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2023 Battle of the Bell 17U Standouts (May 20)

05/22/2023, 12:15am EDT
By Chad Graham & Owen McCue

By Chad Graham (@CGraham_Sports) &
Owen McCue (@Owen_McCue)

The Battle of the Bell returned on Saturday at Cristo Rey High School as the area’s top 17U programs and some of their younger counterparts (and a few others) met up for bragging rights of the city’s top grassroots program. Team Final’s 17U squad won both of its matchups — edging K-Low Elite 66-65 before an 85-56 win over Philly Pride — to make its case as the top dog. But those were just two of the nine games that took place during the course of the day. CoBL’s Chad Graham was there for the duration, while Owen McCue joined him later on. Here is the list of the 17U standouts for the day’s events:

Jalil Bethea, 2024 Team Final

Jalil Bethea (2024 | Team Final 17U)
The sharpshooter came out blasting in game 1 versus K-Low. Pulling from NBA range, Bethea hit two threes off-the-catch and another two on self-created looks as he scored 18 points. He switched his approach up against Philly Pride in their second game. Other than the one jumper he made from deep, Bethea did his work around the basket. He insisted on putting his head down and getting to the rim where he drew fouls and converted his free throw opportunities. He also crashed the boards with a purpose, opting to grab-and-go for transition buckets. To cap things off, Bethea got bouncy on a couple lobs he caught from Wright III while cutting backdoor to finish with 24 points.

KJ Cochran (2025 | K-Low Elite 17U)
A true rising junior playing up a level, Cochran held his own against some of the best 2024s on the east coast on Saturday. Across both games, the West Chester-product got to his spots in the mid-range and from behind the arc as he contributed 15 and 13 points respectively. He drilled multiple catch-and-shoot threes. And when defenders ran him off-the-line, his 1-2 dribble pull up came in handy. But as important as the jumper was, Cochran’s ability inside the paint was even more impactful. He finished through contact and with touch. That touch was also evident during his trips to the charity stripe late against Philly Pride, when went 4-for-4.

Deuce Ketner (2024 | K-Low Elite 17U)
Ketner helped K-Low close out Philly Pride for a win in the final game of the day with some big buckets late. The 6-6 wing/forward from Bonner-Prendergast compiled 23 points and six boards in the win. He was powerful inside, converting four and-ones and also throwing down a handful of monster slams. Ketner, who holds offers from Drexel, Albany and Robert Morris, did most of his damage in the paint but also stepped outside and hit a clutch three when his team needed it. He was rewarded with some easy looks for running in transition and even pushed the ball up the floor a few times himself.

Ahmad Nowell, 2024 Team Final

Ahmad Nowell (2024 | Team Final 17U)
Nowell had 23 points in a dominant victory over Philly Pride. The 6-1 Imhotep guard knocked down four threes to show off his range, both catch-and-shoot and off the bounce. He is tough to stop in the halfcourt and in transition as he heads toward the rim, finishing both through contact and graceful around defenders on Saturday. While teammate Rob Wright (more on him below) played more of the offensive creator role, Nowell made some great finds and kept the ball moving (three assists) on the perimeter. Then there’s his defense where he can stay in front of quick guards and use his strength to ward off anyone who tries to challenge him physically.

Erik Oliver-Bush (2024 | K-Low Elite 17U)
Oliver-Bush is a defensive playmaker. He repeatedly made winning plays and his activity on that end swung the momentum at different points in each game. Oliver-Bush’s deflections turned into steals and his steals turned into fastbreak points. And even when he wasn’t making splash plays, he made great rotations to contest shots and limit drives. An athlete with major leaping ability, his ups were as evident in the halfcourt as it was In the open floor. Oliver-Bushed was a one-man highlight with how he attacked the glass and flew through the air as a cutter. 

Thomas Sorber (2024 | Team Final 17U)
On Wednesday, Sorber committed to the Hoya Paranoia and on Saturday he stood on it. The 6-10 center was the difference in the game versus K-Low. Drawing help every time he touched the ball near the paint, Sorber finished over both shoulders, on either side of the rim. Seemingly every bucket and every rebound was his as he went on to score 21 of his 28 points in the second half and finish with a double-double. The Georgetown-commit added 3 blocks as well. Then he big dogged his way to another 15 points against Philly Pride.

Jermai Stewart-Herring, 2024 Philly Pride

Jermai Stewart-Herring (2024 | Philly Pride 17U)
The 6-5 wing from Roman Catholic via Delaware is still trying to figure out his plans for next year. In the meantime, he continued to impress Saturday, pouring in 25 points and grabbing nine boards against Philly Pride after a quiet outing against Team Final earlier in the day. Stewart-Herring isn’t labeled as a “scorer” but there are few who continue to pile up double-figure outings like him without demanding the ball or playing with the ball in their hands. He bullied his way inside for a bucket, made his way to the free throw line, hit some tough midrange shots, knocked down a pair of threes and put himself in position for a few easy layups and dunks as well. A consistent competitor he battle for extra possessions on the boards and added a pair of steals as well.

Nas Washington (2024 | Philly Pride 17U)
Washington has always been able to make splash plays offensively, and he certainly did that Saturday. But now he’s rounding into a more complete basketball player. His increased feel off-ball resulted in him relocating into several good looks from three, in addition to his usual stepbacks. Washington played with pace too. When his shot wasn’t there, he got to his middy or moved the ball to sustain the advantage. Despite the results, the incremental developments in his game were noteworthy.

Darren Williams, 2024 K-Low Elite

Darren Williams (2024 | K-Low Elite 17U)
A recent FGCU pledge, Williams is already looking like a steal for the Eagles. His pull up shooting and defense were key for his team in the final game of the event. Whether he went hesi-sidestep or quick cross-stepback, he consistently got to his jumper with compact movements, making four triples. Williams was effective on defense throughout both games, guarding the ball and playing in the gap. But pairing his offensive output with three steals and a few defensive rebounds was significant. 

Ryan Williams (2024 | Philly Pride 17U)
Williams led his team with 14 points in a loss to Team Final and while he wasn’t the offensive centerpiece again against K-Low later in the day, still finished with five points, three assists and five rebounds. The 6-4 Malvern Prep guard had one of the highlights of the day when he stole an inbounds pass and tossed down a monster slam. He’s a fun player to watch in transition and helped get himself on the break with three steals, going coast-to-coast after a swipe and adding another slam to his highlight reel. He has finesse finishing around the basket and a good inbetween game that includes a go-to floater and a pull-up jumper — both used on Saturday.

Robert Wright III (2024 | Team Final 17U)
Wright, a 6-foot point guard committed to Baylor and headed to Montverde Academy (Fla.) next year, put together a 16-point, seven-assist effort in his squad’s win over Philly Pride. Wright’s got great touch around the basket and a polished inbetween game if he can’t get all the way to the cup, laying a couple floaters in over the rim and off the glass. His vision and passing ability are both so mature as well. He consistently fit passes through and around defenders on the money to get easy looks for his teammate after driving into traffic.

Honorable Mention
Nick Coval (2024 | Team Final 17U), Matt Gilhool (2024 | Philly Pride 17U), Greg Guidinger (2024 | Philly Pride 17U), Pearse McGuinn (2024 | K-Low Elite 17U), Ty Mishock (2024 | K-Low Elite 17U), James Moore (2024 | Team Final 17U), Izaiah Pasha (2024 | Philly Pride 17U)

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