Justin Jaworski (above) is on track to finish as one of the top players in Lafayette hoops history. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
CoBL Staff (@hooplove215)
The Philadelphia Catholic League, Inter-Ac League, Friends' School League, and various public school leagues in the surrounding Philadelphia suburbs have been churning out Division I hoops talent for a long time, and there's no signs of slowing. There are more than 90 current Division I players from the immediate Philadelphia area, not even counting those from the Lehigh Valley, and Harrisburg/District 3 regions, or all the Jersey kids.
In fact, there's so many local kids playing D-I hoops, we've had to split the roundup into four parts. Here's the first of four below, featuring kids from the immediate Philadelphia area and a couple from juuuust over the bridge in South Jersey.
Justin Jaworski (Sr./Lafayette)
Coming out of Perkiomen Valley, Jaworski was a two sport athlete, playing both basketball and football. Jaworski decided to stick with basketball, and it seems like that was the right choice. Jaworski has put himself amongst the best guards to wear the Lafayette uniform, averaging 14.0 ppg on 46.3% shooting from the field, 42.6% shooting from three, and 86.2% shooting from the free throw line, 2.6 rpg, and 2.4 apg for his career. Perkiomen Valley's first D-I boys basketball player has had a stellar collegiate career and will look to continue to build his resume which already consists of two All-Patriot selections.
Ajiri Johnson (Jr./Rider)
During his final two seasons at Monsignor Bonner High School, Johnson averaged 12.3 ppg on 59% shooting from the field, 10.6 rpg, and 1.9 bpg. The 6-8 forward has continued his basketball career at Rider where he has averaged 2.6 ppg on 52.4% field goal shooting and 2.1 rpg. With most of the big men at Rider either graduating or transferring, Johnson should see an increase in playing time during his junior season.
Konrad Kiszka (Soph./Princeton)
A 6-7 wing out of La Salle College HS, Kiszka had a quiet freshman year at Princeton, averaging 1.5 ppg in 13 games, playing a grand total of 51 minutes. Like the rest of the Ivy League, Princeton is taking this season off, so we’ll see Kiszka suit up again next fall.
Chereef Knox (Soph./Coppin State)
Knox spent last season at St. Joe’s, where he played in 26 games for the talent-starved Hawks, averaging 4.2 ppg and 1.5 rpg in 16.2 mpg, though he shot just 28.5% from the floor. After the season, the Imhotep Charter product departed for the MEAC, settling at Coppin State, where he’ll play this season if he can get an NCAA waiver. Otherwise, the 6-5, 210-pound wing will have to sit the year out and wait for the 2021-22.
Matiss Kulackovskis (R-Jr./Bowling Green)
A former first team All-Catholic League selection in his senior year, Kulackovskis now is a stretch big for the Falcons. Kulackovskis has averaged 3.5 ppg on a solid 44.9% shooting from the field and 36.2% shooting from three and 1.9 rpg over his first two seasons. With some players who were higher in the rotation than Kulackovskis transferring or graduating, the 6-9 forward should see more playing time in his junior season.
Zach Lezanic (Fr./Army)
The Black Knights were spoiled by four years of Tommy Funk, as the Archbishop Wood product started from Day One (in an impressive outing against Oregon, no less) and went on to set the assist record for not only the school but the entire Patriot League (728), becoming the only player in league player with more than 660 in the process. To help replace him, they brought in Lezanic, a Conestoga High School and Hill School product who brings a veteran presence on the ball in a 6-0, 165-pound frame. But the Army roster is deep, and it takes most players a year or two to really break through in their system.
Dom London (Jr./FGCU)
A strong scoring guard in his years at Octorara High School in the Ches-Mont League, it was always clear London had talent. Then he went to play high-level JUCO ball at Harcum, becoming the school’s third-leading scorer with over 1,000 points in two years, averaging 19.6 ppg as a sophomore while hitting 36.5% from deep. A gunner of a guard at 6-1, 165 lbs., London joins an FGCU program best known for its 2013 ‘Dunk City’ NCAA run, and now the Eagles are looking to reclaim that old glory.
Penn State sophomore Seth Lundy (above), a Roman grad, should be in for a much larger role for the Nittany Lions. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Seth Lundy (Soph./Penn State)
Lundy, a former Roman Catholic standout, kept the recruiting pipeline from Roman to State College intact, picking the Nittany Lions over the likes of Louisville, Marquette, and Virginia Tech. The 6-6 forward saw action in 31 games, including starting the last 15 of the season. The athletic forward should be able to fill in a lot of Lamar Stevens minutes this year (31.3 per game) and take a big jump in scoring from his 5.3 points per game average from his freshman campaign.
Xzavier Malone-Key (R-Sr./Fairleigh Dickinson)
The 6-4 slashing guard out of Plymouth Whitemarsh enters his senior season for the Knights who are projected to win the Northeast Conference, according to the preseason coaches poll. Last year Malone-Key averaged 12.3 points per game, including a career-high of 29 points against Quinnipiac. The athletic lefty is best at getting to the rim on offense, and is one of the better perimeter defenders throughout the conference.
Zane Martin (R-Sr./Towson)
Martin calls it the ‘Revenge Tour,’ and he’s back to show the CAA what they missed out on for a couple years. A second-team all-league selection as a sophomore for the Tigers back in 2017-18 when he averaged a team-high 19.8 ppg, Martin departed after that season for New Mexico, sitting out one year and then averaging 10.1 ppg and 3.1 apg a year ago. But he decided to use the graduate transfer route to return back to Towson, where he was picked first team all-conference in the preseason and should immediately be a massive headache for the rest of the league.
Kyle McCloskey (Jr./Penn State)
The left handed 6-5 guard, started his collegiate career at Villanova playing quarterback for the football team, but transferred to Penn State to pursue a hoops career. Was a standout football and basketball player at Germantown academy where he scored over 1,400 points in his basketball career. Only playing in eight games last season, and with a lot of scoring returning in the backcourt, McCloskey faces an uphill battle in terms of finding minutes.
Jaelen McGlone (Fr./Rider)
A 6-4, 205-pound wing guard, McGlone arrives at Rider at a time when the Broncs need him, having graduated their five top scorers from a year ago. McGlone is an above-the-rim athlete who can also light it up from downtown, but he’s at his best in transition, a good trait in a program that likes to push the tempo. The Cheltenham product was a big reason the Panthers made it into the final four of the District 1 6A tournament and into the second round of the PIAA Class 6A tournament before COVID ended the season.
Will McNair (R-Soph./New Mexico State)
After redshirting when he first arrived at New Mexico State, McNair saw limited playing time during his first season suiting up, only averaging 8.1 minutes per game. McNair averaged 1.8 ppg on a great 58.3% shooting from the field and 1.6 rpg. With most of the players above McNair in the Aggies’ rotation either graduating or transferring, the two year Parkway Center City players and Martin Luther King High School graduate should see an increase in playing time.
Gediminas Mokseckas (Fr./Campbell)
Known as ‘G,’ Archbishop Ryan’s Lithuanian import was a fun one to watch in his two seasons in the Catholic League. As a senior, he averaged 19 ppg, 5.5 rpg and 4.0 apg, and Ryan was in the quarterfinals of the PIAA Class 5A tournament when the season was called off. Though he’s only 6-4 and 195 pounds, Mokseckas plays bigger than his size, as he’s a strong rebounding wing with a nose for the rim, and he’s a good mid-range and 3-point shooter to boot.
Lucas Monroe (Soph./Penn)
Due to the Ivy League cancelling winter sports in lieu of COVID-19 on November 13, we will not be seeing Monroe, the 6-5 guard out of Abington High School suit up for the Quakers this year. In his freshman season, Monroe saw action in all 27 games, while contributing 3.4 points and 3.2 rebounds per game. He’ll be a big part of their plans moving forward.
Clifton Moore (R-Jr./La Salle)
Moore was one of the darlings of the 2016 AAU circuit, high-major coaches intrigued by the potential of the 6-10 Hatboro-Horsham forward who could heat up from 3-point range. He wound up at Indiana, playing limited minutes in 24 games over two years, then transferred back home to La Salle and sat out last year to work on his game and body. Explorers coach Ashley Howard mentioned Moore as one of his eye-opening players this offseason, so it could be La Salle that’s finally unlocked Moore’s potential.
Rahmir Moore (above) showed the progress he'd made in two years of playing in Canada. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Rahmir Moore (Soph./Saint Joseph’s)
A Philadelphia native, Moore had made his way up to Ontario (Can.) to attend RISE Prep after a couple years at Mastery North, and wasn’t much of a known quantity when he committed to new St. Joe’s head coach Billy Lange. But the 6-3, 205-pound combo guard had a solid debut season for the Hawks, averaging 7.3 ppg, 2.8 rpg and 1.3 apg while making 38% of his shots and 33.3% of his 3-pointers. He should be a valuable bench piece on a much deeper squad this year, and could be a valuable sixth man if he can shoot it a little better.
Mahki Morris (Sr./Abilene Christian)
A Del-Val Charter grad, Morris made his way to Abilene Christian in central Texas after a couple years at Cochise (Ariz.) JUCO. He played in 17 games before sustaining a season-ending injury, averaging 3.8 ppg and 1.6 rpg. The 6-3, 185-pound combo guard is hoping to contribute more to a program that went 20-11 last year, including a 15-5 mark in the Southland Conference, and was the No. 2 seed in the league’s postseason tournament before COVID cancelled it.
Justyn Mutts (Gr./Virginia Tech)
Mutts has taken an interesting collegiate route thus far. The 6-7 forward out of St. Augustine Prep started at High Point, averaging 6.0 ppg and 4.0 rpg in 28 games (19 starts). Then he transferred to Delaware, where he sat out a year and then started 32 of 33 games in 2019-20, averaging 12.2 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 2.2 apg, 1.3 spg and 1.0 bpg while shooting 53.8% from the floor. Having earned his undergrad degree in three years, he took the graduate transfer route to Virginia Tech with two years left to play.
Jameer Nelson Jr. (Soph./George Washington)
Colonials coach Jamion Christian has a good one in Nelson, and he knows it. The son of former St. Joe’s star Jameer Nelson was supposed to follow in his father’s footsteps until the Hawks let go of Phil Martelli, and so instead the younger Nelson was averaging 10.4 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 2.2 apg and 1.8 spg as a true freshman for SJU’s A-10 rival. A terrific athlete at 6-1 and 190 pounds, Nelson Jr. was a baseball-first athlete early in his high school years at The Haverford School, but started taking hoops seriously and took off from there. Needs to improve his 3-point shooting (25.0%).
Paul Newman (Sr./Bucknell)
Newman was a bit of a late-riser in the prep ranks, and his college path is tracking similarly. The 6-9, 225-pound forward has gradually increased his output in each of his first three years for the Bison, going from playing a total of 74 minutes as a freshman to seeing much more significant action in all 33 games as a sophomore, then in 31 games (20 starts) as a junior, where he averaged career bests of 5.1 ppg and 4.6 rpg. Now the elder man in the Bison frontcourt, this Roman grad + St. Andrew’s Prep (R.I.) product is aiming for more.
Dean Noll (Jr./Cornell)
Noll went from a little-used reserve as a freshman guard (5.5 mpg in 15 games) to a significant contributor for the Big Red last year, averaging 6.4 ppg in 27 games (1 start), averaging 17.4 mpg. He won’t be in action this year along with the rest of the Ivy League.
Jacob O’Connell (Soph./Princeton)
As a freshman last year, the 6-11, 240-pound St. Joe’s Prep grad only played in 11 games, getting his feet wet at the Division I level. Another Ivy Leaguer, so we’ll see him again next year.
Anthony Ochefu (Sr./Delaware)
After three seasons at Stony Brook, where he played in an average of 8.1 mpg over 76 games (8 starts, all as a freshman), Ochefu transferred down to Delaware, where he’ll play out his final year of eligibility as a backup to former ‘Nova center Dylan Painter. The younger brother of another former Villanova center, Daniel Ochefu, Anthony is 6-8, 245-pound power forward who can step out from beyond the arc and knock down a shot.