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Philly Live II: Day Three Recruiting Notebook (Pt. 1) (June 26, 2022)

06/27/2022, 1:00am EDT
By Owen McCue and Josh Verlin

Owen McCue (@Owen_McCue) &
Josh Verlin (@jmverlin)


The second weekend of Philly Live 2022 came to a conclusion Sunday at Jefferson University with a total of four courts going from morning through the evening. A ton of the region’s talent — and a few others who made the trek to Philadelphia — competed in front of a large group of college coaches to finish off the June live period. 

Here’s Part 1 of a notebook filled with recruiting information from the final day of the June live periods (click here check out our standouts from the event):

Elijah Gertrude (2023 | Hudson Catholic, N.J.)

Coaches from the SEC, Big East, Big 10, Big 12 and ACC filled up the balconies and took in the action courtside Sunday afternoon at Jefferson University for a talented tilt between Imhotep Charter and Hudson Catholic.

At this time last year — or even a few months ago — very few of them would have had Gertrude among their top priorities to see in the game.

A lot has changed for Gertrude and his standing in the recruiting world.

“From going from no offers, one offer, to now being looked at as a top player in the country it’s amazing,” Gertrude said.

Hudson Catholic's Elijah Gertrude, left, goes up for a shot. (Photo: Owen McCue/CoBL)

Gertrude came into the spring with most of his recruiting interest at the lower Division I levels. That began to change around the time of the EYBL Session I in early April when more high-profile schools began to reach out.

Among recent schools to offer him, Gertrude listed Rutgers, Seton Hall, St. John’s, Maryland, Pittsburgh, Temple and Virginia. His head coach Nick Marinello noted Iona has continued to recruit him hard.

Coaches from all of those schools, including Rutgers head coach Steve Pikiell, St. John’s head coach Mike Anderson and DePaul head coach Tony Stubblefield were in attendance for the Hudson-Imhotep matchup with assistants from the other schools on his list there as well.

“When he came in as a freshman, we always knew he had the ability, but he didn’t come in like a high-profile guy,” Marinello said. “He just worked at it, and worked at it.”

“He went from Northeast Conference and MAAC level schools recruiting him to having ACC, Big East schools now involved with him. People call me and they're like, ‘I didn’t realize he was this good,’ because he accepted the process and he lived the process and he’s reaping the benefits from it right now.”

His teammates are also excited about the success of the “humble” kid from Jersey City.

“We’ve seen it coming,” 2024 guard Tahaad Pettiford said. “We just knew his time was coming. When it’s his time to shine, I knew he was going to be ready and it showed.”

When Gertrude arrived at Hudson Catholic, the only way for him to get on the floor was to guard bigger players. His continued commitment to defense throughout his career is part of the development process that’s turned him into the prospect he is today.

Gertrude, who just turned 17 in April, said from last summer, he’s grown about two or three inches to 6-4. With that size and athleticism, college coaches are now enthralled by his defensive abilities.

Along with locking down his man, he is a talented shot blocker at the guard position.

“Going up and getting the ball, that’s not something everyone can do, so when I get a chance to do it, I show out and do it,” Gertrude.

On offense, he is an improving shooter and creator and said he’s “converted to an on-ball guard.” 

At Hudson Catholic, he has to share duties with Pettiford, who's been on the radar of high major coaches for quite some time now (see more below). Hudson Catholic 2025 guard Omari Moore, who is getting inquired about by Big East schools, and high-academic 2024 guard Alex Massung are also in the mix but the group is making sure everyone eats.

“Playing with Tahaad, Omari, Alex, it’s amazing,” Gertrude said. “We can all do a lot of things, so we just take turns. We get up and down. When one person’s tired, the next person gets it. That happened this game. Omari hit a stepback, three, Tahaad comes down and hits a three, then it was my turn. I get to the rim, make a layup and hit an and-one. We just sort of go off like that.”

The recruiting process is coming quickly for Gertrude, who said he will likely make his decision in the fall, noting Oct. 1 as a potential date for his announcement.

He has taken unofficial visits to Seton Hall, Rutgers and Temple and an official visit to St. John’s. He has a visit to Virginia planned after the EYBL season at the end of July.

Marinello wouldn’t be surprised if he stays somewhat close to home, somewhere on the East coast.

“The recruitment right now for me is starting to heat up,” Gertrude said. “I just feel like I gotta keep playing. The sky’s the limit.”

“Just going from where I was to where I am now that’s amazing. That’s something everyone can dream of.”

— Owen McCue 


Tahaad Pettiford (2024 | Hudson Catholic)

Unlike his backcourt mate Elijah Gertrude, Pettiford has had the big schools on his recruiting trail for quite some time, dating back to the end of his freshman school year.

Last spring/summer was when things really kicked off as the 6-1 guard earned offers from the local high majors Seton Hall and Rutgers and that momentum has continued throughout the year.

Hudson Catholic's Tahaad Pettiford. (Photo: Owen McCue/CoBL)

Schools were officially allowed to contact Pettiford at the start of the live period on June 15 and he heard from Kentucky, Auburn, Ole Miss, LSU, Maryland, Tennessee, Rutgers, UCLA, Seton Hall, Ohio State and Providence.

“Everyone in the country is recruiting him,” Hudson Catholic coach Nick Marinello said.

Ole Miss, Auburn, LSU, Providence and Tennesese are schools that have offered Pettiford a scholarship since the beginning of the live period. That adds to a list that already included Maryland, UCLA, UConn, St. John’s, Rutgers and Seton Hall. 

The Bruins, Buckeyes and Volunteers’ staffs are three Pettiford noted are paying him close attention.

His only visit thus far was an unofficial to UConn. 

“Right now, we don’t know yet. We’re trying to figure it out,” Pettiford said of other visits. “We have a busy summer. Once I figure it out, I’ll let everybody know.”

Tennessee, Auburn, Kentucky, UCLA and Ole Miss were schools who told Pettiford they’d be at Jefferson to see him on Sunday. Hudson Catholic lost an overtime game to Imhotep Charter and then fell to Archbishop Wood later in the day.

Kentucky head coach John Calipari was in attendance for Hudson Catholic’s game against Imhotep and Justin Edwards, a Wildcats’ 2023 target. Pettiford has had two conversations with Calipari and has also talked with Kentucky associate head coach Orlando Antigua.

Rutgers head coach Steve Pikiell, St. John’s head coach Mike Anderson and assistants from Tennessee, Auburn, UCLA, Maryland and Seton Hall were among Pettiford’s other suitors also taking in the action for the Imhotep game.

Pettiford will play with New Heights Youth Inc. on the Nike EYBL circuit in July.

“I’m trying to show that I’m a do-it-all type of guard, defend if you need me to, make a shot if you need me to, finish, help get everybody get involved,” Pettiford said. “I just want to show that I can do all of it and hopefully win Peach Jam.”

— Owen McCue 


More CoBL recruiting coverage

Quick Hits

— Even for someone with a basketball pedigree like Dylan Harper (2024 | Don Bosco Prep), a scholarship offer is something to celebrate.

Harper, the son of former NBA player Ron Harper and younger brother of Rutgers standout Ron Harper Jr., added an offer from Auburn at the start of the live period June 15 and he was certainly impressed.

“It’s not an everyday thing that someone gets an Auburn offer, so that was crazy really,” Harper said.

“He’s a really funny guy,” Harper said of Tigers’ coach Bruce Pearl.

Since April, Auburn, Missouri, Texas Tech and Indiana have all offered Harper, a 6-5 guard whose high-major list also includes Rutgers and Georgetown.

Georgetown, Rutgers and Maryland were schools that told Harper they’d be checking in on him Sunday, when he scored 16 in wins over Devon Prep and Shamokin.

Blue bloods Duke and Kansas are among the newest schools to reach out to him.

Indiana, Rutgers, Texas Tech and Georgetown have been reaching out frequently.

With the June live period wrapping up, Harper will next play with the NY RENS Basketball on the Nike EYBL circuit.

“Just a school that shows me support. Just a school that supports me in everything I do in all my decisions really,” Harper said of what he’s looking for.

Isaiah Brown (2024 | Don Bosco Prep) had a strong game in a win over Shamokin on Sunday. Brown scored a team-high 16 points, knocking down three threes, and the 6-0 point guard did a good job finding his teammates open looks as he ran the offense. Brown received an offer from Saint Francis-Brooklyn in January. He said Siena, Columbia, Monmouth and Marist have reached out since the start of the live period and Columbia, Marist and Saint Francis are trying to get him on campus. 

“They like my poise, how I bring the ball up, control the game, my speed and my shooting,” Brown said of what college coaches said they like about his game.

Julian ‘Juju’ Pagan (2023 | Pocono Mt. West) showed why he’s hearing from numerous Division II and Division III programs, putting together a strong all-around game in West’s 55-46 win over West Chester Henderson on Sunday morning. The 6-2, 165-pound lead guard scored 23 points on 9-of-16 shooting, hitting one 3-pointer and going 4-of-5 from the line, while grabbing seven rebounds (four offensive) and dishing out four assists. He was hitting tough off-balance shots within 10 feet, displaying great feel on odd angles around the rim, and also hit a few mid-range pull-ups, utilizing his crossover often and to great effect. He claims interest thus far from D-IIs Kutztown, East Stroudsburg and Goldey-Beacom plus D-III DeSales, which had an assistant there to watch. This summer, he said he’s working on adding “10-15 pounds” of muscle and his defense.

Nick Losada (2023 | Gill St. Bernard’s, N.J.) put together a strong showing on both Saturday and Sunday, the 6-2, 185-pound guard knocking down 3-point shots, getting into the lane and finishing around the bucket, not giving up on second-chance opportunities as well. Losada, an all-conference honorable mention as a junior, said he’s hearing from a mix of schools at different levels, including Colgate and American, plus D-IIs Tampa and Nova Southeastern, both in Florida.

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