CoBL Staff (@hooplove215)
The sixth “annual” CoBL Interstate Shootout made its return after a couple years off this weekend, with 72 teams taking to the courts at Friends’ Central for a pair of games.
Here’s who stood out in front of the CoBL staff from Saturday’s competition, which featured half the field; click here for Sunday's standouts:
Nick Coval (above), one of the top players in the Lehigh Valley, hit 10 3-pointers between two games Saturday. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Nick Coval (2024 | Parkland, Pa.)
Parkland’s no stranger to having Division I talent come through its doors, as Sam Iorio (Niagara) and Kyle Stout (Lafayette) both came out of the Allentown public school in the last decade. Coval, the son of DeSales head coach Scott Coval, looks like the next Trojan to follow in that tradition, as the rising sophomore is coming off a season where he was one of three conference co-MVPs, averaging 17 ppg. He had 27 points and 18 in Parkland’s two games, hitting five 3-pointers in each. A hard-playing 6-2 guard with an easy, repeatable 3-point stroke, Coval also doesn’t hesitate to leap for contested rebounds and doesn’t hesitate to pitch out to shooters if driving lanes aren’t available.
Drew Greene (2022 | Cherry Hill East, N.J.)
Not many guards in South Jersey have the combination of scoring prowess and floor vision as Greene, who scored 24 of his 29 points in the first half against Chester. He sped past the Clippers full court press then drilled five three-pointers in the half court. The 5-foot-10 point guard made a gorgeous through-the-legs pass to teammate E.J. Matthews for a trey and that was the exclamation on a terrific win. He averaged 14.2 points per game last year and looks to be in line for a big senior season in South Jersey.
Justin Hawkins (2022 | Life Center Academy, N.J.)
With Shawn Simmons (St. Frances Academy, Md.) and Syracuse commit Quadir Copeland (IMG Academy, Fl.) having transferred out, Life Center Academy will need Hawkins to elevate his smooth perimeter game in his final season. The 6-foot-7 wing had 16 points in a victory over Salesianum (Del.), the majority of which were strong drives and fadeaways in the lane. With offers from Bloomfield and Lincoln University (Pa.), Hawkins’ play this season should improve his stock.
Moses Hipps (2024 | Archbishop Carroll, Pa.)
Hipps is making the transition from a shooting guard to a combo guard, and he’s making terrific progress in that regard. The lanky 6-4 perimeter piece is a strong outside shooter with a reliable one-dribble pullup, and he was already primed for a step up in production as a sophomore at Carroll, but now he’s looking a lot more confident putting the ball on the floor and finishing around the rim, getting close to 30 points in one game Saturday and closing in on 20 in the other. As good as he is now, it looks like he still is a ways from filling out his frame, which suggests an even higher upside down the road.
Larenzo Jerkins (2024 | Chester, Pa.)
Chester might not be able to immediately replace Karell Watkins’ production and leadership but they can certainly have a player fill a similar role and Jerkins looks to be that guy. The 6-foot-5 forward scored 17 points in a win over Bishop Eustace (N.J.) then had a team-high 26 points (17 in the first half) in a loss to Cherry Hill East. After swinging JV and varsity as a freshman, he will be moved to the starting lineup in Watkins’ old spot.
Josh Michigan (2023 | Brick Memorial, N.J.)
The 6-3 combo guard shot the lights out in a 54-36 win over Central Bucks East in Brick Memorial’s first game of the day. Michigan hit four 3s and scored 18 points; his outside shot opens up opportunities for him to get to the basket where he can finish with either hand. The rising junior is also opportunistic on defense, smartly playing passing lanes or swiping for a steal. He averaged 9.5 points and 1.3 steals while hitting 1.2 3s per game as a sophomore starter for the Mustangs and looks to improve on those numbers this season.
Trent Middleton (above) showed his scoring touch against Manasquan and Montgomery on Saturday. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Trent Middleton (2022 | Math, Civics & Sciences, Pa.)
Middleton burst onto the scene as a junior, complementing Nisine Poplar (Miami, Fl.) and becoming the player he believed he could be during his early years at now-defunct Bishop McDevitt. The 6-foot-3 combo guard had 15 points in the win over Manasquan. He hit two treys early, then used a nifty ability to finish with either hand at the rim. He’s a pure scorer and should be one of the Public League’s best once again this year.
Mackenzie Mgbako (2023 | Gill St. Bernard, N.J.)
The highest-level prospect in the gym perhaps didn’t even play up to his full potential, but even 90% of Mgbako’s best effort is more than enough to wind up on this list. The 6-foot-8 wing can play the ‘1’ through ‘4’ for GSB, though he’s at his best as a mismatch wing-forward who can stretch the floor, put the ball on the ground and score from all three levels. Already physically developed enough to play at the next level, Mgbako is a can’t-miss prospect moving forward, one of a few on GSB.
Justin Molen (2022 | Salesianum, Del.)
Molen’s one of those prospects who’s truly being recruited by schools at all three levels: high-academic Division III schools are drooling while the high-academic Is are intrigued, and D-II schools are getting more and more involved as his production becomes more and more obvious. Molen, a 6-7 wing forward, had 48 points in his two games, playing with the ball in his hands, making cross-court passes with ease, scoring around the rim with both hands, and hitting from outside.
Kachi Nzeh (2023 | George School, Pa.)
In the words of George School coach Ben Luber, “Everything starts and ends with Kachi.” A 6-foot-8 power forward, the focal point of the George School team provided one of the most eye-opening performances at the shootout, which included a 21-point effort as he outdueled top prospect Mgbako in a win over Gill St. Bernard. Nzeh is an athletic big man with the ability to run the floor in transition, score and set up teammates out of the post and extend his game with improving touch on his jumper. Defensively, Nzeh’s size and ability to be in the right spots allows him to anchor the George School defense.
J.R. Newman (2022 | Haverford High, Pa.)
Newman’s offensive game goes to the next level when his outside shot is falling, which it was in Haverford’s second game of the day against Cherokee. He hit three 3-pointers in the first half and ended with 21 points, scoring off the dribble and catch-and-shoot. Newman has a polished driving game and if he consistently hits from range it will go a long way in helping in the Fords replace the scoring lost from the graduation of 1,000-point scorer John Seidman (Franklin & Marshall). The 6-2 guard, along with teammate Nick Colucci, look to shoulder the scoring load this season and get the Fords back to the District playoffs.
Izaiah Pasha (2023 | Cardinal O’Hara, Pa.)
A newcomer to Cardinal O’Hara this season, Pasha will provide an extra spark to a Lions team with a young core that still gained a lot of key experience playing in the Philadelphia Catholic League last season. The 6-foot-5 guard brings quickness, length and ability to shoot from the outside, as well as drive to the basket off the dribble. Coming from Central Dauphin East, there may be an adjustment period upon the start of Catholic League play, but the talent and scoring ability will be a huge addition for Cardinal O’Hara once Pasha gets settled in.
IV Pettit (2022 | Devon Prep, Pa.)
After putting together a stellar two-year run with West Chester Rustin, Pettit flourished in his first season with the Tide, and looks primed for a strong senior year. The 6-foot-2 guard had 13 points in a victory over DePaul (N.J.) and racked up the total in a variety of ways. His jump shot is textbook with a quick release and he is evolving into a more capable playmaker. While he doesn’t have any offers at the moment, he was the primary reason Devon Prep advanced to the Philadelphia Catholic League semifinals and he should be an integral part to the Tide’s continued rise.
Ben Roy (2022 | Manasquan, N.J.)
Roy, a 6-1 guard who verbally committed to Boston University earlier in September, put up 20 points in a 14-point loss to Math, Civics & Sciences. Despite the loss, Roy was not overmatched going up against a very athletic MCS squad. He has good bounce when attacking at the rim and has a variety of crafty finishes, utilizing floaters and reverses to get his shot over or past bigger defenders. He also has a smooth jumper and can hit from well past the 3-point line. He enters his senior season with over 1,000 career points (1,174) even though his sophomore and junior seasons were shortened due to COVID. Roy averaged 24 points per game his junior season. He chose Boston over Brown, Bryant, Fairfield, Holy Cross, Monmouth, Nebraska, Penn, Robert Morris, St. Peter’s, Toledo.
Rutgers commit Derek Simpson (above) is the engine that drives a strong Lenape (N.J.) squad. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Derek Simpson (2022 | Lenape, N.J.)
Another recent D-I playing on Saturday was Simpson, who’ll be continuing his career in the Big Ten next year at Rutgers. The future Scarlet Knight, a 6-2 guard, is a terrific on-court leader with a smooth game, though he can rise up and throw down with serious authority, as he demonstrated with a fast-break slam that had a buzz going around the players and scouts watching. Simpson doesn’t force the action and uses a strong supporting cast well, making him an efficient offensive player who makes those around him better.
Masud Stewart (2022 | Neumann-Goretti, Pa.)
Stewart is as athletic and physical as guards come. The 6-foot-3 guard learned from Hysier Miller (Temple) and Chris Evans (Claflin University) as a junior and will lead a young Saints team as a senior in the same way. He scored a game-high 24 points in a tough 65-60 win over Bergen Catholic (N.J.). His potential is there, as evidenced by his offers from Wagner, Rider, Holy Cross and St. Peter’s, and he will be the unquestioned leader of this year’s Neumann-Goretti starters.
Mark Armstrong (2022 | St. Peter’s Prep, N.J.), Aidan Anderson (2022 | Lenape, N.J.), Rahmir Barno (2023 | Imhotep Charter, Pa.), Jaheim Bethea (2022 | Math, Civics & Sciences, Pa.), Christian Bliss (2024 | George School, Pa.), Luke Braaten (2022 | Brick Memorial, N.J.), Julian Brown (2022 | Bergen Catholic, N.J.), Aasim Burton (2024 | Math, Civics & Sciences, Pa.), Terry Copeland (2024 | Bergen Catholic, N.J.), Nick Colucci (2022 | Haverford High, Pa.), Khalif Crawley (2022 | Math, Civics & Sciences, Pa.), Jacob Cummiskey (2024 | Central Bucks East, Pa.), Connor Fields (2022 | Abington, Pa.), Edixon Gomez (2022 | Bethlehem Catholic, Pa.) Joe Greene (2022 | Friends’ Central, Pa.), RJ Greene (2022 | Iona Prep, N.Y.), Kyle Jones (2023 | Father Judge, Pa.), Derrius Lucas (2022 | Abington, Pa.), Khaafiq Myers (2024 | Neumann-Goretti, Pa.), Bryce Nwobu (2022 | Cherokee, N.J.), Lucas Orchard (2023 | Devon Prep, Pa.), Fazl Oshodi (2024 | Friends’ Central, Pa.), Cameron Piggee (2023 | Rutgers Prep, N.J.), Will Richardson (2022 | Bergen Catholic, N.J.), Reggie Selden Jr. (2024 | Bishop Eustace, N.J.), Landon Shivers (2022 | Life Center, N.J.), Darren Tuck (2022 | St. Joe’s-Metuchen, N.J.), Kevin Tucker Jr. (2024 | Chester, Pa.), Shane Winkelman (2022 | Cherokee, N.J.), Robert Wright III (2024 | Neumann-Goretti, Pa.)