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April Live Period Preview: 2019s/2020s to Watch

04/18/2017, 3:45pm EDT
By Josh Verlin & Ari Rosenfeld

Josh Verlin (@jmverlin) &
Ari Rosenfeld (@realA_rosenfeld)
--

It’s time for the April live recruiting periods, the first two weekends since the end of the high school season where Division I coaches can go to events and watch prospects compete; specifically, watch hundreds of them compete at once in mega-events taking place all over the country.

The vast majority of the region’s talent are on one of four circuits: Nike EYBL (Team Final), Under Armour Association (Philly Pride, WeR1, Team Rio), Adidas Gauntlet (K-Low Elite) and Hoop Group (Jersey Shore Warriors, East Coast Power).

Here are some current freshmen (class of 2020) and sophomores (class of 2019) from the Philly area to keep an eye on in April -- this by no means a list of all Division I prospects in those classes, just those who are most likely to get offers this month:

Dahmir Bishop (SG/Imhotep Charter, Pa./K-Low Elite)
-- Though he didn’t get to make much of an impact on Imhotep Charter’s varsity squad until about two-thirds of the way through the season, stuck behind several other talented Panthers wings -- we’ll get to the others in a bit -- Bishop is certainly a Division I prospect in his own right. A 6-4 wing guard with long arms and a solid bounce to his step, Bishop is learning how to become more than just a defender/run-and-dunk player in transition; he’s becoming a better 3-point shooter and can put the ball on the floor as well.

Jon Bol Ajak (PF/Church Farm, Pa./Team Final)
-- Already holding offers from Temple and Saint Joseph’s, the 6-10 South Sudan native has a chance to see his recruitment go national this spring. Extremely mobile with an impressive feel for the game already, Ajak has soft hands and is developing quickly on the offensive end. He’ll impress coaches with his endless motor and willingness to run the floor.

Amin Bryant (G/Archbishop Ryan, Pa./K-Low Elite)
-- An athletic 6-3 guard, Bryant has patiently waited his turn alongside
Izaiah Brockington, the Ryan senior and D-I prospect (after a prep year) who led the Raiders into the state playoffs for the first time this year. But now Bryant is getting ready to become a dominant force for Ryan, which means he’ll need to take a big step up in the leadership and scoring categories this summer for K-Low Elite on the 16u Gauntlet. Most importantly will be improving his 3-point accuracy, which will open up the lanes for his impressive driving ability.

Alex Capitano (SG/Great Valley, Pa./Jersey Shore Warriors)
-- The Patriots’ star sophomore missed most of the high school regular season with a hand injury, but he’s back in the flow of things at the right time. Part of a Warriors 16U squad that can really shoot the rock, Capitano fits in well as a 6-4 wing with a smooth outside touch, though he’s also got the ability to post up smaller guards and score around the rim. Continued work on his handle will bring in Ivy/Patriot offers.


Zach Crisler (above) is a mobile 6-9 forward with the ability to stretch the floor. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

Zach Crisler (F/La Salle College HS, Pa./New York Rens)
-- After spending last summer as part of a talent-rich but somewhat crowded Philly Pride frontcourt, Crisler will be making the trip up I-95 to play his AAU ball for the Nike-sponsored Rens this year. A 6-9 stretch ‘4’, Crisler already holds offers from Old Dominion and Columbia, but his combination of size and shooting ability have high-majors starting to sniff around.

Eric Dixon (PF/Abington HS, Pa./WeR1)
-- Dixon is perhaps the most accomplished local prospect in his class at this stage, having starred for two state playoff Abington teams, been invited to October’s USA Basketball junior minicamp, and been offered by Saint Joseph’s, La Salle, and Drexel. One of the more unique prospects around, the burly 6-8 post has worked on his body over the last year and has a chance to establish himself as a legitimate high-major prospect this spring on the Under Armour circuit.

Jack Forrest (SF/Lower Merion, Pa./Jersey Shore Warriors)
-- In some ways, Forrest is similar to his AAU teammate Capitano, in that he’s a 6-4 wing with good length and intangibles who’s still working on his ball skills to really become a true guard. But while Capitano is more of an inside-out threat, Forrest makes his mark from the 3-point arc with gusto, earning a reputation as one of the best shooters around and not just in the sophomore class. As he improves his ability to take his defender off the bounce, he’ll see some offers from schools that emphasize spreading the floor and shooting the 3.

Hakim Hart (SG/Kingsway, N.J./Philly Pride)
-- One of the best shooters in the region, Hart put up huge numbers in South Jersey this past year, including a 53-point outburst in which he nailed 12 3-pointers. His somewhat-slight, 6-foot-3 frame might limit his upside a bit, but coaches looking for a long-range sniper will surely be keeping an eye on Hart this AAU season, where he’ll face much stiffer competition in the UAA than he does during the high school season.

Christian Ings (G/Neumann-Goretti, Pa./NJ Playaz)
-- The most heralded area guard in his class, Ings played a crucial sixth-man role for the state champion Saints in his sophomore season. At 6-foot-3 with freakish athleticism, he possesses all of the physical tools of a high-major lead guard. He’s still refining his point guard skills, but schools from all levels throughout the region would be smart to monitor his development as he hits the Nike circuit with the storied NJ Playaz program.

Konrad Kiszka (G-F/La Salle HS, Pa./Team Final)
-- Kiszka spent last summer playing on a star-studded Team Rio National squad on the UAA’s 16U circuit, but will stay closer to home this time around, suiting up for Team Final. His sophomore season was cut short by a knee injury--he’s still getting back into game-shape--but his slashing ability and 6-foot-6 frame have already caught the eye of a number of low and mid-major programs. Exactly what level he winds up playing at will be determined by the development of his ball skills, and this will be an important time for him to show improvement in that area.

Chereef Knox (SG/Imhotep Charter, Pa./WeR1)
-- The second of four Panthers we’ll mention is Knox, who’s undergoing a growth spurt that’s taken him from a 6-3 guard to a 6-6 wing in the span of a few months; he’s lately started playing a little bit down low for WeR1, something of a new role for Knox. How much he continues to grow will certainly impact his recruitment, though even if he doesn’t grow another inch he’s got a chance to reach high-major territory by next year due to his well-rounded skillset and long frame.


Roman's Seth Lundy (above) is a 6-5 wing forward with a lot of upside at Roman. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

Seth Lundy (F/Roman Catholic, Pa./Philly Pride)
-- Fresh off a strong sophomore season at Roman, the versatile 6-foot-6 will look to take his recruitment national when he hits the Under Armour circuit this spring. One of the better rebounders around, Lundy has already been offered by Penn State, Temple, and Bowling Green, and coaches are sure to love his somewhat unique inside-outside game and ability to make an impact in ways other than just scoring.

Naheem McLeod (C/Plymouth-Whitemarsh, Pa./PYO)
-- There might not be a prospect in the area with a higher upside than McLeod, a rapidly developing 7-footer who might not be done growing just yet. He’s still quite raw, with his offensive impact coming almost exclusively within five feet of the rim, but McLeod is able to impact the game with his elite length and athleticism. His recruitment is still in its infant stages, but high-majors will surely be tracking the P-W big man as he plays up with PYO’s 17U group in the Hoop Group events.

Lucas Monroe (G/Abington HS, Pa./Team Final)
-- This will be a big summer for Monroe in terms of determining what path he’s on. At 6-5 and 180 pounds, he’s got terrific size for a lead guard, and two years of varsity experience at an Abington program that’s had a lot of success, though he’s generally been a third or fourth option on those Ghost programs. The consistent level of production that high-major prospects typically display has been lacking from him thus far, but he’s got the talent and athleticism to get there. If that switch flips, watch out.

Jake Nelson (F/West Chester Rustin, Pa./Jersey Shore Warriors)
-- Already a two-year starter for a WC Rustin program that’s on the rise, Nelson makes his mark playing a physical brand of basketball on the offensive end. The skilled 6-foot-6 lefty has a solid face-up game with the quickness and ball skills to get by defenders and attack the basket. Recently he’s been expanding the range on his jumper, allowing him to play more on the perimeter as a small forward. High-academic programs will be tracking him throughout the spring and summer.

Jacob O’Connell (C/Eastern, N.J./NJ Shoreshots)
-- Young for his grade (he’s not yet 16), there’s a ton of upside about this promising big man. Like most his size and age, O’Connell is still very much feeling his way into his body, but he shows flashes of being a well-rounded post player who can defend the rim, demand the ball in the post and even step out and knock down the mid-range jumper with ease. Stony Brook became his first offer, before his sophomore season; look for a number of other mid-majors to join in the mix before long.

Christian Ray (G-F/Haverford School, Pa./K-Low Elite)
-- A unique prospect, Ray stands about 6-5 and possesses both a solid 3-point stroke along with the size and scrap to hit the glass and finish inside. After transferring from Octorara and reclassifying from 2018, he made an immediate impact in his first year in the Inter-Ac, averaging a double-double for Haverford. He currently holds an offer from Bowling Green, and it will be interesting to track the level of schools that follow him this month.


Jamil Riggins Jr. (above) is one of several Imhotep wings to watch for in the 2019 class. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

Jamil Riggins Jr. (F/Imhotep Charter, Pa./Philly Pride)
-- The third of the Imhotep wings on this list, Riggins is a rugged 6-6 forward with a developing inside-out game. He’s been one of the more physical prospects in his class coming up through the years and had been able to rely on that to get him through, but now the skill set is beginning to come around, including a more reliable jumper out to 15 feet; he still makes his mark as a versatile defender and energy big who presents matchup problems for opponents at both ends.

Donta Scott (SF/Imhotep Charter, Pa./Philly Pride)
-- After starting for an Imhotep team which finished ranked in the top 5 of most national polls, Scott will lead a load Philly Pride group into the Under Armour Association’s 16U division. Standing almost 6-foot-8 with rapidly developing ball skills and a good nose for the ball, he looks every bit the part of a high-major prospect at this stage; it would be surprising if offers don’t begin pouring in over the coming weeks and months.

Ray Somerville (C/Shipley School, Pa./Team Final)
-- Somerville’s decision to transfer to Shipley this past school year and reclassify into 2019 has done wonders for his development, as the 6-foot-9, 240-pounder is starting to develop the skillset to go along with his next-level frame. It’s still early in his recruitment, but a number of mid-majors were in throughout the year to check in on Somerville and teammate Sam Sessoms. He already has a solid feel for the game and consistently plays hard from rim-to-rim; with continued development, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him playing high-major ball in a couple years.

Isaiah Wong (G/Notre Dame, N.J./WeR1)
-- A silky-smooth, high-scoring guard with one of the best handles around and a slick outside shot, Wong is one of the most likely candidates to see a recruiting explosion in the next few weeks. The 6-3 sophomore enters April with offers from Rutgers, Temple, St. Joe’s and Monmouth but some elite programs like Arizona, Ohio State, Villanova, Syracuse and more have been sniffing around; if he plays well on the WeR1 17s alongside high-major target
Eric Ayala, those offers could come sooner rather than later.

~~~

2020 Prospects

Noah Collier (F/Westtown, Pa./Team Final)
-- A still-growing 6-foot-6 combo forward, Collier got valuable experience playing a sixth man role for a loaded Westtown team which took home the PAISAA title this past year. Having been used to playing in the post as a younger player, he’s begun transitioning his game out to the wing, making him an interesting prospect to track at this stage. A long and fluid athlete, Collier will have a chance to attract attention from programs at a variety of levels, depending on how much coaches are willing to bet on his upside early on.

Jyare Davis (SF/Sanford School, Del./Team Rio National)
-- All it takes is one look at Davis to see why he’s considered one of the top prospects in his class, as the 6-foot-5 wing immediately impresses with a next-level combination of strength, grace, and explosiveness. The Delaware native will join a star-studded Team Rio 16U lineup on the Under Armour circuit, looking to add to an offer list which already includes St. John’s and Florida. Davis has already taken a visit to Duke, and it will be interesting to see how closely he’s tracked by the Blue Devils and other blue-bloods this spring and summer.


A.J. Hoggard (above) started at point guard all season long for Archbishop Carroll. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

A.J. Hoggard (PG/Archbishop Carroll, Pa./Team Final)
-- Hoggard was thrown into the fire from day one at Carroll, with head coach Paul Romanczuk handing him the reigns to the Patriots’ offense to begin his Catholic League career. Possessing muscular 6-foot-3 frame, he’s at his best using his strength and a deceptive handle to get into the lane and create. His decision-making still has room for improvement at the point guard spot, but you’d be hard-pressed to find many more talented backcourt prospects in the 2020 class.

Lynn Greer III (G/Roman Catholic, Pa./Team Final)
-- The son of former Temple star and recent Big 5 Hall of Fame inductee Lynn Greer Jr., the younger Greer has established himself as one of the top young guards in the area. Perhaps to no one’s surprise given his hoops pedigree, Greer III plays well beyond his years, as the 6-foot-2 guard plays at three levels and is composed at all times with the ball in his hands. He also has impressive strength and athleticism for his age, allowing him to consistently finish through contact at the rim. Greer holds a Penn State offer already, and could see his list grow a bit with a strong AAU season.

Mikeal Jones (F/Girard College, Pa./Team Final)
-- Jones is by far the most accomplished member of his class at this stage, having played key minutes on a state championship Roman Catholic team before reclassifying and leading Girard College to the state finals. The bulk of his minutes at Roman were spent as a power forward, but improved ball skills and a developing jumper have allowed him to gradually move his game out to the perimeter at 6-foot-8. Jones will hit the 17U EYBL circuit this summer, and after being tracked throughout the year by a variety of local schools at all levels, he’ll have a chance to pick up an offer or two prior to his sophomore year at Girard.

Elijah Taylor (PF/Imhotep Charter, Pa./WeR1)
--
The only true post player of this group of impressive freshmen is Taylor, a 6-8 big man with wide shoulders and a solid lower frame. Though he only saw spare varsity minutes as a freshman, it’s clear that Taylor gets what his job is on the court: run from block to block, fight for everything that comes off the rim and put back whatever he can. He’ll need to squeeze a few more inches out of his frame to garner serious attention right away, but he should be one of the more imposing big men on the UAA 15U circuit.

Kieves “Deuce” Turner (SG/Malvern Prep, Pa./Rip City)
-- One of several Division I prospects on Rip City, Turner is perhaps the most likely to pick up an offer or two this summer after a terrific freshman year at Malvern Prep. A 6-2 guard with a sweet outside shot, Turner is quickly getting better and better off the bounce, and displays nice athleticism for his age with the potential to add a lot to his frame. He’s already got the size and plays the part to get mid-major looks; if he grows a few inches more and fills out his body, he could be one of the best prospects in his class in the area before long.

Lance Ware (F/Life Center, N.J./New York Rens)
-- Perhaps no one on this list possesses as high of an upside as Ware, a 6-foot-8 wing with an impressive array of ball skills for his size and age. He was forced to operate in a point forward role for a young Life Center squad this past year, and while he had his fair share of hiccups, the experience should only help him as he molds himself into a playmaking jumbo wing. The name of the game for Ware is consistency, as he shows plenty of flashes suggesting he could be an elite level prospect in his class, but an inconsistent motor at times leaves you wanting more.


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Tag(s): Home  Recruiting  Christian Ray  Lucas Monroe  Konrad Kiszka  Eric Dixon  Isaiah Wong  Chareef Knox  Jamil Riggins  Seth Lundy  A.J. Hoggard  J'yare Davis  Zach Crisler  Mikeal Jones  Alex Capitano  Jacob O'Connell  Jake Nelson  Ray Somerville  Lynn Greer III  Jack Forrest