CoBL Staff (@hooplove215)
(Ed. Note: This article is part of our 2021-22 season coverage, which will run for the six weeks preceding the first official games of the year on Nov. 9. To access all of our high school and college preview content for this season, click here.)
Philadelphia basketball is everywhere.
More than 100 student-athletes who are from the Philadelphia area are playing Division I hoops this year, spread throughout many of the country’s 30-plus conferences and 350-plus D-I programs. There are players in their seventh year of college, those primed for a breakout year, those who’ve already become legends at the schools they attend, and everything in between.
We’ve split the area’s D-I alumni into a five-part list, including four segments of returning players and one of the true freshmen who are going off into their first year of D-I hoops. Here’s Part 5 of our 2021-22 CoBL alumni roundup, featuring 20 true freshmen:
(If we’re missing someone, let us know: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Sam Ayomide Onu (Fr./Memphis)
One of several Memphis freshmen with Philly-area ties, Ayomide originally hails from Nigeria but came to the Philly area a couple years back, moving in with the family of one of his future college teammates, John Camden (see below). A 7-foot, 250-pound center, Ayomide is the biggest body in a powerful Tigers’ frontcourt, but he’ll have competition for minutes in one of his new classmates (see: Duren, Jalen).
Griffin Barrouk (above) is coming off a significant injury at the end of his senior year. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Griffin Barrouk (Fr./Hofstra)
One of two new members of the Pride from the Philadelphia area, Barrouk will be playing for a former Sixers draft pick in first-year head coach Speedy Claxton, who played at Hofstra in the late 1990s. It remains to be seen what his readiness will be after suffering a serious leg injury during the district playoffs at the end of his senior year. When healthy, the 6-5 guard is a big-time scorer who can play on or off the ball.
John Camden (Fr./Memphis)
A native of Downingtown, Camden began his high school career at Westtown and then played at Archbishop Carroll before finishing up at prep powerhouse Brewster Academy (N.H.) when it wasn’t clear if Carroll would have a senior year due to COVID; he averaged 15.8 ppg as a junior for the Patriots. A 6-8 wing forward whose best asset is his outside shooting, Camden was a four-star recruit but joins a loaded Memphis squad that also includes Emoni Bates; he’ll really have to earn his minutes.
Rahsool Diggins (Fr./UConn)
The face of Archbishop Wood basketball for the last four years, the Vikings’ four-year starter at point guard now enters a new challenge in the Big East. A 6-2, 175-pound guard, Diggins set the new Wood scoring record (1,513 points), leading the Vikings into the PIAA 6A championship game, where they lost to Reading. There are plenty of talented guards on the Huskies’ roster, but Diggins has a chance to earn his role and significant minutes off the bat.
Jalen Duren (Fr./Memphis)
Long a member of the 2022 class, Duren got himself eligible to go to Memphis a year early, forgoing his senior year at Montverde Academy (Fl.) in a chase to turn pro a year earlier. And the five-star prospect is on a good path, already impressing at Memphis’ open gym/pro day last month. A 6-10, 230-pound forward with freakish athleticism, terrific hands and improving versatility in the face-up game, Duren should immediately be one of the top big men in college basketball and is a likely one-and-done prospect.
Rahdir Hicks (Fr./Towson)
Over the course of five years at Malvern Prep, the last of which was a much-abridged season, Hicks scored 1,192 points, good enough for sixth all-time on the Friars’ scoring list. The 6-0, 160-pound guard from Coatesville now finds himself playing for Pat Skerry in the CAA, the latest in a line of local players who’ve gone down to Maryland to play for the Tigers. Towson brought in several transfer guards this offseason, so competition will be tough.
Zach Hicks (Fr./Temple)
One of two new Owls from the region, a rarity in recent memory, Hicks is a 6-7 wing forward who comes out of Camden Catholic (N.J.). In his junior year with the Irish, he averaged 20 points and 7.6 rpg with 49 3-pointers, a show of his versatility. The Owls are heavy on guards but don’t have too many true ‘3s,’ so Hicks could find his role if he can defend at the AAC level.
Anquan Hill (Fr./Fairleigh Dickinson)
Hill was mulling a prep year and a move into the 2022 class, but a late offer from FDU kept him in college on schedule. The lanky 6-10 forward/center out of Archbishop Carroll had a breakthrough senior year, averaging 17.4 ppg and 9.4 rpg while shooting 83.6% from the foul line and blocking 35 shots (2.2/game). Might need a year to adjust to the physicality of the college level, but his upside is high in the NEC.
Ed Holland III (above) is in his first semester at Penn after graduating from Friends' Central. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Eddie Holland III (Fr./Penn)
A little more local flair on the Quakers’ roster comes courtesy of this 6-6 wing guard out of Friends’ Central. Holland III is a combo 2-3 whose best asset is his outside shooting, but he’s improved his body and attacking ability over the last couple years as well. It’s a deep Penn backcourt so minutes could be tough to come by early on.
Tairi Ketner (Fr./Albany)
There’s a heavy local flavor on the Great Danes, including a few newcomers from the Philadelphia area. The first of two in a row (alphabetically) is ‘Huss’ Ketner, the Archbishop Carroll grad who comes to Albany after a prep year at Woodstock Academy. A 6-7, 260-pound forward, Ketner is the son of late former UMass big man Lari Ketner, a second-round pick of the Chicago Bulls in 1999.
Ny’Mire Little (Fr./Albany)
Another new face under first-year Albany head coach Dwayne Killings is one that could certainly be a major building block of the program moving forward. Little is a talented 6-4 guard who split his high school years between Archbishop Carroll and the Westtown School, and it’s very possible he would have ended up a couple levels higher if not for the COVID pandemic making it difficult for coaches to see him at the most crucial of times.
Jordan Longino (Fr./Villanova)
Longino put together quite an impressive four years at Germantown Academy, finishing with a school-record 1,759 points — more than the likes of fellow Villanova Wildcat Alvin Williams, Matt Walsh and his other brother Evan-Eric Longino, who’s now in third place with 1,658. Jay Wright might not go deep enough to his bench to give Longino significant minutes right away, but upside is very high for the 6-5 wing who can play multiple perimeter positions.
Hysier Miller (Fr./Temple)
The 2021 PIAA 4A State Player of the Year, Miller had a monster senior season for the Saints, averaging 18.4 ppg, 10.0 rpg and 6.4 apg while shooting .523/.417/.688 during Neumann-Goretti’s nine-game season. The 6-1, 170-pound guard known as ‘Fabb’ (pronounced ‘Fabe’) joins a young and intriguing Temple backcourt, with players ahead of him in the mix for minutes right off the bat.
Nisine ‘Wooga’ Poplar (Fr./Miami)
Poplar’s story is already well-noted: he didn’t play basketball as a freshman and was largely unknown in the region before joining the team at Math, Civics & Sciences as a sophomore, where he immediately became one of the best guards in the public league, scoring more than 1,000 points between his sophomore and junior season. The 6-5, 195-pound scoring guard has high-major athleticism and real potential if he can polish his overall game.
Archbishop Wood's leading scorer, Marcus Randolph is now a freshman at Richmond. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Marcus Randolph (Fr./Richmond)
The second of four Wood products on this list and first of three in a row (alphabetically), Randolph had a strong couple years in the PCL after transferring in from Willingboro (N.J.). The 6-5 left-handed averaged 16.6 ppg, 5.4 rpg and 4.7 apg as a senior, leading the PCL champs in scoring. He’ll need to do better than his 30% clip from 3-point range to stay on the court for the Spiders.
Daeshon Shepherd (Fr./La Salle)
Another four-year member of the Wood varsity program, Shepherd began his high school career as a high-flying 6-5 wing and developed into a much more well-rounded two-way threat by the end of his PCL days. Shepherd missed the end of his senior year due to COVID and dealt with symptoms into the summer, which set him back to begin his freshman year, but back to full strength he could be a factor in the Explorers’ rotation.
Jaylen Stinson (Fr./James Madison)
Stinson was never the flashiest member of the Wood backcourt but he put together a strong all-around season as a senior, averaging 13.4 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 3.7 apg and 2.1 spg with a .460/.400/.788 shooting split, the best 3-point shooter on the squad. A 6-0, 170-pound guard, Stinson is a quick ball-handler with a scorers’ touch, and it’ll be his ability to play point that’ll help determine how quickly he finds the court.
Christian Tomasco (Fr./Hofstra)
The second local player who’s going up to Long Island to play for new Hofstra head coach (and former Sixers draft pick) Speedy Claxton, Tomasco is a 6-9 forward out of Archbishop Ryan. As a senior at Ryan, Tomasco averaged 12.7 ppg and 7.5 rpg while shooting 61.4% from the floor and 70.8% from the foul line.
Jalen Warley (Fr./Florida State)
A five-star recruit out of the Westtown School, Warley is a do-everything 6-5 point guard with an easy smoothness to his game. He’ll have a shot to make a big impact in Tallahassee for Leonard Hamilton on an FSU squad that saw many of its top contributors from a Sweet 16 appearance a year ago turn pro.
Zaakir Williamson (Fr./Buffalo)
Williamson began his high school career in Philly (at West Catholic) and ended it in Philly (at Neumann-Goretti), with a couple years in Washington (D.C.) in between. As a senior for the Saints, the 6-7, 255-pound forward with a soft touch averaged 15.0 ppg and 5.0 rpg.