St. Joe's Prep forward Ed Croswell (above) became the second player from the area committed to La Salle for the 2018 class. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Owen McCue (@Owen_McCue)
As he sat down at breakfast Saturday morning, things felt right for Ed Croswell.
With French toast on his plate and his family and La Salle coach John Giannini sitting at the table, Croswell decided he wanted to play his college ball in the city he grew up in.
So the St. Joseph’s Prep forward and North Philadelphia native committed to La Salle then and there, choosing the Explorers over Towson, Rider, Morgan State and Nicholls State.
“It was emotional because all my other offers are away from home,” Croswell said. “They said, ‘You got the opportunity to come home and play in the Big 5, be a part of the legacy that your coaches were.’ I just want to be in front of my parents, so they can see me every game and play really well in front of my home city.”
Croswell grew up in North Philadelphia and his parents are both from North Philly. He said his mom is excited to watch him compete in the Big 5.
Growing up, Croswell recalls watching La Salle on TV, especially the team’s Sweet 16 run in 2013.
One player in particular Croswell remembers from that Explorers’ squad is Jerrell Wright. Wright, a 6-8 forward from Dobbins Tech in Philadelphia, scored more than 1,500 points and tallied more than 800 rebounds in his college career.
Croswell said Wright’s name came up quite often during his recruitment.
“That’s what Coach Giannini pictures me as is a player like him,” Croswell said. “He just wants me to be tough, be a rebounder and come there and develop my game.”
La Salle now sports a two-man 2018 recruiting class, with Croswell joining Mainland (N.J.) graduate Osun Osunniyi, who will head to Putnam Science Academy (Conn.) for a year of prep school before joining the Explorers for the 2018-19 season.
Croswell, who played his AAU ball on the Under Armour circuit with Philly Pride, started his high school career at Math, Civics & Sciences Charter, where he helped lead the Mighty Elephants to a Class A state title game appearance as a sophomore.
After transferring to St. Joe’s Prep last season, he averaged 14.8 points per game in his first Catholic League campaign.
Along with Croswell, St. Joe’s Prep returns senior all-league guards Kyle Thompson and Darius Kinnel, plus junior wing Gabe Arizin. The Hawks also add 6-11 big man Jacob O’Connell, who played at Eastern (N.J.) last season.
O’Connell’s addition means Croswell will slide over to the power forward spot. To prepare for the position switch, Croswell worked on his mid-range game this summer. Every day, Croswell said he went on runs and spent about two and a half hours in the gym with Prep assistant (and former UMBC head coach) Randy Monroe putting up shots.
“I knew Jacob was coming all summer,” Croswell said. “What my coaches did is they made me work on my mid-range jump shot all summer, so we can play in-and-out and complement each other.”
Roman Catholic beat Prep by one point in the Catholic League quarterfinals last season.
St. Joe’s Prep hasn’t been to the state playoffs since Steve Vasturia and Miles Overton led the school to a Class AAAA semifinal appearance in 2013. The school’s recent dominance in football has Croswell motivated to get the basketball team back to states in his final year.
“I haven’t been (to states) since my sophomore year, and I really miss it, so I hope we get back there,” Croswell said.
Henry leaves Explorers
La Salle senior forward Demetrius Henry has left the program, per multiple sources. He is pursuing professional opportunity.
Henry, a Fort Lauderdale, Florida native, began his college career at South Carolina, where he had 48 starts in two seasons.
After transferring to La Salle and redshirting during the 2015-16 season, Henry started 18 games for the Explorers in 2016-17. He averaged 5.8 points and 3.9 rebounds in 19 minutes per game.