Lynn Greer III (above) and Roman Catholic came from behind to knock off Imhotep in the final game of Friday night's Play-by-Play Classic. (Photo: Mark Jordan/CoBL)
Last year’s game between Roman Catholic and Imhotep Charter at Community College of Philadelphia carried with it the buzz that comes with two elite programs at the pinnacle of their dominance.
This year’s contest, which ended in a 56-51 Roman win on Friday, may not have been as colossal, with the likes of Donta Scott, Hakim Hart, Seth Lundy, and Dahmir Bishop now off at various high-major Division I programs.
Still, there was an energy in the Jefferson gym that signaled a big game.
The selling point to the final game of the Pete and Jameer Nelson Play-by-Play Classic was the matchup between perhaps the two best bigs in the area, Roman’s five star recruit Jalen Duren, and Imhotep’s Notre Dame commit, Elijah Taylor. Taylor finished with a game-high 20 points and nine rebounds. He had success facing up and driving to the hoop, and stroked a couple of threes as well. Duren on the other hand fouled out midway through the third quarter after scoring only seven.
It looked as if it was the Panther’s game to take after Duren’s removal. They took a seven point halfway through the fourth quarter. Up to that point, the teams stayed mostly within two points of each other. Roman responded with their biggest run of the game, capped off with two three point plays from Lynn Greer III, who was shooting just one for eight, to put the Cahillites up three.
“These games are long and we have a lot of guys that can make plays,” Roman head coach Matt Griffin said of the team’s response to Duren’s ejection. “It’s an opportunity for someone else to step up. I was proud of our guys for staying in it and not giving up, because we could’ve easily folded going down five.”
Roman was paced by sophomore Justice Williams’ 16 points; Greer’s late-game heroics made him the only other Cahillite to finish in double-digits, with 13.
“It wasn’t the prettiest of wins,” Griffin said. “We knew it was gonna be a game of wills, it wasn’t gonna be pretty. They play tough, they’re physical, they’re well coached, they play really hard. So there was no real rhythm to the game, but ultimately it was a game of who could make more plays down the stretch.”
Griffin used the game to put inexperienced players in high pressure situations. Freshman point guard, Xzayvier Brown was given the nod to start for the first time in his career. He put up five points, three steals, three rebounds and two assists. Sophomore Jhamir Marlin made his first appearance of the game to hit two crucial free throws that put Roman up by four with 18 seconds to play.
In the leadup to the Roman-Imotep game, Haverford High beat West Catholic, 54-39, Pennsbury beat HS of the Future, 51-40, Cardinal O’Hara beat the Haverford School, 66-52, Unionville beat Friends’ Central, 67-54, Archbishop Carroll beat Abington, 66-54 and Rutgers Prep beat Malvern Prep, 93-83. –– Ari Glazier
Haverford School junior Christian Clover (above) was one of several standouts from the Nelson Play-by-Play action on Friday. (Photo: Gavin Bethell/CoBL)
Here are the CoBL staff’s picks for standouts from the event; for further thoughts on the event, we have more on our Patreon page (supporters only):
John Camden (2021/Archbishop Carroll)
A 6-7 junior wing, Camden gained attention –– and quite a few Division I offers, including several high-majors –– during his first couple years of high school ball thanks to his ability to stretch the floor, and the size he presents out on the wing. But Camden is starting to turn his potential into production, and he’s doing it from more than just beyond the arc. In leading Carroll to its win over Abington, Camden scored 28 points on 9-of-15 shooting, including 5-of-10 from deep, along with hitting all five of his foul shots. Notably, Camden had several strong takes to the hoop, resulting in either layups or free-throws, and that’ll help keep defenses honest. But his biggest splash came from downtown, where he hit all five of his deep shots in the second half, including three in a row in the third quarter to help break a tight game wide open.
Christian Clover (2021/The Haverford School)
The younger brother of former Saint Joseph’s University guard Chris Clover, the 6-3 combo put together a solid all around performance for a Fords squad missing one of the top players in the area, sophomore guard Jameel Brown. In a game lacking consistent offensive flow for the Fords, Clover was able to provide an ample amount of production getting to the rim and the line on his way to 25 points and 8 boards. Early on, Clover utilized a stronger lower frame to get deep into the paint and score around the basket. As the game developed he was able to get into rhythm through straight line drives to the basket, and even flashed some range beyond the arc hitting a pair of threes. After missing all of last season with an injury, this should be a big year for Clover after he contributed as a freshman.
Noah Harris (2021/Rutgers Prep)
Part of a star-studded lineup for the Argonauts, Harris is proving to be a great piece for a Rutgers Prep squad with high expectations. The 6-0 point guard showed his greatest strength around the arc, knocking down 3-7 from beyond on his way to 23 points. Harris possesses a very quick release in catch and shoot situations and provides dynamic spacing which opens up the floor for the likes of fellow junior Trey Patterson and senior Nico Gallete (Sacred Heart). Harris also showed a knack for getting to the rim, shooting an efficient 9-12 from the floor overall and 6-7 from the line. Harris mentioned hearing from a variety of mid majors citing pretty much the whole A-10 along with the likes of Lehigh, Columbia, and many others. Wanting to improve his help side defense and continuing to enhance all aspects of his shooting, the dynamic point could prove to be a hot commodity among all levels in the coming year.
Malvern Prep's Rahdir Hicks impressed in a 20-point effort against Rutgers Prep. (Photo: Mark Jordan/CoBL)
Rahdir Hicks (2021/Malvern Prep)
Against a loaded Rutgers Prep team, Hicks was a big reason why the Friars were able to keep this one competitive early on. The 6-0 junior guard showed a well rounded offensive game on his way to 20 points and pulled down four offensive boards as well. Hicks has been able to do a bulk of his scoring driving to the rim, but has also shown some improved shot making ability from beyond the arc as well. While senior guard Deuce Turner (Bucknell) does a variety of his damage on the offensive end, Hicks made a major impact on the defensive end racking up four steals in the first half. Hicks is certainly at least a D2+ type player, and could creep into D-I territory with improved playmaking and shot creation ability.
Adrian Irving (2021/Cardinal O’Hara)
Irving put on an extremely impressive scoring performance for the Lions with a very efficient 28 points. The 6-1 185 pound guard showed the ability to score from all three levels in this one. Hit a step back three over a defender, pulled up for a midrange 2, and was consistently able to hard nose his way into the lane. Irving’s handle is solid and he has a sneaky quickness and bounce that can come out of nowhere for defenders. He has shown to be an absolute hound on the defensive end, especially pesky and will press ball handlers full court. A great sequence comes to mind when he drove into the lane, scored in traffic, stole the inbounds pass and scored again. Will play for WeR1 this summer and could have the eyes of plenty of D2s and could approach low D1 territory with proven consistency.
Tairi Ketner (2021/Archbishop Carroll)
Though his frontcourt mate Anquan Hill shined early with nine first-quarter points, it was Ketner who put together the most consistent and well-rounded game of the two big men in the win over Abington. The 6-5 Bryant commit excels at knowing the right time and place, positioning himself for seven offensive rebounds (13 total), helping him to a dozen points to complete the double-double. Ketner has great hands and footwork, and knows how to utilize the spin move to get around defenders and finish with either hand. His size might cost him in some matchups, but he’s got the know-how to work around it.
Trey Patterson (2021/Rutgers Prep)
In an Argonauts lineup loaded with D-I talent, Patterson stands out as the most impressive of the bunch. An imposing 6-8 wing, Patterson is already loaded with skill and seems to be just scratching the surface of the player he could become. Against a relatively undersized Malvern Prep squad, Patterson was unmatched around the rim finishing with 24 points on an efficient 9-of-14 from the floor. Similar to the rest of the team, the junior plays with a terrific motor, and it showed as he was able to snatch an (unofficial) 15 rebounds. While a terrific athlete in the paint, Patterson was able to flash the ability a very respectable jumper going 1-3 from beyond and 7-7 from the line. A consensus top 40 recruit, Patterson boasts offers from a variety of high major schools. Catching up after the game, he mentioned taking unofficials to Indiana and Florida, and has heard from Memphis and head coach Penny Hardaway consistently. While his recruitment is still open, it won’t be a surprise when Patterson has his pick of the crop when the time comes to put ink to paper.
O'Hara's Anthony Purnell (above) had another impressive outing at the Nelson Play-by-Play Classic. (Photo: Gavin Bethell/CoBL)
Anthony Purnell (2021/Cardinal O’Hara)
Purnell is proving to be a perfect guard for a Lion team that loves to push the pace and keep pressure on opposing teams all game. The 6-0, 175-pound guard’s handle was tight all game and was able to use a variety of dribble moves to get into the lane. Purnell showed terrific vision in transition, and his two assists don’t show how often he was able to get teammates to the line. The junior point finished in the lane very well in the half court, at one time driving left, spinning back right, and finishing through defenders to wow onlookers at the Jefferson gym. Has shown the ability to consistently hit from beyond, adding a three on his way to 20 points. Like most of the O’Hara squad, Purnell was locked in defensively and hounded ball handlers throughout the game. Quick hands and good instincts led him to four steals to top off a balanced showing. Purnell is becoming a great all-around player and one of the top options for a surprise Lions team ready to make noise in the PCL.
John Seidman (2021/Haverford HS)
Seidman showed an array of offensive skills in a tough matchup against a young West Catholic squad on his way to a game high 30 points and 10 rebounds. Throughout the game, the 6-3 180 pound junior guard was able to get to the rim at will, consistently finishing through contact by adjusting his body in the air. But he was not just limited to the paint, Seidman splashed three 3s, including a confident pull up J early in the third quarter. While his defense is still improving, Seidman was able to come away with a pair of steals in an all around impressive team performance by the Fords. After the game, Seidman mentioned wanting to continue to improve on his finishing ability which could benefit from increased athleticism. While hearing from a variety of high academic schools like D1 Lafeyette and D3s Swarthmore and Johns Hopkins, showing consistent improvement could land him squarely in high academic D1 territory.
Logan Shanahan (2020/Unionville)
Shanahan, an Emory commit, did the vast majority of his damage in a win against Friends’ Central from the paint. He scored 20 points on 8-for-13 shooting, all of his field goals coming from within the 3-point arc. He also snatched 12 rebounds and was an effective deterrent at the rim. Although he went 0 for 3 from deep, Shanahan does have a workable stroke. The ball doesn’t stop when it gets to Unionville’s big man, as he is a capable passer, adding three assists to his stat line on Friday.
FCS freshman Shawn Simmons (above) is gaining confidence as his season goes on. (Photo: Gavin Bethell/CoBL)
Shawn Simmons (2023/Friends’ Central)
While Friend’s Central suffered a disappointing loss to Unionville on Friday, freshman Shawn Simmons impressed. The 6-5 wing guard boasts an impressive frame and a potent offensive game, able to drive with efficiency and pull up from the mid-range. He scored 15 points on Friday, 13 of which came in the first half, and took away the MVP honors for his team. Simmons’ game looks a bit unpolished, but he should improve substantially as he gets more seasoned, potentially standing as a high-caliber collegiate prospect.
Elijah Taylor (2020/Imhotep Charter)
Before Roman’s Jalen Duren fouled out in the third quarter, Taylor was kept in check, the 6-8 Notre Dame commit forced to the outside, where he made his first 3-pointer but missed three more, with just five first-half points. But with Duren out, Taylor asserted himself down low, taking multiple defenders to the hoop to finish with a team-high 20 points and nine rebounds in a losing effort. Taylor is a great energy guy around the rim, and he can stretch the floor on occasion, but he’s certainly at his best when he can go to work in the post.
Honorable Mentions: Cooper Arnold (2020/Pennsbury), Oreck Frazier (2021/Abington), Anquan Hill (2021/Archbishop Carroll), Ed Holland III (2021/Friends’ Central), Nico Gallette (2020/Rutgers Prep), Lynn Greer III (2020/Roman Catholic), Peter Kucharczuk (2020/Unionville), Aleem Lee (2022/HS of the Future), Kyrie Miller (2020/Pennsbury), Sean Neylon (2021/Unionville), Kam Roundtree (2020/Imhotep Charter), Shane Simmons (2020/Pennsbury), Zion Stafford (2023/West Catholic), Amiri Stewart (2020/Archbishop Carroll), Deuce Turner (2020/Malvern Prep), Manir Waller (2020/Abington), Justice Williams (2022/Roman Catholic)