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Philly Live II: Day One Recruiting Notebook (June 24, 2022)

06/25/2022, 7:15am EDT
By CoBL Staff

CoBL Staff (@hooplove215)

The second weekend of Philly Live kicked off on Friday at Jefferson University with eight sets of games on four courts running from noon until about 9 p.m. to begin the three-day event, which will continue at both Jefferson and St. Joe’s Prep on Saturday. The CoBL staff was on hand to take in all the action, watching almost every game that took place at the Gallagher Athletic Center over the course of the afternoon and evening.

Here’s some the prospects the CoBL staff caught up with two inquire about their recruiting prospects:


Imani's Maluk embracing basketball journey

At the age of 3, Alier Maluk was far removed from Division I dreams.

In fact, thousands of miles removed.

Maluk and his family were in a refugee camp in the African nation of South Sudan before his family was able to get enough money together to move to the United States.

Maluk didn’t start to play basketball until the age of 9, when he found his way to a court at a local park in Pittsburgh.

At the start, he barely had enough strength to shoot a jump shot, but he kept at it and eventually fell in love with the game.

Now, Maluk, a 6-11 forward from Imani Christian Academy, is one of the top players in the Class of 2025.

After finishing his freshman season, Maluk has a number of power 5 schools looking at him. He currently holds offers from Pittsburgh, Texas A&M, LSU and Seton Hall, but there is interest from Kentucky, Auburn, NC State, FSU and Ohio State. 

He has plans to visit West Virginia and Pitt in August, but is also excited to get on the Kentucky campus when he gets the chance.

“It’s a great opportunity, not that many people are this fortunate,” Maluk said. “Growing up I didn’t expect any of this to happen to me so it’s a great feeling that people are now coming to see me play.”

Maluk and his family relocated from South Sudan to Pittsburgh, where he didn’t even realize that he wasn’t in Africa anymore. 

His family arrived in the summer and it was hot, so Maluk still thought he was in Africa. Once he started preschool he was in for a big shock.

“That was when I saw a white person for the first time,” Maluk said. “I didn’t know what had happened and seeing races confused me.” 

In 7th grade, Maluk was already 6-5, which is when he figured out that he could be really good at basketball. 

It turns out he wasn’t wrong. 

Maluk has grown at a steady rate and now stands at 6-11 and is expected to grow to over 7-feet tall. 

Maluk controls the paint with his length, pinning shots to the backboard from smaller guards. Despite his slender frame, he rebounds the ball well. Right now, he is 187 pounds, but is trying to put on muscle by lifting weights and wants to be 210 by his senior season. 

On the court, Maluk is trying to get more comfortable with the ball in his hands as well as working on his lateral movement so he can keep up with quicker guards and switch onto them if need be. He’s also trying to get better at the mental aspect of the game because he knows teams are going to go after him because of his size.

“I know people are going to be sent after me to try and foul me and get in my head. There isn’t much I can do other than ignore it and push through,” Maluk said.

— Zak Wolf

Williams staying positive on and off court

If the start of the live period is any indication, things are going to start heating up pretty quickly for Darren Williams.

Archbishop Ryan’s 2024 combo guard said Drexel informed him of their intent to recruit him in the morning on June 15. By the end of the day, they were offering him his first Division I scholarship.

Archbishop Ryan's Darren Williams goes to the basket. (Photo: Owen McCue/CoBL)

“It was really exciting,” Williams said. “I was being patient, waiting a long time for it.”

“They said they liked me playing poised and how I play with a chip on my shoulder,” he added. “Just stay that way, stay hungry and definitely keep working.”

Penn, Pittsburgh, Princeton and La Salle are the other schools Williams has been in touch with since the start of the live period. La Salle assistant Donnie Carr was there to see him on Friday at Jefferson when he scored 30 points in a win over East Catholic (Conn.). Archbishop Ryan head coach Joe Zeglinski said a number of other teams have asked about Williams, including Delaware and Northeastern. 

“He can do so much on both the offensive and defensive end of the floor,” Zeglinski said. “He’s a super talented kid. He’s working on being more of a point guard, combo and I think that will give him even higher looks then he’s starting to get now. He’s really playing unselfish, playing the right way and the sky’s the limit for him and we’re obviously excited to have him. I think he’s opening a lot of eyes.”

Williams played more off the ball last season with veteran guards David Wise and Jalen Snead handling most of the lead-guard duties. Williams should run the point more often in his junior campaign.

The natural scorer is still getting accustomed to becoming more of a playmaker, but he has the intangibles for the position down pat.

“I bring leadership I think, scoring, keeping my teammates positive and most importantly keeping that energy up when we’re going down and things aren’t going our way,” Williams said.

Zeglinski expects more eyes on Williams throughout the weekend after Friday’s performance. 

He is strong at both ends of the floor, as displayed by guarding East Catholic’s 6-6 wing James Jones in Friday’s win

“This period for me is just showing all I can do, playing poised, being positive on the court definitely … and keeping the energy up with my teammates,” Williams said.

— Owen McCue


Executive’s Sanoh earns first D-I offers

Moustapha Sanoh (2023 | Executive Education) was a 6-foot-8 freshman learning a new sport on the junior varsity team three years ago. 

Now, as Sanoh is entering his senior year, the decision he made as a freshman has paid off tenfold. After a stellar performance at Philly Live I, Sanoh picked up his first Division I offers from Rider and Delaware State.

“It felt awesome, to be honest,” Sanoh said on getting his first offers. “I feel like there’s going to be more coming, for sure, but it felt great getting my first two offers in one week.”

Sanoh said he has also heard from Fairleigh Dickinson, Fairfield and Maryland and has visited Rider and Fairleigh Dickinson.

The 6-foot-10, 190-pound forward does most of his damage down low, finishing around the basket where he can throw down emphatic dunks. Sanoh also makes his presence felt on the glass and as a rim protector, where he blocked at least two shots in Executive’s 49-47 loss to Downingtown West on Friday.

Barbosa has seen Sanoh’s game grow in every fascit, and pointed out his footwork, shot making, and ability to make layups and dunks as areas that he’s seen the biggest improvement. 

This offseason, Sanoh is working on his footwork and jump shot, two areas that he thinks have already improved.

“I’ve been Moustapha’s coach for the last four years,” Barbosa said. “[...] Moustapha [has] developed a lot. He’s hard at work. He’s working in the gym all summer.

“The biggest thing about Moustapha is this is only his first couple of years really playing basketball. Really playing high-level basketball. He has a ton of room to grow. His wingspan is about 7-1. [He] rebounds well. When he gets stuff around the rim, he dunks it. I’m just hoping he can just continue to develop.”

— Matthew Ryan

Rahmir Barno (2023 | Imhotep Charter) isn’t rushing any decisions regarding his future. Barno knows he still has plenty of time to weigh his options and potentially earn more.

“I’m just being patient, waiting seeing how it goes,” Barno said. “I still have July and the end of the summer, so I’m just being patient.”

The Panthers’ 6-foot guard recently added Rider to his list of offers June 17 and announced an offer from Hampton late Friday night.

Earlier in the day, Barno listed VCU, Virginia Tech, Robert Morris and Florida Gulf Coast as his other scholarship honors. He had a conversation with FGCU head coach Pat Chambers before Friday’s game against Roselle Catholic.

Barno noted UTEP and IUPUI are two other programs who have been in consistent contact with him. Rider and UTEP are among those most frequently reaching out.

Barno said he doesn’t have any visits planned and probably won’t until August.

“I’m just waiting to see how it goes at the end of the live period and still having EYBL stuff,” Barno said. “Coaches come back out in July. We’ll see how my recruiting goes after that.”

More CoBL recruiting coverage

—  MJ Branker (2023 | West Catholic) picked up his second scholarship offer before he even took the floor on Friday. Branker said he had been talking to West Chester for about two weeks, and the Golden Rams extended an offer to him Friday morning. Holy Family offered Branker (6-4), an energetic, high-motor wing, last week.

Branker plans to visit West Chester next week, and hopes to add more campus visits to his list as the summer moves along.

East Stroudsburg is another program that’s been in touch with Branker recently. Nasir Griffin, his former West Catholic teammate and one of his closest friends, is currently at East Stroudsburg and Branker was on the phone with Griffin and the East Stroudsburg coaches on Friday. 

“We had a conversation,” Branker said. “They want me to go up there soon, and they’re going to come see me play soon.”

— Thanks to a new environment, Jaiden Mcgee (2023 | Middletown) is thriving and getting more exposure to college coaches. After spending his first two seasons at Hodgson Vo-Tech playing varsity basketball, Mcgee needed a change of scenery in hopes of taking his game to the next level, which is why he ended up at Middletown. Mcgee thrived in his first season at his new school, adjusting to the higher level of play which allowed him to improve as a player. He learned how to be more intense on the defensive end and do the little things like rebounding and cutting off the ball. 

Mcgee currently has one offer from St Elizabeth, a D-III school in New Jersey, but he also has plenty of interest from D-1 and 2 schools. Lafayette and Army have been in contact with him as well as Millersville and York College. 

“It feels amazing, knowing college coaches are out there it brings me more confidence and playing with others,” Mcgee said.

Liam Gorman, Gloucester (Photo: Matthew Ryan/CoBL)

Liam Gorman (2023 | Gloucester, N.J.) is being monitored by multiple levels of college basketball. The 5-foot-11 guard, who had 31 points in Gloucester’s 68-54 loss against Abington, has heard from Division I schools Colgate and Harvard and Division III schools Susquehanna, Johns Hopkins, Swarthmore and Franklin and Marshall.

Gorman has no official offers but took a visit to Susquehanna and will be at the Academic Elite Camp in July, as well as team camps for Brown and Penn.

“The campus is really nice,” Gorman said of his visit to Susquehanna. “I like all the people there. They’re super nice. The head coach [Frank Marcinek] is a really good guy. And I like their program and how their culture is there.”

During the offseason, Gorman is working on being able to play against bigger and more physical players and is trying to perfect his game in any way possible.

— As one of the top players in the nation, Akil Watson (2023 | Roselle Catholic, N.J.) will have ample options when it comes time to make his college decision. Watson is ranked No. 41 in the nation, according to ESPN and has over a dozen scholarship offers already. Watson has heard the most from DePaul, Maryland, USC, Providence, Auburn and Miami but said he has no timetable for when he will make his college decision, and his recruitment is still open.

Watson is a 6-foot-9 wing/forward who can score down low and on the perimeter, something he showed in his team’s 67-63 loss to Roman Catholic, where he finished with 17 points. This off-season, Watson is working on his handle, getting to the rim and continuing to improve his jump shot.

— Sharpshooter Matt Christian (2023 | Methacton) started his day with a 27-point outing against Notre Dame Green Pond in a 67-65 three overtime win then poured in 33 against ACIT. Christian (6-3) had some big performances last season but without Drexel-bound big man Cole Hargrove, who was in attendance Friday to watch the Warriors, and guard Brett Byrne, Christian will undoubtedly be the Warriors’ go-to scorer in 2022-23. Also a baseball pitcher (he missed the Warriors’ first game last weekend for baseball), Christian said he’s leaning toward pursuing basketball at the next level. He said he texted with York a while back and has been in contact with Widener’s assistant coaches so far.

“It’s a lot, but I’ve been finding time to do it,” Christian said of balancing his two sports. “Basketball is my No. 1 option.”

Carson Howard (2023 | Archbishop Wood) doesn’t have any offers but has heard from numerous schools. Division I schools Lafayette and Bucknell have reached out, as has Division II East Stroudsburg, which Howard plans to visit at some point.

The 6-foot-8 wing/forward scored nine points in Wood’s 82-72 loss against Rutgers Prep (N.J.), scoring inside, knocking down a 3, and blocking at least one shot.

“Right now, spreading the floor,” Howard said of what he’s working on this offseason. “Coming down, trialing, hitting 3s. Coming off dribble handoffs and picking and popping. Just working on my overall game; versatility. Conditioning, getting up and down the floor, and doing my thing with the offensive glass.”

— Holy Ghost Prep’s 2023 Mel Lindsey has been hearing from a few D-III schools like Kings College and York College, but is hoping his recruiting will pick up over the next few months. Lindsay has a good body for the next level, standing at 6-6 and can handle the ball when asked to. With the ball in his hands, Lindsay makes good reads, especially when he’s double teamed in the post. Lindsay doesn’t see himself as a big at the next level, but more of a small forward because of his ability to knock down open shots and put the ball on the floor. 

Sean Curley (2023 | Neshaminy) had a big weekend at Philly Live I and continued that Friday, scoring 20 in a loss to Holy Spirit then 24 in a win over Montgomery (N.J.). Curley said Haverford College, Marymount (Va.) and Widener all reached out after last weekend.

“As soon as I can this summer, I’m going to try and make it out to all those campuses,” Curley said.

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