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Donofrio Classic Report: Thurs., March 30, 2023

03/31/2023, 12:30am EDT
By CoBL Staff

CoBL Staff (@hooplove215)

CONSHOHOCKEN — The 2023 Donofrio Classic’s first round continued on Thursday night with its fourth night of play, four more teams taking the court at the Fellowship House to see who moves on into the second round of the five-round, 26-team affair.

Here’s a roundup and notebook from Thursday night’s competition; CLICK HERE for all of CoBL’s 2023 Donofrio Classic coverage:


Game One: Rome Runs 119, Philly Pride 78
Philly Pride sent a young roster to compete — too young, as it turned out, as the numerous highly-touted eighth graders who showed up as part of the group were a year away from Donofrio eligibility, meaning Pride had to rely on just five high school freshmen to carry the load against a talented Rome Runs squad, and it wasn’t really close. Will Riley (2025 | Phelps School) had the most impressive individual performance of the 2023 tournament’s opening week, scoring 45 points for Rome Runs, including four 3-pointers, but a lot in the mid-range and around the rim. Blake Deegan (2023 | Archbishop Carroll) hit six 3’s to get to 22 points for Rome Runs, and Zach Ward (2023 | Boyertown) added 10 more. Philly Pride got a 30-piece from Malvern Prep freshman Rowan Miller, plus 14 from Kingsway (N.J.) freshman Mikah Hart, younger brother of Maryland standout and Roman Catholic alum Hakim Hart.

Game Two: Hoop Dreams 119, Great American Pub 117
The evening’s nightcap made up for the romp in the first game, as Great American Pub trailed by 12-16 points for most of the evening but staged a comeback in the game’s final eight minutes, slowly reeling in Hoop Dreams to finally tie it up with under 30 seconds to play before Elijah Hamilton (2023 | Octorara) came up with a put-back bucket to lift Hoop Dreams to the win after a half-court chuck by GAP hit back iron. Hamilton led the way with a huge performance of his own, going for 42 points (three 3’s); Luke Fryer (2024 | Owen J. Roberts) impressed with 20 points of his own, and Larry Brown (2026 | Coatesville) added 14 for Hoop Dreams. Great American Pub, which had a Suburban One League core led by a whole lot of Plymouth Whitemarsh’s rotation, got 20 from Qudire Bennett (2023 | PW) plus 19 each from PW juniors from Jaden Colzie and Chase Coleman, while Dom Vacchiano (2024 | Wissahickon) canned eight 3-pointers for a team-high 26 points and Dayon Polk (2023 | Sanford School) had 22.


Riley goes off, talks recruiting with 16U summer ahead

Will Riley is an elite talent who will see a lot more success ahead of him in the next few years.

Will Riley (above) already has a pair of Division I offers as he enters his 16U summer. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

Coming from Toronto, Canada, the 6-foot-9 sophomore has a high ceiling and gobs of potential for his age. This was apparent when he dropped 45 points tonight at the Donofrio Classic, helping Rome Runs knock off Philly Pride.

Riley showed off his versatility with four threes, multiple dunks, mid-range jumpers, and tough finishes through contact throughout the game. His height and lanky 190-lb frame came into play as well when he was able to be disruptive on defense and made it hard for shooters as he was able to get great closeouts on jumpshots.

“I have a very fluid game,” he said. “I feel like I could shoot it well, I can get to the basket. I think my IQ is ahead of some other players, and I just read the game well.”

Before coming to America, Riley was going to school at Grand River Collegiate Institute (GRCI) in Kitchener, Ontario, where he spent his freshman year. He then was recruited to The Phelps School, which is a small private boarding school in Malvern, Pa., coming down to the States for his sophomore year.

Riley found that playing basketball below the border here was way more competitive and challenging than back in Canada, which Riley also took as an opportunity to improve his game. Though he mostly came off the bench for Phelps, which plays a high-level prep schedule, typically playing 20-minute halves with shot clocks, he was able to get plenty of run off the bench and show what he could do.

“I decided, it would feel like it would make my basketball career better,” Riley said. “It was a great opportunity for me [...] I just came here, and it was a good experience.”

Not surprisingly, he’s already hearing from college programs. Strapped with offers from Kansas State and NJIT, Riley has plenty of time to add to that list. 

On top of those offers, as just a sophomore he’s already receiving looks from Arkansas, Alabama, LSU, Notre Dame, Penn State, and a few others. 

Over the summer Riley will be playing for UPlay Canada, which is a competitive EYBL team that Riley has been playing on since the 6th grade; he’s playing on the Nike-backed program’s 16U squad.

Another former player who played for UPlay Canada, who would go on to represent Canada on the biggest stage is Toronto native, and Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. When observing himself, Riley feels that his game resembles that of Gilgeous-Alexander’s game with their lengthy type of play, mixed in with the offensive versatility. 

Gilgeous-Alexander has also statistically improved his play every year since entering the NBA, and it culminated in his first all-star appearance this year. Riley will look to have a similar trend in his game, as he looks to improve his play over the summer as well.

“I’m trying to get better, I’m trying to get more aggressive on the boards and communicate more because it’s only gonna help me and my team, and get me to the next level,” Riley said. -- Myles Berry


Carroll’s Deegan bringing sharpshooting act to Lock Haven

Blake Deegan thought he had his college plans figured out, until he took one final visit.

Blake Deegan (above) committed to Lock Haven earlier this month. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

The Archbishop Carroll (Pa.) senior wing had his eyes on going to Randolph-Macon (Va.), one of the country’s top Division III programs. But Lock Haven head coach Mike Nestor had been in touch increasingly more as the season had gone on, and Deegan went up to the PSAC school’s campus in the middle of the state earlier this month with an open mind. 

By the time he left, he knew he’d found his collegiate home. He committed to the coaches the next day, then announced it on social media a week later, on March 12.

“As soon as I saw the campus, it just fits my vibe, I really liked it up there, the coaches are great,” he said. “I just fit there — that school is me, I feel like.”

Deegan said he enjoyed the Bald Eagles’ team chemistry as well as that of Nestor and his longtime assistant Brian Oleksiak, the program’s only two coaches, Oleksiak having worked under Nestor for 11 seasons. 

“They seem like they’re best friends,” Deegan said. “Both of them, they do it together, they don’t need anyone else, they trust in each other and they trust in the guys they have there, so I liked that a lot.

“They’re big (on) skill development, they have that in practice, they allot time for that during practice, that’s a big part,” he added. “They’re a big ‘believe in yourself’ team, everyone on the floor can do something, like buy in, be a great teammate, and that’s all the stuff I value.”

Deegan showed exactly why the Bald Eagles’ staff brought him on, hitting six 3-pointers in Rome Runs’ easy win in the opener on Thursday night. That moves them into a second-round game on Monday, April 10 at 7 PM against Philly Hoop Group, which also won in easy fashion on Wednesday.

When he arrives on campus this fall, Deegan will join a roster that had plenty of local talent on it this past season, including freshmen Shawnn Smith (Archbishop Carroll) and Mike Knouse (Archbishop Wood), while Dymir Montague (Neumann-Goretti) finished up his college career. Last year, Lock Haven went 17-12 (12-10 PSAC), the program’s most wins since also winning 17 in 2013-14.

While Deegan knows he needs to add to his 185-pound frame, he’s also looking forward to being able to play his natural position as a combo forward/wing, something he was able to do sometimes at Carroll, though he also had to play the small-ball ‘5’ role for the Patriots due to his strong shot-blocking abilities for his height and Carroll’s lack of elite size in the frontcourt.

“Carroll, just because you have to, it’s high school basketball, you’ve got to adapt,” he said. “And in college they pick you for your role, you don’t have to play out of your position like that, I’m looking forward to that.”


Miller flashes for Philly Pride in first Donofrio, discusses freshman year 

Rowan Miller’s 30 points were the highlight of the night for Philly Pride, which was undermanned with only five eligible players available.

Rowan Miller (above) had a solid freshman year as a key reserve for the Friars. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

Playing all 40 minutes, Miller’s ability to create interior shots on the dribble drive and in traffic was on display against a taller foe in Rome Runs. The Malvern Prep freshman will play with Philly Pride, his grassroots organization since seventh grade, this summer. Now at the 15U level, that means going to Under Armour Association stops in Arizona (April 21-23) and South Carolina (April 28-30) later this month.

“I’m looking forward to the sessions,” Miller said. “Actually traveling and getting out [to] different states, seeing different people, playing different people.”

Miller’s freshman season at Malvern Prep saw him serve as the Friars’ sixth man under coach Paul Romanczuk, the former Penn standout and longtime Carroll coach who’s been on the Malvern bench the last two years. He also had the opportunity to play with two high-level guards in senior wing Andrew Phillips and junior guard Ryan Williams, both All-Inter Ac selections.

“Definitely, defensive first,” Miller said of lessons learned from Romanczuk in his freshman campaign. “Getting back [on defense], staying in front of my man. But then, you know the little stuff on offense, screens, how to use the screens perfectly, how to play off the ball, how to rebound as a short guard.” 

Before Miller arrived at Malvern Prep, he had the example of a brother, Jeremiah Miller, as Jeremiah played at Conestoga before joining the college ranks at Penn State-Greater Allegheny, where the 6-4 sophomore averaged 13.2 ppg this past season. Rowan sees a blueprint for hoops success from Jeremiah’s transformation in attitude as an upperclassman.

“Definitely work ethic. He didn’t take basketball that serious freshman and sophomore year,” Miller said about his brother’s high school career. “He took it up a level junior year. And me seeing that, I want to be just like that [all four years instead of just two].”

The 5-9, 155 guard has had the dream of earning a Division I scholarship “since I started playing,” he said. “That’s always been the goal, D-I, [going to college] without having to make my parents pay.”

In that journey, the 15U circuit–at once a young player’s classification leap and test in physicality–is next. Miller knows several areas he would like to target for improvement entering summer.

“I can always improve on my handle,” Miller said. “I’ve definitely been in the gym on my shot. And just being more vocal, definitely more vocal.”

Year 1 at Malvern, for all its freshman peaks and valleys, provided the foundation for that potential growth in his game.

“I think it was up and downs, of course,” Miller reflected. “I started the season a little nervous, but I feel like as the season went on, I improved, learned more about the game.”


Dayon Polk (above) committed to play at the USMAPS next year. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

Quick Hits
Dayon Polk (2023 | Sanford School, Del.) made his college pick earlier this month, though he won’t actually be starting college just yet. One of the top guards in the First State, Polk is headed to West Point, where he’ll enroll at the US Military Academy Prep School (USMAPS), the feeder program for Army’s Division I basketball program. The military academies, not bound by scholarship limits as all of their students are on scholarship, utilize their prep schools often; eight of Army’s roster players this season were USMAPS alumni. Polk, a 6-0, 170-pound lead guard, said he was talking to Dickinson College among other D-II and D-III programs, but given the opportunity to take another year to work on himself and have a road into a D-I program was worth a shot. 

“I just talked with my family and then like, made a decision that whatever I want to do, I’m going to do my best at it, work my hardest, and I made my decision,” he said. 

— Really strong 20-point effort from Owen J. Roberts junior guard Luke Fryer. The 5-11 lead guard is great with the ball in his hands, making a number of nifty finishes, with both hands, and made some great passes, clearly enjoying the Donofrio atmosphere and tempo. A multi-year starter for OJR, Fryer’s going to be playing his grassroots ball with the East Coast Power 17U Danzig group, and should draw a good amount of small-college attention, especially with a few more similar outings at Donofrio. 

Larry Brown (2026 | Coatesville) showed flashes in his freshman year, starting at the ‘5’ for a Raiders squad that made the state quarterfinals, though he wasn’t needed to be a focal point. Consistency will be the key for him as a sophomore, and he had a nice first Donofrio outing, scoring 14 points including a couple jumpers, a few dunks, and a couple catch-and-finishes. The 6-7 forward is developing in multiple ways, both as a face-up forward and as a post player, and that versatility might mean he won’t have a dominant facet right away but could pay off down the line by the time he’s a junior. 

— Riley isn’t the only promising Phelps School sophomore the Lions have in the pride. Onyx Nnani has almost an equal ceiling, another 6-8/6-9 wing/forward who can play the ‘2’ through ‘4’ depending on situation, and who can score from all three levels. Like with Riley, Nnani has to continue to refine his game and work on his efficiency, but he’s certainly tracking high-major. And Justin Houser, who was watching from the sidelines on this night but who’s on the Rome Runs roster, is a 6-11 post and another Phelps sophomore who should also help form the core of the squad moving forward.

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