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2023 Hoop Group Spring Jam Fest: Notebook (Pt. 5) (April 28-30)

05/02/2023, 3:30pm EDT
By CoBL Staff

By CoBL Staff (@hooplove215)

MANHEIM — The Hoop Group hosted its second and final spring live period event this weekend with the Spring Jam Fest at Spooky Nook, where a number of local and out-of-town grassroots programs as well as Division I, II and III coaches descended Friday, Saturday and Sunday. 

Here's the fourth notebook catching up with some of the players Sean McBryan saw during the three days of action:


More Coverage
Day 1 Standouts / Day 2 Standouts / Day 3 Standouts (Pt. 1) / Day 3 Standouts (Pt. 2) / Recruiting Notebook (Pt. 1) / Recruiting Notebook (Pt. 2) / Recruiting Notebook (Pt. 3) / Recruiting Notebook (Pt. 4) / Recruiting Notebook (Pt. 5)


Lukas Sekasi, 2024 AKT 17U

Lucas Sekasi & Quin Gorman (2024 | AKT 17U)

For what felt like the first time this tournament, things were not coming easy for an AKT squad that had won all of their four previous games by double digits to reach the Platinum Spartans division championship game. 

Matched up against a fiery Philly Pride Select team led by local sharpshooter Deywilk Tavarez, it was the first time this weekend AKT had faced any adversity as the game would come down to the wire. 

“The whole game I was frustrated, I couldn’t get stuff going,” AKT 2024 guard Lucas Sekasi said. 

In the end, it was the Sekasi, the steady-handed 6 '4 point guard from D.C. who had been struggling to find a rhythm all game, that would come up with the winning plays late. He grabbed a crucial late rebound before hitting a pair of free throws that iced the game and the title for AKT. 

“It was great, this was our second tournament together, so I think this is going to bring us closer,” said Quin Gorman, the highly skilled 6 '8 combo forward from Virginia. 

That growing chemistry was especially apparent between the three offensive standouts Gorman, Sekasi and explosive 6’4 wing Mekai Johnson, as each player seemed to understand exactly where they fit in. 

Sekasi, a pure point guard with a long frame, sets the tone and picks his spots on offense while pressuring opposing guards on defense. Shots were not falling for him on Sunday, but he was able to get to his spots and get to the free throw line thanks to his size mismatch at the point guard spot. 

Gorman is the team’s go-to player offensively, capable of impacting the game from the inside or the outside as he demonstrated by knocking down three 3-pointers in the final game. On defense, he sports impressive lateral quickness for someone his size that helped him nab steals, blocks and rebounds all day. Johnson provides the energy, both in transition and in the halfcourt, as he is capable of tough finishes through multiple defenders. 

The key to AKT’s success may be a balanced attack but it is Gorman who usually shoulders the offensive workload and is starting to reap the benefits of that. After already securing an offer from Towson despite missing his junior season with torn ligaments in his ankle, Gorman has since visited Davidson and received a few calls from coaches over the weekend. 

While Sekasi and Johnson may not have quite that attention from colleges at this point, both received an offer from the New Jersey Institute of Technology and have enjoyed a hot start to the summer along with the rest of the team. 

“My teammates are great guys to be around and I love playing with them. Their skillset is easy to play with,” Sekasi said. His comments were echoed by Gorman, who noted that the “family atmosphere” is what drew him to this program. 

A well-balanced team with great chemistry is a recipe for success in any sport. With plenty left to prove and play for in the coming months, AKT and its complimentary trio will look to continue the momentum they built this weekend through the busy summer. — Justin Procupe


Jahseir Sayles, 2024 BW Elite 17U

Jahseir Sayles (2024 | BW Elite 17U)

Sayles’ patience paid off this past season at Plymouth Whitemarsh.

As a sophomore after transferring from Bonner-Prendergast, he had to sit out the postseason and watch as the Colonials made a surprise run to the District 1 quarters as a No. 22 seed.

The 6-6 wing was out on the court this postseason, playing a big role on PW’s first District 1 title team since 2016.

“Playing in the playoffs was a reliever, just to play with all my guys and make sure I was out there with all my guys this year because last year it was hard to watch,” Sayles said. “We got a lot this year — District ‘chip — not everything — we lost in the first round of states — but it was a good year all around just being able to play with my guys.”

Sayles and PW teammate Jaden Colzie are reconnecting at the grassroots level this spring and summer. The two go way back as their fathers played in high school and junior college together. 

“That’s my guy, that’s my point guard,” Sayles said of Colzie. “I just love playing with him. He’s very fun to play with. On and off the court, that’s my guy. We’ve been together for years now.”

“We’re keeping the chemistry together for next year,” he added.

Sayles, Colzie and guard Chase Coleman all return next season from the Colonials’ Suburban One and District 1 title squads. They’ll certainly be one of the top contenders to repeat in District 1’s Class 6A division next season with eyes on a deep state run after a surprise first-round exit this past season.

PW will have to replace 1,000-point scorer Qudire Bennett, however, and Sayles seems like the player who will have his offensive role increase the most as Coleman and Colzie already averaged double figures this past season. 

“My role is definitely going to change because losing Q, that’s a really big loss,” Sayles said. “He’s a really good scorer. Me and the rest of the guys we have, we’re just going to step up. My role is definitely going to be bigger. I gotta make more shots, be smarter and take a good shot selection.”

The goal this offseason for Sayles is to get stronger and add to his athleticism. He’s a good shot maker, which he displayed for BW in a semifinal loss to NJ Scholars on Sunday morning with three triples, and hopes to take another step forward overall as a player.

“I’m a real good shot maker, I can knock down shots and get to my spots when need be. I’m a good passer. I’m just a team player and I’m working on my athleticism and just getting stronger this year to have a good senior year.” — Owen McCue


Logan Murphy (2024 | Rise Above Basketball 17U)

Logan Murphy (2024) and Rise Above Basketball arrived at the impressive if not intimidating Spooky Nook facility finding themselves in an unexpected spot. Unexpected from everyone else that is.  Having braved through the pouring rain Sunday morning on their way to Spring Jam Fest, they got ready to take on Kips Bay in the 17U Platinum Chargers division, where they eventually fell  in a close 62-58 loss.

While their efforts did not result in a championship, Rise Above felt they redeemed themselves following a disappointing third-round exit in last weekend’s Pitt Jam Fest that was followed by two more losses to close the weekend.

Their impressive weekend included a 15-point comeback, a 20-point blowout win, and a victory over the Pitt Jam Fest champions from their division. 

“We proved everyone wrong,” Murphy said of making the semifinals. 

Murphy led the way for Rise Above, as every offensive possession seemed to run through the wiry 6 '4 guard out of Tabor Academy in Massachusetts. Not quite the ball handler necessary to initiate the offense regularly, Murphy does most of his damage within the flow of the offense. He is a skilled shooter but is highly capable of attacking closeouts and finishing strong around the basket. When driving the ball, his feel for the game helps him make good reads and create open shots for his teammates, as he demonstrated with several quality passes against Kips Bay. 

For a team with a roster devoid of many players with much college interest, Murphy was always going to be leaned on and he answered the bell as best as he could Sunday morning, finishing with a game-high 23-points including three 3-pointers made. It wasn’t enough in the end, but it was another performance Murphy will try and build upon as he looks to improve his recruitment. 

Having reclassified to the class of 2024, Murphy is getting a lot of attention from high-academic Division III programs including Babson, Colby, Amherst, Swarthmore and others. Before his reclassification, Murphy took visits at Swarthmore, Amherst, and Williams but is hoping to schedule a few more visits to Babson, Colby, and others in the coming months. 

With the ultimate goal of reaching the Division I level, specifically the Ivy league, Murphy understands he has to improve his game and his body to reach his goals. 

“Weight room, that’s it,” said Murphy when asked what he needs to do to improve his game in the offseason.

While he has a lanky and sturdy frame for a guard, he is trying to figure out how to turn that length into consistent defensive contributions. Added strength could help his body survive drives to the basket and still have energy to make an impact on the other end. 

With already so much to like about his well-rounded game with self-awareness and a commitment to improving, it would not be wise to bet against Murphy reaching his potential. — Justin Procupe


Kayden Mingo, 2025 PSA Cardinals 16U

Kayden Mingo (2025 | PSA Cardinals EYBL 16U)

Mingo started to come into his own on a loaded Long Island Lutheran (N.Y.) team this winter. Star junior VJ Edgecombe (NY Gatorade Player of the Year), senior point guard Jayden Reid and senior small forward Jayden Ross (UConn) led the way, but Mingo, a 6-2 guard, left his mark for the Crusaders, who finished the season ranked in the Top 5 teams in the country by multiple outlets.

Long Island Lutheran competed in the prestigious National Interscholastic Basketball Conference throughout the season that includes other top programs like Oak Hill. A 22-game win streak during the season included victories over nationally-ranked Imhotep, Oak Hill, AZ Compass Prep and Sunrise Christian squads, and an invite to GEICO Nationals after a New York State Federation Tournament of Champions title. 

”With those group of guys, it took me a minute to see exactly what I was fitting into, but after a while I got it and I just locked in and just won,” Mingo said.

Though his peers are younger, the talent drop off isn’t far on his PSA Cardinals 16U squad that fell in the championship to NJ Scholars 16U on Sunday in one of the top 17U brackets. Seeing the recognition of kids on his high school and AAU teams was tough at times, but Mingo kept his head down and kept trying to play winning basketball. 

He was rewarded with his first Division I offer from Travis Ford’s Saint Louis program last week.

“It was real emotional kind of because I’ve seen a lot people getting offers earlier than me and stuff,” Mingo said. “But it felt really good knowing coach believed in me and wants me at his school.”

Mingo said Oklahoma State, Penn State, Fordham and Marist are among the other schools who have reached out about him. Crusaders coach John Buck, PSA Cardinals executive director Terrance "Munch" Williams, his father William and his older brother Dalique, who played D1 hoops at Howard, are those guiding him through the recruitment process.

Dalique has been a big resource throughout his life and continues to be one for Kayden and his younger brother Dylan, a 2026 who plays for PSA’s 15U team and LI Lutheran, as their trainer.

“He can push buttons that other people don’t really push and he knows me really well since we lived together and he’s been there for me my whole life,” Mingo said.

Mingo said some of the aspects he got from his brother are his transition game, getting downhill and finishing. He’s really good at breaking down defenders in the halfcourt do and either score or playmaking.

“I’m just a winner really,” Mingo said. “Really good defender, able to score the ball, make plays and do whatever it takes to win.” — Owen McCue


Darius Adams, 2025 PSA Cardinals 16U

Darius Adams (2025 | PSA Cardinals EYBL 16U)

It’s been a good time to be a ballplayer from New Jersey — the state is experiencing something of a hoops renaissance, whether that’s Princeton’s run to the Sweet 16, Saint Peter’s run to the elite 8, FDU’s upset of No. 1 Purdue, and more. 

Adams isn’t opposed to being part of another major Garden State March Madness storyline, though it won’t be as an underdog: the 6-4, 175-pound guard from Manasquan (N.J.) already has offers from Seton Hall and Rutgers, as well as Washington, Syracuse, Fordham, St. John’s and Providence.

“Yeah, of course,” he said. “Everything’s an option, but especially the schools that are close to me, that’s very important.”

Adams is a talented combo guard and clear high-major prospect, helping lead ‘Squan to the Group 2 championship with a 22-point, 12-rebound effort in a crushing 33-point win in the title game in March.

His focus this offseason is on improving his shooting as well as his ability to handle the ball, play make and get to the rim this offseason. He noted he also wants to get better at controlling the pace on the floor as a player who often has the ball in his hands.

The talented guard, who helped his PSA Cardinals team reach the 17U Platinum championship game this weekend, will be able to hear directly from coaches in June. He doesn’t have any visits planned and likely won’t take any until after the summer, but he does know what he’s looking for from his future school.

“Just a coach that actually cares about his players and a team that I could fit like a program that I could fit in and has my style of play,” Adams said. — Josh Verlin

Ethan Mgbako, 2026 NJ Scholars 16U

Ethan Mgbako (2026 | NJ Scholars 15U) 

Mgbako had his older brother Mackenzie in attendance during his team’s run to the 15U Platinum championship on Sunday. Though Ethan is listed at 6-6 and Mackenzie at 6-8, the younger Mgbako brother looks like he may have caught up to his older brother in stature — although that hasn’t translated into many victories when they play against each other yet.

“I always try to 1-v-1 him, but he still has the upper hand,” Mgbako said.

Mackenzie is ranked among the top five recruits naturally in the Class of 2023, and he Simeon Wilcher (North Carolina) and Akil Watson (Arizona State) among others led a loaded Roselle Catholic (N.J.) team this past winter to a Non-Public B Boys Basketball Championship and State Team of the Year honor.

Ethan carved a role off the bench for the loaded squad as a freshman, and hopes the experience being around that group will pay off down the line as he becomes a bigger part of the Roselle program over the next three seasons.

“I played enough as a freshman,” Mgbako said. “It was hard playing over my brother Mackenzie, Sim, Akil and all those other five stars that are going to big colleges.”

“It was tough, but it was also a good experience just learning from them and just picking up the things that they taught me along the way,” he added.

His older brother has tried to pass down wisdom, specifically telling Ethan to be more aggressive and make sure he is coachable. He said the Roselle staff wants him to focus on his defense this offseason, mentioning he wants to be a more disciplined defender. 

He’s trying to get his shooting up to his older brother’s standards as well and thinks he has a chance to crack the starting lineup for his high school team next season.

There’s a lot to like already about Ethan’s game as he showed Sunday when he combined for 28 points and 21 boards in two games to help the Scholars to the tournament title. It’s still early in the recruiting process but he mentioned that St. John’s is a school that’s expressed interest in him.

“I’m aggressive. I think I’m a three-level scorer. I can shoot, pass, really do everything and my defense is good as well,” Mgbako said. — Owen McCue


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