CoBL Staff (@hooplove215)
MANHEIM, Pa. — The Hoop Group’s jam fest tournament series hit the road from Atlantic City this week to the massive Spooky Nook Sports complex for the weekend, with the series’ mix of HG Showcase League (HGSL) programs mixing it up with other independent grassroots programs as well as a few Nike EYBL squads. It was a field that drew plenty of Division I colleges to the Nook, including head coaches and assistants from the highest-level programs all the way down to D-III staffs.
Here’s part one of our recruiting notebook from the day’s action:
Nick Coval (above, in May) is already emerging as one of the premier players in Pa., thanks to his scoring abilty and unique outlook on the game. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Nick Coval (2024 | Team Final | Parkland, Pa.)
Nick Coval looks at the game the way a coach does. While he is reviewing his own game, he tends to analyze his play down to the minor details like footwork or spacing. He tries to not be overly critical, but if there is one specific area he can improve for a future game, he wants to fix it right away.
The reason he has this scope of the game comes directly from his father, DeSales head coach Scott Coval. The Bulldogs’ head coach has won almost 500 games in 28 seasons and has provided insight into Nick’s game throughout his young career. Scott had a phenomenal career at William & Mary, where he finished his career as the program’s all-time leader in assists (409). He may have been more impressive at Whitehall High School where he led the program to the 1982 PIAA Class 3A title, which was the highest classification at the time.
“He taught me everything,” Nick Coval said. “If we’re watching a game on TV, he will break it down in real time. He has really helped me in my success, especially with the ability to see the floor.”
Coval scored nine points Saturday afternoon in a 65-43 victory over the PPA Broncos. On a loaded Team Final roster that includes Robert Wright III (Neumann-Goretti), Mike “Deuce” Jones (Archbishop Ryan), Moses Hipps (Archbishop Carroll) and Elijah Brown (St. Augustine Prep (N.J.), Coval has found his spots to score and his skill set fits in well with a robust backcourt.
The 6-1, 160-pound guard had an unorthodox start to his high school career as the COVID-19 pandemic put the Pa. basketball season in jeopardy. He did not have ample time to become acclimated with his new team and he had to learn the speed of the game on the fly.
It was certainly difficult but Coval made the most of practice time and the chemistry was almost instantaneous.
“Since I was a freshman, I had to keep up with the seniors and this season we didn’t really get to know each other very well, so that was a challenge,” Coval said. “We developed chemistry because they took me in as a freshman and that really contributed to our success.”
Coval showcased a lot of that coach’s mentality with his play on the court, which seemed to be years ahead of his age, as he averaged 16.9 points per game and made 41 3-pointers in leading Parkland to the District 11 Class 6A title game, where they fell to William Allen. He scored a season-high 28 points against Nazareth in the opener of the district playoffs, and was named one of three division co-MVPs.
He can get to the rim when he wants and his jumper is as smooth as a veteran high school player’s. Combine that with the coach’s outlook on the game, and Coval is emerging as one of the premier players in Pa. While he does not have any formal offers on the table, Coval said his high school coach, Andy Stephens, has gotten some early calls from big names, including Villanova and Virginia.
Even with the early success, he is focused on how he can take the next step in his game.
“I can really be a better defender by anticipating passes in the passing lane,” Coval said. “Other than that, I need to become more consistent. I’ll work on my jump shot percentages and all of that.” — Rich Flanagan
Chance Westry (above) has played basketball across the United States and has a host of high-major offers. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Chance Westry (2022 | NY Renaissance | Hillcrest Prep, Az.)
Westry’s basketball journey has taken him across the United States, but central Pennsylvania is still home for the talented youngster. The former Trinity standout, who led the Shamrocks into the PIAA Class 3A state title game as a freshman in 2019, left the Harrisburg area in the summer of 2020 as his bright future in the game became clearer, briefly linking up with Bronny James and Sierra Canyon (Cali.) before leaving in the middle of a COVID-affected season.
He’s recently announced that he’ll be spending his senior year back out West at Hillcrest Prep (Ariz.), another high-level prep program where he’ll be part of a rotation full of future Division I ballplayers.
“The last 18 months has been full of work, working hard, being a better player and being a better teammate,” he said Saturday afternoon. “Just competing, bringing it every day, showing them I’ve got the heart to play with those guys and gaining knowledge from them, made me a better person and an athlete.”
Westry looked every bit the part of a future high-major guard playing back in his home neck of the woods. A 6-6, 180-pound point guard, Westry scored 10 points with a pair each of rebounds and assists as the Rens beat District Basketball Club (D.C.) 64-44 during a 17U showcase game.
Coming off the bench on a star-studded Rens squad full of high-major talent, Westry asserted himself well playing in front of several dozen D-I coaches, hitting a floater on the move and a tough pull-up jumper while playing within the flow of the Rens’ system.
“I love Pennsylvania...the people that came out to support me, them coming to see me play, what more could I ask for, you know?” he said. “Them watching me, seeing me do what I do best, smile on the sidelines, talk about the game after, it just means a lot.
Westry’s recruitment has been at high-major levels since Penn State offered near the end of his freshman season, the first in a cavalcade that’s seen the likes of schools from the Big East, SEC, Big Ten, ACC, AAC, and Pac-12 all get involved, with Arizona State coming in as his most recent offer earlier this month.
He’s already taken an official visit to Syracuse, and has been on the campuses of LSU, Auburn, and Nebraska. But he remained coy when it came to what he was thinking in regards to his commitment thought process, mentioning that he was looking for a “fast-paced system” but little beyond that.
“I haven’t really thought about my college decision or anything yet,” he said. “I’m not worried about that now, just worried about one step at a time, Peach Jam and all that.”
As for his goals for the remainder of the summer, much of which will be spent at the annual EYBL championship tournament down in N. Augusta (S.C.) the next two weeks: “To eat Peaches.” — Josh Verlin
Tyler Houser (2022 | Central PA Elite | Cedar Cliff)
Houser, the 6-9, 240-pound big man from Cedar Cliff, picked up his first D-I offer from the Naval Academy this June. With offers from D-II’s such as East Stroudsburg, Millersville and Wheeling University already on the table, the offer from Navy saw years of crafting his game come to a culmination.
“It felt amazing,” Houser said. “A huge weight was lifted off my chest. My main goal has always been to be a Division I player.”
A couple weeks after the Navy offer, Houser picked up his second D-I scholarship, from Virginia Military Institute. Other D-I programs have shown interest including American, Columbia, Lehigh, and Lafayette.
Houser had previously mentioned to CoBL that he was working on honing his midrange game and 3-point range. He showed off his 3-point stroke, hitting one, and drained multiple deep two-pointers, scoring 23 points and grabbing 11 rebounds for Central PA Elite in a 66-54 setback to Team AKT Saturday. His face-up game in the midrange looks natural to him, making quick decisions on whether to get rid of the ball to a teammate or shoot over his defender. At his size, grabbing rebounds and disrupting opponent’s shots at the rim are second nature.
The key to more D-I offers will be continuing to work on his athleticism and ball-handling through AAU showcases and his senior year in high school. Houser scored 14 points per game in his junior season at Cedar Cliff; the Colts upset Cumberland Valley in the first round of the district playoffs behind his 19 points.
The Navy offer felt sweet; Houser has already visited the school’s Annapolis (Md.) campus, saying it was beautiful, he loved the coaches and it made a great impression. Joining the armed forces also piqued his interest.
“That’s definitely something I’m interested in,” Houser. “I don’t know yet if that’s going to be the route I’m going to take, but I will put some deep thought into it.” — Sean McBryan
— Jaden Gales (2022 | Team Wildcat | Bishop Canevin, Pa.) is one of the hidden gems in Pa. Playing for Team Wildcat, the 6-6, 210-pounder had at least 21 points and eight rebounds in a 76-63 win over Sina's Hoop Academy. With the ability to draw bigger defenders out of the paint and take them off the dribble, Gales can play all five positions and has success regardless of where he is placed.
After flourishing with Bishop Canevin last season, Gales is excited to see how much he can learn about each position and find ways to be more effective.
“I usually run small forward and down,” Gales said. “With Bishop Canevin, I play short corner and in the paint. In AAU, I’m starting to work more on the perimeter and becoming more versatile to help us win.”
He led the Crusaders in scoring at 15.7 ppg but was ruled ineligible for postseason play due to PIAA transfer rules after coming over from Nazareth Prep. Bishop Canevin (16-6) claimed the District 7 Class A title then lost in the state quarterfinals. After a terrific showcase in Atlantic City this week, Gales has heard from D-II Bloomfield College and has also received interest from D-III Washington College (Md.) and D-II Jefferson University. — Rich Flanagan
— Even though it’s his first time playing in front of college coaches, and while he’s just figuring out the start of his recruiting journey, Miles Rose (2023 | City Rocks | Putnam Science, Conn.) has the luxury of having watched his brother go through all of it several years back. Quinton Rose also starred for the City Rocks before scoring 1,860 points during a four-year career at Temple (2016-20), starting 102 of 129 games in Cherry & White.
“We talked about it, and I also watched him go through it, so I have some kind of experience going through it,” the younger of the two Rose brothers said. “It’s nice to have that.”
A member of the City Rocks program since his 13U year, Rose is a 6-4 off-guard with a drastically different frame and game than his brother, a 6-7 wing who ended up playing mostly the ‘1’ for Temple by the end of his time on North Broad.
A transfer from Bishop Kearney (N.Y.) to Putnam Science last summer, Miles Rose’s recruitment is just beginning; he has offers from Albany, Bryant, Siena and UMBC thus far, but hasn’t gotten a chance to see any campuses yet. He said his long-term goal is to continue working on his ball-handling and playing with the ball in his hands to be able to transition over to more of a point guard by the time he’s ready for college. — Josh Verlin