends (especially defense) and he is a great penatrator, very fiery & tough as nails. He really reminds me alot of Shejdie Childs (ironically formerly of Mastbaum & Friends Central and now a very productive Freshman at New Hampshire). He'll be heard from again as he's a hidden gem. Jr. WG Mikey Gainer sniped 4-of-11 on treys en route to 14 Points. Many misses came during a key stretch though. 6'4 Sr. PF Marvin Satchell played hard as usual en route to 12 Boards (8 Off) & 3 Assists. 6'3 Jr. PF Tariq Evans (6P, 7R) has many of the same dirty work qualities as Satchell and will do much of the same next season.
Penn Charter 62, Episcopal Ac. 43
PC closed the deal on the I-A regular season title in pretty easy fashion. They did it with balance and teamwork... Ted always says it and now I'm saying it, when this team is playing well, they may be better than anybody. They are like a well-oiled machine... This was the best I've seen 6'8 210-lb Jr. F Rob Kurz play all season. He went for 21 Points (9-for-13, 2-of-6), 17 Boards, 3 Assists & 4 Blocks. Kurz is recognized as one of the country's top 75 Juniors by most and he showed it today. He has really gotten stronger and has become a better defender. Here's some food for thought though. Has the added strength made him into more of a 3/4 than a 3/2? I think it has. He looks to be a step slower, but he is more handy around the hoop. It'll be interesting to see how it all will evolve as Kurz could easily grow another inch or two and put on more weight. Maybe this is all me picking. Maybe its just where he's playing for his HS team... An assistant from the SEC's Vanderbilt was in the house to catch Jr. PG Sean Singletary's act. I'm sure he left impressed. It didn't show in the numbers, but S.S controlled the game at both ends... Sr. F-C Mike Boles must average two charges per night (& 4 Fouls -- smile). He made good on that stat today... The only real contributor for EA was Sr. G Ronnie Frazier (19 Pts). Ron has made great improvement from the first time I saw him a few years ago. He should have a nice small college career after his Churchman days... Freshman F Gerald Henderson had a subpar performance, yet I still feel that he is the Top Freshman in the whole state and an All-American one day if he so chooses to put his energy into this sport. Those are lofty predictions, but yeah I said it...
Roman 70, West Cath. 61
The Cahillites got more than they bargained for at the magical Burrdome. The Burrs fought hard and had their chances, but just couldn't get over the hump... The Burrs held Roman star Jr. F Charron Fisher pretty much in check. He scored 12 of his 16 from the foul line and had NO DUNKS!.. 6'5 200-lb Jr. G-F Marshall Taylor was very animated all night long while guarding Fisher. These days Marsh' is playing PG on Offense and Center on defense. That's alot of ground to cover. He deserves to be commended... Jr. WG Rob Latimer (23 Pts) is really starting to come on. His biggest vice has always been that he didn't finish around the hoop. Well he does now. He always could get there at will. Now all he must do is develop a consistent jumper from the Mid range and he'll be that much more dangerous... West is now starting two high-quality Freshman at the Forwards in 6'3 Chris Mayo and 6'4 John Maddox. Both have bright as the sun futures. Mayo is strong and aggressive on O. He also has great feet. Maddox, who is also a budding star on the field at WR, is LONG & ATHLETIC. He's intriguing though because he has an uncanny feel for the game and is already aggressive at both ends. They'll be fun to watch over the next few years... Doesn't Roman Soph. PG Bob Jordan (9-for-10 at the line, I believe) have alot of R.C Kehoe (Roman 96') in him? They were very similar as Sophs. Both bark out orders, have ALL of their teammates respect and play with alot of heart and leadership... Roman's Jrs: Brett Johnson, Andre Sloan-El & Khalil Ferguson are all wildly similar from height to body type. All can be very good defenders too... Sloan-El and Ferguson are both lefties.
Washington 63, Lincoln 54
I'm sorry to be late with this report, but I have been experiencing computer problems for the last day or so. On the game, I'll say this: The George Washington Eagles are a dangerous squad. They are capable of knocking somebody off. They have all the pieces to the puzzle to make for a team that could go deep into the playoffs and they continue to gain confidence and improve each time out. Lincoln is good too, but will be even better next year as they return everybody except one key cog. The Railsplitters went into this contest without 2 starters, one being their top player 6'3 Jr. G-F Steve Hassell. The other was Jr. WG Kari Clinkscales. However, they still led by a 34-23 score at halftime. Then the Eagles woke up and starting giving the ball the 6'8 Sr. Center Dontay Tabbs and starting clamping down on defense. For one stretch that was atleast 6 minutes long spanning late in the 3rd and early in the 4th, Lincoln didn't score with G-Dub went on a 13-0 run. The score went from 46-38 Lincoln to 51-46 G.W. Tabbs was king in the 2nd half scoring 13 of his 16 Points. He also grabbed 10 Rebounds and swatted 4 shots. 3 of his field goals came on vicious slams. Another came on a hanging reverse lay-up plus the foul. This kid has a chance to be really good in time and from the looks of things he knows that now and wants to ride it out until the end. Many schools in High Major conferences have inquired about 'Tay and will monitor him next year while he's in Prep school. He got alot of help from 6'4 Sr. F Tariq Benn. Benn hustled for 15 Points and 18 Rebounds. He blocked 4 shots of his own as well. I really like this kid. He could thrive down the line after 2 years of Juco. This is his first year of playing in High school. He seems to jump 3 times before other guys jump once. He feels that every rebound is his. Coach Calvin Jones says that he has been the difference maker in this team's success. I'll second that. Sr. PG John Hampton (8P, 9R, 5A & 3S) seems to be the calming influence on the team. He had a nice all-around performance. His backcourt mates Srs Joe Ndanu (12 Pts, 3 Assts) and Kasid Bland (9 Pts, 4 Assts) both contributed nicely. It seems that every time I see Ndanu, he does something eye-popping. He could really thrive in D-III as a CG. He always finishes around the basket, he's super quick and has a respectable jump shot with good range. For Lincoln, I really like 6'4 215-lb Jr. F-C Maurice McPherson (15 Pts on 4-for-6 & 7-of-10 & 8 Boards). He's as strong as they come and as aggressive as they come as well. I bet he's fouled out of atleast 5 games this year just because he's so active. He's got huge hands and wears a size 15 shoe too. Though he's not nearly as athletic, bodywise he reminds of Amiri "Ralph" Johnson (Parkway '92) who was a serious terror in the Pub during his day. Sr. PG John "Wes" Davis (11 Pts, 5 Rebs, 4 Stls) is a good shooter and solid passer. He'd make for a nice D-III fit as well. Skinny, 6'4 Jr. G-F Dennis Davis came off the bench. He started last year. He has a very nice array of skills and from the looks of things could play all three backcourt positions. He had the best overall feel on the team. He doesn't appear to want to work hard though and maybe that's what is holding him back. I'll see G-Dub on Monday for the game against King. That should tell alot about them. Things look bright for the Eagles even in the future as they have 3 underclassman 6'5 or better on the bench and 2-3 others on the JV.
Germantown 60, University City 53
I said it in a report last week and I'll say it again. One of these days U-City Coach Ken Gritter , a good man and a coach alike, will coach a really good team. At this point in time, he has to settle for a bunch of good kids filled with talent, but more inexperience. In this contest, Germantown went early on without its two top Srs. PG Tyrone Sheppard and F Keith Shanks. Both were serving school detention and didn't arrive until midway through the 4th. Neither played until the 3rd. Sheppard (3 As) picked up 4 fouls in the 4th alone, but still contributed nicely. Shanks ditto. The headliners were Jr. G-F Ivan Evans and Sr. PG Steve "Ali" Custus. Evans scored 15 of his 17 in the 1st half. he also snared 5 Boards. His most impressive points were a breakaway two-handed double pump slam at the end of the 2nd. This kid can get off the floor with the best of 'em. One day he may star as he's the top Bear skillswise. He's also said to be a top student and kid. It'll be interesting to watch his growth. Custus enjoyed a nice performance of 15 Points (5-for-8, 5-of-10 from the line), dished 5 Assists & plucked 3 Steals. He is listed at 5'9, but really probably goes 5'6. He plays with alot of spunk though. He could play somewhere after HS. I also liked Jr. G-F Bryan "Buss" Jones (10 Pts, 5 Rebs, 3 Assts, 6 Stls). He does all the little things that no one else will do and is the team's best defender. Similar F-Cs 6'5 Jr. Brian Carrol & 6'5 So. Devon Price split 10 Boards evenly. Both were active. For UC, the only true contributor was Sr. G-F Brandon Moton (19 Pts & 7 Rebs). He is the only holdover from last year. UC lost much talent from their building as 5 possible contributors are gone for one reason or another. That's a tough road. I do like the skills of Gs Jr. Jeff Andrepoint & So. Antoine Coaxum. Both have nice futures. Coaxum has the look of the classic Jaguar Guard: smart, tough & aggressive.
Scholastic Showcase @Villanova
Strawberry Mansion 77, Abe Lincoln (NY) 73
It felt good to see Mansion Superguard Maureece Rice (now 2,519 Points) look like his old self again against a quality National opponent. Maybe this will soften the lasting impression that some had after his below average performance against Lebron James back in December because on this day in front of a decent crowd Rice not only won the game, but he won the battle between he and Jr. PG Sebastian Telfair, who is widely considered the Nation's Top Junior. Rice scored 30 Points (11-for-18, 2 treys, 6-for-8), dished 5 Assists & plucked 3 Steals. Twice he plucked Telfair, who handles the pill like a yo-yo aficionado, in the open court and went the other way for lay-ups. Other times with Telfair guarding him he took him to the weight room posted him up and lofted soft jumpers over him and a few times he made crafty, yet explosive moves, went around him and scored. His show was very impressive! Impressive enough to make me think to myself that the Knights are not to be counted out just yet in the Pub title picture. They are right in Midseason form and right there with the Gratz' and Bartrams and Kings. The Knights got much production from gritty Sr Forwards 6'6 Delton Morgan-Hines (13 Pts, 6 Rebs, 3 Assts) & 6'4 lefty Tyrell Mathis (16 Points, 13 Rebs, 3 Assts). Ever improving 6'4 Jr. WG Tracy Worley helped finish the Railsplitters off by nailing 4-of-4 at the line in the 4th. Telfair, though not at his best, was still very impressive. He goes hard. He digs in on defense. He's deceptively strong and he's as fast a guard as there is in the country. "Bassy" did score 26 Points (8-of-25 shooting, 3 treys, 7-for-11 at the line), dish 8 jaw dropping dimes and pluck 3 Steals of his own. He was credited with 7 Turnovers though. He just ran into a kid that wanted it more tonight. I'd really like to see Telfair lace 'em up against some of our top notch Jr. PGs (Singletary, Lowry, Brown, Cunningham, ect.) at some point. His main help came from 6'2 Sr. WG Jamal Dart (a D-1 Prospect in his own right) with 17 Points and 15 Boards. Lincoln caught a tough blow when impressive 6'7 Soph. Center Antonio Pena went down early in the 2nd. He had 6 Boards already when he went down. I hope he's O.K. Next for Mansion is this week's tough battle with FLC on Thursday. It'll be for 1st place in Division C.
SHOWCASE @ Ben Franklin High School
The 5 game Showcase at Franklin went really well. It served as a Pub Showcase and pretty good tune-up for the playoffs. In the first game Southern dropped one to Penn Charter 63-47. The PG matchup between top Jrs 6'2 Antoine "Doo Dirty" Brown & 5'11 Sean Singletary was even in my opinion. Both were a bit below average. Both had many turnovers and had trouble setting the other up from the offense. S.S did dish 10 Assists and Brown made 3-of-7 from downtown. I'd like to see them lace it up against one another again... This game was won by PC's two unsung Sr. Forwards 6'6 Matt Ryan (20 Pts on 7-for-10, 6-of-9 from 3, 7 Boards, 4 Assists) and 6'4 Mike Boles (11 Points, great post defense) , both aces on the gridiron. I'm really starting to believe that if Ryan were to put his energy in Basketball, he would have been a Lower Level Division 1 (Patriot/Ivy) Prospect. He does alot of things well... Boles deserves much credit. He just may be the City's best post defender. He really gets it done in the trenches... This one would have been interesting if the Rams other top notch Guard Soph. Amir Ryan would have played. He is serving a school suspension at the moment. He won't be back until Thursday... The second game put host Franklin against Shipley of the Mainline. Shipley is coached by two former Pub legends in Larry Cannon (Lincoln 65') and Tee Shields ... Their team is lead by two Sr. big guys that deserve looks in 6'8 French import Boris Meno & 6'7 250-lb Mike Krueter. Meno, who has softened on his commitment to Davidson, has a chance to be pretty good. He has great dexterity, a strong build that could get stronger and he's very bouncy. I'd say he'd be a good fit in the Atlantic 10... Krueter has a sloppy build for hoops and from the looks of him one would think he's a D-III Special. Ah, but his skills say different. Sure he doesn't have the greatest feet and isn't in the best shape, but he's surely a D-II and possibly a Patriot/Ivy type... Franklin was missing a few players, but still showed well and took the game down to the wire... Sr. Gs Tyree Wilson & Brian Smith fought hard. A few coaches were in attendance to check Smith out. I'm sure they left impressed... The 3rd game pit King vs St. Dominic's of Long Island, NY. The New Yorkers are a Princeton like team that is always patient and takes good shots. The Golden Cougars easily had their way with them and it made for a nice tune-up for their showdown with Bartram for 1st place on Tuesday... Many left impressed with Jr. (Sr. eligibility) SF Stefon "DJ" Jackson including myself. In another year, he could seriously break out. He already does one thing very well and that's stop on a dime and consistently nail down high elevated pull-up jumpers. I call it the money shot because guys with that kind of shot can go a long way in this sport. There ain't many guys that do that anymore. He's also as gritty as they come. He is the X-factor in King's title chase this season... Sr. WG Andre Hammond did much of the same, but only from long range... 6'10 (maybe 6'11) Sr. C Wayne Marshall was himself. Coach Greg Moore says that his LITTLE brother 6'8 300-lb Soph. Qwinton Marshall will begin suiting up as early as next week. He has been the largest stat man in the city to date. He was battling knee problems early on. Possibly growing pains?... Game 4, pit the rival Cats vs the Dogs as FLC took on Gratz... This was a tale of two halves as the Bobcats were dominant in the 1st and just as horrible in the 2nd. They scored 12 points (4-for-27, 1-for-14 on treys, 3-of-6 at the line) in the 2nd half and were totally out of sync. They led 30-21 at halftime and lost 59-42. That's 38-12 in the 2nd half in favor of Gratz. I really felt bad for them as this was their chance to show the city that the Bobcats were back and doing it the right way this time around. They will have future opportunities... The Bulldogs were in an early funk, but woke up big time after the half... Sr. PG Omar Johnson (5'5 135) did it again. He changed this game around by scoring 12 of his 21 points after the half and once again had his way with a higher rated PG. He also plucked 4 Steals. 6'4 Jr. Fs Mark Tyndale (15 Pts, 8 Rebs, 4 Stls) & Jason Hickenbottom (10 Pts, 12 Rebs, 4 Assts) were equally as important... I've said this many times and one day it will come true and that is that Gratz Jr. G Tyrone Smith (all 5 pts in the 4th, 7 Rebs, 3 Assts, 2 Stls) will one day star... This is a bold statement, but he just may wind up the best prospect on this Gratz team in he end. He just has to be patient and wait his turn just as many Dogs past have done... The Final game was indeed a goodie with local powers Bartram and Chester getting after it. Beforehand, I bumped into Bartram alum, former King FB Coach & current Chester FB boss Damond "Smash" Warren. He said that he was being heckled all week long in school about this game. Ofcourse, he was in favor of the Braves and they pulled it out with a hard-fought OT victory. Srs. PG Charles Jones (20 Points, 7 Assists), SF Todd "Kojak" McCoy (15 Points) & 6'10 F-C Jason Cain (16 Points, 11 Rebounds, 5 Assists & 3 Blocks) all played large roles... I'll say this right now, Jones is being terribly under recruited. He could play anywhere in Low D-I and probably even in a League like the MAAC or Colonial. They don't make 'em like C.J anymore. Nobody is more mentally tough... McCoy is the x-factor for this squad. He does all the dirty work and is the team's best defender. He deserved much credit for the win in this one... Cain was himself ofcourse. Once again he slithered his way around the baseline and finished. A few times with authority. He also did alot of ballhandling. As for now, he is a PF, but in time he could turn out to be one of the new age 6'10 wing players... Bartram is the weirdest team I've ever seen. They seem to thrive on being behind and having to come back. They almost never get rattled when crunch time comes... I didn't think that they'd be able to get away with that after losing "the Franchise" Richard Francis, but its still the same 'ol Braves and probably always will be no matter who's wearing the Maroon. This job could cause coach Lou Biester to go from grey to bald one of these days...