It’s Miller Time! Neumann Knocks Off Roman!

Hysier “Fabe” Miller has been one of the best guards in Philadelphia for three years… For the first two, he was a key cog for Martin L. King Jr. coach Sean Colson in the Public League. A great PUB and college guard that fought his way to the NBA, Colson has developed a well-earned reputation as one of the premier basketball trainers in the nation. When he’s not coaching MLK or Philly Pride, he can be found at the Steph Curry’s camp, the Under Armour Top 100 camp or in the gym with NBA players like Atlanta Hawk teammates DeAndre Hunter and Charlie Brown. Miller is the latest high level player to refine and polish his skills under the guidance of Colson. But that’s just part of his lineage… The boy is from the Southside…

Nate Blackwell, Jeff Myers, Lou Myers, Rashid Bey, Donnie Carr, Scoop Jardine, Lamin Fulton, Biggie Minnis and Hysier Miller…

He is the latest in a long line of super competitive, no-nonsense South Philly guards.

After rising early in the morning to travel from the southern end of the the city to the far Northwest to attend Martin L. King, Jr. HS for two years, Miller has found a basketball home in his beloved South Philly. He has joined a loaded Neumann-Goretti squad picked by many, including, the Black Cager as the #1 team in the region before the season started. Some wondered how Miller would adapt to his new role after being the ‘man’ for MLK last year. Would he be able to adjust to playing off the ball? How would he handle not being the man? All those questions have been cast aside.

A quiet, confident and highly intelligent young man, Miller has embraced the opportunity to play in front of capacity crowds against some of the best teams in the nation. Grateful for the opportunity to play in the Catholic League for the legendary Carl Arrigale, he has gladly come off the bench and he has served as a starter while the Saints have navigated an extremely tough early portion of their schedule. Miller has added considerable value to Neumann-Goretti. In a matchup with Westtown in December, Miller exhibited exceptional lateral movement and a willingness to play ‘chest first’ on-ball defense against the best opposing guards. He frustrated the highly regarded Jalen Warley and forced him commit several turnovers in the middle of the court as  Neumann-Goretti ran away with the game.

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Boo Farmer & Kev Sanchez, Front Row/Center Court

Tonight he was matched up with another highly regarded high major prospect, Lynn Greer, III. Greer is an established star in the Catholic League. He is capable of scoring in bunches. Greer doesn’t need screens or much help at all. He’s able to create space off the bounce utilizing excellent crossover and hesitation moves. In most games, Greer is a problem.

Tonight, Arrigale was able to leave Miller on Greer for extended periods by himself with no help. It was a great guard matchup… Greer played an excellent floor game. He played within himself, made very few mistakes and did not force the issue.

Overall, Miller and Greer were a push. They essentially cancelled each other out. For those who haven’t followed Martin L. King. Jr. over the past couple of seasons, that may come as a surprise. Throughout much of his High School career, Greer has been a top 100 player… He has participated in USA basketball and played on the EYBL circuit with Team Final and Team Takeover.

Miller, on the other hand, is just a hard nosed, hard playing tough kid from the Wilson Park projects. He’s hungry… He NEEDS a scholarship! There’s no college without a scholarship. He’s earning his keep the hard way… Game by Game… The folk that matter are noticing, as soon as he emerged from the locker room after the win tonight, Wagner Head Coach Bashir Mason offered him a scholarship.

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Hysier Miller moments after Wagner Head Coach Bashir Mason (r) offered him a scholarship

A great culmination to a great evening of high school basketball for Miller.

He helped Neumann-Goretti withstand a barrage of breath-taking, gravity-defying, FUCK yo Momma’s Momma, NBA quality dunks from Jalen Duren. It’s simply ridiculous to think Duren is just a sophomore. He is beyond physically dominant in one of toughest high school basketball leagues in the United States of America and he’s not even half way through his high school career.

I don’t know how to adequately describe the manner in which he attacks the rim. Duren dunks on your ancestors… HARD as shit! Big Momma and Pop Pop are begging their grandsons to do something… anything… make it stop!

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Jalen Duren, Roman Catholic at the free thrown line

But… when forced to make basketball plays away from the rim, he’s just ok. He’s not an adequate shooter and he has yet to develop reliable go to moves and counter moves. Moreover, going to him down the stretch is a questionable strategy because he’s yet to prove himself a capable free throw shooter.

Fouling Duren in one and one or bonus situations can be equivalent to forcing a turnover. He missed 3 out of 4 crucial free throws down the stretch. For the game he was a 1 out of 5 from the free throw line. Greer was 3 for 7.

In a game that close, between two evenly matched teams, the margin for error is razor thin… Neumann-Goretti capitalized…

I’m just gonna put out there… If you don’t like Jordan Hall and Hak Byrd, you don’t like basketball!

Hall is simply a magnificent high school basketball player. On a team with two kids that will be Division 1 point guards, Hall is the unquestioned primary ball-handler. At 6’8” he towers over opposing guards and wings. Until he shoots, one would think that he is a southpaw or ambidextrous. The ball is on a string… He teases opponents by dangling it out in front of them only to yank it back and explode by them when they reach time and time again.

Hall plays downhill, attacking the defense aggressively while keeping his head on a swivel. He’s constantly looking for the help defense, he’s forcing the double team and whenever it comes the ball is abruptly delivered to the player left open for a clean look at the basket. Neumann-Goretti plays good, solid basketball. Carl Arrigale has these super talented kids playing unselfishly at the high school level. He has almost too many weapons at his disposal.

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Hakim Byrd, Neumann-Goretti

Teams have problems dealing with Hakim Byrd’s combination of speed and skill. In the open court, it’s almost unfair. In most instances, Byrd is gonna lay it up… One way or another… If not, he’s gonna pull up for a three or a mid-range jumper that’s damn near as reliable as a layup. The most aggressive scorer on this year’s version of the Saints, Byrd is playing at an extremely high level. He spells Hall from time to time as a playmaker, but for the most part Byrd is looking to get buckets… And… He does his job exceedingly well!

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Hysier Miller, Neumann-Goretti. Photo Credit: Flawless Focus

Rahsool Diggins (Archbishop Wood), Stevie Mitchell (Wilson West Lawn), Jhamir Brickus (Coatesville), Lynn Greer, III, Jaylen Stinson (Archbishop Wood), DJ Wagner (Camden), Tazir Cantey (Lindenwold), Hakim Byrd and Hysier Miller… There’s a plethora of talented and tenacious guards playing in the region right now. This, my friends, is the Golden Era…

Y’all just not recognizing!

 

O’Hara Basketball… The Best Delco has to offer?

Delaware County has a strong basketball tradition… Growing up in Delaware County in the 70’s, and 80’s hoopheads were always focused on mighty programs in Chester, Darby-Colwyn and Darby Township. Occasionally, Penncrest, Yeadon, Bonner, Archbishop Carroll and Springfield would also field strong teams. Almost never was Cardinal O’Hara in the conversation…

Yeah… Yeah… they had the great Tom Ingelsby

Ingelsby played for the Lions from 1965 to 1969. In his junior season he helped the team win the Philadelphia Catholic League championship, knocking off Father Judge High School in the finals. Ingelsby’s O’Hara team fell short in the City Championship, losing to the West Philadelphia High School Speedboys. But beyond that… not much to the O’Hara hoops pedigree.

Times… They are a changin’…

A few years ago, O’Hara made the decision to, once again, get serious about their hoops program. They hired Jason Harrigan away from troubled Delaware Valley Charter High School to lead the basketball program and the Lions began to stick their heads outside the cage. After Delaware Valley Charter closed in June 2017, Harrigan brought the magnificent Antwaun “Booty” Butler (Austin Peay University) to O’Hara. With Butler manning the point guard position, O’Hara immediately became a factor in the Catholic League. No longer were the Lions thought of as “sweet.”

After going 6-16 in 2013-14, 2014-15, 2015-16 and 5-17 in 2016-17, Harrigan and Butler led O’Hara to a respectable 11-12 record in 2017-18. Things were looking up in Springfield.

But Harrigan decided to move on and the Lions were once again looking for a coach that could keep the momentum moving forward.

Enter Ryan Nemetz

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Ryan Nemetz, O’Hara Head Coach

 

Nemetz is an intensely-focused and razor sharp lifelong hoophead. He was previously an Assistant Coach at Eastern University where he worked closely with the players in all areas of the program including recruiting, player development, academic progress and scouting. Eventually, Nemetz’s primary focus became serving as the defensive coordinator and recruiting coordinator.

Nemetz played collegiately at Kutztown University from 2007-2009 and then transferred to Temple University where he served as a walk-on and student assistant from 2010-2012 under Big 5 Hall of Fame Coach Fran Dunphy. One should note that all five years that Coach Nemetz participated in college basketball, his teams made the NCAA tournament.

Before joining the staff at Eastern University, Nemetz served as the Director of Player Development at the House of Sports (Westchester, NY), Senior Staff Coach at IMG Academy (Bradenton, Florida) and Assistant Director of Team Nelson (Chester, PA) where he has coached numerous college and professional basketball players.

Nemetz has a keen understanding of the Delco and Philadelphia basketball landscape. He has been charged with the responsibility of managing the Jameer Nelson Point Guard Camp. In this capacity, he was able identify 20-30 of best guards in the Greater Philadelphia area and place them in a highly competitive setting on the campus of Girard College for 3 days under the tutelage of a 15 year NBA professional point guard.

Nemetz saw Isaiah Wong, Jhamir Brickus, Zahree Harrison, Naim Walker, Donta Scott, Seth Lundy and many other great high school players up close. He saw their work ethics… He saw their skill levels… He was able to effectively gauge the type of player and the level of effort that would be required to compete in the Philadelphia Catholic League.

Smart guy…

With O’Hara lacking a strong basketball tradition, Nemetz realized he had to be creative to lure smart, talented and athletic players to Springfield, Delaware County. Toward that end, Nemetz and O’Hara hosted the Black Cager Middle School Classic last February and March. This competitive circuit brought some of the best 7th graders in the region into O’Hara’s gym on two weekends to play against stiff competition from Virginia and Maryland.

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Maryland Freshman Starting Forward, Donta Scott, working Middle School Classic at O’Hara

 

Indeed, last night… four kids that played for Jarett Kearse’s WER1/Blue Magic club listed O’Hara as one of their final High School options alongside schools like Episcopal Academy, Friends’ Central and Shipley. These kids can play. They were dominant throughout the regular season on Black Cager Middle School Circuit. O’Hara and Nemetz made them and their families feel welcome when they played at O’Hara. Indeed, O’Hara was effectively Blue Magic’s home court last winter. One shouldn’t be surprised to hear “I wanna go to O’Hara” when these kids are asked where they want to play High School basketball.

These kids know O’Hara has a large, modern, well-lit gymnasium with stadium style seating on all sides. They know it’s one of the nicest facilities in the region.

These kids know Ryan Nemetz…

Last night, the nationally ranked Archbishop Wood Vikings traveled from Warminster to test the Lions… Exactly how far has O’Hara come? Clearly, they are good… But how good?

The kids watched an exciting and intensely competitive game. While O’Hara came into the game undefeated with wins over Catholic League contenders Archbishop Ryan and Bishop McDevitt… This would be THE test…

Well over 1,000 energetic spectators filled the gym. The enthusiastic O’Hara student-body was ready… Stephen Stewart from Delaware State, Boo Farmer from the Boo Farmer Podcast, Superscout Norm Eavenson and Nemetz’s mentor Fran Dunphy, the recently retired winningest coach in Big 5 history were there to see the highly anticipated matchup.

They were not disappointed…

O’Hara is a very good basketball team…Let me repeat… O’Hara is a very good basketball team…

However, John Mosco’s Archbishop Wood club is better and more experienced.

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Rahsool Diggins, Rivals Top 100 Point Guard

 

One immediately notices that Nemetz’s Lions have a Jason Vorhees-like quality to them… You simply cannot kill these guys. After the 1st quarter they were down 2 and Wood, relying on the incredible athleticism of Daeshon Shepard and Muneer Newton, extended the lead to double digits rather quickly.

Then the Friday the 13th music starts to play in your head… O’Hara crawls out of the swamp… kicking, snatching, clinging and refusing to die. They go in at halftime down 2.

 

 

The second half starts and you are reminded why Wood is nationally ranked and one of the favorites to win the Catholic League title. Everywhere you look, they have Division 1 basketball prospects. Their point guard, Rahsool Diggins, is the smoothest guard in the mid-Atlantic region. His game is like Häagen-Dazs… creamy goodness… He lulls you to sleep and then he attacks… Never in a hurry… He gives you the in and out and lets it play out… You can see the defender thinking he has adjusted and has the situation under control and BAM… there’s a cross over leaving the defender flat footed as Sool has entered the lane… The help defender is on his way but he’s too late… The floater has been released… Splash!

The Vikings are setting their defense…

Less than four minutes into the third quarter, the 2 point lead has ballooned to 13… It’s starting to seem like it’s just too much… Jaylen Stinson is sniping and then he’s in your jersey with you playing a type of man to man on ball defense not often seen around these parts… Marcus Randolph is slashing, pulling up and relentlessly looking to attack… Muneer is rebounding and rebounding and rebounding… And…

Oh shit… Watch yo head!

Shepard is hanging on the rim again after catching and cleanly finishing the perfectly placed alley oop from Sool.

It’s just too much… So you think…

Here comes that Friday the 13th music in your head… They just won’t die… O’Hara, once again crawls out of the swamp… kicking, snatching and clinging… They cut the lead all the way back down to 2.

Watching the O’Hara backcourt (Anthony Purnell, Adrian Irving, Jr and Tre Dinkins) compete you just keep saying to yourself… “these guys are good.”

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Adrian Irving, Jr., Cardinal O’Hara Guard

 

In the end, however, Wood was better…

Nonetheless, Ryan Nemetz just may have assembled the best team in Delaware County. The matchups with Bonner-Prendie and Archbishop Carroll will feature very high level scholastic basketball. Perhaps, the best that Delaware County has to offer.

O’Hara is in the mix… Yup O’Hara… Can you believe this shit?

Explaining College Recruitment or the Lack Thereof…

I am a trained political scientist. I try to structure my thoughts on social behavior using analytical frameworks borrowed from social science. One of the most powerful, and therefore most useful, is rational choice theory.  Rational choice is a framework for understanding and often formally modeling social and economic behavior.

Here we apply the basic premises of rational choice theory to the conundrum that is local college basketball recruiting. Basically, I’m trying develop an explanatory model make sense of shit that makes no sense at all…

Let me give a quick and dirty explanation of how I apply rational choice theory in this instance. I assume that aggregate social behavior (who gets and does not get D1 offers) results from the behavior of individual D1 coaches, each of whom is making their individual decisions. Rational choice theory then assumes that D1 coaches have preferences among the available high school/JUCO and transfer prospects that allow them to state which option they prefer. These preferences are assumed to be complete (the D1 coach can always say which of two prospects they consider preferable or that neither is preferred to the other) and transitive (if player A is preferred over player B and player B is preferred over player C, then A is preferred over C). In my rational choice model, D1 coaches are assumed to take account of available information, probabilities of events, and potential costs and benefits in determining preferences, and to act consistently in choosing the self-determined best choice of action.

Basically, a rational choice model assumes D1 coaches get out and actually watch the prospects first hand, have an understanding of the options each kid has, realize what the prospect can add to his program and work in good faith to win games and improve his program.

The challenge then becomes explaining recruiting outcomes that don’t make no muthafuckin sense.

In the Philadelphia region, there have been some truly befuddling recruiting outcomes in recent years. Sam Sessoms, Ryan Daly and Jhamir Brickus are examples that force me to call the explanatory power of rational choice theory into question.

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Sam Sessoms, Binghamton University

Sessoms was one of the best guards to come out of Philadelphia’s fiercely competitive schoolboy scene in recent years. Academics was not an issue for Sesssoms. He attended and did well at one of the elite private Main Line high schools. Moreover, he played on the prestigious Nike EYBL summer circuit. He played for the Team Final program that has consistently produced NBA players. During the winter, Sessoms absolutely scorched opponents during a dominant senior season that saw him easily eclipse the 2,000 point mark. Yet, he had exactly one (1) D1 scholarship offer from Binghamton University which plays in the low-major America East Conference.

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Ryan Daly, St. Joseph’s University

Ryan Daly was named the MVP in the Philadelphia Catholic League as a senior. Daly was the MOST VALUABLE PLAYER in one of the top 3-4 HS leagues in the nation. He is a fearless and fierce competitor capable of scoring in bunches from all three levels and rebounding like a power forward. Like Sessoms, his academic profile was beyond reproach. Indeed, he would have been accepted at Ivy or Patriot League schools. Then there is his DNA… his father and grandfather were Philadelphia Catholic League stalwarts and played college ball for St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia’s vaunted Big 5. Yet, very late into his senior season, he was struggling find an adequate suitor for his considerable skills. Fortunately, Delaware’s Martin Inglesby swooped minutes after being given his first head coaching opportunity and gave Daly an opportunity to play in the mid-major Colonial Athletic Conference.

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Jhamir Brickus, Coatesville High School

Fast forward to today… Jhamir Brickus has just exceeded the 2,000 point mark with about 20 or so games left in his scholastic career. He has Rip Hamilton in his rear view mirror and will soon lap John Allen to become Coatesville’s all-time leading scorer. He regularly gives highly respected opponents 40 or even 50 points in big games. See for example, the 52 piece family pack… with biscuits and extra gravy he dropped off on Chester in the PIAA playoffs last year. Brickus consistently dominates games from the backcourt with exceptional ball-handling and an uncanny knack for finishing at the rim through contact. Possessing exceptional vision, he is an elite passer. He has played a couple summers on the highly competitive Under Armour UAA circuit where he averaged double figures in points, 5 assists and less than 1 turnover per game… Please note… He averaged LESS than one turnover per game against some of the best competition available. Simply stated, Brickus is a bad, bad man… Yet, his has yet to reel in D1 offers commensurate with his exceptional abilities.

What da fuck? How do we make sense of these outcomes? In my search for answers, I’m leaning hard on the my understanding of rational choice theory… Truth be told… I’m really struggling to make this shit make sense…

The premise of rational choice theory is that the aggregate behavior (the total sum of D1 offers) reflects the sum of the choices made by individual D1 coaches. Each D1 coach, in turn, makes their choice based on their own preferences and the constraints (or choice set) they face.

The logic of the model holds that D1 coaches choose the action (or outcome) they most prefer. In the case where offers (or recruiting outcomes) can be evaluated in terms of costs and benefits, a rational coach chooses the prospect (or recruiting outcome) that provides the maximum net benefit, i.e., the maximum benefit minus cost.

The local D1 coaches (New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Washington, D.C. and Virginia) would experience very little costs recruiting these kids. Some gas, a few tolls and a couple Popeye’s chicken sandwiches on top of letters, phone calls, texts and DMs. Viewed in the context of their respective recruiting budgets, pursuing these guys costs nada, zilch, nothing…

The potential rewards? Daly exceeded 1000 points in two years and Sessoms may exceed 1,200 by the end of his sophomore campaign. Beyond that, these guys are Philly guards… They bring a level of toughness to programs that add a value that can’t be quantified. It’s apparent and easy to see now.

Indeed, if Sessoms or Daly were to enter the transfer portal today, each would likely receive 40-50 scholarship offers within a week. Think about that shit… The same D1 coaches that passed on them as high school seniors would relentlessly call, text, DM and visit them begging for their services today.

This begs the obvious question: How did they miss? Why couldn’t they see this 24-36 months ago?

We have to continue to assume that D1 coaches want to win… We must assume they want to add very good players. Indeed, the fact Zane Martin (New Mexico) receive offers from coaches at high major programs like Clemson, Seton Hall, Gonzaga and New Mexico 24 months after they were completely ignored by the same guys means something is seriously askew.

These fuckin’ coaches ain’t behaving rationally… The model doesn’t explain this shit…

Some really smart social scientists have introduced the useful concept of bounded rationality to account for situations precisely like this. Bounded rationality is the idea that rationality is limited, when individuals make decisions, by the tractability of the decision problem, the cognitive limitations of the mind, and the time available to make the decision. Decision-makers, in this view, act as satisficers, seeking a satisfactory solution rather than an optimal one.

In other words, coaches are limited by factors beyond their control. Plainly stated, some just are not that smart. In the words of my good friend, Amauro Austin, “some D1 coaches just don’t know what the hell they are looking at.” This was clearly the case in the recruitment of Ryan Daly. Coach after coach lamented that he was not an “explosive athlete.” They openly cited his lack of foot speed and the fact that he played “below the rim” as factors explaining their lack of a scholarship offer.

I would openly question if I had contacted the right office. I had to remind these guys, I was not trying to reach the track coach. I was not arguing that Ryan should run the 100 or 200 meter dash… Nor, was I suggesting that he be recruited as a high jumper…

“Sorry, coach… my bad… I thought you were looking for good fuckin’ BASKETBALL players.”

Same with Sessoms… He was too small… Incredibly, some even wondered if he could play at the D1 level at all. This as he was punishing opponent after opponent, it seemed like they were all reading from the same script. He can’t really shoot from distance… He’s not a true point guard… blah… blah… blah…

Huh?

Well… We seem to be headed down the same road with Brickus.

Here’s script on Jig… He doesn’t really play hard… He’s more of a small shooting guard… He doesn’t like to play defense… He’s too cool… He doesn’t play against anyone…

Once again, I find myself dealing with the “cognitive limitations” of a lot of D1 coaches.

I just want these guys to be actual rational actors… Unfortunately, more often than we care to admit, Amauro Austin’s assessment is dead on…

“Some D1 coaches just don’t know what the hell they are looking at.”

From the Mind of Rashime Middleton: HS Transfers

TALENTED TRANSFERS:

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Hysier Miller, Neumann-Goretti

HYSIER “Fabe” MILLER– 6’0 CG:
From  MLK to Neumann Goretti

The “gritty” South Philly guard has come back home to play for “Legendary” Catholic League Head Coach Carl Arrigale. “Fabe” has all the tools to get the job done….”Fabe” excels  in transition getting to the basket and drawing fouls. Very underrated passer, capable of hitting the long ball….sneaky hops too…. crafty ball handler “ankle breaker badge”…..mastered the stop ‘n’ go game that confuses defenders….Big time heart and a big time shot maker. I’m excited to see “Fabe” this season with Neumann Goretti.

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Ahmad Fair, School of the Future

AHMAD FAIR– 6’1 (SR) PG:
From Fels to School of The Future

“Mr. Excitement” is back like he never left, playing for 2nd year Head Coach Stan Jones at School of The Future.

Ahmad has stepped back on to the BBall scene with something to prove. The lightning quick guard keeps defenders on their toes with his unique ability to push the tempo. Ahmad has matured on the basketball court a great deal since I last seen him play. His hesitation off the bounce is extremely deceptive, creating space between him and his defenders  for his pull up. Ahmad is a dynamic passer, with the natural ability to find his teamates for open buckets which makes him exciting to watch. He may finish the season as one of the Top 5 PG’ s in the area JUST WAIT!!!!

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Mike Anderson, Girard College

MIKE ANDERSON– 5’10 (SOPH) PG:
From Roman to Girard College

MINUTES, MINUTES, MINUTES did not come easy for “Mighty Mouse” during his time at Roman Catholic. Now, at Girard College he will be the captain of the ship. Anderson’s game speaks volumes. Underrated as an athlete, Anderson is always in attack mode. Anderson can score from all 3 levels with a natural instinct for playmaking. Dynamic ball handling skills with good footwork when attacking off bounce. Hard to keep out of the lane, uses his body very well when drawing contact. Anderson score in bunches a plethora of ways which makes him a unique prospect. Now in the class of 2022, he’s arguable the best PG in the class.

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Che Evans, Neumann-Goretti

CHE EVANS– 6’7 (SR) WG:
From Dulaney(Md) to Neumann Goretti

The 6’7 San Diego State commit has brought his talents up I95 in hopes of winning a PCL Title. Che is a versatile athletic wing, who plays above the rim. Che is a high volume scorer who can get a bucket from all 3 levels. Solid ball handler who can make plays off the bounce. Che suffered a leg injury earlier this year that’s kept him off the court. Looking forward to seeing Che with the Saints this season.

MORE TALENTED TRANSFERS:

JEREMIAH BEMBRY- 6’5 (SOPH) CG:
From Pillow Academy(MS) to West Catholic

NAJI REID- 5’11 (SOPH) 2G
From Lincoln to Imhotep

DWAYNE SATCHELL- 6’8 (SR) C
From Valley Forge Military Academy to Gratz

CHRIS KIRKLAND- 6’7 (SOPH) WF
From Friends Select to Roman Catholic

MARCUS RANDOLPH- 6’3 (JR) 2G
From Willingboro(NJ) to Archbishop  Wood

THERMERE SIMMONS- 5’10 (JR) PG
From Imhotep to School of The Future

ISAIAH ENNIS- 6’5 (JR) PF
From Girard College to School of The Future

ALEEM LEE- 6’5 (SOPH) PF
From Monsignor Bonner to School of The Future

NADIR WOOD- 6’8 (SR) PF
From School of The Future to Math Civics and Science

James Nelson Stewart’s PIAA Elite 8 Preview

By James Nelson Stewart

March 15, 2019

PIAA ELITE 8 Preview

Well we are down to the Elite 8 for all of the classification of the PIAA. There have been some major upsets along the way (Nationally Ranked Abington losing to Pennridge and Lower Moreland beating Lehigh Valley powerhouse Bethlehem Catholic). In saying that, most of the predictions have been right on as I have gotten 15 of the 16 teams correct in the 5A and 6A brackets (save Pennridge). But now the tournament has gotten to where every game will be closely contested and teams that are favored are not favored by much.

Another big storyline is the DOMINANCE of the Philadelphia Catholic League (PCL). The PCL is 15-1 going into the Semifinal round (with Ryan losing a close battle out West to Moon Township). This round will change that narrative as we will have 3 PCL Battles this weekend (6A Roman-LaSalle, 4A Bonner-Carroll, 3A Neumann-McDevitt), so at least 3 less PCL teams will be eliminated from State Title hopes. So let’s go down the brackets and see the who moves on.

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Methacton’s Jeff Woodward & Dave Duda

6A
25-4 Pennridge vs 22-7 Methacton @Plymouth Whitemarsh 1PM Saturday 3/16
After 3 losses to Abington, Pennridge shocked the Nationally Ranked Abington Ghosts 55-51 on Wednesday. Sean Yoder and Company won this hard fought game by just out-willing their opponent. Now they face the well balanced Warriors of Methacton. Methacton has a great inside/out combination with Woodward (6-9 Jr) inside and David Duda (6-3 Sr) and Eric Timko (6-4 Jr) providing the outside punch. This should be another war. This is the farthest both teams have EVER gone in the State Tournament and neither seem ready to go home. Plus these are AAU teammates going Head to Head in Yoder and Duda (East Coast Power). This one goes down to the wire but I think Pennridge prevails 67-65.

24-4 Roman Catholic vs 25-3 LaSalle @Archbishop Ryan 2PM Saturday 3/16
It’s hard to beat a great team 3 times, but that’s what Roman is trying to accomplish in this game to move to the Final 4. The names haven’t changed (Hart, Lundy, Duren, Wild, Williams, Powell, Crisler, Kriska, Timby, Freyre, Beard) except Lynn Greer III is not playing in this contest. 2 of the best teams in the state with Division 1 talent all over the floor but this game may be decided by guys with the lower profile. Louie Wild will play a big part of this game for the Cahillites and sharp shooter Jake Timby will provide a clutch presence for the Explorers. But Hakim Hart has been arguably the best player in the City this year and seems to be on a mission. Roman 70-63

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Jhamir Brickus and Coatesville

28-2 Coatesville vs 22-6 Chester @Spring-Ford 1PM Saturday 3/16
Historically Great teams matchup again in this round. Chester just beat another great program in Harrisburg in the last round and Coatesville beat Highly-Recruited Ethan Morton and Butler their last time out. No need to hype this up. 2 teams with very passionate fan bases!!! This matchup is FIRE!!! Man-Man vs Jig WOW!!! But the difference maker is Dupree Bryant, arguably the most athletic young man in the state. As he says, Heart over Height!!! I’m taking Coatesville 78-75

24-3 Kennedy Catholic vs 24-3 Mt. Lebanon @Aliquippa 1:30PM Saturday 3/16
Key players: 6-10 Sr Oscar Tshiebwe (Kennedy Catholic) 6-6 Sr Maceo Austin (Kennedy Catholic) 5-11 Sr Michael Palmer (Mt. Lebanon) 6-3 Sr Sean Loughlin (Mt Lebanon)
Too much size as Kennedy Catholic moves on 68-58

5A
21-7 Sun Valley vs 26-2 Abington Heights @Liberty HS 6:00PM 3/15
The District 1 Champs are facing the Defending State Champs. The Senior Laden Sun Valley team led by Vinny DiAngelo and Marvin Freeman are going up against Binghamton signee 6-6 George Tinsley and Coach Ken Bianchi. The experience will play a factor in this game. Abington Heights 68-60

Archbishop Wood vs. Meadville PIAA Class 5A Championship

Julius Phillips, Archbishop Wood

18-8 Archbishop Wood vs 25-3 Pottsville @Geigle Complex 7:30PM 3/15
2 teams that have very good underclassmen (Pottsville Jr. 6-6 Kevin Schenk and Jr. 6-1 Mason Barnes and Wood’s So trio of 6-1 Rahsool Diggins, 5-10 Jaylen Stinson and 6-5 Super Athlete Daeshon Shepherd) that are leading these teams. But the difference here is 6-5 Sr Julius Ju-Ju Phillips and Championship Coach John Mosco. Those 2 have been under the bright lights before and shined very bright. Wood 62-53

Lower Dauphin 25-3 vs Moon 25-2
Key players: 5-10 Sr Luke Hedrick (Lower Dauphin) 6-7 Jr Donovan Johnson (Moon)
Moon 50-47

Mars 27-1 vs Meadville 20-6
Key players: 5-10 Sr Andrew Reechia (Mars) 6-7 Jr Michael Carmody (Mars) 6-8 Sr Lashon Lindsey (Meadville) 6-3 G Davyon Butler (Meadville)
Mars 62-60

4A
Bonner 20-5 vs Archbishop Carroll 17-10
Key Players 6-3 Sr Miami Signee Isaiah Wong (Bonner) 6-8 Sr Tariq Ingraham (Bonner) 6-5 Sr Luke House (Carroll) 6-7 Jr Tairi Ketner (Carroll)
Bonner 58-54

Lower Moreland 24-3 vs 24-3 Scranton Prep
Key Players: 6-3 Sr Forrest Keys (Lower Moreland) 5-10 SR Shane Cohen (Lower Moreland) 6-8 Lafayette Commit Leo O’Boyle (Scranton Prep) 6-8 JR Rhys Merritt (Scranton Prep)
Scranton Prep 62-56

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Donta Scott, Imhotep

Imhotep 23-6 vs Bishop McDevitt 24-3
Key Players: 6-7 Sr Maryland Commit Donta Scott (Imhotep) 6-4 Sr Xavier Commit Dhamir Bishop (Imhotep) 6-6 Sr Chereef Knox (Imhotep) 6-0 Sr Alin Jones (Bishop McDevitt) 6-3 Jr John Kelly (Bishop McDevitt)
Imhotep 65-40

New Castle 23-4 vs Hickory 26-1
Hickory 73-69

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Hakim Byrd, Neumann-Goretti

3A
Neumann Goretti 21-7 vs Bishop McDevitt 20-7
3rd matchup between the 2 teams, each team winning 1. This is the tiebreaker. This is the battle of guards NG is led Athletic Sr. 6-2 PG Rider Commit Chris Ings, 5-10 Jr Hakim Byrd and 6-6 Jr Jordan Hall. McDevitt is led by 6-0 Jr Robert “Man Man” Smith, 6-1 Jr Amir Harris and 6-4 Jr Jamil Manigo. Even better is the battle of wits between 7 time Champion and recent 500 game winner Carl Arrigale and Reigning Catholic Coach of the Year McDevitt’s Will Chavis. Expect a game where every possession is a war and every move is countered by an opposing move. It’s had to defeat a champion and that’s why I give the edge to Neumann 58-55

Lynn Greer and Hakim Byrd: Philly Guards

The ‘Philly Guard’ is a thing…

Throughout the basketball world, especially at the AAU/Grassroots, scholastic, collegiate and professional levels there is a common understanding about what it means to be a ‘Philly Guard.’ Nasty, tough, persistent and willing do whatever it takes to win a basketball contest.

This ‘Philly Guard’ concept has been around for more than 6 decades. John Chaney (Ben Franklin), Tee Parham (Northeast HS), Guy Rodgers (Northeast HS), Wali Jones (Overbrook HS), Walt Hazzard (Overbrook HS), Andre McCarter (Overbrook HS) and Mo Howard (St. Joseph’s Prep) embodied the concept. Among hard core Philly hoop heads of a certain age, these are some of the names that immediately come to mind when thinking about ‘Philly Guards.’

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Maurice ‘Mo’ Howard (center) at University of Maryland practice

Across the country, Earl Monroe (Bartram), Pooh Richardson (Ben Franklin) were probably the best known ‘Philly Guards’ until Kyle Lowry (Cardinal Dougherty) embarked upon his own Hall of Fame level career.

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Kyle Lowry, Toronto Raptors

The Philly Guard tree is a gift that keeps on giving. On Friday, January 18, 2019 about 1,500 Philly Hoop Heads were treated to phenomenal performances by two of the youngest fruit to fall off the tree.

Lynn Greer, III led his Roman Catholic Cahillites into battle against the Neumann-Goretti Saints, led by Hakim Byrd. As always, this was a BIG FUCKIN’ GAME! These two powerhouse programs have dominated the Catholic League over the past two decades.

Of the two, Greer is the far better known and more highly regarded commodity. He was literally born into it… His grandfather Lynn Greer, played on Edison High’s 1969 city championship team, which featured stars Romie Thomas and Reggie Kitchen. He then went on to play for Virginia State in the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association, the oldest Black college sports conference in the nation. Greer was a four-year starter, the team captain (1971-73), an honorable mention All-State (1972), an all-conference standout (1972 and 1973), and a second-team All-State honoree (1973). He was drafted by the American Basketball Association’s (ABA) Carolina Cougars and by the NBA’s Phoenix Suns.

Greer’s father, Lynn Greer, Jr. was a flat-out superstar performer for Temple from 1997 through 2002. Greer left the Owls as the program’s second all-time leading scorer with 2,099 points.  Greer had one of the finest offensive seasons in Big 5 history as a senior. In 2001-02, he averaged 23.2 points, piling up 719 points, while earning first team all-conference, all-district and Philadelphia Big 5 Most Valuable Player honors.

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Lynn Greer, Jr., Temple and Big 5 Hall of Famer

A Philadelphia Public League product (Engineering and Science HS), like his father before him, Greer also set still-standing school records for single-season three-point accuracy (.472) and career free throw percentage (.852).  He is Temple’s all-time leader in games played (137) and was a member of four NCAA Tournament teams, including two Elite Eight trips (1999, 2001), and one NIT Final Four (2002) in his career.  Upon graduation, he played one season in the NBA and went on to a 12-year professional career overseas.

Lynn Greer III, or LG3 as he is affectionately known, was expected to be very good. It’s in his DNA. He was handed the ball immediately upon arriving at Broad and Vine. He had a rock solid freshman season. He turned in a very memorable performance against another highly regarded Philly Guard when he battled McDonald’s All-American Quade Green head-to-head at Holy Family University. But the ‘man’ among Philly Guards that season, by any reasonable measure was yet another Philly Guard, Archbishop Wood’s Collin Gillespie. The rookie Greer, however, would go on to average 11.4 ppg as a freshman while being named 3rd team All-Catholic.

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Lynn Greer, III, Roman Catholic High School

He made huge strides as a sophomore when he averaged 16.8 mpg and helped lead Roman to Catholic League and PIAA State Championships. Over that stretch, Greer’s name became nationally known. He was ranked in the top 100 by most Scouting Services and named to the USA National team. He briefly transferred to a National Prep powerhouse, Oak Hill Academy, for the start of his senior season.

Like Greer III, Binghamton University’s Samuel Sessoms, Austin Peay University’s Antwuan ‘Booty” Butler, Olympus Prep’s Yazid Powell and Archbishop Wood’s Jalen Stinson, Neuman-Goretti’s Hakim Byrd spent hundreds of hours in the hot, sweaty nondiscript crucible that is the James L. Wright Recreation Center while in the 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th grades. Greer and Byrd were backcourt mates in the Bottom Ballers grassroots program and they teamed up to terrorize middle school programs for the better part of three years.

On Friday, they were opponents, starting point guards in the premier programs in the esteemed Philadelphia Catholic League.  However, one should note that Byrd’s path to gaining control of the point guard position was much rockier than Greer’s. Whereas Greer was named the Roman point guard when the homeroom bell sounded the first day of school freshman year, Byrd had to rumble his way in over 24 months.

So, the Bottom Baller teammates traveled far different routes to their confrontation Friday night. Byrd played JV as a freshman. Coming back from injury as sophomore, he made the decision to split time between JV and varsity.

Seated next to Byrd’s father, Ronald, at one JV game, I asked why was Hakim playing when he was clearly far more skilled than 99.99999% of JV players. His Dad said that he and his son decided that they needed game reps. While he was playing in every varsity game, his minutes were sporadic and he wanted stay sharp especially after missing time with an injury.

Imagine that… No talk of transferring… No sulking… No bitching…

Hakim Byrd and his father wanted to play in games! They were NOT worried about appearances. They didn’t give FUCK what anyone had to say… They were NOT worried about points. They just wanted to stay sharp and get better. That’s the Bottom Baller way! It has paid off handsomely… This year, Byrd has taken control of the reigns for the Saints. He is the Neumann-Goretti point guard deftly running the show.

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Hakim Bryd, Neumann-Goretti point guard

The show came to CCP on Friday evening. There was a palpable buzz in the air surrounding the matchup. After all, Roman has 3 of the last 4 Catholic League Championships and 31 overall. Neumann-Goretti has 20 titles.

But, what many wanted to see was the game within the game. I, for one, eagerly looked forward to the point guard matchup between the two Bottom Baller alums. They did not disappoint. Greer played one of his finest games. His handle was flawless. His jumpshot was locked in. His decision-making was crisp. He put the Cahillites on his back early as they jumped out to a 22-14 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Then Hakim Byrd turned it on, He exploded for 14 points in the second quarter as Neumann-Goretti came back to take a 38-37 halftime lead. Boy… was it fun to watch. Byrd showed everybody why he needs to be considered for the the title as the best point guard in the Philly. He is lightning quick and it’s damn near impossible to stay in front of him. He can consistently get to the rim despite his lack of height. While he doesn’t have an imposing frame, he compensates with BIG FUCKIN’ BALLS, great heart and athleticism. Byrd plays bigger than he is. One of the best passers in the Philly. He is also an outstanding scorer when its needed. He is capable of starting and finishing the break and taking his man one-on-one. Byrd has improved his jump shot dramatically since his freshman season. He forces defenders to respect his three point shot, a key to his development. He is becoming a very consistent catch and shoot guy. But he makes a killing off the dribble. This kid is extremely efficient in general offensively.

Byrd is, unquestionably, a Division 1 point guard prospect.

So we have two real Philly guards. One with a long family legacy and big reputation. The other a scrappy, feisty, fast, determined, very talented and virtually unknown finally taking control of the ball this year.

It’s only right that they both finished with exactly 27 points. Their high level of play made the game extraordinarily enjoyable to watch. It was a very ‘clean’ game. Very few silly mistakes and blown assignments. The guard play was first rate.

If anyone is unclear what it means to be a ‘Philly guard’, send them a link to this game.

These two, trained in those fierce Bottom Baller practices, are carrying the long proud tradition forward.

Lynn Greer is a national prospect. He’s long been considered one of the best point guards in the nation and deservedly so. You knew that…

Hakim Byrd is right on his ass… Now you know that…

McDevitt Defeats Archbishop Wood!

Archbishop Wood has a very good boy’s basketball team. For the past few years, they have been one of the elite programs in the vaunted Philadelphia Catholic League. Tommy Funk (Army), Tyree Pickron (Quinnipiac), Collin Gillespie (Villanova), Karrington Wallace (Central Connecticut State), Matt Cerruti (Lock Haven) and Seth Pinkney (Quinnipiac commit) have forged a legacy that is being capably carried forth by Julius Phillips (senior), Daeshon Shepard (Sophomore), Rasool Diggins (sophomore) and Jaylen Stinson (sophomore).

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Collin Gillespie, Wood Alum

Wood remains one of the most respected scholastic basketball programs in the Greater Philadelphia region.

Tonight… They were the second best team in the gym at McDevitt High School.

Named Head Boys Basketball Coach McDevitt in May 2017, Will Chavis has quickly turned the program into a contender for one of the highly coveted spots in the Catholic League Final Four at the Palestra.

Defeating Archbishop Wood before a full house tonight, let’s everyone know: McDevitt is for real…

They have a prolific scorer. Robert Smith, a 6 ft, 180 lbs junior southpaw is on a fast track to a 1,000 points in just 2 seasons. Smith is a crafty player with great vision and offensive skills. For a player just beginning his junior season his skills are advanced. He is smooth. He can shoot, handle and pass. He does an excellent job of breaking down opponents and taking what the defense gives him. He can stroke it from outside as well as get by his man and take it to the rim. He is especially effective going to his left hand.

Tonight, he earned every one of his 18 points. Wood sophomore, Jaylen Stinson was given the task of containing Mr. Smith. For those who have yet to observe Stinson play defense, let me try to adequately describe his approach.

Jaylen’s commitment to man-to-man, on ball, defense is truly spectacular. For much of the game, it appeared that Stinson and Smith were “slow dragging” in a $1.00 basement party. Still, Smith never forced anything and showed great patience throughout the hard fought contest.

Smith’s running mate, junior PG Ahmir Harris played an exceptional floor game. He was very composed and make several big shots when Wood trimmed the lead to an uncomfortable margin.

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Ahmir Harris (center) and Jamil Manigo (right)

But, the player of the game was junior PF Jamil Manigo. A decidedly undersized “big”. Manigo had to contend with Wood’s high flying super athletic front court of Shepard, Phillips and Jackson. Keep in mind… Each of the Wood forwards jumps considerably higher than Manigo. Each of the Wood forwards runs faster than Manigo. But, it wasn’t a track meet… It was a basketball game.

At first glance, one thinks Manigo he should be playing in a 35 and over league. He’s not exactly svelte. I don’t think there was ever a moment when he could have jumped over a copy of Daily News.

But tonight… He seriously out played his Wood counterparts. As noted earlier, he is undersized, but make very effective use of guile and skill to compensate. Manigo is not a great athlete, and could be even more effective if he worked on his conditioning. He has a strong lower body, and shows impressive body control in his midrange and post game. Displays command of several offensive moves in the post. He possesses a very soft touch. He is a very good rebounder on both ends of the floor.

Manigo is ready made for small college basketball… D2s and D3s should be lining up to talk to the kid. He put up 19 points and controlled the boards, while helping to limit Phillips to 7, Shepard to 9 and Jackson to 0. IMPRESSIVE!

Lastly, it should be noted that on 6 consecutive occasions, McDevitt emerged from time outs of the end of quarter stoppages and ran plays that led to relatively easy baskets… Six straight times!

That is a testament to Will Chavis’ ability to make in-game adjustments and his player’s commitment to executing.

Damn good win! Damn good coach! Damn good team!

Notice served!