State College (Pa.) sharpshooter Drew Friberg (above) joins the Jersey Shore Warriors' 17Us this summer. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Josh Verlin (@jmverlin)
This week, we’ll be taking a look at the local AAU programs whose players will be drawing the attention of quite a few college coaches over the next two weekends, which constitute the April Live Periods.
Easily the most recognizable of the “non-shoe” programs in the region, the Jersey Shore Warriors have been a force to be reckoned with on the summer circuit for over two decades, thanks to program director Tony Sagona and his staff. They’ve become known as a feeding ground for Ivy/Patriot types, but that doesn’t mean there haven’t been quite a few high-major prospects along the way, like last year’s star Eli Brooks (Spring Grove, Pa./Michigan), one of six D-I players from the ‘16 Warriors.
Here’s a look at the Warriors’ oldest two teams, who will be spending their summers on the Hoop Group circuit; that has them playing in Manheim next weekend and at the Pitt Jam Fest April 28-30:
Paul Brown (2018/Salesianum, Del.)
Drew Friberg (2018/State College, Pa.)
Andrew Funk (2018/Archbishop Wood, Pa.)
James Leible (2018/Conwell-Egan, Pa.)
Tyler Norwood (2018/Penncrest, Pa.)
O’koye Tyree Parker (2018/Caravel Prep, Del.)
Andrew Sims (2018/Lenape HS, N.J.)
Malik Slay (2018/Downingtown East, Pa.)
Kyle Thompson (2018/St. Joe’s Prep, Pa.)
Connor Walsh (2018/Boys’ Latin School, Md.)
Lincoln Yeutter (2018/Bullis School, Md.)
Ryan Young (2018/Bethlehem Catholic, Pa.)
Breakdown: This is going to be a tricky group to figure out, because there certainly isn’t anything close to one star player like there was last year with Brooks and Taylor Funk (Manheim Central, Pa./St. Joe’s) as well as CAA Rookie of the Year Ryan Daly (Archbishop Carroll, Pa./Delaware) for the April periods. But there are several young athletes who have the capacity to rise to the occasion, and this is the summer where they need to learn how to do so consistently. Funk, who was the sixth man on Archbishop Wood’s 5A state championship squad, is a versatile 6-4 combo guard with a beautiful outside shot; his floor game’s development will determine what level of Division I ball he’ll play. Young, last summer a somewhat-passive 6-8 big man, has become a hard-working 6-9 forward who’s much more aggressive on the glass. Friberg, a 6-6 wing who played with Team Takeover (Md.) the last few years, is a face-up shot-maker who is trying to show he can create off the bounce as well.
Other than Young, it’s something of a slightly-undersized frontcourt; Brown (6-7, 200), Leible (6-7, 210), Walsh (6-6, 205) and Sims (6-6, 200), as well as Friberg, give Sagona enough options to rotate up front, though Sims, Friberg and Walsh are really all more comfortable out on the perimeter. The other five members of the roster -- Slay (6-1), Yeutter (6-1), Parker (6-2), Norwood (5-10) and Thompson (5-11) -- all are capable ball-handlers who could certainly see minutes depending on who’s hot in any given game. Slay, Norwood and Thompson all had to score the ball at a high rate for their high school teams this year, but will have to adjust to different roles over the summer. All-in-all, it’s a roster that Sagona will have no trouble mixing and matching throughout the summer, and while a few certain players might start to lead the team more often than others, the talent is there for even the 8th, 9th and 10th man on the team to shine.
Lower Merion wing Jack Forrest (above) is one of several sharpshooters on the Warriors' 16Us. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Gabe Arizin (2019/St. Joe’s Prep, Pa.)
Brian Basile (2019/Germantown Academy, Pa.)
Alex Capitano (2019/Great Valley, Pa.)
Joshua Cohen (2019/Christian Brothers, N.J.)
Anthony DiCaro (2019/Cherokee, N.J.)
Jack Forrest (2019/Lower Merion, Pa.)
Pat Kernan (2019/Shawnee, N.J.)
Luke House (2019/Archbishop Carroll, Pa.)
Jake Nelson (2019/West Chester Rustin, Pa.)
Jameer Nelson, Jr. (2019/Haverford School, Pa.)
Stephen Payne (2019/Lower Merion, Pa.)
Jonathan Post (2019/Pennridge, Pa.)
Breakdown: One thing was clear at last weekend’s Team Final Scrimmages: this Warriors squad can really shoot the rock. Forrest (6-4), Capitano (6-4) and House (6-5) are all plus 3-point shooters with good size on the perimeter, while Payne (6-1), Nelson (5-11), Kernan (6-2) and DiCaro (6-1) are far from liabilities in that area as well. It’s a really strong group of guards in general; Payne and Nelson are terrific ball-handlers, DiCaro, Kernan and Capiano can be reliable secondary handlers and even the bigs can put the ball on the. Keep an eye out on Nelson, a 6-6 wing forward with a strong frame who’s expanding his range out to the 3-point arc as well. Also up front are the 6-5 Arizin, 6-6 Post and 6-8 Cohen, none of whom will be expected to be standout scorers but all know their roles and play them well.