SCRANTON, Pa. — The Electric City was buzzing with hoops energy it hadn’t felt in decades (if ever), as a high-level offseason hoops event drew top talent to Riverfront Sports for the KYDA Invitational. Programs from all three major summer ‘sneaker circuits’ (Nike, Under Armour & Adidas) were all in the building, with more than a handful of future high-major talent showcasing their stuff in front of the assembled fans, scouts, and small-college coaches.
Here’s a recruiting notebook featuring players from Saturday’s 16U and 17U matchups:
Kyle Filipowski (above) was the most impressive player in the gym on Saturday. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Kyle Filipowski (2022 | NY Renaissance | Wilbraham & Monson, Mass.)
It’s true that we didn’t see every player in action on Saturday, but it’d be tough to bet anybody had a better day than Filipowski. In a game against the elite-level Team Final frontcourt of Jalen Duren (No. 2 in 2022 per 247Sports) and Dereck Lively II (No. 36), it was Filipowski who stole the show.
The 6-foot-10, 230-pound big man did just about everything: bodied up inside against the 6-10 Duren and 7-1 Lively, grabbing four offensive boards; stepped out and knocked down three 3-pointers, with a gorgeous rainbow stroke; ran the fast break and found teammates on the move, making several other pinpoint passes in the half-court offense. That he hit all eight of his foul shots was icing on the cake.
Oh yeah, and the Rens dominated Final, considered the top 17U group in the country heading into the offseason, in large part due to that frontcourt.
“It’s no surprise, I know what my team is capable of,” Filipowski said afterwards. “We really played the best of the best today. I’m so proud of the guys, we played really good together and it shows at the end of the day.”
By the end of the 73-58 win, Filipowski had piled up 21 points and six boards, outscoring Duren and Lively by himself. Though he’s certainly not lacking in the size department, Filipowski moves like a guard, with terrific body fluidity and athleticism to finish above the rim with ease. He said that comes from growing up with his twin brother, seven-footer Matt Filipowski (who wasn’t in attendance Saturday).
“He’s always played the ‘5’ spot so I’ve had the opportunity to dribble the ball more, play around the perimeter a little bit more,” Kyle Filipowski said. “Growing up, even though I”ve been growing a lot height-wise, I’ve been trying to focus on keeping everything about me in the best shape possible.”
A New York native, he’s considered a four-star recruit by 247Sports, which has him just inside the top 60 nationally. But with several more outings like that, especially during live periods, there’s no doubt that ranking will skyrocket towards five-star territory. Already this month, he’s picked up offers from Indiana, Syracuse and Rutgers, adding to a list of more than 20 offers, mostly from high-majors. He said he was hearing regularly from “at least 10-plus...I’ve got plenty of schools, too many to name. As of now I’m still waiting for Peach Jam and things to open back up so more can come and see me.”
Filipowski said he already has planned official visits to Syracuse and Ohio State, as well as an unofficial visit to UConn, and that he’s trying to schedule an official visit to Indiana as well. No matter where he ends up, or how high his stock continues to rise, Filipowski said his intent is to get the most out of his collegiate experience, earning his degree before exploring any further stages.
“Obviously one of my dreams is to win a national championship so I definitely want to be able to play on the biggest stage there is,” he said. “Academics are very important to me, I want to get my degree in 3-to-4 years and see where ball takes me after that.”
Otega Oweh (above, in April) is a powerful wing guard who can play above the rim. (Photo: Mark Jordan/CoBL)
Otega Oweh (2022 | Team Final | Blair Academy, N.J.)
It was a fairly normal week for Oweh. Some schoolwork, some hoops, flying out to California to see his brother get drafted in the first round of the NFL.
Okay, so maybe that last part was a little different. Odafe Oweh, who went by his middle name Jayson when he starred at Penn State, heard his name called 31st overall on Thursday night by the Baltimore Ravens, where he’ll play linebacker on a franchise that’s had plenty of greats at the position. Otega Oweh was there with his whole family to celebrate, then made it back to Scranton to hoop two days later.
“It was crazy,” he said. “Just seeing all his hard work paid off and we would have never have thought that he’d be here, in the years to come. We’re just so proud of him.”
The youngest of three Oweh boys — middle brother Kaylen plays at D-II St. Thomas Aquinas (N.Y.), and there’s older sister Natasha as well — is one of several physical wing guards for Team Final, and like quite a few of his high school and AAU teammates is getting plenty of college attention.
Otega said that Odafe’s been a huge help as he goes through his own recruiting journey: “(He said) just to always bet on yourself and always have confidence in yourself. No matter what situations anyone puts you in, just make the best out of it.”
Oweh’s recently added offers from Washington, Miami (Fl.) and Minnesota to go along with those from Georgetown, Seton Hall, Penn State and more; he said he’s also been hearing from Pittsburgh, Arizona State, Oklahoma State, Providence and UConn. They all like his size (6-4, 215), athleticism and toughness at both ends of the floor, traits that certainly carry throughout his family.
Though Odafe and Otega play different sports, the younger Oweh brother said that the Penn State connection still has some meaning; he talks to new Nittany Lions head coach Micah Shrewsberry “every day” through text or FaceTime.
“I would say we’ve gained a good relationship, I just like the way that him and his coaching staff, they value their players,” he said. “They’re always family, so they’re definitely going to be in my top [group], for sure.”
Oweh’s junior year at Blair Academy was completely wiped out due to COVID, so he’s still getting back in the flow of live game action. For that reason, he’s in no rush to make a college decision; he said he wants to at least wait through the AAU season, and even potentially into his senior year of high school, though he didn’t rule out a commitment before the season starts.
“[Looking] just somewhere where I can go and be comfortable, somewhere that they have a good alumni connection because obviously the ball’s going to stop at some point,” he said. “And somewhere I can just go and play my game, whether that’s going out there and score, going out there to pass, be the energy, the spark, whatever I can be.”
(Saturday Standouts: See who caught the CoBL staff's eye)
Roman Catholic point guard Xzayvier Brown (above) is looking forward to his new coach. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Xzayvier Brown (2023 | K-Low Elite | Roman Catholic, Pa.)
Nearly a month passed between the time when Matt Griffin stepped down as Roman Catholic’s head coach and the school replaced him with Chris McNesby, who’d spent eight very successful seasons on Roman’s sideline. Griffin was also the school’s athletic director, which left the hoops team particularly rudderless, not that they were panicking.
“It was weird, because I didn’t really know what was going on,” Brown said. “We didn’t have an athletic director, so it was just quiet, waiting to see what was going to happen.”
Brown’s certainly pleased with his new head coach, who led Roman to Catholic League and PIAA state championships in both 2015 and 2016, his last two years before stepping aside to spend more time with his family. The junior point guard, on track to be a four-year starter for the venerable Center City institution with a long hoops history, said he’s been watching old Roman games on YouTube, “just to see their previous games, what he does and what he does with his previous players, players like Tone Carr.”
The 6-2, 160-pound point guard has some similarities to Carr, who starred at Penn State for two years and now plays for the Erie BayHawks in the G League. He doesn’t quite have Carr’s size or physicality yet, but he does have the general feel for the game, ability to run an offense and get his teammates involved while getting his own bucket when needed.
As a sophomore for the Cahillites, who lost to Archbishop Wood in the 2021 Catholic League championship, Brown averaged 10.1 ppg and 6.9 apg, shooting nearly 50% from the floor. He said he’s focusing this offseason on getting stronger and becoming a more consistent 3-point shooter after hitting 11-of-33 (33.3%) in the truncated 2021 season.
From a recruiting standpoint, Brown has offers from Saint Joseph’s and Drexel, the latter coming in late last month. He said he knows other schools in the Big East and Atlantic 10 have been talking to his stepfather, Justin Scott, an assistant coach at St. Joe’s.
Though the family connection certainly gives St. Joe’s an in on Brown’s recruiting, he said that doesn’t mean he’s just going to become a Hawk automatically — but he’s also not closed off to the idea.
“I just feel like a normal high school kid that’s getting recruited,” he said. “I don’t think me and his relationship (has to) do with anything. I’m open to all decisions.”
Denver Anglin (above) was one of the best shooters in the gym on Saturday. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Denver Anglin (2022 | NY Rens | Gill St. Bernard’s, N.J.):
The 6-3 guard from New Jersey lit it up from 3-point range on Saturday against Team Final in a 17U matchup, going 4-of-8 from downtown in the big victory for the NY Rens. Clearly a sharpshooter, Anglin is aiming to prove that he can do more than just shoot it from deep though this spring.
“When I was younger they tried to just label me as a shooter,” he said, “but as I’ve grown throughout my time of being a point guard, my game has grown and I am continuing on working to score the ball at all three levels.”
Anglin was able to handle the defensive pressure from Team Final and control the pace of the game. Currently holding offers from Georgetown, Seton Hall, and TCU amongst others, Anglin said that he’s also been getting some interest from Oklahoma State, Creighton, and Stanford as well. The class of 2022 guard is hoping to make his college decision at the end of the summer or in the early fall.
Jonathan Beagle (2022 | Albany City Rocks | St. Thomas More, Conn.)
Beagle, a 6-9 forward, impressed in the City Rocks’ win over Team Melo in a 17U game. A solid but not elite-level athlete, Beagle constantly was outworking and fighting for position on the block on both ends of the floor. This spring, Beagle felt he has performed well against several players more athletic and stronger than him. In the victory over Team Melo he finished in double figures and was able to score around the rim over taller defenders. This offseason, the forward with offers from Albany, Siena, and UMass wants to try and develop into a stretch four and improve his ball handling, as well as his pullup game to become a mismatch on the perimeter. He said of his three offers, Albany and Siena were showing the most interest as of now.
Ethan Meuser (above) is an energetic 6-8 forward who likes to step out and shoot from beyond the arc. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Ethan Meuser (2022 | NEPA Elite | Hill School, Pa.)
It was around this time last year that Meuser started getting the idea of prep school in his head, and after a strong senior year with Wyoming Seminary (Pa.), he decided to enter the Class of 2022 and do a year at Hill. A 6-8, 200-pound big man, Meuser actually had a potential options in 2021, as George Washington offered him a walk-on spot and VMI was thinking about offering a scholarship, but he’s committed to a further year of development. Meuser’s got an interesting game, a pick-and-pop forward with athleticism, somewhat similar to West Chester big man Josh Samec, another Northeast PA product. That’s the product of coming from a small school: “I was probably the tallest kid in seventh grade but we didn’t have a point guard,” he said, “so I was playing point guard in the 7th grade team and center for the 8th grade team.” So far, Meuser’s 2022 recruitment consists of several high-academic D-III programs, including Franklin & Marshall, Hobart and Scranton.
Chisom Okpara (2022 | NY Renaissance | La Lumiere, Ind.)
It’s not easy to stop Okpara when he heads toward the basket. The 6-7, 220-pound wing forward is a bowling ball with a head of steam, and he loves to play downhill and get to the rim. Now he knows the next step is improving his ability to step out and shoot, though he did knock down a couple jumpers in games against Team Final and NEPA Elite. Okpara said that lately he’s been hearing from Minnesota, UConn, Penn State, Vanderbilt and Stanford, though he only has offers from Minnesota and Penn State of that group. A strong student (he’s currently taking AP Calculus and AP Physics), Okpara said he’s looking for a strong combination of academics and athletics at the next level, but also that “location of school is a huge factor — how far away from home, the environment, is it a college town, the things around it.”
Scotty Middleton (2023 | NY Renaissance | Patrick School, N.J.)
Middleton picked up his first offer last month, from La Salle, but looking at him it’s hard to think there won’t be more in the future. The South Carolina native, who moved to Miami (Fl.) when he was in middle school, found his way to the Northeast last year, when he joined the Rens for his first real AAU experience, and then enrolled at the Patrick School in North Jersey. He says he only started playing the game seriously in the last few years, but the 6-6, 175-pound wing guard has a perfect slasher’s body, long and athletic, and he’s an active defender who picks his scoring spots.