CoBL Staff (@hooplove215)
The second weekend of the June scholastic live period got underway nationwide on Friday, with St. Joe’s Prep playing host to the Philly Live event for the second weekend in a row. CoBL was on staff all day long to see as many games as possible spread across the four courts at the Prep, checking out local schools and a few out-of-area visitors as well.
Demetrius Lilley (above) was dominant for Lower Merion on Friday night. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
LM’s Lilley out to prove he can play with anybody
In a matchup of two of the best post players in the event, there was no doubt about who got the upper hand.
Lower Merion’s Demetrius Lilley has been playing his best ball of late, and it was Pocono Mt. West and Christian Fermin who got the other end of that in a 68-18 Aces win on Friday afternoon. The 6-9, 240-pound Lilley ran the floor in transition and was rewarded with several open buckets, but also posted up against the similarly-sized Fermin and got to the bucket, sometimes needing a second chance to get his points but coming away with points much more often than not.
Throughout the game, his terrific hands and effort were on display, as he was constantly chasing down boards, running the floor, finishing at the rim and fighting for position.
“Just focused on outworking my opponent, outworking my opponent,” he said. “If I have to rebound faster and quicker than him, come off the dribble faster, post up, be stronger, be more physical down low. With a matchup like that, just be way more physical.”
Fermin, a terrific post in his own right who had a big game later in the afternoon, finished with nine points and five rebounds, plus a pair of blocks. Lilley had 19 points and 12 rebounds, as the Aces opened up a 10-0 lead and never looked back.
It’s a group that’s definitely playing with confidence coming off a District 1 6A championship, even having graduated two senior starters and without a couple other key players this weekend. Lower Merion’s defending the district title for the first time since Kobe Bryant graduated, and they don’t take that lightly.
“I feel like that definitely helped us, the district championship definitely helped us,” Lilley said. “We have something on our shoulder, something to prove. A lot of teams didn’t know about us, but now they know.”
Lilley’s recruitment has gone along similar lines, though the strong-bodied post has been productive in an Aces uniform since arriving there before his sophomore year. Now in the best shape of his career, he’s starting to get more attention, getting offers from New Mexico State, East Carolina and Drexel to go along with those from La Salle and Saint Joseph’s last summer. Lilley said he also heard from Penn State, Temple, Miami (Fl.) and VCU recently, and is open to whoever else wants to call.
What’s less clear is how many more weekends Lilley will get out in front of Division I coaches. Though he was playing with Philly Pride in the spring, Lilley said he’s currently not planning on playing on the Under Armour Association circuit in July, instead working on himself “mentally and physically.”
If he doesn’t play with Pride — or join a different team — then Lilley’s options might be whatever comes in by the end of this weekend, or whoever sees him at open gym workouts in the fall, unless he decides to wait until the season or afterwards to commit.
“I’m just waiting to find the best school that fits me,” he said. “We’re going to see as more offers come in, we’re going to see which school’s the best fit and which school I want to go to.”
Chris Roantree (above) is settling into his role as head coach at Father Judge. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Roantree getting settled in at Father Judge
Chris Roantree is becoming more familiar with his team as he moves to the helm of Father Judge. The former Archbishop Wood assistant led his team to a dominant 70-29 victory over Williamstown (N.J.) on Friday. The Crusaders lost their starting backcourt in Nahseer Johnson (Arcadia), the second 1,000-point scorer in school history), and Justin Blythe (Alvernia) but that will open the door for plenty of new faces to make a name for themselves.
Roantree is installing a new offense and working to show his team how to be effective in the new system.
“We’re introducing culture and how we want to do things,” Roantree said. “The biggest thing is the change in tempo going from the Princeton offense to more dribble-drive and getting up and down the court.”
Rising senior guards Jalen Flowers and Jordan Rhinehart are two of the returning players from last season. Flowers, a 6-2 combo guard, avg. 5.2 ppg while Rhinehart, a 6-foot guard, avg. 5.4 ppg in nine games, which included a 17-point game against Conwell-Egan in the season opener, before missing the rest of the season due to injury. Roantree has been thrilled with what the two guards have brought to the table, both on and off the court.
“They’ve been great,” Roantree said. “They’re the only two seniors in the program. Jordan is a football player but he’s been really dedicated. They’ve been leaders for us.”
Roantree will lean heavily on those two guards, specifically for scoring, but they will have help. The Crusaders welcome three players who are coming over from Bishop McDevitt, which closed this month: 6-4 2023 guard Paul King, 6-foot 2023 guard Nolan Waldon and Tearran Peete, a 6-4 2023 forward who will compete for minutes in the frontcourt.
Along with Peete, expect 6-6 2024 forward Anthony Lilley to be a major contributor this season. He had 13 points against Neumann-Goretti as a freshman and should move into a starting spot. Roantree notes that Lillely “is big, physical and has a lot of effort” but is “still finding himself.”
Father Judge (3-13) is hoping Roantree can steer the program in the right direction in year one and get back to the Philadelphia Catholic League playoffs for the first time since 2019.
Marlboro’s Seidler enjoying Team Final experience
After playing AAU ball with Jersey Force his freshman and sophomore years and playing sparingly for Team Rio during the COVID summer, rising senior Jack Seidler is now playing for one of the best AAU teams in the country: Team Final’s 17U squad.
The oldest group of the Nike-backed program is filled with talent: most notably Jalen Duren, Dereck Lively II and Justice Williams, plus Emoni Bates for a period of time. Duren and Bates are considered the two best prospects in the class of 2022, Williams, a recent LSU commit to LSU, is ranked top 40 in the nation, and Lively, who just narrowed his school options down to seven of the best college hoops programs the other day, is a five-star prospect. It’s a group that’s one of the favorites — if not the favorite — to win the EYBL championship at the Peach Jam next month.
During his time on the immensely talented squad, Seidler has learned a lot.
“It’s a different level of ball, everything faster, more physical,” Seidler said. “So adjusting to that, definitely going to help me at the next level.”
The 6-5, 180-pound wing doesn’t always get much playing time on the EYBL squad, but that’s not because he isn’t good, it’s because of the sheer high-level talent on the roster, including at least three potential NBA lottery picks and a number of other high-major targets, like UConn commit Corey Floyd and Westtown senior Jameel Brown. Despite the lack of playing time — especially in May, when Bates joined them for a few tournaments — Seidler is still getting extremely valuable experience going against his teammates in practice.
“It’s been awesome,” Seidler said. “The practices, they’re ridiculous. You know it's a great competition every single day playing against some of the best kids in the country. So you know that makes me better and pushes me to make myself better.”
With high school tournaments now in swing, Seidler is getting prepared for his fourth season as a varsity player for Marlboro. The Iron Duke’s last two years have come to a close in extremely close fashion, losing their final games those years by a total of three points.
Over the summer, Seidler is working on becoming a “complete player” and is spending time in both the basketball gym and weight gym trying to improve his game. When school was in session, some days Seidler woke up prior to his classes to get a workout in addition and then had another one after the school day. The talented wing averaged 19.1 points across his last two seasons for the Iron Dukes and has generated some buzz amongst D-I programs, especially high-academic ones.
Seidler took an unofficial visit to Brown last week and will visit Cornell unofficially next week. He currently has one D-I scholarship offer from Drake, a school which he hopes to visit at some point this summer, and has been in communication with schools such as American University, Lehigh, Princeton, and Manhattan.
“Loved it,” Seidler said about his visit to Brown. “Campus was awesome, I like the coaching staff. Definitely looking forward to staying in communication with them.” — Matthew Ryan
— Despite losing Moro Osumanu (West Chester), Reading returns almost all of its rotation including 2022 guard Joey Chapman and 2023 guard Ruben Rodriguez. A player who should take on a much larger role is Daniel Alcantara. The 6-6 forward recorded 22 points and seven rebounds in a 73-54 win over St. Joe’s Prep on Friday night. A starter on last season’s PIAA Class 6A title team, he provided 10 points against Archbishop Wood in Hershey and appears primed to build off of that terrific performance.
Alcantara knows he is expected to do even more as a senior but has had conversations with Chapman and Rodriguez about getting back to what made them successful a season ago.
“We’re not really looking to have our mindset focused on winning states again,” Alcantara said. “We want to try and play for each other. Hopefully, we can end up with the same result but we have to keep playing with each other and not look at who the other team has.”
Alcantara, a Pa. All-State Third Team pick after avg. 14.0 points and 6.4 rebounds as a junior, is receiving interest from UMBC, Albany, La Salle and NJIT. He spoke with D-II East Stroudsburg head coach Jeff Wilson on Tuesday.
— Lenape (N.J.) rising senior Derek Simpson has seen his recruitment really take off over the last two weeks with offers coming in from Bowling Green, Fairfield, Delaware, Northeastern and Old Dominion. The 6-2 combo guard and three-year starter added those to offers from St. Joe’s and Rider. His explosiveness and ability to get his shot off from anywhere on the floor are parts of what has made him such an attractive recruit.
As he heads into his senior season, he does not feel as much pressure as he did over the last two.
“Honestly, it’s been a great process,” Simpson said. “There isn’t as much pressure as there was in my first two years. Now, I know the ways and I have to help my guys out. I have to teach them how to get wins and play as a team.”
Simpson averaged 20.6 points and 4.4 rebounds this season in leading the Indians to a 10-4 record. He surpassed 1,000 career points in the season finale against Elizabeth (N.J.) and is hoping to build off of another strong season. He avg. 18.1 ppg as a sophomore. Recently, Simpson has also received interest from Rutgers and Boston College. Billy Lange and St. Joe’s have been watching Simpson every step away and have been impressed by his continued improvement.
“Coach Lange has been on me from the first time he saw me play,” Simpson said. “He’s been a fan of mine and we’ve built a great relationship. He loves my game.”
— After going 14-2 last season and 9-1 in SOL Freedom division play, winning the conference regular season title, Cheltenham is going to look different next season. The Panthers are losing first team all SOL Freedom division players Michael McClain who is now playing at West Chester and Saleem Payne who transferred to Phelps, and second team all division player Brandon Hawkins.
Despite the loss of those big time contributors, Patrick Fleury’s squad has a lot of talented players such as Ife West Ingram, Rasheem Dearry, Justin Savage, and freshman point guard Josiah Hutson. Those four along with Kamani Healey, a rising sophomore, got the start in Friday's 38-36 victory over Cherokee (N.J.). While the starting lineup is still to be determined, those five guys will be in head coach Patrick Fleury’s rotation.
Savage had a great game Friday, scoring a game high-tying 12 points, communicating with his teammates, and impacting the defensive side of the floor. Dearry also chipped in 12 points, scoring inside the arc and getting to the charity stripe.
With some familiar faces gone for the Panthers, some slack on the leadership end has needed to be picked up.
“The seniors as a whole, I think are kind of figuring out their voice,” Fleury said. “Savage is definitely probably right now our most vocal I would say.”
— Ranked the second best player in N.J. in the class of 2022, Will Richardson of Bergen Catholic (N.J.) is a hot commodity amongst high D-I programs, including those that are high academic. The 6-3, 162-pound combo guard had a great showing in the second to last set Friday night, showing his ability to create his own shot, scoring a game-high tying 15 points in Bergen’s 53-36 win over Sidwell Friends (MD). Over the offseason Richardson is working on becoming more consistent offensively, his jumper, his defensive, and being a better point guard.
Richardson has tons of D-I offers, but is yet to take any visits thus far. The rising senior does have two official visits planned for August and September to Maryland and Vanderbilt and is hoping to plan one with Stanford and another with Seton Hall or Penn State. The first three schools mentioned prior have been the ones in communication with Richardson the most.
When it comes to Richardson’s future school, he knows what is important.
“Education first,” Richardson said. “Always education first. My mother’s big on education so that first and then wherever it’s the best fit for me in the future.”