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Post & Pivot 'Pre-Live' Notebook (June 13)

06/13/2021, 9:00pm EDT
By Josh Verlin & Ryan Coyle

Josh Verlin (@jmverlin) &
Ryan Coyle (@ryancoyle35)


West Catholic was the site of the Post & Pivot ‘Pre-Live’ Showcase this weekend, a two-day, one-court event that saw 10 area programs come to play a game or two. Here’s a notebook from Sunday’s action:

Robert Wright III (above) looks like the next high-level guard prospect at Neumann-Goretti. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

Robert Wright III next up for Neumann-Goretti

The string of lead guards that Carl Arrigale has had at Neumann-Goretti would make most high school coaches in the country jealous. From Scoop Jardine (Syracuse) to Ja’Quan Newton (UMiami), Quade Green (Kentucky/Washington) to Hysier ‘Fabb’ Miller (Temple) and all the good ones in between, there’s always at least one high-level ball-handler on the N-G roster, if not three or four.

With Miller off to North Broad after averaging 18.4 ppg, 10 rpg and 6.4 apg for the Saints during the pandemic-shortened 2021 season — and three of the Saints’ next four leading scorers also graduating — it’s time for the next Neumann-Goretti guard to step up. It doesn’t take watching Neumann-Goretti for long to realize that it’s Robert Wright III’s mantle to hold.

“He’s got it, he’s got it,” Arrigale said Sunday after N-G beat Sankofa 50-42 in its only game of the afternoon. “I’ve coached a lot of good ones; he’s got it.”

Wright got some varsity experience last year, averaging 5.9 points and 2.4 assists per outing, but he’s in line for a major increase in production this fall. The 6-foot-1, 160-pound guard has been one of the focal points on the floor for the Saints, often leading them in scoring, as he did with a 16-point outing against the Warriors. A solid outside shooter who has no qualms about firing away from beyond the arc, Wright is also an aggressive driver

He’ll have help, notably from senior guard Masud Stewart, a Division I prospect in his own right, but Stewart — who had 10 points and five rebounds against Sankofa — is the solid-and-steady type, without the flash and aggressiveness of Wright’s scoring abilities. Wright knows that he’s going to have to shoulder a good helping of responsibility for a program that has annual Catholic League championship hopes, and this offseason to get ready for it.

“Last year...I didn’t really have to do that much, I had Fabb, we had big men and stuff,” Wright said. “This year I’ve got to do more for the team: score more, facilitate, find the open man. I think I can handle it, though.”

Wright’s also impressed on the travel circuit as a starting guard for Team Final’s 15U squad, where he and new Archbishop Ryan guard Mike ‘Deuce’ Jones, among others, take turns leading the team in scoring. He gave credit to Final’s older guards, most of whom are high-major recruits, for helping keep his confidence up.

““They all come to me, they show love to me and they tell me to keep working because I’ve got a good talent,” he said, “put it together with my skills, and I’ll be good.”

Aside from Stewart and fellow seniors Aamir Hurst and Nasir Feggans, two other reserves last season, the youth movement’s going to be on for the Saints. Wright’s classmates Amir Williams, a 6-4 wing guard, and Khafiq Myers, a 5-10 guard, are also going to figure into the rotation, as is junior guard Bruce Smith.

While Wright might not have to be the Saints’ emotional and locker room leader just yet, that’s another aspect of his game that he’ll have to incorporate to truly follow in the footsteps of those who came before him.

“(Arrigale’s) talked to me about being a leader, leading the team, and that’s what I’ve got to do,” he said. “I try to talk to my teammates and come together, get us all to work as one team.” — Josh Verlin

Deywilk Tavarez (above) picked up his first Division I offer this spring, from Hofstra. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

Tavarez settling in during first weekend with ANC

After deciding he was going to transfer from the Shipley School, Deywilk Tavarez knew he wanted to go somewhere where he could play alongside another high-level guard in the backcourt. Tavarez, a rising junior, decided he wanted to play alongside his friend of four years, Elmarko Jackson, another rising junior at Academy of The New Church, located in Bryn Athyn. 

“I wanted to come here and play with my friend Elmarko,” Tavarez said. “Playing alongside him is just a fun time.” Jackson — who currently holds offers from Seton Hall, La Salle, and Ole Miss amongst others — should form one of the top backcourts in Southeastern Pa. with Tavarez this coming winter.

In the meantime, Tavarez is focused on making the transition to ANC with his new teammates as seamless as possible.

This weekend was my first time with the team,” Tavarez said. “I’m trying to go out there these next few weeks and just win games, have fun with my guys, make the transition easier. I know adding a player to a team can be a difficult transition sometimes so I want to make that as easy as possible.”

The 6-2 guard, originally from South Jersey, only had five points in ANC’s 46-31 loss to Imhotep Sunday afternoon at West Catholic, but showed why he is considered a Division I prospect knocking down two tough pullup jumpers, including one from 3-point range. 

Tavarez picked up his first Division I offer from Hofstra on May 5, hearing it from first-year head coach and former Hofstra star guard (as well as NBA veteran) Speedy Claxton

“It felt amazing to get that offer,” he said. “As soon as I got the news I just wanted to get back in the gym and get to work so I could continue to get better.”

Tavarez is planning to visit the Colonial Athletic Association, Long Island-based school coming up and could potentially be visiting campus this upcoming Wednesday, June 16, but noted that date could change but a planned visit is in the works. 

Over the next few weeks, Tavarez will be playing in the June live periods with his new ANC squad at the Hun School and Blair Academy in front of Division I coaches, and he will be competing with the Philly Pride 16U team on the Under Armour circuit this July. 

Tavarez had a strong handle and showcased a few nifty dribble moves to get by defenders into the paint and kick out to shooters Sunday afternoon. Tavarez will have the ability over the ensuing months and beyond to pull in some more offers and showcase that he can run a team from the point guard spot at the Division I level.

“I’m trying to improve my decision making and consistency going forward,” he said. “I want to be a more vocal leader and make sure I am putting everything out on the floor when I go out there.” — Ryan Coyle

Shemar Wilbanks (above) had 20 points and seven rebounds for Sankofa in a loss to Neumann-Goretti. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

Quick Hits
Sankofa Freedom rising junior Shemar Wilbanks had a strong outing in a losing effort against Neumann-Goretti, with 20 points, seven rebounds and two assists, shooting 9-of-14 from the floor. The 6-3 left-hander knocked down a pair of 3s, a few mid-range jumpers, and showed off nice touch on his floater as well. An off-guard with good size and feel, Wilbanks certainly looks like the next D-I prospect for head coach Isaiah Thomas; Khalil Turner (Rider/Palm Beach State) was the first when he graduated in 2019. Also playing well against N-G was 5-9 junior point guard Rashan Locke-Hicks, who had eight points, five assists and five steals. (JV)

Didn’t keep stats for either of Abington’s games, but Ghost senior Derrius Lucas was productive in both, in a variety of ways. The 6-5 wing often played in the middle of the Devon Prep zone defense and used his length and touch to score in that gap with a few mid-range jumpers and some floaters, but he also got out to play on the perimeter, his more natural positioning, where showed he can knock down a 3-point shot and also find teammates when his looks weren’t there. Lucas had a rather small role on the Ghosts’ district semifinal team a year ago but looks primed for a big step up in production this winter for a program that’s always in the mix in District 1 6A under Charles Grasty. (JV)

West Catholic rising junior Anthony Finkley does a little bit of everything for the Burrs and was an integral part in their 33-30 win over Imhotep in the final game of the event. Offense was hard to come by in this matchup that was very chippy and featured some high intensity defense, but Finkley contributed seven points, including a right corner three late in the game to give the Burrs some cushion on the scoreboard. The 6-6 forward is a high-level passer with excellent court vision and is constantly making the right play whether he is operating from the block or the wing. Finkley, who currently holds offers from DePaul and Saint Joseph’s, said he is hearing from Rutgers as well. As he heads into his junior season he is aiming to become a better defender, improve his conditioning, and be a more consistent outside shooter. (RC)

Denzel Figueroa is coming off a season with Engineering & Sciences where he garnered PIAA 5A third team all-state honors. The 6-5 forward is a good athlete and a plus defender. He showcased his athleticism and length on several occasions on the defensive end of the floor blocking a few three-point attempts against West Catholic. Figueroa showcased an ability to get to the bucket and finish around the rim, while also drawing contact and getting to the free throw line. Figueora says he has heard from Arcadia, but he has upside that could make him a scholarship level prospect if he performs well over the next few months. He plays AAU with the Mt. Pleasant Bulldogs and will be playing with his high school squad at the Philly Live event. (RC)

Rahmir Barno led Imhotep in the scoring column in their 33-30 loss to West Catholic on Sunday evening with 13 points. Barno, the 5-11 point guard with offers from Temple, Drexel, La Salle, and Hofstra has a super-quick first step and is able to get the rim effectively and finish through contact despite his slight frame, converting several layups while being fouled en route to the hoop. Barno can be a bit loose with the ball at times leading to turnovers when pressured, but if he cleans that part of his game up more offers should continue to roll in throughout the live periods. (RC)

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Tag(s): Home  Josh Verlin  Ryan Coyle  Rahmir Barno  Robert Wright III  Anthony Finkley  Shemar Wilbanks  Deywilk Tavarez  Scores + Standings  Catholic League  Neumann-Goretti  Friends' Schools  Academy New Church  Public League  Public League A  Imhotep  Sankofa  Public League B  Eng. & Sciences  Suburban One  SOL Liberty  Abington   High School