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Mid-Atlantic Indep. Shootout: Day One Recruiting Notebook (Pt. 2) (June 24, 2022)

06/25/2022, 9:30am EDT
By Ty Daubert

Ty Daubert (@TyDaubert)

PRINCETON, N.J. — The Mid-Atlantic Independent School Shootout brought 28 teams to the Hun School this weekend for the second of two high school live periods, three days of hoops with Division I coaches able to join their small-college brethren to evaluate prospects for the second weekend in a row. Games began at 12 PM and ran until the evening, with some of the top teams and prospects in the Northeast taking part.

Here’s a recruiting notebook featuring some of Friday’s participants; click here for the other half of Friday's coverage:

Jinwood Kim (above) was all set to go to Air Force this year until a medical issue caused him to go to prep school. (Photo: Ty Daubert/CoBL)

Jinwoo Kim (2023 | Mercersburg Academy)

Kim stepped onto the floor at the MAI School Shootout for just the second time with his Mercersburg Academy teammates.

The 6-foot-3 guard spent this past school year as a senior at Blue Valley Southwest, a Kansas high school in the greater Kansas City area. He spent his final season preparing to attend the Air Force Academy in the fall.

But when Kim found out something in his medical records didn’t meet the military standards, he had to pivot quickly.

“It was tough,” he said. “My whole plan that whole senior year was just thinking I was going to go to the Air Force Academy. And then finding out just a couple months later that I got medically disqualified was tough. But I’m making the most of it now.”

A person at Air Force connected Kim with Mercersburg, and he decided to move to Pennsylvania for a post-grad year after visiting the school’s campus. First joining the team last weekend, he’s hoping to continue attracting attention from high-academic Division I schools.

Already hearing from Ivy League schools like Cornell and Princeton along with Patriot League programs such as Boston University, more interest could be coming his way. At Hun on Friday, Kim showed the ability as a ball-handler to handle pressure, get to the basket and back down smaller defenders. 

He’s also diversified his game over the last few years, developing a smooth foul-line jumper and a knack for getting to that spot with ease.

The 3-point shot is still the biggest weakness in Kim’s game, but he’s willing to keep shooting and working to make it a viable option.

“That’s my biggest focus right now,” he said, “trying to get that 3-pointer down so I can keep the defenders guessing from the outside.”

Fully on board with Mercersburg and now in the swing of summer action, Kim is looking forward to taking advantage of his new opportunity, even if the circumstances that led to it were less than ideal. While he loved playing in the Kansas City area, being in the Northeast, closer to many of the high-academic schools that have shown interest in him, should bring a lot of positives for his recruitment

“Just exposure,” Kim said. “Playing in front of different coaches. Kansas City, there’s not many (Ivy or Patriot League) colleges around there. The exposure is definitely great around here, and I’m looking forward to playing with different competitors on the East Coast from the Midwest.”


Justin Houser (above) is aiming for his first Division I offer after dropping baseball to focus on hoops. (Photo: Ty Daubert/CoBL)

Justin Houser (2024 | Phelps School)

Versatility has been on the forefront of Houser’s mind for a while.

The 6-foot-11 big can certainly handle the traditional center tasks: interior scoring, rebounding, protecting the rim. But that doesn’t mean he wants to trap himself inside a box.

“A lot of colleges, they’re not looking for a pure ‘5’ that’s just going to sit in the post,” Houser said. “They need someone who’s going to defend, switch, help and shoot 3s.”

After carving himself out a role as a sort of 3-and-D reserve big at Cedar Cliff this past season behind his VMI-bound older brother, Tyler, the younger Houser wanted to find a place to keep expanding on what makes his game unique.

That’s how he ended up enrolling at Phelps School and playing with the program this summer.

“It’s been a great adjustment,” he said, “just getting used to the pace of play and getting used to all the other guys on the team.”

Phelps School and coach John Harmatuk run a system that encourages Houser to show off his touch from the outside, believing that spacing the floor with all players will give the team the best chance to score and win. Conventional wisdom may say that a player of Houser’s size should camp in the paint, but Phelps School will allow him to let it fly.

“All the coaches, they help you really develop here,” he said. “They let you take shots. I think that’s really what helps you here.”

Houser looked comfortable with his outside stroke on Friday, displaying good touch away from the basket while still doing damage down low and playing solid defense. With what he’s shown so far, Houser has piqued the interest of a number of Division I programs such as Mount St. Mary’s, Penn State and Lafayette. Delaware is another school that has been in contact with the rising junior, showing the most interest so far.

The next step for Houser is landing a scholarship offer.

“My goal here is to just try to get some offers, see a couple offers under my belt,” he said. “That’s really what I want.”

It may not be too long before a few start rolling in if Houser continues developing and tapping into the different aspects of his game.

“The modern game, they want the bigs to be shooting 3s too,” he said. “I feel like I can really do that now.”


Quick Hits

Jayden Williams (2024 | Blair Academy, N.J.) hit shot after shot against Phelps School on Friday evening and showed toughness as he absorbed contact to hit the game-winning layup in traffic. 

His energetic style of play has already attracted seven Division I offers, along with interest from Drexel, Iveys such as Columbia, Brown and Princeton and Atlantic 10 schools like La Salle.The Big East has come into play for Williams recently as Providence, a school he was hoping to hear from, reached out earlier this month. He’s considering taking an unofficial visit there in the future.

Christian Kirkland (2023 | Friends Select), a lengthy 6-7 forward, is hoping for a chance to stay home. 

The rising senior has offers from Ryder and Fairfield with additional interest from others in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. He’s also heard from some Ivy League programs, including Penn. 

Kirkland, working to become a more consistent jump shooter, would like to add more interest from the other City 6 schools in addition to Penn. He said the opportunity to play Division I basketball in Philadelphia would be “a dream come true.”

“I grew up here,” Kirkland said. “It would mean a lot to me if I could bring something to the city. That’d be a huge accomplishment for me.”

Luke Rasmussen (above) is hearing from a number of Division III programs. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

Luke Rasmussen (2023 | Haverford School) has made it back where he started. Going to Haverford as a freshman, he transferred to the Hill School and reclassified, playing three years there. Now, he’s returning to the Fords and impressed with them at Hun.

A 6-6 wing who can shoot it from deep, Rasmussen is hearing from high-academic Division III programs. Franklin & Marshall, Gettysburg and RPI are among the schools to show the most interest.

Dan Vessey (2023 | Hun School, N.J.) reclassified to a 2023 graduate after his first year of high school, but an opportunity arose last year that still made him consider leaving after 2022.

Air Force offered him a spot on its team if he left early — or on time, depending how you look at it. Ultimately, Vessey opted to stay at Hun, citing “unfinished business” with his team. Now, as a 2023, the guard is getting interest from Ivy League and Patriot League programs as well as Army.

Anthony Aririguzoh (2023 | Hun School, N.J.) takes on the recruiting process with the help of some first-hand advice. His brother, Richmond, was a standout for Trenton Catholic, graduating in 2016 before playing four seasons at Princeton. Having been through it before, Richmond has been able to offer his younger brother guidance.

“He’s kind of been like my advisor basically,” Anthony Aririguzoh said. “He’s really been guiding me through it, piece by piece, telling me not to rush anything. Just take it slow and focus more on my game than on my recruiting.”

A 6-6 forward, the younger Aririguzoh has had a lot of interest at the D-III level with Hamilton College at the forefront. Division I Albany has also inquired about him.

Malcolm Wrisby-Jefferson (2023 | Phelps School) is a lengthy 6-5 point guard with a good deal of two-way promise. He has no offers at this point, but has interest at all levels. He’s heard from D-I Lafayette, Brown, Princeton and Cornell, D-II East Stroudsburg and D-III Babson College.

Roland and Galand Okeugo (2023 | Kiski School) are twins from Ontario, Canada, both 6-5 wings capable of playing both ends of the floor. D-III Allegheny and Franklin & Marshall have been in touch with the two, but they’re hoping to gain more interest throughout the summer.

Wherever it is they end up, they know they want to keep playing together.

“I mean, we’re brothers,” Roland said with a laugh. “We got the chemistry. Any team that gets both of us, you’re getting a plus in the chemistry.”

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