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2023 Select Events New Jersey Spring Classic Notebook (May 14)

05/16/2023, 4:15pm EDT
By Owen McCue

By Owen McCue (@Owen_McCue)

Made the trip to Sportika in Manalapan, N.J. for the Select Events New Jersey Spring Classic on Sunday to check out one of the last events before next weekend’s live period. There were quite a few local squads and a few of the area’s top talents playing for some big-time programs. Couldn’t catch the day’s whole slate of action but here’s a notebook of the school prospects CoBL talked with:

Priyanka Ponnam, Exodus NYC 17U

George School’s Ponnam sees stock rise

Priyanka Ponnam saw the pieces of her game come together late last month.

The 6-3 forward/wing was one of the standouts at Boo Williams-EYBL Session I in Hampton, Va. while playing for the NYC Exodus 16U squad.

“I think it was just confidence,” said Ponnam, who was bumped up to the program's 17U team this past weekend. “Moving from high school into playing that live period, I was just more confident with my skill and I’ve been working in the post, so just being more aggressive. 

“I’ve been working on all aspects. My shot came together. I was hitting threes, midrange, bodying people, using my moves in the post. I just think everything came together well.”

College coaches noticed the uptick in Ponnam’s game. The result was a huge stock rise in the Class of 2025 prospect’s recruitment.

Ponnam, who already held offers from Havard and Penn, added offers from George Washington, Columbia, Fairfield, Richmond and high-majors Arizona, Ohio State, Providence, Northwestern, Boston College and Rutgers to her list following her performance in Virginia.

“It was really cool,” Ponnam said. “It was one of my first Power 5s and it’s just given me an idea of where I could go to and where I could possibly play in the future and what my potential could be and how much better I could be too.”

Ponnam was a first team All-Friends Schools League selection for the second straight season this past winter, earning the honor as both a freshman and sophomore. She averaged 12.0 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 1.5 spg and 1.1 bpg for the Cougars and said her scoring ability improved.

“Freshman year, I could score, but I was probably a little too soft,” Ponnam said. “I think my aggressiveness, it just kind of helped my game all come together.”

She said she spent the time after her season working with her trainers on game-like scenarios. A polished post scorer with improving range and playmaking ability, Ponnam drew admiration from the coaches who saw her improved play. 

“They were just telling me about my versatility,” Ponnam said. “That’s what they liked most, my aggressiveness and having that passion in the game. Just always giving energy no matter if that’s scoring, rebounding, doing the little things. That’s just what they like most about me.”

Ponnam took a visit to Columbia about a week ago and plans on taking visits to Ohio State and Rutgers later this summer. It’s still relatively early in the recruiting process, so she’s not rushing toward any decisions yet.

“I think right now, I’m still getting that information in,” Ponnam said. “Being a sophomore, you have a lot of decisions to make so right now it’s just taking everything in and finding a good school that could fit my persona and basketball on and off the court.”

“I’m just excited to get better and be ready for next year as well.” 


Kitty Randa, Heat Hoops 17U

Hatboro-Horsham’s Randa enjoying time back on the court

Kitty Randa’s travel basketball team folded right around the time she was finishing elementary school. 

With nowhere to play and a waning interest in the sport, it looked like her organized basketball career was over.

“I just stopped. I just didn’t want to play any more,” Randa said. “ I regret it, but I’m happy I joined again.”

Randa, a 6-1 wing/forward for Hoops 17U team, felt drawn back to the court during her sophomore year at Hatboro-Horsham. In a program that was both small in stature and roster size, Randa was a swing player in her first year back on the court, playing a lot of JV and also coming off the bench as the first or second option for the varsity squad.

“It was really nerve wracking,” Randa said. “When you’re little, you only play in front of your parents, but then you’re playing in front of a bunch of people. But it was fun. I had a lot of fun. I enjoyed it.”

So much fun that Randa started playing AAU hoops last summer for Heat Hoops. Her game continued to grow and after a standout soccer season for the Hatters she matched with a strong showing on the hardwood as well this past winter.

In a division with Plymouth Whitemarsh, Upper Dublin and Abington that’s filled with talent Randa was an All-SOL Liberty Division honorable mention selection in her first season as a full-time starter.

“Especially playing AAU, getting a lot more practice in, definitely made me a better player,” Randa said.

“I was a starter the whole season, so I got a lot more comfortable after the first couple of games.”

While she regrets the fact that she left the sport, Randa is doing her best to make up for lost time. She doesn’t quite have the strength to play as a center down low, but she has some guard skills and is focused on improving her ball handling and shooting.

There were signs of both Sunday whether that was pushing the ball in transition or hoisting a trail three. She added in some polished post moves as well.

Randa said she’s interested in possibly playing hoops at the next level, but she has plenty of other factors that will go into where she heads to college after her senior year. 

“Our team is small again, so we’re going to have to put in a lot of work to create a team,” Randa said.


Abbey Wolfe, Faith Ambrose and Sami Blumnethal, Delco Goats 17U

Shanahan senior trio still has plenty of hoops left

Just a few years ago, Faith Ambrose didn’t know Sami Blumenthal and Abigail Wolfe. Now, it’s pretty rare that the Bishop Shanahan and Delco Goats trio aren’t somewhere together playing hoops.

“It’s so cool to see,” Ambrose said. “I didn’t know them at first and now we’re all so close.”

Ambrose went to St. Ignatius growing up while Blumenthal and Wolfe, who started playing together in fourth grade, went to St. Maximilian Kolbe.

They teamed for the first time for the Delco Goats in the fall of their eighth grade school years with no idea they’d continue to suit up together once they got to high school.

Then all three ended up at Bishop Shanahan as freshmen and every fall, winter, spring and summer since has been filled with playing basketball together for either the Eagles or the Goats.  

“It was just luck,” Wolfe said.

“Our best friends get to travel with us, we’re together the entire year all year round,” Blumenthal said.

The trio all played big roles this past season for Bishop Shanahan, which went to the Ches-Mont League title game and District 1-5A semifinals. Ambrose is a 5-5 point guard and sharpshooter. Wolfe is a 5-7 wing who can also get lethal from deep. Blumenthal is a 5-10 power forward, unafraid to scrap down low but possessing some versatility as well.

With six seniors graduating this spring, including three starters, Ambrose, Blumenthal and Wolfe will be the three key cogs next season as Shanahan hopes to get back in the mix in the Ches-Mont, district and state in 2023-24.

“I feel like we’re all going to have to step up and take a new role on the team and help the underclassmen,” Blumenthal said.

“The transition’s definitely going to be hard,” Wolfe said. “We’re losing key players, but we have high hopes.”

The chemistry between Ambrose, Blumenthal and Wolfe will certainly help.

“We played together for a few years now, so I feel like it really just shows our camaraderie, even going back into the Shanahan season next year how much we grow together and we can take the things from each season and keep building on it,” Blumnethal said.

The three said they are being recruited by similar small college schools, including several local programs and some of the same programs. Maybe there’s a chance they will continue playing together after high school.

All that is guaranteed, however, is one final AAU season with the Goats and one more campaign with the Eagles, both of which they are looking forward to.

“It’s really exciting, but it’s kind of sad because it’s our last AAU season,” Ambrose said. “We’re excited to have our senior season too.”

“I couldn’t imagine any other way,” Blumenthal said.


Amya Scott, K-Low Elite 17U

Neumann-Goretti’s Scott playing in different role

Amya Scott said her father had to teach himself how to play growing up.

The Neumann-Goretti 2025 guard doesn’t have to worry about that with her dad coaching her during the AAU season.

“It’s cool, but it’s my dad, so when he’s yelling at me and stuff I’ll shut down sometimes,” Scott said.

There wasn’t much to critique in K-Low’s performance in a win over the LI Renegades early Sunday morning. Scott helped set the tone early in the victory with a few tough buckets and assists.

The group also includes local players Maya Johnson (Abington), Mallory Farr (Shipley School), Saniyah Washington (MaST), Emine Ulcay (Phoenixville) and Makaila Allen (Upper Moreland) and a few others from Berks County and New Jersey.

“We’ve been playing with this team since seventh grade, so it’s kind of really nothing new,” Scott said.

Scott, a 5-4 guard, averaged 15.7 ppg, 3.1 apg, 4.8 rpg and 1.8 spg for N-G this season to earn first team All-Philadelphia Catholic League honors and third team All-PIAA Class 4A honors (though she noted she was shooting for first team).

While Saints’ backcourt mate Carryn Easley, another first team All-PCL selection, was in attendance at Sportika on Sunday, the high school teammates aren’t playing together this summer.

The two carried the offensive load for Neumann-Goretti this season. Scott said with a plethora of scoring options for K-Low she is trying to mix in more playmaking with her scoring ability.

“I try to get my teammates involved more, still try to score the ball and stuff, just more of trying to get my teammates involved,” Scott said.

“We all can play and we all can play together,” she added.

Scott isn’t afraid to throw her body around or absorb contact for a tough bucket or a trip to the line. She said she has to do things like that in order to be successful as a small guard.

Her coaches have told her Lincoln has asked around and the Lions have had staff at N-G’s open gyms, though right now the focus is on getting her game better this summer.

“Really just being a leader more and getting good shots,” Scott said of where she hopes to improve her game.

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