CoBL Staff (@hooplove215)
Following a year where COVID pauses were common and not every member of the City 6 even played games, the 2021-22 season brought some more normalcy that’s been desired over the past two years.
There was, however, a fair share of blips in the road for local schools, such as some more cancellations due to COVID and even a game getting postponed due to travel issues, but when the season was all said and done, programs were able to get their money’s worth. With a successful year in the books and the dust settling after a thrilling final weekend of college basketball, now’s an excellent time to take to hand out our City 6 Awards:
Player of the Year: Collin Gillespie (Gr. | Villanova)
After Gillespie’s 2020-21 campaign was cut short due to a torn MCL, the Archbishop Wood product elected to return to Villanova for his fifth and final season, and what a memorable year it was.
Collin Gillespie (above) is the CoBL City 6 MBB Player of the Year for 2021-22. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Despite the injury late last season, Gillespie was ready from day one for Jay Wright’s squad and led a team that entered the season ranked No. 4 in the nation. The Wildcats got off to a relatively slow start, playing a grueling non-conference schedule, but settled down in Big East play to close out the year. By the time March hit, there were few teams playing as well as Villanova, which took home the Big East Tournament title before making a run back to the Final Four for the third time in six tournaments.
Gillespie finished his final season posting career-highs in points (15.6) and rebounds (3.8) while also dishing out 3.2 assists. His terrific season was uber-efficient, as he posted 43.4/41.5/90.5 shooting splits and only averaged 1.7 turnovers per game. The 6-foot-3 guard was named Big East Player of the Year for the second consecutive season, was a third-team All-American and won the Bob Cousy Award, given annually to the nation’s best point guard.
The season was filled with memorable moments for Villanova’s leader under some of the brightest lights. In one of the more anticipated Big East games since realignment, a career-high 33-point performance that included a dagger 3 at the end from Gillespie led the Wildcats past No. 8 Providence on the road. A few weeks later, Gillespie hit back-to-back 3s to give Villanova control in the waning moments of the Big East Tournament Championship game against Creighton, a performance that secured him the tournament’s Most Valuable Player award.
Gillespie closed out his career first in games played (156), second in 3-pointers made (326) and tied for sixth in assists (482) in program history. Since his arrival, the Wildcats amassed a 134-36 record, making it to two Final Fours and winning one national championship.
It’s safe to say this season cemented Gillespie as one of the greatest Villanova players of all time.
“He’s a great Villanova man,” Wright said of Gillespie, “and that’s a big part of our program. It’s not just being a basketball player but being a Villanova man, and he’s one of the best ever.”
All-City 6 First Team
Jordan Dingle (Soph. | Penn)
Following a year away due to the Ivy League canceling play because of the pandemic, Dingle returned to action and put together one of the most impressive seasons of a City 6 member. The 6-3 guard averaged 20.9 points on 44.6/33.5/81 splits while adding 3.6 rebounds and 2.4 assists a night and was named a unanimous first-team All-Ivy selection.
Dingle led the Quakers to a 12-16 record and 9-5 in conference play, making it to the Ivy League Tournament. His highest scoring output of the season came against Harvard, where he posted a career-high 33 points on 8-for-10 shooting from deep, leading Penn to its second consecutive win in a streak that would eventually extend to five games. After unenrolling last year, Dingle still has two more seasons to play at Penn and will likely be one of the names in discussion for Ivy League Player of the Year next season.
Damian Dunn (above) became Temple's go-to scorer this season with Khalif Battle out. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Damian Dunn (R-Fr. | Temple)
One word to sum up Dunn’s season is clutch. Following an early-season injury to Temple star Khalif Battle, Dunn was tasked with being the number one option from there on out, and he didn’t disappoint. The 6-5 guard averaged 14.9 ppg, 4.2 rpg and 2.0 apg on his way to an All-Conference Second Team selection in the American Athletic Conference.
Dunn’s biggest moments of the season came within days of each other as he knocked down back-to-back game-winners in early January. The first was a 3-pointer to put the Owls up by two at UCF with five seconds remaining, and he closed the game out with a pair of free throws. Three days later, against East Carolina, Dunn nailed a side-step 3 at the horn to give his squad a 78-75 victory, capping off a career game where he scored 33 points on 10-for-16 shooting. Dunn will be a major contributor next season for a Temple team that’s trending in the right direction.
Jordan Hall (Soph. | Saint Joseph’s)
Hall’s 2021 summer saw the do-it-all guard test draft waters and even announce he was transferring to Texas A&M, but in the end, he decided to return to Saint Joseph’s for his sophomore season. The 6-8 Neumann Goretti product displayed his versatility throughout the season, posting 14.1 points per game, 6.7 rebounds per game and 5.8 assists per game.
Hall opened the season with a near triple-double (11pts/11ast/9reb) against Maryland-Eastern Shore and scored a career-high 33 points in a victory over Penn. As expected, Hall declared for the 2022 NBA Draft, and by all accounts, it seems as though he has no intent to return to college.
Justin Moore (Jr. | Villanova)
As great as Moore’s season went, it couldn’t have ended on a worse note. Less than a minute away from a Final Four appearance, Moore went down against Houston with a torn Achilles tendon, ending his season and putting his senior campaign in jeopardy. The 6-4 guard was fantastic all year, averaging 14.8 ppg, 4.8 rpg and 2.3 assists per game, earning All-Big East Second Team member and was one of the Wildcats’ best defenders throughout the season.
Moore started off the year red hot, scoring 27 points on 6-for-8 shooting from 3 in Villanova’s season opener against Mount St. Mary’s and continued to have impressive showings throughout. In the Big East Tournament championship game, Moore made a layup with under 20 seconds remaining to give the Wildcats a two-possession lead they wouldn’t relinquish. If healthy next season, Moore will be the focal point in Villanova’s offense and, depending on how much he plays, could be in the conversation for Big East Player of the Year.
Cam Wynter (Sr. | Drexel)
One of Drexel’s most consistent scorers in recent history, Wynter put together his fourth consecutive season averaging double figures, coming it at 15.8 ppg on 43.4/27.8/86.1 shooting splits. The 6-2 guard also added 5.3 rpg and 4.6 apg while leading the Dragons to a 15-14 record (10-8 CAA) and earning All-CAA First Team honors. Wynter posted a career-high 28 points in Drexel’s first-round loss of the CAA tournament against Delaware, closing out his tenure with the Dragons.
Following the season, Wynter entered the transfer portal with one year of eligibility remaining, and he will likely go on to play at a high-major program next season.
All-City 6 Second Team
Caleb Daniels (R-Sr. | Villanova)
After starting nearly every game a season ago, Daniels moved into a sixth man role — still playing starter minutes — and didn’t miss a beat, posting 10.3 ppg and 3.8 rpg. The 6-4 strong guard stepped up in big moments, scoring a game-high 20 points to lead Villanova past No. 9 Providence and posting 12 points against Houston to send the Wildcats to his hometown New Orleans for the Final Four. Despite being in college for five years, Daniels still has another year of eligibility remaining, and as of now, it seems as though he will return to the Main Line.
Taylor Funk (R-Sr. | Saint Joseph’s)
Another fifth-year player, Funk put together an impressive season for the Hawks, posting 13.2 ppg and 6.6 rpg on 40.6/37.3/87 shoot splits, playing a team-high 36.1 minutes a night. The 6-8 forward started the season off strong, scoring at least 16 points in the team’s first six games, including a 29-point outing in a victory over Georgetown. With one year of eligibility remaining, Funk transferred to Utah State, where he will spend his sixth year of college.
Melik Martin (above) had a strong season in his only year at Drexel. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Melik Martin (Gr. | Drexel)
In his first season at Drexel after transferring from Monmouth, Martin put together a solid campaign that saw him average 10.6 ppg and 5.3 rpg, shooting an efficient 49.4% from the field and 36.1% from 3. Martin started in all but three of the team’s games and scored a season-high 24 points on 11-for-15 shooting against Tulane early on in the year. Martin, a 6-6 forward, reached double-figure points in nine straight games towards the end of the season and, after playing five seasons, has exhausted all of his eligibility.
Clifton Moore (R-Sr. | La Salle)
In a season that had its shares of downs for La Salle, Moore’s performance all year long was certainly a bright spot. The former Indiana big man and Hatboro-Horsham product posted career-highs in points (12.9), rebounds (6.1) and blocks (2.8), emerging as the Explorer’s best player. Moore had four games with at least five blocks, including a seven-block outing against Saint Joe’s, the second-most ever by an Explorer. Moore topped out with a career-high 26 points against Fordham, one of 20 games where he reached double figures. Following the removal of head coach Ashley Howard, the 6-10 forward entered the transfer portal for the second time in his career.
Ejike Obinna (Gr. | Saint Joseph’s)
After spending three seasons playing in a limited role at Vanderbilt, Obinna came to Saint Joe’s and made an immediate impact. The 6-10 forward from Nigeria averaged 12.1 ppg and 7.9 rpg, both career-highs, shooting 57.4% from the field. Obinna was a model of consistency throughout the season, scoring double figures in 23 games while never reaching more than 20 points on a given night. With one year of eligibility remaining, Obinna will return to Hawk Hill for a final season.
Jermaine Samuels (Gr. | Villanova)
As Villanova’s season progressed, Samuels’ production only increased for the Wildcats as he was their best player throughout the NCAA Tournament. Samuels averaged 11.1 ppg and 6.5 rpg for the season, but in the five March Madness contests, the 6-7 forward averaged 15.8 ppg and 8.2 rpg on 59.2/46.2/83.3 shooting splits. A member of the 2017-18 national championship team, Samuels has run out of eligibility and will depart Villanova as one of the program’s best “glue guys” of all time.
Honorable Mention: Xavier Bell (Soph | Drexel), Jack Clark (R-Jr. | La Salle), Eric Dixon (R-Soph. | Villanova), Erik Reynolds II (Fr. | Saint Joseph’s), Clark Slajchert (Soph. | Penn), Jeremiah Williams (Soph. | Temple)
City 6 Freshman of the Year
Erik Reynolds II (Saint Joseph’s)
This season left a lot to be desired for St. Joe’s, but one thing for sure is the Hawks have a budding star in Reynolds. Coming out of Bullis (Md.), Reynolds was thrust right into action as a day one starter. The 6-2 guard averaged 12.1 ppg, 2.3 apg and 2.1 rpg in his debut season, earning A-10 All-Rookie Team honors.
Reynolds started out the season well, but in the back half, his production skyrocketed. Over the final 13 games of the season, Reynolds yielded averages of 15.8 ppg, 3.0 apg and 2.9 rpg on 43.9/36.2/84.0 shooting splits. In the last game of the regular season, Reynolds put together his best collegiate performance yet, scoring 27 points on 10-for-14 shooting and 5-for-8 from deep.
With Jordan Hall and Taylor Funk departing Hawk Hill, Reynolds will be the focal point of Billy Lange’s offense next season. And, if what he did as a freshman says anything, a program can do a lot worse than having a young Reynolds as its number one option.
Honorable mention: Khalil Brantley (La Salle), Zach Hicks (Temple), Clark Slajchert (Penn)
City 6 Coach of the Year
Jay Wright (Villanova)
Before the postseason, this award might have gone to Aaron McKie of Temple, but Wright more than earned it after Villanova’s Final Four run. The season started off slow for Villanova’s standards, opening the year with a 9-4 record and losing back-to-back games by 20 or more points. But, following that stretch, the Wildcats only lost four more games across their final 25 and went 7-1 in the postseason.
Villanova finished as runners-up in the Big East behind Providence, which it swept in the regular season, and made it through the conference tournament with three nail-biting wins to secure the program’s sixth Big East Tournament Championship. In March Madness, the Wildcats made it through the first two weekends rather comfortably, controlling their games for the majority, setting up Wright’s fourth Final Four appearance. Villanova (30-8) came up short in college basketball’s final weekend, losing to the eventual national champions in Kansas.
This season, Wright proved, once again, that he’s one of the top coaches in the nation, and during his time on the Main Line has imbedded a culture into the program that’s amongst the best in college basketball.
Honorable Mention: Aaron McKie, Temple
Most Improved Player: Amari Williams (Soph. | Drexel)
As a freshman, Williams played just four minutes per game and appeared in only 15 of Drexel’s contests with no starts. But, a lot has changed since then. Now, Williams has an All-CAA Third Team selection and CAA Defensive Player of the Year under his belt after completing a stellar sophomore campaign.
The 6-10 forward averaged 9.5 ppg, 7.3 rpg and 2.0 blocks per game while shooting 52.1% from the field. He opened the year with a 10-point outing against Neumann (D-III) but then went eight straight games scoring in single figures, including three where he went scoreless. After that, though, double-digit scoring performances for Williams outweighed the single-digit ones as he scored 10-or-more points in 13 of the team’s final 19 games. Williams put together the best game of his career against UNC Wilmington, where he posted 20 points and 19 rebounds, nine coming on the offensive end, in just 26 minutes.
With Cam Wynter and Melik Martin gone, and James Butler’s decision to return still unknown, there will certainly be plenty more shots on the table for Williams next season. And, based on his jump from a freshman to sophomore, some more opportunities might be all that Williams needs to take the next step.
Honorable Mention: Eric Dixon (R-Fr./Villanova), Nick Jourdain (Fr. | Temple), Clifton Moore (R-Sr./La Salle), Brandon Slater (Sr./Villanova)