CONSHOHOCKEN — The 2022 Donofrio Classic is down to six teams remaining after Wednesday night’s quarterfinals, the first of two nights in the Round of Eight to get it down to Monday’s semifinal round.
Here’s a roundup of the evening at the Fellowship House, with recaps of each game, as well as notes and quotes from several of the participating prospects:
Game One: The five players who showed up for Gibbs Elite were all they needed, as a group from the Pioneer Athletic Conference pulled an upset over a strong Primetime Elite squad, holding them off for a 79-76 win and a semifinal berth. Owen J. Roberts junior Jake Bolyn had four first-half 3-pointers to pace him to a team-high 28 points; Spring-Ford senior Jake Kressley had 18 points, and Boyertown juniors Zach Ward (13) and Jake Kapp (12) rounded out the group in double figures. Primetime got a 31-point effort from Radnor junior Jackson Hicke, plus 19 from Devon Prep junior Lucas Orchard and 10 each from Radnor junior Charlie Thornton and Spring-Ford sophomore E.J. Campbell.
Game Two: Raw Sports cruised for nearly the whole game on Wednesday before needing to work down the stretch, hanging tight for a 103-98 victory to make the semifinal. Compass Prep (Ariz.) senior Chance Westry led the offensive outburst with 31 points, while Westtown junior Matt Mayock added 17 with five 3s. Shippensburg senior Anthony Smith and Phelps School senior Chas Kelley each had 15. Imhotep Charter star junior Justin Edwards and West Catholic standout junior Adam “Budd” Clark brought M-Sport back down the stretch with 31 and 28 points, respectively, with Norristown senior Righteous Mitchell scoring 15.
Smith enjoying last ride in basketball
It won’t be long before Anthony Smith hangs up his sneakers in favor of cleats for good. But until that day comes, the Minnesota football commit is going to cherish his last moments on the basketball court.
Anthony Smith (above, right) is enjoying his last organized basketball experience at Donofrio. (Photo: Dan Hilferty/CoBL)
Scheduled to report to the Golden Gophers facilities in June, the Donofrio Classic will be the final time Smith plays organized basketball as he suits up for Raw Sports.
“I’m just playing to play right now,” the Shippensburg senior said. “I love the sport of basketball. It’s so great that Raw Sports let me come and play here for the last time in basketball ever. I’m just enjoying my time here.”
Smith’s last high school hoops season was a successful one. Shippensburg went 22-3, making it to the PIAA Class 5A quarterfinals for the first time before losing to Chester, 65-59. Smith had 26 points in his final high school game.
The 6-foot-7 forward scored 15 points in the Donofrio quarterfinal win, finishing lobs and cleaning up the boards as Raw Sports secured a win. Watching him on the floor, it’s not hard to spot the attributes that have made him a four-star defensive lineman.
“My athleticism probably stands out the most,” he said. “A 260-pound guy jumping through the roof, you don’t see that often. And I think bringing that to the Big Ten with the bigger guys — the Big Ten has big offensive linemen — you need big defensive linemen and quick defensive linemen to get around the line. I think I bring that skill to the Big Ten and to Minnesota.”
In the meantime, Smith wants to keep putting that skillset to work for Raw Sports with a collection of high-level players. He may not be a basketball player for much longer, but he’s still a competitor — no matter the sport.
“I’m here to compete, for sure,” Smith said. “It’s basketball at the end of the day, and I’m going to have fun. But I’m trying to win every single game that I can.”
Set for the semifinal round on Monday, there aren’t too many more games for Smith to win. Raw Sports is now two victories away from taking the Donofrio Classic title, and Smith is locked in on winning the championship. With nothing else to play for, what better way to go out than on top?
“I want to win this whole entire thing,” he said. “Go out winning, there can’t be a better feeling. If you go out winning, you can’t say ‘Oh, I could’ve done better,’ because you won.”
Hicke happy for feedback from college coaches
Jackson Hicke wants to play Division I basketball. So coming off his first live period of his 17U summer and hearing that a couple programs are interested is certainly some motivation to keep going.
Lafayette and Princeton assistants both reached out to the Radnor junior after he helped lead Primetime Hoops to a 4-1 weekend at the Hoop Group’s Spring Jam Fest this past weekend at Spooky Nook.
Coaches from Lafayette and Princeton reached out to Jackson Hicke (above) after last weekend. (Photo: Dan Hilferty/CoBL)
“They said they like how the team plays in general, [we] make the unselfish play and know how to play the game the right way,” he said. “It’s just good to be recognized, we had a good weekend and it’s good to hear from coaches.”
A 6-foot-5 wing, Hicke has an intriguing mix of scoring and play-making abilities with the ball in his hands, and he fills everything from the ‘1’ through the ‘4’ for Primetime, a mix of Devon Prep and Radnor ballplayers.
He had a breakthrough junior year, averaging more than 16 ppg and 7 rpg for Radnor, which made it to the District 1 5A championship game and into the state second round, where they ran into eventual champ Imhotep Charter.
This time last year, Primetime Hoops — then playing under the South Jersey Hoops Elite moniker — mostly flew under the radar on the 16U circuit, relegated to non-featured courts, without much attention from college coaches.
Because of Radnor’s success and Devon Prep’s state championship, it’s a group with a newfound confidence this year, and plenty more eyes on them.
“We all work hard and it paid off this year, obviously,” Hicke said. “Starting to turn some heads [...] we made a big leap this year, definitely. It’s good, both programs are really setting new standards, which is awesome.”
The downside to some attention is familiarity. Primetime’s ball movement and shooting abilities aren’t going to catch anybody by surprise, and Hicke is noticing some tendencies of his own that opponents are now more prepared for.
“I just feel like teams are coming out with more intensity, they know more how to guard us, how we like to play, and they try and neutralize that as best as they can,” he said. “I feel like a lot of people know that I like to get in the middle and spin move, pivot, that kind of thing, so I’m still kind of working on getting a little bit of a mid-range pull-up.”
Wednesday night was the rare letdown for Primetime, a night where they couldn’t find their rhythm early and then couldn’t hit shots late, closing a 21-point gap and even taking the lead in the second half before Gibbs Elite closed strong.
They’ll be back in action not this weekend but next in another live period tournament, the Hoop Group’s Pitt Jam Fest, located in the Steel City from April 22-24. This time of year, more wins means more eyes, and more eyes means more phone calls the next week.
Adam 'Budd' Clark (above) had a strong junior season at West Catholic. (Photo: Dan Hilferty/CoBL)
— Adam 'Budd' Clark, who helped M-Sport keep things tight against Raw Sports, liked the “freedom” that the Donofrio Classic allowed him as opposed to some of the more structured play of the high school season. A member of Philly Pride, the junior hopes he can continue to be loose and creative throughout the AAU circuit.
“I just have to be myself every single day,” he said.
Clark has been in contact with Division II Chestnut Hill and looks to build additional interest throughout the summer.
— Spring-Ford sophomore E.J. Campbell was actually going up against a couple of his Rams’ teammates when he suited up with Primetime Hoops, but he held his own, especially in the second half, when he scored eight of his 10 points. The 6-1, 150-pound point guard did most of his damage slashing to the basket, finishing a number of tough angles around the rim, as well as a floater; he didn’t connect on several 3-point attempts, something he said he’s working on. Campbell said he’s considering playing with Primetime this summer as well, getting a chance to be a reserve on the 17U circuit and earn some time against older competition.
“[I’ve] gotta get stronger, and just gotta play bigger,” he said, adding that he worked with S-F coach Joe Dempsey during his sophomore year on “being a stronger point guard, really getting in the weight room, upping my basketball IQ. Just trying to create for my teammates.”
— Jake Kressley is another player having his last go-around with the sport at Donofrio. Despite some interest from Division III Gwynedd Mercy, the Spring-Ford senior has opted to not pursue a basketball career at the next level.
“I thought about it for a little,” he said, “but I don’t think it’s right for me. My junior year, I didn’t really like the game that much anymore. And I figured if I don’t want to put my all into it, I shouldn’t do it at all.”
Kressley will instead put his focus into academics, looking to go to Pitt or Penn State for mechanical engineering. But, for now, the forward still has some basketball left for Gibbs Elite. After playing a big role in the team’s upset victory in the quarterfinals, Kressley is ready to keep the momentum rolling.
“I know a lot of people didn’t even think we’d win our first game,” he said. “We just have to keep going, keep proving people wrong.”
— Jake Bolyn said he hasn’t heard from any college coaches. That should change if he can keep playing like he did on Wednesday.
The 6-foot-4 junior’s shooting performance was a major key in upsetting Primetime Elite. Playing for Gibbs Elite this summer, he wants to draw more attention to his “3-and-D” skill set.
“I’m nice at hitting shots,” Bolyn said. “And I can guard pretty much one through five because of my height.”
— Sharpshooter Matt Mayock impressed for Raw Sports, knocking down five 3-pointers. The junior is playing at a high level, and the talent he’s surrounded himself with has played a big part.
The 6-foot-6 Mayock started at Westtown this past season, complementing the likes of top prospect Dereck Lively II and the Penn State-bound Jameel Brown. Competing with players of that caliber has only advanced his development.
“It’s helped so much,” he said, “just every day in practice going up against high-level D-I guys. It’s made me better every single day.”
Mayock, who’s been speaking with Princeton, Yale and Columbia and heard of interest from Rhode Island, will only continue playing with and against elite talent this summer as he joins Philly Pride to play on the Under Armour Association circuit.