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April Live Period Preview: 2018 Wings/Forwards to Watch

04/20/2017, 12:15pm EDT
By Josh Verlin & Ari Rosenfeld

Cheltenham's Jack Clark (above) is one of a number of local Division I wing prospects in 2018. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

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), Adidas Gauntlet (K-Low Elite) and Hoop Group (Jersey Shore Warriors). But there are several other programs with players to watch as well.

Here are some current junior wings and bigs (class of 2018) from the Philly area to keep an eye on in April, many of whom will see a major uptick in their recruitment; click here for 2018 guards to watch:

Wings
Jack Clark (SG/Cheltenham HS, Pa./Philly Pride)
-- Clark’s recruiting stock has risen like his height over the last few months, which saw him go from a 6-2 shooting guard to now standing a full 6-6 as he enters these critical AAU session. He’s still got a ways to go in terms of filling out his body and working to become more consistent with his shot, as well as dealing with increased scrutiny and pressure that will come from being a go-to player on the 17U Under Armour circuit. But if he can show the ability to adjust to that over the summer, he’ll see a boatload of offers come in to join the one he has from Rider.

Matthue Cotton (SG/St. Benedict’s, N.J./Team Final)
-- After seeing extensive minutes as an underclassman at Academy of the New Church, Cotton transferred up to national power St. Benedict’s last season and saw his recruitment take off. Now a bona fide high-major prospect, he’s being courted by the likes of Miami, Seton Hall, Rutgers, and Virginia Tech. Expect more BCS schools around the country to jump in on this rock-solid 3-and-D guy with the bonus ability to attack a closeout and finish strong.

Drew Friberg (SF/State College, Pa./Jersey Shore Warriors)
-- Joining the Warriors after previously playing with the EYBL’s Team Takeover is this 6-6 wing from the center of the state, and he’ll fit right in with their style. A face-up combo forward, Friberg’s a 3-point specialist with good size who can also bring the ball up the court and post up if he gets in a mismatch situation against an opposing guard. Penn State, Bucknell and Manhattan have already offered, with a bevy of schools from the Ivy League to Atlantic 10 keeping watch.

Collin MacAdams (SF/Central Bucks West, Pa./East Coast Power)
-- An intriguing prospect as an underclassmen in the Bucks program, MacAdams started to turn that into production as he moved into a featured role as a junior. He’s an athletic 6-5 wing who doesn’t do any one thing amazing at this point, but he does a lot of things well: handle, shoot, pass, defend, rebound. He’s got the ability to knock down 3s when open, and does a good job of utilizing a one-dribble pull-up when defenders are closing out. Becoming a more fluid athlete as well, which should lead to low-to-mid-majors offering soon.

Tyrese Martin (SG/TBD/WeR1)
-- There’s a lot to like about Martin, who’s just finished off a terrific run at William Allen HS. A 6-5 wing with a college-ready body and solid athleticism, he’s a versatile scorer from all three levels who can defend the perimeter at a high level as well. Can rise up and knock down 3s with a hand in his face and finish around the hoop with both hands. Now that he’s made the decision to go to prep school, look for his recruitment to hit high-major, and soon.

Maurice Murray (SG/Timber Creek, N.J./Team Final)
-- Murray looks like he’s been designed in a lab: almost 6-5 with long arms, not stick-skinny but with a frame that can add plenty of muscle. He’s a little too cavalier on the court, still lacking at times the same mental toughness that Division I prospects typically display; the light switch still has to come on for him to realize his potential. But if it does, his potential is high, with ability to play above the rim and defend mid-major wings as well as his plus 3-point abilities.

Cam Reddish (G-F/Westtown School, Pa./Team Final)
-- There’s only so much that can be written about Reddish, perhaps the top perimeter prospect in the entire 2018 class. A natural point guard, Reddish has grown to 6-foot-8 and now plays something of a point forward role, with the ability to see over the defense and also create a clean look for himself seemingly whenever he wants. He’s already been offered by the likes of Kentucky and Duke, and is being pitched by Jay Wright to become Villanova’s first one-and-done; Reddish is one of a few recruits in his class who will be able to choose from any college program in the nation.

Andrew Sims (SF/Lenape, N.J./Jersey Shore Warriors)
-- A bit of an under-the-radar prospect out of South Jersey, Sims used the annual Donofrio Classic to place himself squarely on the D-I radar heading into the spring. With a strong 6-foot-6 frame and a bit of a herky-jerky game, he had largely been considered a stretch-four until recent months, which have seen him develop into a legitimate wing with a fluid lefty three-point stroke. Sims carried his strong play into last weekend’s Team Final Scrimmages and will have a bevy of Ivy/Patriot schools on the sidelines watching him the next couple weeks.

Justin Steers (SF/Friends’ Central, Pa./Philly Pride)
-- A terrific athlete with great size at 6-6 and 190 pounds, Steers is at his best when the game goes up-and-down, as he can take advantage of his above-the-rim abilities and nose for the glass. Lately, he’s been trying to expand his game to the 3-point arc, but his jumper still isn’t quite a reliable enough weapon, and so he can sometimes get a little stuck in the half-court. Terrific defensive capabilities as a weak-side shot blocker, with long arms that make him a problem in a full-court press as well.

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Prep's Ed Croswell (above) is a crafty undersized '4' with a skilled offensive game. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

Forwards
Ed Croswell (PF/St. Joseph’s Prep, Pa./Philly Pride)
-- One of the more skilled posts in this group is Croswell, who made his name as a sophomore while helping Math, Civics & Sciences into the state championship game before transferring to Prep to learn under
Speedy Morris. It’s a move that’s paid off, as the 6-7, 230-pounder has done a great job of honing in on what makes him good, namely his ability to score within 10 feet of the hoop while also knocking down a 13-foot jumper. Not an above-the-rim athlete but has great hands and footwork.

Abraham Deng (C/Valley Forge Military Ac., Pa./WeR1)
-- At 6-11, with a wingspan a few inches over seven feet, Deng is a force to be reckoned with on the defensive end of the floor, where he’s one of the better rim protectors around. The South Sudan native is still very raw offensively, limited mostly to dump-offs and put-backs, but his promising upside is such that Temple and St. Joe’s have both offered. If he continues to get his motor to run even higher and blocks shots at the level he’s capable of, he’ll pull in quite a few looks from schools who don’t need their post players to contribute much offensively right away.

Jake Forrester (PF/Westtown, Pa./PSA Cardinals)
-- A high-energy combo forward, Forrester (6-8, 225) is a super-athletic big man who runs the floor as hard as anyone around. He’s always playing the game with a smile on his face, but that doesn’t mean he takes his job casually; Forrester is a tenacious defender on the perimeter or in the post, and looks to dunk everything on the offensive end. Penn State, Pitt, Auburn, Kansas State, Indiana and many more have offered the central PA native, who came to the Westtown School this year.

Sean Good (C/Trinity, Pa./Team Final)
-- The name of the game for Good is “length”, as the 6-foot-11 post from the middle part of the state uses his enormous reach to make an impact as one of the premier shot-blockers around. He’s not a stiff on offense by any means, as he can step out and hit open jumpers with range out to the 3-point line and is a consistent lob threat inside. A top-notch student, Good has high-academic programs monitoring him closely, and although he received a Penn State offer last summer, expect his recruitment to settle into mid-major territory once he hits the circuit.


Ajiri Johnson (above) picked up five D-I offers during his junior season at Bonner-Prendergast. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

Ajiri Johnson (C/Bonner-Prendergast, Pa./WeR1)
-- Johnson is certainly included in the group of juniors who really progressed over the course of the season, and that showed as five schools (Drexel, Lafayette, Rider, NJIT, Coppin State) offered after the calendar flipped to 2017. At 6-8 and 210 pounds, Johnson doesn’t have elite size for a ‘5’ but he’s a good athlete who uses his length well on both ends, fights hard on the glass and stays active in screening action. A good student as well, Johnson will draw interest from a lot of places.

Elijah Kiah-El (PF/Quality Education, N.C./Philly Pride)
-- Kiah-El is the shortest big on this list (6-6, 210 pounds) but he’s perhaps the best athlete of the bunch, with a lot of bounce in a strong-bodied frame. He’s relentless on the glass and can finish through contact with both hands, utilizing a variety of moves and some handy footwork to muscle his way up and in around bigger posts. Developing a nice face-up game as well; his recruitment should hit D-I now that he’s doing a post-grad year after graduating from Martin Luther King (Pa.)

Marcus Littles (C/Neumann-Goretti, Pa./Team Final)
-- Perhaps the most established commodity on this list, Littles has been using his girth and a physical brand of basketball to dominate the low block since we first saw him as a precocious eighth-grader. A wide-bodied, 6-foot-9 post, he played up on the 17U EYBL circuit last summer and will be Final’s go-to interior option this time around. Littles already has an abundance of mid-majors involved in his recruitment, and has a chance to hit high-major territory should he prove himself as an efficient scorer down low against the nation’s best.

Will McNair (C/Martin Luther King, Pa./WeR1)
--A large-bodied (6-10, 250 lb.) forward, McNair grew from about 6-5 a year ago to become one of the more physically imposing bigs in Philly. Despite his girth he moves well, with nimble footwork, and he’s got a soft touch on a hook shot he’s utilizing more and more. Defensively, he’s limited to patrolling the post, but he presents a problem for opposing guards who get into the lane. As he continues to get his body into shape, his production should continue to improve.

Seth Pinkney (C/Archbishop Wood, Pa./K-Low Elite)
-- When Pinkney is at his best, he’s running 94 feet like a gazelle, blocking everything around the rim and dunking lob after lob, thanks to standing 6-11 with a 7-something wingspan. His biggest downside is he’s as skinny as they come, weighing around 185 pounds soaking wet, so he’s not going to be muscling anybody off the blocks anytime soon as a post-up option. He can knock down a 15-foot jumper when left open, but he’s really valuable as a defensive asset, where he’s becoming a better communicator who can step out and guard on a screen and then get back to protect the rim. Temple, La Salle and more have offered.

Karrington Wallace (PF/Archbishop Wood, Pa./K-Low Elite)
-- Wallace adds a different dimension than the other bigs on this list, as his impact comes predominantly by way of his superior quickness and bounce compared to more traditional posts. He’s been offered already by NJIT and Fairleigh Dickinson, but certainly has the upside of an A-10 level recruit if he can start parlaying his physical tools into more consistent production. What would really change things for Wallace is if he develops his perimeter jumper and handle enough to move out to the wing, but for now he’s best operating as a face-up ‘4’-man, where he can use his explosive athleticism to blow by slower defenders and beat them to the rim.

Ryan Young (2018/Bethlehem Catholic, Pa./Jersey Shore Warriors)
-- A fast-rising true post out of the Lehigh Valley, Young was quick to make a splash in his spring debut at the Team Final Scrimmage. Despite a burly 6-foot-9 frame, Young has nimble feet that combine with his size to make him a truly elite rebounding presence. Offensively, he’s got solid passing ability from the from both the low-post and the elbow, and his strong hands and soft touch make him a consistent roll threat as well. Young got his first offer, from Lafayette, last month, but is starting to get attention from CAA and A-10 programs entering the spring.


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