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 Sunday’s competition; click here for Saturday’s standouts:
Zaki Alston (2023 | Sankofa Freedom, Pa.)
With a number of Sankofa’s expected leading scorers departing the program this offseason, a lot of that scoring load is going to fall on the shoulders of Alston, who’s shown the ability this summer to go off for big totals. The 6-foot-2, 185-pound guard did that again on Sunday, leading Sankofa in both of its games. An adept 3-point shooter with a bit of an unorthodox release, Alston hit six triples between his two games, finishing with 17 points in each. He’s also a good rebounder from the guard position and isn’t afraid to crash the offensive glass, and he’s becoming a better scorer around the rim and in transition.
JP Baron (above) is one of three senior guards who had strong days for the Golden Panthers. (Photo: Sean Portnoy for CoBL)
JP Baron (2022 | Pope John Paul II, Pa.)
The son of Gwynedd Mercy coach John Baron, the 6-2 Baron will lead the Golden Panthers this season alongside fellow senior guards Jaden Workman and Kevin Green. Baron brings playmaking and the ability to knock down shots from beyond the 3-point line, which will both be key elements to the Pope John Paul offense. As a self-proclaimed “hustle guy,” Baron showed off his willingness to do some of the dirty work this weekend as well. He boxes out taller opponents, grabs loose balls and stays engaged on defense. Baron’s contributions in those facets of the game will be crucial as the undersized Golden Panthers look to push the pace and spread the floor while still holding their own against teams with more size.
Christian Fermin (2022 | Pocono Mt. West, Pa.)
The Panthers’ day didn’t go quite as planned, as a van breakdown kept them from getting there for the entirety of their two games. But even in the game-and-a-half that Pocono Mt. West was on the court, Fermin was clearly a dominant force — something that’s fairly common for the 6-10, 220-pound VCU commit, who just gets better and better each time we see him. Though he’s naturally a ‘4’ or ‘5’ man, Fermin can now put the ball on the floor in the open court and was initiating offense from the top of the key, and he’s a much more willing jump-shooter. But he’s still at his best as a rim-runner, high-level dunker and shot-blocker who puts out a ton of energy when he’s on the court.
Jackson Hicke (2023 | Radnor, Pa.)
Haddonfield found out the hard way just what can happen when Hicke is on his game — which has been rather often, especially as the summer has gone on. After a more modest outing in his first game (while still scoring in the teens), Hicke went off for 32 points against Haddonfield to lead Radnor to a win in the nightcap. The 6-5 wing hit four 3-pointers, scored in the mid-range, and gave a ton of effort around the hoop, even if it took him a second or third effort on a few close-range buckets. There’s a real chance he could lead the Central League in scoring this year, and he’s on the radar of D-I schools for a reason.
Tyler Houser (2022 | Cedar Cliff, Pa.)
There weren’t many teams around this weekend that were going to be able to stop Houser from getting going in the paint. The 6-9, 230-pound power forward is an expert at establishing position and demanding the rock, where he can easily deposit it up and over defenders with either hand, using the glass with aplomb. Houser also showed a willingness to stretch the floor with his jumper, though a couple open 3-point attempts didn’t fall, but that didn’t stop him from being highly productive against both Downingtown West and SCH Academy, scoring 19 points in each game with plenty of rebounds in both. Several PSAC schools are hard on Houser’s case, and he made a good case for more scholarship programs to join in this weekend.
David Mager (with ball) was one of the top shooters not just on Sunday but all weekend long. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
David Mager (2022 | Dwight Englewood, N.J.)
Defenders quickly learned that wherever Mager was on the court, he was liable to pull up and launch. The 6-4 lefty connected with range and accuracy, going off for 27 points against Avon Grove, with a similar effort against Pocono Mt. West. Though his 3-point abilities were his most notable offensive asset, Mager did show the ability to convert tough finishes with that dominant hand, and even though he wasn’t quite as effective with his right hand, that didn’t seem to make it easier to stop him from putting the ball in the hoop. Mager also used his length with effect defensively and rebounded well from the wing.
Gabe Massenburg (2022 | Phoenixville, Pa.)
Massenburg is a load to handle in the paint, as both Marlboro and Cheltenham discovered this weekend, and a number of other programs have also realized this summer after Massenburg sat out his entire junior year. The 6-6 forward doesn’t have elite height or vertical athleticism but he’s a strong physical presence at north of 220 pounds, and does an excellent job of establishing position in the post, sealing off defenders, with the footwork and soft hands to finish over either shoulder at the bucket. Massenburg scored 20 points with at least a dozen rebounds in a close loss to Marlboro, and there won’t be many teams in the PAC that will be able to limit his effectiveness.
Justin Moore (2022 | Archbishop Wood, Pa.)
After transferring from the now-closed Bishop McDevitt, Moore is primed to make a big impact in his first and final season at Archbishop Wood. A 6-2 point guard, Moore is an excellent scorer, but he’s also able to see plays develop with the ball in his hands and set his teammates up for scoring opportunities themselves. He can shoot from 3-point range, but is perhaps at his best when using his tight handle and quickness to get by defenders and to the hoop. As Wood loses four seniors from last season who have gone on to play Division I basketball in college, Moore’s arrival and dynamic skillset will help the Vikings compete and find success in 2021-2022.
Jaren Morton (2023 | SCH Academy, Pa.)
Standing at 6-4, Morton is transferring to SCH Academy from Bishop McDevitt and is looking to be a pivotal contributor to this year’s Blue Devils’ team. Morton’s standout skill in Sunday’s showing was his impressive touch from the outside, able to score from the perimeter both off the dribble and catch. He was also impressive when driving through the lane, which he says he improved on during the summer. Morton does have a bit of a thin frame, but he prioritized working on his strength during the summer, and it showed in Sunday’s games. He displayed excellent body control and poise while in traffic which allowed him to show off his ability to finish around the rim.
Jack Seidler (2022 | Marlboro, N.J.)
Seidler had something of a quiet summer, the result of being the 10th man on a loaded Team Final squad, playing a small but important role during Final’s run to the Peach Jam championship. But there’s a reason the 6-5 wing earned a spot on the top team in grassroots hoops this summer, as he showed on Sunday; he’s a talented scorer who can play every position on the court. The 6-5 wing guard is a capable outside shooter who’s got a bag of tricks and spins to get into the lane, with touch to finish odd shots in the lane or pull-ups from mid-range. Scoring a total of 52 points in two games, both wins, Seidler showed why he’s a clear scholarship wing.
Daniel Skillings (2022 | Roman Catholic, Pa.)
A 6-6 forward, Skillings is one of the premier prospects in Philadelphia and will be a focal point on both ends of the court for Roman Catholic. Fresh off an official visit to NC State, one of his five finalists — he committed to Cincinnati on Thursday — Skillings showed off his skill this weekend for the Cahillites, putting on a show offensively and defensively. Skillings was able to create his own shot from the outside, while also driving and finishing around the basket with an array of dunks. On defense, his size and length made it tough for any perimeter player to score on him, and his near-7-foot wingspan allowed him to contest shots at the rim as a help defender, pinning several layup attempts against the backboard. In a Catholic League with high-end talent, Skillings will prove to be one of the most exciting players to watch this upcoming season.
Shemar Wilbanks-Acqui (above) looked right at home in his new digs at West Catholic. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Shemar Wilbanks-Acqui (2023 | West Catholic, Pa.)
The newest member of the Burrs’ squad is Wilbanks-Acqui, a 6-3 guard who spent his first two years at Sankofa. Even though he’s still getting adjusted to a new group, Wilbanks-Acqui looked plenty comfortable amongst West Catholic’s deep collection of juniors and seniors, which certainly benefits from his scoring presence after the departure of Anthony Finkley to Huntington Prep (W.Va.). Wilbanks-Acqui scored 15 and 18 points in West Catholic’s wins, getting to the rim with a combination of skill and physicality, and he’s got great touch within 10 feet to go with a solid complimentary jump shot; his ability to stretch the floor will be much-needed on a WC squad with plenty of size but not many knockdown shooters.
Tyler Arnold (2022 | Avon Grove, Pa.), Jalil Bethea (2024 | Archbishop Wood, Pa.), Ted Bond (2023 | Haddonfield, N.J.), Xzayvier Brown (2023 | Roman Catholic, Pa.), Camden Burns (2024 | SCH Academy, Pa.), Emeer Coombs (2024 | Neshaminy, Pa.), Isiaha Dickens (2022 | Hun School, N.J.), Cameron Downs (2023 | Pemberton, N.J.), Ayden Frey (2023 | Cedar Cliff, Pa.), Isaiah Glenn (2022 | Egg Harbor Twp., N.J.), Kevin Green (2022 | Pope John Paul II, Pa.), Dylan Harper (2024 | Don Bosco Prep, N.J.), Jermai Herring (2023 | St. Elizabeth, Del.), Mike Knouse (2022 | Archbishop Wood, Pa.), Basil Laster (2023 | Archbishop Wood, Pa.), Matt Leming (2022 | Haddonfield, N.J.), Carlos Lopez (2022 | Egg Harbor Twp., N.J.), Zavier Mayo (2022 | Phoenixville, Pa.), Aidan McCormick (2022 | Pennsbury, Pa.), Tyler Newman (2022 | Avon Grove, Pa.), Stanley Parker (2023 | Sankofa Freedom, Pa.), Noah Payne (2023 | Eastern, N.J.), Dayon Polk (2023 | Sanford School, Del.), Jon Spatola (2022 | Marlboro, N.J.), Charlie Thornton (2023 | Radnor, Pa.), Nate Townsend (2024 | Neshaminy, Pa.), Jake Warren (2023 | Downingtown West, Pa.), Kareem Watson (2022 | West Catholic, Pa.), Kaseem Watson (2022 | West Catholic, Pa.), Jaden Workman (2022 | Pope John Paul II, Pa.), Reese Ziegler (2022 | Avon Grove, Pa.)