Carter Fillman (@johncarter_f)
This weekend presented the opening of the gates for a majority of high schools across the Delaware Valley. Ventured down to Chester High on Saturday, new floor and all, to take in some action at the Fred Pickett Scholastic Play-by-Play Classic. There was plenty of future college talent across all six games, and the day’s intensity grew game-by-game, with a terrific trio of closers including the hosts opening their season as the finale.
Archbishop Carroll 48, Pennsbury 34
Lower Merion 61, Abington 55
Methacton 67, Malvern Prep 53
St. Benedict’s Prep (N.J.) 83, Math Civics & Sciences 65
Neumann-Goretti 64, Westtown 59
Chester 54, JP McCaskey 46
Here are some standouts from Saturday’s games:
Sam Brown (2023/Lower Merion)
Sixers fans may be familiar with one Brett Brown, but it won’t take long for the locals to get to know his son. The 6-foot-tall guard made his debut against three-time defending District 1 6A champs Abington (albeit without Eric Dixon and Lucas Monroe), and boy did he start off on the right foot. Brown opened the game hitting two 3s and getting fouled on another, leading to his own personal 9-2 run to start his high school career. The lefty guard showed no hesitation, no timidness, and beaming confidence as he showed off his smooth stroke from deep. But he is not just limited to jumpers, showing off the ability to get into the lane and finish with a couple of runners. Brown’s handle can be loose at times, but that didn’t stop the Aces from utilizing him as point late in the game. There will be growing pains that will come for the freshman like properly handling pressure, but those will come with more experience. Brown led all scorers in the game with 18 points, including late free throws that sealed the game. Will definitely be one of the more interesting freshman to track as the season progresses and his game matures.
Carroll center Anquan Hill (above) was a force in the middle for the Patriots. (Photo: Carter Fillman/CoBL)
Anquan Hill (2021/Archbishop Carroll)
With Carroll aiming to compete against the likes of Roman, Neumann, and Wood for PCL title hopes, someone on the roster has to take that next leap. Hill just might be the player to do it for the Patriots. Without Bryant signee Tairi Ketner (taking the SATs), Hill shouldered the load against a smaller Pennsbury team. He started the game off right with two highlight putbacks and was around the rim all day. But the 6-foot-8 junior showed off more than just a dunk package, hitting a pair of threes as well on his way to a game-high 22 points. Hill plays with a high motor, crashes the boards hard, and has a great second bounce. His most impressive sequence came when he grabbed a contested offensive board, kicked it out, quickly relocated to the top of the arc, and splashed a three. Defensively he was vocal and anticipated well (3 blocks), even calling out Pennsbury’s own plays at times. Hill holds a single offer from Bryant University, but with continued improvement and consistency, his stock should rise sooner rather than later.
Nisine Poplar (2021/MCS)
Despite not having his best shooting game, it was clear to see why Poplar is considered one of the best guards in the public league. The 6-4 junior guard is really coming into his own as a point that can do it all on his way 26 points to lead all scorers. Poplar has a great handle on the ball and is able to create separation and break down defenders through a variety of dribble moves, step backs, and ball fakes. He hit a handful of threes from all over the floor as MCS clawed their way back into the game late, as well as a high flying dunk to start off the second half. Defensively, he tended to gamble a lot on passes but that could also have been a product of his team being down a lot. Would like to see more urgency going forward on that end, but has all the physical tools to succeed as a defender. With offers from the likes of Temple, La Salle, Drexel and Robert Morris (to name a few), Poplar should see his stock continue to rise with a big year in the Pub.
Erik Timko (2020/Methacton)
While Woodward gets a lot of the rightful shine, Timko continues to float under the radar for opposing teams. Was instrumental in Methacton’s take down of Neumann last season (22 points), and showed up big again against a talented Malvern Prep squad that’s a serious contender for the Inter-Ac crown. If you weren’t paying full attention, you might not even realize he dropped 24 points to go along with an exclamation-point slam late in the fourth. But that just seems to be how Timko rolls: quietly hitting a pair of threes, taking guys off the dribble, making the extra pass, and adding in a pair of steals. Really does a great job finishing around the rim when going downhill and adjusting while in the air. With a couple of D-II offers in hand, Timko will be a great for any team that scoops him up.
Manir Waller (2020/Abington)
With the graduation of Dixon (Villanova) and Monroe (Penn), Waller is one of the few remnants from one of the best teams in Abington’s history. But the 6-4 combo made it clear from the start that this will be his team to lead. The slashing guard has one of the quickest steps you’ll see making him difficult to close out on. A solid handle allows him to be crafty in the lane, showing the ability to finish with both hands, and make adjustments while in the air. Defensively, Waller was all over the place, putting together one of the more impressive stat lines of the day with a slash of 12/6/4/4/4. The senior willed Abington back into the game as he led a full court press that gave the Aces fits. He needs to improve his jumper and ability to sink free throws. Despite being able to get to the line at will, he hovered around 50% for the day from the charity stripe and his shot remains a question mark in the half court. Waller already holds an offer from D-II Georgian Court (N.J.).
Jalen Warley (2021/Westtown)
On a team loaded with Division I talent, it was the Jalen Warley show as the 6-2 guard did everything he could to bring his team back from a 20-point deficit midway through the third. Warley seems primed to take over the lead guard reigns from Jalen Gaffney (UConn), displaying his ability to get into the lane and knock down shots on his way to 18 points. Warley turned the tide on the defensive end, gathering in four steals as Westtown upped the pressure late in the game showcasing his active hands and solid instincts. Warley most recently picked up an offer from St. Joe’s, who joins the likes of Florida, Xavier, Pitt, and Clemson. By the time commitment time comes around, he should have his pick of the litter.
Karell Watkins (2021/Chester)
In front of a packed home crowd, Chester fell behind visiting J.P. McCaskey and trailed by double digits at half. But the energy never wavered in the building, and the Clippers took full advantage of it late. After senior forward Akeem Taylor went down with an injury, Watkins took over and dominated on both sides of the floor. Watkins played with a relentless motor on the glass, notably scoring on multiple put backs and had a couple of and-ones late in the game for the hosting Clips. The 6-4 forward is built well, runs the floor, and tries to stick his nose in every opportunity. Building off a year where he averaged 20 points and 10 boards, it will be interesting to see where Watkins’ development takes him.
Colgate commit Jeff Woodward (above) leads a potent Methacton attack. (Photo: Carter Fillman/CoBL)
Jeff Woodward (2020/Methacton)
The defending PAC Champs already look like on of the most polished teams in the area as they took down Inter-Ac opponent Malvern Prep. Woodward, a Colgate commit, will be the anchor that leads this team on both sides of the floor. While his past damage had typically came from inside the paint and on the boards, the 6-10 center showed off the ability to take guys off the dribble at times in this one in face up fashion on his way to 24 points and 10 boards. He even hit a Dirk-esque fade from the free throw line, but I’m not sure if that’s fully in his bag of tricks yet. But continued improvement has been the theme for Woodward over the years, and he’s shown he has taken another step forward. Intangibles will never be the issue as he never takes a play off, is vocal, and always runs the floor hard. Not a lot of big guys keep a plane of verticality like he can and while the block numbers weren’t there in bulk (two) he continues to alter drives to the basket.
Cam Young (2020/Neumann-Goretti)
In what was shaping up to be one of the most exciting games of the night, Neumann broke away from a loaded Westtown early on and then was able to hold on late. Young had a terrific all around game with 18 points, five rebounds and two assists, showing the ability to knock down shots, drive to the rim, and get out in transition. One of the most improved players coming into this year, Bowling Green could end up getting a steal in the 6-6 forward whose game should translate very well to the college level.
–Caleb Carter (2021/Archbishop Carroll) did a nice job filling in for Ketner. The junior 6-3 combo scored well through contact, benefiting off of dump offs after Carroll broke Lower Merion’s press. Dean Coleman-Newsome (2023) will be a freshman to watch in the Catholic League as he’ll take on primary point duties for the Patriots.
–Lower Merion played six freshman and sophomores, but senior guard James Simples still put together a nice game with 12 points/4 rebounds and a pair of steals. Showcased solid athleticism and nice elevation on his jumper.
–Malvern will seem to go as Rahdir Hicks (2021) and Deuce Turner (2020) go. The two combined for 31 of Malvern’s 53 points. Turner, a Bucknell commit, can easily score from all three levels while Hicks competes hard on defense and added in five boards and four assists.
–Standing 6-5, forward Cole Hargrove (2022/Methacton) provided a major spark off the bench for the Warriors with five points and five boards which included nailing a three. He could be a valuable piece allowing Woodward to take some time off the floor, and they’ll certainly need him to step into a much bigger role next year.
–On a court full of Division I prospect, Chris Evans (2021/Neumann-Goretti) made one of the largest impacts of the game, knocking down three 3s en route to 13 points. Jordan Hall (2020/Neumann-Goretti) splashed down another three triples including one from a good five feet behind the arc. The senior, bound for St. Joe’s, handles the ball well and has great vision for a player standing 6-8.
Honorable Mentions: John Camden (2021/Archbishop Carroll), Collin Connor (2020/Pennsbury), Robert Bell (2021/Abington), Caleb Baker (2021/Abington), Demetrius Lilley (2022/Lower Merion), Eli Rothman (2020/Lower Merion), Lonnie White (2021/Malvern Prep), Owen Kropp (2020/Methacton), Brett Eberly (2020/Methacton), Naadhir Wood (2020/MCS), Ty-Laur Johnson (2023/St. Benedict’s Prep), Hakim Byrd (2020/Neumann-Goretti), Hysier Miller (2021/Neumann-Goretti), Noah Collier (2020/Westtown), Dereck Lively (2022/Westtown), Rahmee Gilbert (2020/Chester), Akeem Taylor (2020/Chester), Elijah Terry (2020/JP McCaskey)
Tag(s): Home Old HS Rich's Page High School Catholic League Archbishop Carroll Neumann-Goretti Central League Lower Merion Delaware Valley Chester Westtown School Inter-Ac Malvern Prep PAC-10 Liberty Methacton Public League A Math, Civics & Sci. Suburban One SOL American Abington Pennsbury Public League