CoBL Staff (@hooplove215)
The June high school live periods tipped off in grand fashion Friday in Philadelphia, with several dozen local, regional and national programs taking the court at St. Joe’s Prep. It’s the first time that high school players have been able to play in front of Division I coaches since the end of the 2019-20 season, and the first time coaches have been able to see so many prospects in one building since July 2019.
Here’s a notebook featuring coverage of some local high school programs from Friday’s action:
Moses Hipps (above) and Chase Coleman played big roles for Carroll as freshmen. (Photo: Ryan Coyle/CoBL)
Archbishop Carroll sophomore duo ready to lead
Playing varsity basketball as a freshman is no easy task. Stepping into the starting lineup of a team in the Philadelphia Catholic League as a freshman is even more challenging. Rising sophomores and starting backcourt mates Moses Hipps and Chase Coleman were launched into high-level competition last year for Archbishop Carroll under head coach Francis Bowe.
“When you are thrown into the Catholic League and you are starting as a freshman, the goal is to survive,” Bowe said. “And they did. Not only did they survive, they did some really nice things for us.”
The Patriots went 9-6 last season, playing in the PIAA 4A state playoffs, where they lost 43-40 to eventual state champion, Allentown Central Catholic in the quarterfinals/opening round.
Bowe had faith in his youngsters and they gained valuable experience in their first season of varsity hoops. Hipps, a 6-3 guard with deep range, holds an offer from La Salle and Coleman, a 6-1 guard who attacks the rim strong, just picked up his first offer from Manhattan on Friday. The class of 2024 duo are looked at as the leaders of the team now, despite their young age.
“Even though we are young, it is our job now to make sure everyone is doing what they’re supposed to,” Coleman said.
In his freshman campaign, the sharpshooting Hipps adjusted pretty well averaging 14.6 ppg, while shooting 37.4% from beyond the arc. Coleman averaged 4.6 ppg in a lesser role, but is ready to step into a larger role this year with the graduations of FDU commit Anquan Hill, Tyler Seward, and Caleb Carter, who combined to average 40.4 points per game.
Another contributor for Bowe and company this year will be 5-9 rising sophomore, Jake West, a transfer from Plymouth-Whitemarsh who is marksman from deep, knocking down three shots from beyond the arc and putting in a few finishes around the rim as well on Friday. Rising senior Shawn Smith, who came over from now-closed Bishop McDevitt, showed the ability to hit a few three’s and a pull-up jumper as well in Carroll’s 74-61 loss to Rutgers Prep Friday.
Adding to their valuable playing experience as freshman in one of the most high-powered high school basketball leagues in the country, Coleman and Hipps developed a great relationship from day one.
“Right away, me and Chase clicked,” Hipps said. “Everyday we were working out and hanging out together, and built a good relationship.”
As the year went out, Bowe was proud of the way his backcourt of the future developed and matured their game, making adjustments, breaking down film, and developing a strong bond amongst one another.
“They didn’t make the same mistake twice,” Bowe said. “The mistakes you saw them making their first and their second game, they weren’t making in their third and their fourth. You could tell as the year went on, they were learning the game and studying the game more often.
In the meantime, Coleman and Hipps are working to get Carroll back to the Palestra for the first time since 2018, as they step into a bigger role and aim to take their game to another level.
“Just because we are young doesn’t mean we are limited,” Hipps said. “If we just keep working hard we can achieve a lot.” — Ryan Coyle
Derrius Lucas (above) and several other Abington players will see a big uptick in responsibility this fall. (Photo: Rich Flanagan/CoBL)
Grasty working with brand-new Ghosts group
Compared to the recent success Charles Grasty has had, last year’s run to the district title game was unlike any he had experienced before. Having won a district crown in 2015 followed by three-peat from 2017-19, the run to the 2021 PIAA District 1 Class 6A title game was done without the support of the Abington faithful.
When the Galloping Ghosts last won the title, the high-level talent was palpable behind Eric Dixon (Villanova) and Lucas Monroe (UPenn). This season’s roster was a bit more obscure than that 2019 squad but it made the most with what it had. The elation Grasty still feels when talking about this year’s team is evident.
“Even though we didn’t have any fans, our community still supported us,” Grasty said. “They told us they were going to support us and they watched the games on YouTube. They made our community proud. They didn’t get to experience the district championship like in the past but they understood that.”
Rob Bell, who will play at Kutztown, made the game winner in double overtime against Central Bucks East in the district semifinals. Oreck Frazier, headed to play football at Harvard, nailed the game-tying three-pointer to force 2OT. Caleb Baker is slated to play football at West Chester and Antoine Ellis is at Northampton Community College.
Despite the 62-41 title game loss to Lower Merion, Abington rebounded from a slow start to win nine of their final 10 contests prior to its matchup with the Aces. Grasty sensed a turning of the tide midway through the season.
“We struggled early in the year,” Grasty said. “We had a team meeting after losing to Quakertown and the guys really bought in. It was a fun group and a fun run.”
Three key contributors to the Galloping Ghosts (14-6) success are back this season: Derrius Lucas, Connor Fields and Kahjel Morris. Lucas, a 6-6 rising senior, was one of the top options off the bench last year but suffered a torn hip flexor during the latter part of the regular season. He returned just in time for the district playoff run and credits those four seniors with helping him get back on the court.
“They were an inspiration to me,” Lucas said. “Even though I was a little slow with things coming back, they told me to think about the next game and keep my head up. It meant a lot to me because without them being in my ear 24/7, I probably wouldn’t have come back stronger to go on that playoff run.”
Lucas, who is receiving interest from Bucknell, Towson and Drexel, had 26 points and 11 rebounds while fellow rising senior Fields posted nine points and eight boards in a 57-54 victory over Holy Ghost Prep at Philly Live I on the campus of St. Joe’s Prep.
When Abington took the floor to take on Kennett, Lucas returned and posted 12 points in the win. Fields, a 6-6 forward, poured in 12 points against Lower Merion. Morris played in a handful of games.
With four seniors gone, Grasty is looking to his next group of upperclassmen, specifically Lucas, to take the reins and lead the next group of Galloping Ghosts.
“Derrius has to be a leader for us,” Grasty said. “We talked about it in open gyms. He has to be a leader, not just a scorer. He’s a senior and guys are looking up to him. He had a big game in the opening round of the playoffs. He knows what it takes.”
It’s a new role for Lucas and he’s focused on being more assertive with the ball in his hands.
Last year, I thought he didn’t want me to take shots,” Lucas said. “This year, he’s telling me to take as many shots as I can. Whatever he asks me to do, I’m going to do. If he needs me in the post or take threes, I’ll do whatever it takes to win.”
Fields is coming off an MCL injury that he suffered during the early part of the AAU season. “He’s progressing with some of the moves he makes. He’s forging through it and the doctor gave him an ok. He’ll be a big part for us,” according to Grasty. Players like 5-9 rising senior Jimmy Marino, who Grasty says will be “playing the point for us and knows what I expect,” and incoming freshman Paul Glants, a 6-3 guard, are expected to be part of the Abington rotation next season.
It’s a new group for Grasty to get acclimated to but this isn’t anything new for the veteran coach.
Jacob Cummiskey (above) hit back-to-back game-winners in last year's district playoffs. (Photo: Ryan Coyle/CoBL)
CB East’s Cummiskey Ready for Larger Role
Coming into his freshman year at Central Bucks East, rising sophomore Jacob Cummiskey didn’t know what to expect. He certainly didn’t expect to hit two game-winning buzzer-beaters in the district playoffs or be named second team all-league in the Colonial Division for Suburban One.
But, when given the opportunity to show what he could do, Cummiskey made the most of it.
“When we started up, coach just gave me an opportunity and I took advantage of it,” Cummiskey said. “I found my confidence about halfway through the season and kind of just took off from there.”
Cummiskey was proud of himself with the way he was able to grow his game throughout his freshman campaign and make the most of his opportunity from his coach, Erik Henrysen.
“I went from at the beginning of the season being just a catch-and-shoot guy, mainly shooting spot up 3,” he said. “Then when I started getting more comfortable as the year went on I started being able to beat guys to the basket, making plays for others, and being able to impact the game in other ways. It just came with my growing confidence.”
During his freshman year, he shared scoring duties with seniors Joe Jackman, who will be playing at West Chester University this fall, and Jack Hamilton, a Lehigh baseball pledge, who both garnered first team all-league honors. But, in the district playoffs, Cummiskey made a name for himself and really came onto the scene.
In his first ever high school playoff game, down 50-49 to Boyertown, the freshman southpaw went coast-to-coast, hitting a buzzer beater layup to lift his team to victory and advance in the playoffs. Three days later, he did it again in nearly identical fashion, this time taking down North Penn to advance to the final four of the PIAA District One 6A playoffs.
“It was awesome being able to hit those buzzer beaters,” he said. “It was almost like deja vu the second time that it happened.”
While those were exciting shots which will be remembered by everyone who was part of those games forever, the Patriots’ lead guard isn’t sitting back and reminiscing, but rather looking forward to greener pastures.
“I think hitting those shots helps really set the tone for this upcoming season,” he said. “Going into next year I know I’m the leader of these guys and I have to set the tone on offense and defense.”
The left-handed guard, now standing at 6-foot-3 after growing two inches since seasons’ end, showed why he was an all-league caliber player on Friday afternoon and what could he could become over the next few seasons when he recorded 15 points showing the ability to get to the rim and knock it down from beyond the arc.
Going forward, the rising sophomore, who plays with the NJ Scholars during his travel hoops season, is focused on continuing to grow his game and make similar strides as he did throughout last season.
“Stepping into this year, I have more confidence than I did coming into last season,” he said. “I’m going to need to lead these guys to get back where we want to again. I think we can do it again and get back to the district final four.” — Ryan Coyle
— This coming season, Sankofa won’t have many seniors to rely on, with only one expecting to be in the starting lineup, Josiah Johnson. Last season the Warriors entered the Philadelphia Public League playoffs as a five seed, losing in the semi finals to the eventual champions, Imhotep, 66-43. — Matthew Ryan
Isaiah Thomas’ squad has seen a lot of action over the past week and a half, playing about ten games according to assistant coach Marteik Daughtry. Shmar Wilbanks-Aqui, Rashan Locke-Hicks, Stanley Parker, and Zaki Alston all started Friday, but Daughtry mentioned that incoming freshman Nasir Williams will either be a starter or a six man this coming season. Both Wilbanks-Aqui and Locke-Hicks are working on becoming more of a leader for their squad.
“Get better as a teammate,” Locke-Hicks said. “Be more of a leader. And lead the younger guys to do better.”
“I’ve been [leading] lately, for all the younger guys,” Wilbanks-Aqui said. “I’m used to that, ‘cause when I was in ninth grade I had a leader, Symir Priester, he was leading me. I learned from him, now I lead them.”
— Last year's Suburban One League Patriot champions, Neshaminy, graduated eight seniors, including First Team SOL Patriot Division selections Matt Drapkin and Mike Murray and honorable mentions Jimmy McDonald and Jake McGinty.
On Friday Mark Tingle had a mix of old and young in his starting five, sending out three rising seniors Evan Esposito, Kade Benjamin, and Nunzio Zydzik, and two rising sophomores, Emeer Coombs and Nate Townsend. Tingle mentioned that the starting lineup isn’t 100% set but all will be in the rotation, and when rising junior Sean Curley, the teams ‘best all around player,’ according to Tingle, returns from a stress fracture in his foot, he will be in the starting five. The end of Neshaminy's rotation is still to be determined.
Tingle’s squad made it out to the Rider team camp last weekend, playing six games across the two days, getting some much needed playing time together. The young team has also been working out together every week, and getting to know each other better which can help chemistry wise on the court. With the loss of last year's seniors, Tingle’s squad has seen some new players step up in leadership roles.
“I think some of our older guys like Sean Curley and Nunzio Zydzik, they’re stepping up that way,” Tingle said on the team’s leaders. — Matthew Ryan
Tag(s): Home Rich Flanagan Ryan Coyle Moses Hipps Shemar Wilbanks Matthew Ryan Scores + Standings Catholic League Archbishop Carroll Suburban One SOL Colonial Central Bucks East SOL Liberty Abington High School