CoBL Staff (@hooplove215)
The second session of Philly Live 2021 kept the gym at St. Joe’s Prep humming from morning until night on Saturday, with all four courts active for a full 12 sets of hoops. The Division I coaches swarmed to Philly to see some of the top prospects in the Northeast, and there was no shortage of talent to watch.
Here’s a notebook featuring recruiting coverage from Saturday’s action (with a little bit from Friday night as well):
George Perkins (above) is preparing to take on a leadership role as one of the few seniors on his high school team. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
George Perkins (2022 | Sidwell Friends, D.C.)
Perkins’ career at Sidwell Friends got off to a bang, and he’s hoping to end it that way.
A rising senior at Sidwell, a high-academic private school located in the northwest part of the nation’s capital, Perkins was a freshman on the Quakers’ squad when it won the District of Columbia AA championship in 2019, led by current Towson guard Jason Gibson. Now he’s one of only a handful of seniors on a promising squad, and has to provide key leadership if the Quakers hope to not defend their league title but once again capture the DCSAA title.
“We have a pretty young team, for the most part,” Perkins said. “(Last year) was good for the seniors, so I’m trying to repeat my senior year: win the league, win the conference, win states, if we can get there.”
Perkins was part of a solid all-around effort for Sidwell Friends on Saturday, as the Quakers didn’t have much trouble with a young St. Joe’s Prep squad during a 49-35 win. A 6-8, 190-pound wing forward, Perkins hit several tough mid-range pull-up jumpers, and the right-hander showed his versatility with a smooth off-hand finish as well to finish with 10 points.
He was terrific out of the gate, helping Sidwell jump out to a big early lead, while underclassman teammates including 2023s Chris Russell, Cam Gillus and Chali Taylor kept the motor running all game long. Coaches from the Atlantic 10, CAA, Patriot League and MAAC were all courtside to watch the action, and there’s no doubt Perkins was one of the higher-level prospects on the court.
“I’m trying to keep my team energized, keep my team active and just inspire them to play harder,” Perkins said. “I realize that when I play hard, they play hard, so I have to make sure that I bring my best energy to every single game or else we might falter, and I’ve got to take responsibility for how my team acts on the floor and the energy that they bring to the game.”
At the moment, Perkins — who plays his summer ball with Team Takeover on the Nike EYBL circuit — claims scholarship offers from Howard, George Washington, Rice, La Salle, Maryland, Virginia Tech and VCU, with many of those coming in during the 2020 offseason. He said that lately he’d had conversations with Yale, Penn and Stanford, while others had spoken to his father.
Due to the pandemic, Perkins has yet to take a visit to a college campus, so he’s still very early on in his thinking regarding his decision. He said he still isn’t sure yet what he’s looking for in a school, that it’ll take visiting a few to get an idea of what would be the right fit. In the meanwhile, he said he’ll be working on his offensive awareness and his off-ball movement, helping to make himself a more productive scorer.
“I’m trying to take the latter half of my summer to go visit a lot of places,” he said. “That’s probably when I’ll start to think about decision-making and all of that.”
Tyson Thomas (above) will be a four-year starter as he enters his senior year and recently received his first D-I offer. (Photo: Rich Flanagan/CoBL)
Tyson Thomas (2022 | Allentown Central Catholic, Pa.)
Succeeding once is an impressive feat in itself but duplicating success is even more difficult. For Tyson Thomas, the 2020-21 season was one filled with dread before transitioning into absolute elation.
The COVID-19 pandemic nearly caused Pa. to move forward without the high school basketball season. The Allentown Central Catholic guard was preparing for a crucial junior season, one that he had hoped would set him up for the next stage of his career.
The season went ahead, and Thomas’ season did so much more than that. As he prepares for his final high school season, he is focused on getting this year’s group to follow the path he and the previous Vikings regime laid out.
“Moving into my senior year, I’m going to be a fourth-year starter,” Thomas said. “I have the experience that these guys sometimes lack. Some of these guys are coming into the lineup and they haven’t experienced what I have. I need to instill in them that this is a winning program, regardless of what you have.”
The 6-1 floor general avg. 15.5 points and five assists in leading Allentown Central Catholic to the PIAA Class 4A title, its first state crown since 1986. The Pa. All-State Class 4A First Team selection took his game to another level as evidenced by his 26-point performance against Archbishop Carroll in the state quarterfinals followed by his game-winning layup with 21 seconds remaining to down Hickory in Hershey. It was a historic season, and one where Thomas took the next step in his maturation as a player.
“I like to feel things in the first few minutes,” Thomas said. “Does the defense want to deny me and slow me down? As time goes on, I like to up the tempo and get a lot of buckets in a short amount of time. I have a good share of success when I get to my spots.”
He poured in 22 points, including 17 in the second half, as the Vikings fell to Manasquan (N.J.), 61-59 in overtime on Saturday afternoon. His play throughout the season and on the AAU circuit with Team Final Red earned him his first D-I offer from Lehigh on June 17. Lehigh had been watching Thomas for awhile and became the first program to jump after his phenomenal junior year.
“Last year, when coaches were allowed to contact 2022 players, I got a lot of interest from Ivy League and Patriot League schools,” Thomas said. “They kept in contact with me and I got the chance to play in front of [head coach Dr. Brett Reed] a bunch of times. He let me know that he wanted to offer me. Coaches are talking to me more often but it’s been a rewarding process.”
He has received interest from Colgate, Navy, Princeton and Penn. He has also been in contact with Lincoln University and East Stroudsburg. Playing on a deep Team Final Red 17U team with Reading’s Joey Chapman and Daniel Alcantara and Central Dauphin’s Donovan Hill, Thomas has stood out with a wealth of talent around him. On the Vikings, he has been paired with 6-5 rising senior Liam Joyce, who posted 15 points and 11 rebounds on Saturday.
Joyce, who avg. 16.2 points, eight rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game, and Thomas have been teammates since their freshman year and their bond was key to last year’s title run.
“I have known him since middle school,” Thomas said. “We came into the program together as freshmen and we’re inseparable. As a result, we’ve gotten better on the court and a better relationship off the court. We’re the senior leaders so we need to lead the guys as a unit.”
As he preps for his final season, Thomas has been enjoying the recruiting process and where the road will take him next. He’s not in any rush and his focus will remain on mentoring this year’s Vikings’ roster on what it takes to win.
“We’re still in the live period so as soon as the AAU season is over, I’ll have a better idea,” Thomas said. “I just have to see how things are. There’s still a lot of basketball left to be played.” — Rich Flanagan
Brendan Boyle (above) showed off his passing ability in a win on Saturday. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
— Notre Dame-Green Pond 2022 G Brendan Boyle has gotten some notice this month for his ability to put up big numbers on the scoreboard, but it was his passing ability that was on display during a 74-63 win over Bound Brook (N.J.). The 5-11, 165-pound guard, who had a couple 30-point outings last weekend, scored 12 against Bound Brook, showcasing a reliable crossover he used to create space and get up shots, and he’s a good finisher who can get to the rim as well. It was his nine assists that really shined against Bound Brook, as Boyle was continually making the right reads and using his ability to get into the lane to kick out to shooters, or drop off tight passes in traffic to cutters. Boyle has an offer from D-II Kutztown which came in at the end of his sophomore year, and he said he’s also hearing from D-III DeSales as well. Quite a few of his assists came to fellow rising senior Sean Howlett, a 6-1 guard with good length who had 31 points in the win; a small-college prospect, Howlett showed he could finish through contact and hit open outside shots.
—After Bishop McDevitt closed down, rising senior Justin Moore had to find a place to play ball for one season, and that place turned out to be Archbishop Wood. The 6-3, 170-pound guard got with Wood in May and has been able to get some run with his new squad, playing with them at the Rider team camp, and Philly Live I & II.
Moore entered June with two offers, but in just a two week span starting on June 14 Moore has added to that total putting it now at six. The K-Low Elite prospect picked up an offer from Rider at their team camp and got offers from St. Peters, St. Francis (Pa.), and Merrimack during the Philly Live events’ span. Moore took unofficial visits to Drexel and La Salle and said he will try to plan some more as the summer progresses.
Moore had a strong showing with his new squad on Friday night, scoring 14 points in Wood’s win over Lower Merion, showing off his ability to attack the basket; he added 22 more in a win over Don Bosco Prep on Saturday. It certainly looks like Moore has fit in nicely with his new team, and is enjoying his time with the Vikings, the defending Catholic League champions who graduated their entire starting lineup.
“I like it a lot. My teammates accepted me, we all get along pretty well on and off the court,” Moore said. “And I love playing for coach (John) Mosco, I love the coaching staff too. And they welcomed me, so I like playing with Wood a lot.”
— Hudson Catholic (N.J.) wing Aaron Davis showed his range and scoring abilities in a 57-54 win over La Salle College (Pa.), contributing 15 points in the win. The 6-5, 205-pound wing guard knocked down a pair of triples and showed a willingness to pull up and fire away from deep; he also added eight rebounds (two offensive) in the win and knocked down all five of his foul shots. Davis, who spent last year at St. Benedict’s (N.J.) and plays with the NY Renaissance on the EYBL circuit, claimed offers from DePaul, Bryant and Morgan State plus a lot of interest from South Carolina, Virginia, Tulsa, George Washington, La Salle, Iona, Hofstra, and RMU.
— A rising senior at Shawnee High School, Andrew Ball had quite the showing on Saturday, scoring a game high 36 points. Ball knocked six 3-pointers and scored inside the arc, showing his ability to knock down pull up jumpers, something he has been working on. Ball has also been working on being more explosive and being able to play more off the dribble going sideways.
Ball’s big performance Saturday morning came with a nice reward, an offer from Albany. The 6-8 190 pound wing also has an offer from Bucknell and has been busy visiting campuses recently. Ball is hearing from numerous other high-academic types; he has visited Bucknell, Princeton, Cornell, Boston University, Lehigh and Lafayette, all unofficially.
“I liked it,” Ball said on his visit to Bucknell that took place about two weeks ago. “I love the coaching staff, I got to play pickup with the guys, they were awesome, really welcoming, so it was a lot of fun.”