CoBL Staff (@hooplove215)
The first weekend of Philly Live 2022 continued on Saturday with action taking place on four courts at Jefferson University and three at St. Joe’s Prep.
The CoBL staff was on hand all day long checking out a mix of some of the area’s local talent as well as some teams from the Mid-Atlantic and beyond who came to town to show off their stuff in front of dozens upon dozens of college coaches, from Division I through Division III and more.
Here’s Part 1 of a notebook full of recruiting updates from Saturday and Sunday’s action at Jefferson University:
Justin Edwards (above) is down to six college options and the G-League. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Justin Edwards (Imhotep Charter | 2023)
There were plenty of eyes on the court at Jefferson when Edwards and Imhotep took the floor, including those of Kentucky coach John Calipari, there with an assistant coach, standing with the rest of the coaches on the track above Court 2. The Wildcats are one of seven remaining options for the 6-foot-7, five-star wing, along with Tennessee and Auburn (also spotted above the railing), plus Kansas, Maryland, Villanova, and the G-League.
That’s something the Philly native has gotten used to over the last couple years, as he’s shot up the recruiting rankings to well inside the top 10 in his class, blessed with a rare combination of length, athleticism, skill, versatility, and potential. In a flash he’s gone from promising freshman making elbow jumpers to a rising senior who plays with the ball in his hands, making shots from inside and out, playing above the rim with regularity.
“I was talking about that the other day with my mom, how everything just went by so fast,” the reticent Edwards said after Imhotep’s second game of the day, a two-point loss to St. Thomas Aquinas. “It’s crazy [how much has changed, but I don’t really focus on that too much.”
Edwards has played his recruitment close to the vest, and he wasn’t willing to get into much detail about his plans for the next level, saying “I probably won’t really focus on it until after Peach Jam,” when he’ll try to help Team Final’s 17Us defend their crown at the most prestigious tournament of the offseason, the Nike championships in North Augusta, South Carolina.
However, he did say that he’s paying attention to who comes out to see him during these final recruiting periods, including next weekend’s Philly Live II and the two July recruiting weekends with Team Final.
“It’s important, because I feel like if they come out, then I’m one of their main priorities,” he said.
In helping Imhotep to a 1-1 record on Saturday, Edwards picked up two quick fouls in the first half of a win over Centerville but still got to double figures with 10 points, then scored
Edwards has been on Tennessee and Kentucky’s campuses, and said he doesn’t currently have any other visits planned, once again saying he was waiting until after July to plan anything further. In the meanwhile, he’s continuing to work on developing his game and paying attention to which program and coaching staff he’s got the best relationship with: “Family culture, that’s probably one of the biggest things that I’m looking for, I would say.” — Josh Verlin
Xzayvier Brown (above) said he's hearing from one Big 5 school and one PAC-12 school most often. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Xzayvier Brown (Roman Catholic | 2023)
After being a pivotal contributor to Roman Catholic winning the PIAA 6A state championship last year, leading the team in assists (6.2) and steals (2.9), Brown will be a senior leader on a Cahillite team with several new faces. And in Saturday’s Philly Live Session against Don Bosco (NJ), the first team all-catholic guard looked poised to continue to lead the squad. He scored 21 points in the 79-68 victory and showed excellent defensive instincts picking up two steals.
Over the summer with K-Low Elite, Brown is looking to fill out his 6-2 frame to better handle contact at the next level. The rising senior currently holds offers from Saint Joseph’s, VCU, USC, Mount St. Mary’s, Florida Gulf Coast, Marquette, Fordham, Cleveland State, and Drexel. But he says recently, he's heard from USC and St. Joe's the most.
Brown's already had an official visit to St. Joe’s campus earlier in June and plans to head to California for an official visit to USC sometime this summer. Though there is a clear connection to Saint Joseph’s through Brown’s stepfather Justin Scott, an assistant coach at SJU, Brown wants to go through the complete recruiting process.
“It’s a plus for me because I get to see [St. Joe’s] program up close,” Brown said. “But honestly, they’re just a normal school to me…I want to explore my options.”
When it comes to a timetable for Brown’s decision, he plans to decide before the 2022-23 season, and the most important thing for him is finding a program that will provide him with the best opportunity to go pro. And after his basketball career, he wants to become a coach or an athletic director, so in college, he’ll be looking to study something that’ll put him on that path.
“My ultimate goal is to play professionally, so I want to go somewhere where I can develop and get to my ultimate goal,” Brown said. “In this world, you have to know people outside of basketball, so when the ball stops dribbling, [I want to go to] what school helps me with that.”
— College interest and offers aren’t new for Ahmad Nowell (Imhotep Charter | 2024) , who got his first D-I offer just after his freshman year at Houston (Tenn.) High School, from Memphis. But that didn’t mean June 15 wasn’t special to Nowell, who like the rest of his classmates was finally able to hear directly from college coaches themselves, without needing to go through a coach or parent first.
On that day, Nowell said, he heard from VCU, Maryland, Longwood, and Tennessee, among others, and was excited to take the next step in his recruiting journey.
“Last year, I wasn’t really worried about college at all,” he said. “Now they can actually talk to me and I can actually build a relationship, it feels great.”
Nowell returned to his hometown of Philadelphia a year ago and joined the program at Imhotep, where he immediately became a key piece alongside rising seniors Justin Edwards and Rahmir Barno. In addition to getting to learn from the two Division I recruits, he got a chance to see how their recruitment has progressed throughout the last year, and learn from them about what to expect. But so far, his calls with coaches have only been the basics.
“(The coaches) just introduced me to what the school is like,” he said, “just introducing me to what the school was like and introducing themselves.”
— Central Bucks South senior Tyler Meinel said he’s been hearing from “many” Division III coaches, and it’s not tough to see why. The 6-6, 190-pound wing is skilled with the ball in his hands, playing a point-forward role for the Titans, where he excels at attacking the bucket off the bounce and finding shooters on the wing if he can’t get to the rim. Meinel said Hartwick (N.Y.), Union (N.Y.), Susquehanna and DeSales were all amongst the schools who were reaching out most often, and while he hasn’t been on any campuses yet, he’s looking forward to seeing the schools who’ve been in contact and see what they have to offer.
— A rising senior at Lincoln High, Nasseem Wright has garnered his share of looks from colleges. The 6-6 guard/wing doesn’t have any offers yet, but has heard from Longwood, Siena, La Salle and Rider and said his coach has told him to expect calls from Temple and Robert Morris. He has also received invites to Division II and III camps
In Sunday’s 63-54 win over Episcopal (Fla.), Wright showed why he’s on the radar of college coaches. Wright scored 22 points, doing a lot of his damage from the mid-range, getting to the basket well where he finished through contact and even knocking down one 3.
During the offseason, Wright is working on his ball-handling, post moves, mid-range jump shots, footwork and coordination.
— Rising Rutgers Prep senior Jordan Atkins doesn’t have any offers yet but has received interest from numerous schools, all of them high-academic. The 6-foot guard has heard from Columbia, Brown, Cornell, Dartmouth, UPenn and Colgate and has had a little contact with Lafayette. During the fall, Atkins took visits to Columbia and Colgate.
“They were good,” Atkins said of his visits. “I loved Columbia’s campus as well as Colgate. Both schools are academically challenging as well, which is definitely something that’s important to me, so I had a good time there.”
Atkins also went to camps at Columbia and Cornell, where he was able to get to see the schools and get a feel for the team while also getting feedback from the coaches. This offseason, Atkins is working on his jump shot, something he knows is pivotal to playing at the next level.
“If you can shoot, you can really go anywhere,” Atkins said. “So that’s been my biggest project, and I’ve seen a lot of improvement with that. Got to just keep getting in the gym, keep getting the shots up, and the results will show.”