The annual Team Final Scrimmage took place this past weekend in Wilmington, at Final's new home at the Grail Sports complex. The lights were bright on the gym's solo court, spotlighting a ton of talent that took to the floor over the weekend.
Here’s a recruiting notebook from Saturday’s afternoon action, which featured the K-Low Elite (Pa.), Team Final Red (Pa.) and Team Melo (Md.) programs:
Javon Adams (above) picked up offers from East Carolina and La Salle this week. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Javon Adams (2022 | Team Final Red | Olympus Prep, N.J.)
A Reading (Pa.) native, Adams has played most of his hoops the last few years away from home. He spent his freshman year at a public school in Maryland, living with his uncle, and then the last couple seasons at Olympus Prep, located halfway between Philly and the beach in Williamstown (N.J.).
Next year, he’ll be showcasing his talents in another town: one that’s home to one of a growing number of Division I schools after Adams’ recruitment. He came into this month with offers from Rider and Bryant, but offers in the last week from East Carolina and then La Salle are a sign that Adams has hit the next level.
It starts with the fact that he’s added a couple inches to his frame, growing to over 6-foot-8, with a 7-2 wingspan. Add to that an growing offensive arsenal, and it’s no wonder he said he’s also been hearing from the likes of Kansas, Florida State and Virginia Tech after opening eyes at the Hoop Group’s Spring Jam Fest last weekend at Spooky Nook, where he led Team Final Red to a 4-1 record on the weekend.
“I got way more aggressive, I’m able to get to it, get wherever I want to go now, “ he said. “I’m able to score more around the basket […] now it’s easier, the touch is easier.”
Adams was impressive in a close loss to K-Low Elite 17’s early in the afternoon, finishing with a team-high 18 points, along with six rebounds and three assists. His long frame presents a real problem for opposing guards, and he was often used to defend the point of attack at the top of the key.
But his best skill is his passing ability; even on the move, Adams was making pinpoint feeds to shooters and high-low post feeds, and he would have had double his number of assists if a few more shots had gone in. It was clear that while he went for his own shots when his team needed it, Adams always kept his head up and looked for teammates.
“I’ve been trying to be a guard since I was young...I’ve always tried to be a passer,” he said. “But it just got so much better over the years so now I can really pass the ball; I love passing the ball, I just love it.”
Adams said that he’s focused this summer on becoming a more consistent 3-point shooter; he missed his three attempts against K-Low Elite. He also mentioned an upcoming Zoom call with Iona, but hadn’t yet scheduled any visits since the NCAA announced it would allow on-campus and in-person recruiting to resume June 1 following a 15-month pause.
As for what will eventually factor into his college decision, Adams said “I’ve just got to make sure I get the right fit, got to make sure I’m able to fit in.”
K-Low Elite/Lenape point guard Derek Simpson (above) has a strong connection to one Big 5 school. (Photo: Mark Jordan/CoBL)
Derek Simpson (2022 | K-Low Elite | Lenape, N.J.)
Simpson was young when he picked up his first two Division I offers. He was only just coming out of his freshman year of high school when Rider and then Saint Joseph’s extended scholarships, a time at which most scholarships offered end up falling by the wayside for one time or another.
But those two schools — along with Old Dominion, which offered in March — have stayed on Simpson’s case the whole way through, and that could pay dividends as the springy 6-2 lead guard gets ready to play in front of college coaches again.
One school in particular seems to have Simpson’s ear at the moment.
“[St. Joe’s head coach] Billy Lange and [assistant coach] Justin Scott we talk all the time,” he said. “Coach Lange always tells me he trusts in me, and to just keep working. Ever since he’s seen me play in 15U, he’s always told me ‘you could be something special.’”
The Hawks have clearly identified Simpson as a top target for the 2022 class, and the interest seems to be mutual. Though he held off on calling them his favorite for now, waiting to see how the summer plays out, he’s certainly intrigued by the team’s potential despite a couple rough records in Lange’s first two seasons as head coach.
Lange brought in a three-star combo guard in 2021, Bullis School (Md.) grad Erik Reynolds, who will complement a deep guard group that includes sophomores Dahmir Bishop, Cameron Brown, Rahmir Moore and Jack Forrest plus freshman Jordan Hall, all of whom will maintain that same eligibility next fall due to the NCAA’s COVID-related eligibility waiver.
“I think it’s great, because when I get there, if I go there, they’re going to be older and more mature, and they’re going to see everything,” he said. “This year and last year they had terrible seasons but that’s because they’re in the rebuilding stage.”
Simpson also has a connection to Rider. His father, Ron Simpson, scored over 1,000 points as a Bronc from 1985-88, averaging over 22 ppg each of his last two seasons; Derek acknowledged he has “a lot of connections at Rider.”
Of course, any of that could change with a few games like how he played on Saturday. Simpson was especially impressive in a 60-59 win over Team Final Red, finishing with 13 points, five assists and three steals. He’s a true drive-and-kick point guard with a finisher’s touch, and he loves to use the glass at odd angles with either hand around the rim. He also showcased his improving athleticism, skying for an impressive breakaway slam in the second half.
What will be his deciding factor?
“I think it’s more, like, the relationship and the comfort when I talk to a coach. Sometimes I’ve got to get comfortable with them before I know if I go there, they’ll have (my back),” he said. “Other than that, I want to view more campuses, I haven’t really viewed anybody’s campuses yet, and I’m looking forward to that.”
Justin Moore (2022/K-Low Elite/TBD)
Before he makes his college decision, Moore has to figure out his high school plans.
The 6-foot-3 lead guard transferred from Cheltenham to Bishop McDevitt after his sophomore year, then led the Lancers in scoring (12.1 ppg) in his first year in the Philadelphia Catholic League. But it was a bittersweet year, as the Archdiocese announced in December that it was closing McDevitt permanently after this school year, meaning Moore and his non-senior teammates are going to have to find another home next fall.
“It was hard on everybody,” Moore said. “I think that kind of threw us off this season, too, because I think people were focused on their future and what they had to think about next; other high schools coming to watch kids, colleges coming to watch kids, they don’t know what’s going to happen next, so it was hard on a bunch of kids.
“I like how we stayed together and fought through it.”
Moore said he’s not sure yet what he’ll do for his senior year; he didn’t rule out a return to Cheltenham or a move to a different private/Catholic school, saying “anything is an option.”
When it comes to his college decision, so far he’s got two offers, from Drexel and CCSU; Moore mentioned St. Joe’s, La Salle, Wagner and NJIT as others who’d been talking to him. While Moore’s not in any rush to commit, he did say that Drexel coach Zach Spiker has been mentioning the team’s 2021 NCAA Tournament appearance in their recent phone conversations.
“It’s definitely cool that they made the tournament, but I’m just going to see how everything plays out — but I do like talking to Coach Spiker, he’s a great person,” Moore said. “It’s a good recruiting tool but he’s also a really good person to talk to, a really good guy.”
Cam Whitmore (above) rolled into Wilmington with more than a dozen high-major offers. (Photo: Mark Jordan/CoBL)
— Cam Whitmore (2022 | Team Melo | Archbishop Spalding, Md.) had the most impressive play of the afternoon, a put-back slam with full extension off a missed 3-pointer. It was that kind of afternoon for Whitmore, who had 14 points in Team Melo 17U’s win over K-Low Elite; the 6-7, 220-pound, four-star forward is an elite athlete who got to the rim at will; he also grabbed nine rebounds against a K-Low team that’s got plenty of height and rebounding ability of its own. Whitmore’s got a huge list of high-major offers, but he said he’s hearing most from Virginia Tech, Maryland, Michigan, Wake Forest, Georgetown, and Seton Hall; he said he’s planning a June visit to Virginia Tech, as the Hokies were the first school to set up a visit, but more will follow. This summer, Whitmore said he’s focusing on improving his jumper, but he didn’t take any in this game, not that he needed to.
— Aaron Lemon-Warren (2021 | K-Low Elite | Archbishop Ryan, Pa.) is stuck in a position many members of the 2021 class are in: the scholarship squeeze. The 6-4 wing is a clear Division I talent who’s picked up Atlantic 10 and Big Ten offers during his junior and senior years, but as his high school career comes to an end he doesn’t have the options he would have had in a normal year without the extra eligibility and open transfer market. So Lemon-Warren said he’s considering a prep year, which would likely be at Mt. Zion Prep (Md.), but he’s also been hearing from Abilene Christian, Northern Illinois and UMBC, whose new head coach Jim Ferry offered Lemon-Warren when Ferry was interim head coach at PSU this year. Lemon-Warren, who’s trying to show coaches that he can play the wing instead of an undersized ‘4’ man who can shoot, scored eight points in the first game (including two 3s) and then had 19 and five rebounds against Team Melo, hitting two more 3s on his only two attempts.
— Carlton Carrington (2023 | Team Melo | St. Frances Ac., Md.) had a strange last year. First, the athletic guard surprisingly sprouted from 5-9 to 6-3; then he skipped his sophomore season at McDonogh, taking the Maryland-mandated year off to transfer to St. Frances (Md.) rather than miss his entire junior year after transferring. So he enters this AAU season quite a different player from the last time any college coaches would have laid eyes on him, which is why it makes sense that nobody’s on his recruitment yet. But that’s going to change, as Carrington is now a lead guard with size who gets up and down the floor in a blur; he had 16 points in Melo’s 65-50 win over K-Low Elite’s 16s, with a quick 3-point release off the catch and some impressive body control attacking the bucket; he’s also able to handle the ball well with either hand.
— Robert Davis, Jr. (2023 | Team Melo | Farmington, Mich.) had a strong individual year back in his hometown of Detroit, a quick glance at his Twitter revealing a number of 30-point outings, but wants to use the summer to develop as a leader and be more assertive, so that his team will end the year in better a place this upcoming season. The 6-5 guard wants to improve his playmaking and strength this summer, in his game against KLow he scored 11 points operating in the paint for most of the game. He showed an ability to finish through contact well converting three and-ones during the afternoon. “I’m known as a shooter but I don't want to be in a box,” Davis Jr said. “I just want to impact the game in different ways.” Davis Jr. holds offers from Oakland, Denver, Eastern Michigan and Detroit Mercy; schools like Virginia Tech and Temple are currently showing interest.