Owen McCue (@Owen_McCue)
There’s a local program starting to become a regular in the semifinals and championship games of spring and summer tournaments.
Its teams have walked away with various championship trophies at different age levels during tournaments the past two AAU seasons..
In just its second season after a COVID-delayed start, Philly Revolution appears to be a local program with staying power.
“It’s been fun,'' Nick Sullivan, the program director and 16U head coach, said. “We’ve got a good group of Catholic League guys. We’ve got a good mix. We’re just trying to build our program and play basketball the right way and do things the right way.
“In the AAU world things can get crazy with kids jumping from team to team, so we’re just trying to put a good core group of kids together and have fun with it and do things the right way.”
Nick Sullivan's Philly Revolution program is off to a roaring start in just its second season. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Sullivan played at Father Judge before a college career at Delaware Valley University. After his college career, he spent a year as a member of the Washington Generals, the Harlem Globetrotters’ exhibition foe.
He later was an assistant coach at Judge for his former head coach Sean Tait and then at Widener University.
During his high school playing days, Sullivan played AAU for the Northeast Sting, which was then under the direction of longtime Archbishop Wood assistant and now Father Judge head coach Chris Roantree.
When Sullivan began coaching, he wanted to start his own program, originally called the Spurs.
“We kind of got a little bigger and we were competing with Sting a lot, so I went to Chris (Roantree) and Shane Kelley from Wood, who were running Sting at the time,” Sullivan said. “I was like, ‘Why don’t we just merge?’”
Rebranded as the Philly Revolution, Sullivan’s program was supposed to make its debut during the 2020 AAU season. COVID postponed that until last season when the 17U, 15U and 14U boys teams all put together successful campaigns.
Sullivan said the program’s focus is ‘team basketball.’ He does his best to make sure the teams practice 3-4 times per week. They have an offense installed and run sets. He wants the program’s teams to guard in the halfcourt and overall, do things ‘the right way.’
“In AAU, it’s a lot of one-on-one. We’re training against that,” Sullivan said. “We want to resemble high school basketball and college basketball, and we want to prepare these guys for college.”
In Year 2, the program’s 15U and 16U squads are showing Revolution’s success is here to stay.
The Revolution’s 16U squad won the Hoop Group’s Spring Jam Fest at Spooky Nook in early April then fell to the eventual champion Team Melo in the semifinals of the Pittsburgh Jam Fest later in the spring. They won the Big Shots Philly Pride 16U championship in early May then played up an age bracket and won one of the 17U titles at the Zero Gravity Summit.
Revolution's Josh Reed goes up for a layup. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Most recently the team went to the semifinals at the AC Jam Fest — leading most of the semifinal loss to a stacked NH Lightning 15U group — and falling by two points in the quarters of the Summer Jam Fest.
Sullivan’s 16U group features some potential Division I talent — Kevin McCarthy (Episcopal Academy) has an offer from Florida Gulf Coast and Josh Reed (Archbishop Wood) certainly looked the part of a D1 guard throughout the semifinal run in AC.
Anthony Lilley (Father Judge), Rocco Morabito (Archbishop Ryan), Tahir Howell (Archbishop Wood), Jake Cummiskey (Archbishop Wood), Lukas Hudock (La Salle) and Devyn Wright-Myles (Hamilton West, N.J.) made up the AC roster of mostly PCL players, though Sullivan noted he is starting to expand the program’s geographic region for the right players.
“It’s all about fit,” Sullivan said. “What I’m trying to do is make sure there’s a fit, get the right pieces, not so much gather as much talent as possible. Find guys that can play a role, don’t have egos, all that stuff.
The 15U squad, under the guidance of head coach Dennis Reagan and John Regan have turned some heads as well. They lost in the 15U Platinum championship of the Spooky Nook Jam Fest in April then won the Big Shots Philly Pride 15U championship in May.
After a semifinal loss to Team Final’s 15U squad in the semifinals of the AC Jam Fest, Revolution’s 15U squad got its revenge in the HGSL title game against Final a few days later when Kevair Kennedy (Father Judge) hit a walk-off three in overtime.
The group still shows the program’s Northeast ties with Kennedy, Kevin Beck, Kiev Rucker and Michael Regan all calling Judge their high school home. Kasey Fleming, Cameron Smith and Cole Santiago all hail from La Salle and Ryan Mulroy joins the group from Upper Dublin.
“They’ve been together for a while that core group, even before we started when they were younger,” Sullivan said. “They kind of went up together, and we added some pieces and they’re having success too, so it’s been great so far.”
The Revolution’s 15U and 16U teams have gone toe-to-toe with a few sneaker circuit teams throughout the summer. They will finish up their summers this weekend.
If the core groups stay together next year, there should be plenty more winning in Revolution’s future.
“We’re expanding. We’re growing,” Sullivan said. “I hope it continues that way. It’s been great so far.”