CoBL Staff (@hooplove215)
WILMINGTON, Del. — The annual Team Final Scrimmages brought together some of the top talent from the Northeast together at the 76ers Fieldhouse this weekend for a one-day event, as Team Final welcomed fellow Nike EYBL programs Albany City Rocks, New York Renaissance and Team Melo along with a few other regional programs for a couple games of warm-up action.
Here’s a notebook featuring players from several of the 16U games that took place Sunday:
Thomas Sorber (2024 | Team Final | Archbishop Ryan)
After attending Trenton Catholic (N.J.) his freshman season, Sorber made his way to the Philadelphia Catholic League this season, playing for Archbishop Ryan. Under Joe Zeglisnki, the 6-foot-9 big man wasted no time making his presence felt, averaging just under 16 points per game for Ryan as they made their first Catholic League championship before losing to Neumann-Goretti in the final.
Thomas Sorber (above) wants to follow in the footsteps of some of Team Final's most decorated forwards. (Photo: Zak Wolf/CoBL)
Sorber was a steady presence for the Raiders all season long and will now look to establish himself as the next dominant big man to play for Team Final.
After Jalen Duren (Memphis) and Dereck Lively II (Duke) led Final’s 17U team to the Peach Jam championship title last summer, Sorber is looking to do much of the same on the 16U circuit. Sorber has stayed in contact with the two high-level players, both of whom have given him advice.
“They say to not worry about what’s going on, and to just play your game,” he said. “Play hard every time you step out on the floor no matter what.”
Both players have helped him adjust to the style of AAU since it can be geared towards guards more often than big men.
Sorber made a big jump this season, maturing as a post player and learning to play the position a lot better. He knows when he needs to dominate when he’s called upon and he also knows how to make winning plays when he’s not getting the ball.
When Sorber is fed the ball in the post, it’s his patience that sticks out the most when watching him. The big man will take two dribbles and put up a shot or body his way in the post to seal off defenders and finish softly at the rim.
“I used to rush plays and I would get flustered, this year I taught myself to relax better.”
Sorber’s play has gotten him offers from St. Joe’s, La Salle, Richmand and from Georgetown, where legendary big man Patrick Ewing coaches. Penn State, Maryland and Temple have also reached out, with a visit to the Owls campus on the horizon.
He feels his defense is the part of his game that makes him stand out, averaging 3.6 blocks per game, including seven in the PCL championship. Sorber wants to improve his shooting, extending his range from the middle of the floor to eventually the 3-point arc over the next couple of years.
After losing a few pounds since the start of his freshman season, Sorber is still trying to slim down a bit more.He wants to be in the best shape possible so he can show out for college coaches on the EYBL circuit this summer.
Dylan Harper (2024 | NY Renaissance | Don Bosco Prep, N.J.)
Coming from a basketball family, it’s hard for Dylan Harper not to have the natural skills and basketball I.Q. he does. A 6-5 shooting guard, Harper is a smooth customer on the basketball court, controlling the pace with his tight handle and opening up opportunities for his teammates by passing out of double teams and making good decisions in the pick and roll. Harper had 15 points in the Rens’ 67-47 win over City Rocks on Sunday.
Dylan Harper (above) has some serious hoops in his blood. (Photo: Dan Hilferty/CoBL)
Harper makes everything he does look easy on the floor, which he can attribute to his good genes. His dad, Ron Harper Sr., was an All-American at Miami (Ohio) before being taken as the No. 8 pick in the 1986 NBA draft. Harper Sr. is a five-time NBA champion, including being a part of the Chicago Bulls three-peat from 96-98.
Dylan’s mom played D-I at the University of New Orleans and his brother Ron Jr. played at Rutgers and recently declared for the NBA draft. Dylan wants to carry on his family’s legacy, but also while making a name for himself.
“I want to show people I’m Dylan and that I can do a lot more than people think I can,” he said. “I’m not just Ron’s son or Ron Jr.’s little brother. I’m my own person.”
Dlan Harper currently holds offers from his brother’s alma mater, Rutgers, as well as Georgetown, but he’s looking forward to making a trip to Piscataway this summer for an official visit. After watching Ron for four seasons at Rutgers, Dylan is excited to get on campus and have experiences of his own.
“Coach [Steve] Pikiell is a great coach and he’s a great guy,” he said. “Every time I see him, he’s always happy to see me, and he has a great program.”
Harper feels he’s a versatile player, with the ability to bring the ball up, play on the wing and post up inside if need be. When he has the ball in his hands he always wants to make smart plays, because it’s what he’s been taught his entire life.
“My parents always taught me to make the right play even if you don’t want to because it’ll help you down the line,” he said.
The combo guard wants to get stronger and build muscle over the next couple of years as well as improving his shot by getting a lot of reps in. Dylan loves to work out with his brother Ron Jr. and whenever they’re together they’re most likely in the gym.
With Ron Jr. getting ready for the NBA, Dylan goes through intense workouts with him. During these workout sessions, he sees the amount of work that’s needed to try and get to the Division One level and even higher.
“It’s hard, because it’s a lot of moving around, sprinting to spots and shooting,” he said. “Seeing my brother's work ethic drives me every day to be as good as he can. That feeds off on me.”
Drew McKenna (2024 | Team Melo | Glenelg Country HS, Md.)
It’s been a big year for McKenna, and he’s looking to make it even better with a breakout summer. The 6-7 wing is a versatile player who’s still growing into his body with each passing game. McKenna showed that he has the ability to handle the ball in the open floor and push the ball in transition.
Drew McKenna (above) is starting to hear from some big-name schools as he enters his 16U summer. (Photo: Zak Wolf/CoBL
He also proved he can make difficult shots, knocking down a couple of tough fadeaway jumpers in Team Melo’s 51-23 win over Jersey Force. McKenna had 13 points and controlled both the offensive and defensive glass.
McKenna’s long wingspan allows him to rebound at a high level, as well as finishing in traffic down low. He also is a good athlete and can get off the ground quick, with a couple of near highlight reel dunks in a two-point loss against Team Final Blue.
Going into his sophomore season McKenna only had real interest from George Washington, but since then has picked up offers from GW, Bryant, NJIT, and Illinois. He also has interest from big schools like Louisville, Marquette, Cincinnati, Xavier, Florida State and Villanova.
McKenna took an unofficial visit to ‘Nova last month which was a big moment for him.
“It was unreal, Villanova is one of my dream schools,” he said. “To see them live and in person, seeing a lot of kids from the DMV area was nice.”
Jay Wright is known to recruit the DMV area hard, with former Team Melo player and McDonald’s All-American Cam Whitmore committed to play for the Wildcats. Countless former players like Josh Hart, Kris Jenkins, and Phil Booth along with current players like Justin Moore and Branden Slater, who McKenna watched in high school, also hail from that region.
“Those are two people I got to see in person and I was really excited because it motivated me to be like them one day,” he said of Moore and Slater.
He knows that he still has work to do to get an official offer, but McKenna feels that if he keeps working hard and improving his game like he has been that it’ll come.
Over the past couple of years he’s improved his ability to put the ball on the floor along with his vision and passing. His growing frame has contributed to his increased leaping ability as well.
Playing on the EYBL circuit this summer, he wants to continue to get more exposure to big time college coaches and accumulate more offers. Playing against teams like Team Final who are loaded with D-I talent will make him a better player. McKenna scored 12 against Final in a tightly contested game, showing that he could hold his own against big time players.
Robert Wright III (above) is part of a terrific Team Final 16U squad. (Photo: Matthew Ryan/CoBL)
Robert Wright III (2024 | Team Final | Neumann-Goretti)
Coming off a Philadelphia Catholic League title, Wright will be playing with one of the most talented 16U squads on the East Coach in Team Final. A season ago Wright was a member of the Final 15U team that made it to the Elite Eight of Peach Jam, but he had to miss the team’s last game due to COVID. The 6-foot, 172-pound guard had 13 points in his team’s win over Jersey Force and currently holds offers from eight schools including Syracuse, Seton Hall, Wake Forest, Wichita State, VCU and Miami. Wright mentioned that he’s been in communication with the programs that have offered and, with Kevin Willard moving to Maryland from Seton Hall, he has drawn some interest from the Big 10 program. He wants to take some visits toward the end of the summer, mentioning he eventually wants to make it out to Miami, Syracuse, VCU “and more.” Over the offseason, he wants to focus on improving his athleticism, long-range shooting and making the right reads.
Damarius Owens (2024 | City Rocks | Western Reserve Academy, NY.)
Owens showed off his athleticism and skill in City Rock’s 72-33 blowout of Team Final Red. The sophomore threw down a couple of thunderous slams, including a big lob from one of his teammates. Owens now stands at 6-7 after growing a few inches this year, which he’s still trying to adjust to by getting as many shots up as possible and putting on muscle in the weight room. Owens showed off his touch from the outside, knocking down a couple of pull up jumpers to go along with his other highlight reel plays, scoring 11 points. As of right now he holds offers from Siena, UMBC and Cincinnati, but also has interest from Dayton. Owens likes to do the dirty work on the floor, making plays that other players might not want to. He rebounds, defends and sets up his teammates which he hopes will help him get the attention of more college coaches. Owens is looking forward to getting back on the EYBL circuit, playing against high level Division I players every game where you either “Punch or get punched”.
Keyshaun Tillery (2024 | City Rocks | Albany Academy, N.Y.)
Tillery loves the up-and-down style of AAU basketball where he can get to show off his speed and decision-making in the open floor. An aggressive driver who loves to set up his teammates, the point guard did it all for his team on Sunday. Tillery is a fan of the free-flowing style of AAU, because he gets the opportunity to work in space a lot more than he does during high school season. Tillery put up 10 points in City Rock’s win over Team Final Red, all of his points coming off of straight-line drives where he finished through contact. The 6-foot point guard holds offers from UMBC and UMass, but said that Big Ten Schools like Iowa and Maryland have contacted him. Tillery wants to continue to work on setting up his teammates, but doing it in smarter situations and raising his basketball I.Q. He’s also trying to improve his shot, which has always been a work in progress along with his ball handling which will have to be strong if he wants to be a point guard at the next level.