Chad Graham (@CGraham_Sports)
(Ed. Note: This story is part of CoBL’s “Prepping for Preps” series, which will take a look at many of the top high school programs in the region as part of our 2022-23 season preview coverage. The complete list of schools previewed thus far can be found here.)
The Friends League is the deepest of all the PAISAA but it’s been run by one team — Westtown — for the last nine years (minus one COVID season in 2020-21). Westtown won the league championship for the eighth straight time in 2021-22, then proceeded to run the table for a second straight state title. However, after a lot of turnover for the Moose and across the league, this season’s FSL title is up for grabs for what feels like the first time in a long time:
Could George School senior Kachi Nzeh, above, and the Cougars overthrow Westtown for an FSL title? (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Predicted Top 3
1. George School
3. Friends’ Central
Head coach Ben Luber and the Cougars are emerging as a power in the area with a top 3 finish in the league last season and strong performances this fall. First team All-Friends School League selection and Xavier-signee Kachi Nzeh has come a long way in the last two years, the 6-9 senior forward transforming into a juggernaut around the basket on both ends. He’s a threat popping in addition to rolling to the rim. The two-way Christian Bliss, a 6-3 junior who also made the FSL first team in 2022, is their best perimeter defender and their number one perimeter option, offensively. George School will need Bliss to create for himself late in the clock and late in games. Senior guard Dante Weise, their third returner from last season, is back to run the show. Weise’s in-between game and ability to facilitate should raise the play of the five newcomers to their rotation.
Then there are the new faces. Senior wing Carsin Mastin comes over from the Haverford School. His skills as a closeout attacker and the floor-spacing from new classmate Ivan Ryabov should be the perfect complements to their core. Sophomore forward Luke Bevilacqua is the man in the middle and is on a similar developmental track as Nzeh. Bevilacqua, who’s a solid 6-11, also allows Nzeh to slide to his natural ‘4’ position. Sophomore Luke Melniczak and freshman Max Kipper are the cubs who will bring energy off the bench.
After the departure of Dereck Lively II (Duke), Jameel Brown (Penn St), and Quin Berger (St. Joe’s), Westtown retooled its roster with talent from near and far. Athletic combo guard Seyphon Triplett (Stonehill) and sharp shooter Matt Mayock (American) are their senior leaders. Juniors Matt Gilhool at center from Elizabethtown (Pa.) and Malik Rasul, a combo forward who transferred from Sierra Canyon (Calif.), are their frontcourt duo, at 6’10 and 6’8, respectively.
Head coach Seth Berger also has four sophomores who will all start or be in the rotation this season: combo guard Jayden Forsythe from New York, point-forward Jayden Kelsey from Colorado, point guard Jahmare Memphis from Somerset (N.J.), and shooting guard Cam Wallace, an all-state player as a freshman at Great Valley last season. Gilhool, Rasul, Forsythe, Kelsey, and Wallace transferred in this summer while Memphis arrived as a freshman last year.
Sharpshooter Collin Bowman and Friends' Central hope to make some noise in the FSL this season. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
The Phoenix of Friends’ Central are deep with a mix of youth and experience. Junior Reid Belcher and sophomore Gabe Moore will run the point. Belcher’s defense creates offense for them, while Moore’s a crafty playmaker. Seniors Joe Green and Collin Bowman and junior Fazl Oshodi and Muhsin Muhammad add perimeter scoring and defense. Bowman and Oshodi can get hot from behind the arc. Muhammad joined the Classo of 2024 and transferred from Germantown Friends after leading the FSL in scoring last season. He and Green are more known for their slashing to the cup. Senior Liam Foley, junior Isaac Moore, and sophomore Nigel Pierman are their frontcourt players with varying skill sets. All 6’5 or above, each of them are able to play the 5 spot by themselves or operate with other bigs on the floor.
Academy of the New Church had as much turnover as anyone from a season where they were the runners up to Westtown and reached the PAISSA semi-finals, then sent four seniors off to play college ball. But you can always count on Coach Givens' team to fly around and force turnovers on defense, then push the rock in transition. Seniors Jarell Keels and Deywilk Tavares will be cornerstones for the 2022-23 Lions. Keels is an aggressive defender with active feet and aggressive hands. Tavares, whose junior season was cut short by injury, gets it done as a scorer, especially with his middy and 3-ball. The progression of Wood transfer Bahsil Laster (2024) will be a major factor in their success. A 6-5 initiator at the point guard spot, Laster should be able to take away the best scoring options on opposing teams, in addition to his playmaking duties. Junior Nolan Waldon and freshmen Dior Carter and Justin Bobb will play significant roles too.
Other Players to Know
Abington Friends features senior Rider-signee Ife West-Ingram and junior Kaydin Ford aka “Fudd.” West-Ingram improved tremendously over the summer as a cutter and high-flyer on the wing. Ford, a pull-up threat, is developing into an all-around point guard since returning from a leg injury in the off-season. The Roos also have senior Angel Otero, junior Namisse Musonge, and sophomore Ethan Bell who will contribute this year.
Friends Select is led by senior, uncommitted forward Christian Kirkland. At almost 6-8, the Falcons run their offense through Kirkland and depend on him to anchor them defensively. They also have two sophomore guards in Isaiah Marshall and Jalen Chiles. Marshall flashed at Select as a high energy freshman and Chiles spent his freshman season at Imhotep.
The Shipley Gators are spear-headed by seniors Darrien Grady, Iman Jackson, Will Lange, and Justin Powell. They’re fortified by junior guard Matt Lange and Kody Colson, a promising freshman point guard.
For Germantown Friends, freshman Jordan Dill officially transitions to high school after running the show for them as an 8th grader. They’ll lean on senior forward Amir Staten to hold them down in the post.
Tag(s): Home Contributors 2023-24 Preview High School Boys HS Friends' Schools (B) Abington Friends Academy New Church Friends' Central Friends' Select George School Germantown Friends Moorestown Friends Shipley School Westtown School Chad Graham