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Philly Live I: Day Two Recruiting Notebook Pt. 2 (June 17, 2023)

06/19/2023, 10:15am EDT
By Josh Verlin + Antonello Baggi

Josh Verlin (@jmverlin) +
Antonello Baggi (@AntonelloBaggi)

Here’s a recruiting notebook from Saturday’s Philly Live action at Jefferson University:


More Philly Live Coverage: Day 1 Standouts | | Day 2 Standouts (Jefferson) | Day 2 Standouts (St. Joe's Prep) | Day 3 Standouts (St. Joe's Prep) | Day 3 Standouts (Jefferson) | Day 1 Local HS Notebook | Day 1 Recruiting Notebook | Day 2 Recruiting Notebook Pt. 1


Yaw Ansong + FK Muntari (2025s | Union Catholic)
Ansong and Muntari have come a long way together, both literally and figuratively. 

Yaw Ansong (above) is a 7-footer with a developing face-up game (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

The pair of athletic young forwards both came over from Ghana to the United States after the COVID pandemic, briefly attending Our Savior Lutheran (N.Y.) in the spring of 2022 before settling in at Union Catholic (N.J.) last fall. They’ve known each other since they were 12 years old, meeting at a basketball camp in Ghana, and staying tight five thousand miles from home.

“It was a lot of fun, we had a lot of fun, and we’re still staying together,” Muntari said. “We make sure we don’t argue, we make sure our mindset is as one and all of that. And we keep growing.”

The two were just adjusting to their new teammates and new environment when Union Catholic played at the CoBL Interstate Shootout in September, the pair clearly raw but equally clearly blessed with a whole bunch of upside. 

Ten months later, the strides they’ve made are plenty noticeable, the pair having plenty to do with a 54-46 win over Taylor Allderdice. 

Farouk 'FK' Muntari shoots a jumper on Saturday. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

Muntari, a 6-8 wing with a reliable face-up jumper and the ability to make plays with the ball in his hands, led the way with a 16-point, 10-rebound double-double on 8-of-12 FG (1-2 3PT), grabbing three offensive boards, while also dishing out three assists. Ansong, a 7-0 center with vastly improved hands and defensive feel, as well as a developing jumper of his own, was 6-of-9 from the floor as he contributed 12 points and seven rebounds (four offensive), with two blocks, an assist and a steal.

“We’ve gotten a lot better,” Muntari said, repeating himself for emphasis. “We’ve gotten a lot better, so much better [...] we’re impacting our teammates, always encouraging them to play hard, so we can win more games.”

Union Catholic’s returning the pair and a good bit around them from a squad that went 21-9 a year ago but didn’t have a double-digit scorer on the year, with seven players averaging between five and 10 ppg. Four are back, including rising junior point guard AJ Altobelli and rising senior wing Terrance Wood, while senior Riley Ramirez looks like he’ll be taking a step forward. 

But there’s no doubt that their ceiling hinges on Ansong and Muntari. Currently, the pair are each waiting on their first Division I offers, but they’ve got interest: Seton Hall, Princeton, Georgetown, NJIT and more have shown interest, and there were plenty of coaches watching their games at Philly Live, the nature of having 100 coaches ringing the track at the Gallagther Athletic Center.

“The energy level is different everywhere,” Ansong said. “It’s been good, we’ve lost a lot of players and we have new players and we’re now playing, trying to play together, learning [...] how each other plays.” — Josh Verlin


Judah Hidalgo, Adiel Freed & Isaiah Thomas (2025 | Paul VI, N.J.)

Paul VI (N.J.) 2025 guard Judah Hidalgo came back from Mexico just in time for Philly Live. Hidalgo was called up to represent Puerto Rico at the FIBA U16 Americas, while his sister Hannah Hidalgo represented Team USA. For the first time in the national jersey, Hidalgo played against some of the best U16 teams and players in the continent and came back with a bronze medal. The third place finish also means that Puerto Rico qualified for the U17 FIBA World Cup in Turkey next summer. 

“It was fun. It was a little different to get used to because FIBA [...] has different kind of rules and different play style,” he said. “It was my first time ever going out to Puerto Rico [...] so it was a little experience from being out in Jersey.”

Hidalgo and the Eagles ended their season with some regrets after an OT loss in the second round of the South Jersey Non-Public A. They knew they could go further. Tony Devlin’s team had their first two summer team practices last week as they are trying to rebuild with the younger core of players.

Without four starters from the last season, three rising juniors will be taking over. Hidalgo (a 6-4 guard), Adiel Fred (a 6-7 forward) and Isaiah Thomas (a 6-4 guard) are projected to lead the way and 5-10 rising senior Torren Greene will make an impact as well. 

The Eagles were solid and efficient from start to end in a 72-53 win over Phoenixville. They had  four guys who contributed with more than 10 points each and great rim protection, some aspects that may be crucial for a deeper run next season.

“We just lost a couple players [...] but that’s not that big of a deal for us. We are still gonna play our game.That’s barely even gonna affect us.” Fred said. “We have people coming in as well, so together we will be fine.”

Fred and Thomas play AAU together for Jersey Drive. Fred added that they are already familiar with each other and this also helps their chemistry at PVI as well. 

“We are just trying to put pieces together [...]We are just trying to get the flow of things,” Judah Hidalgo said.  “Philly Live has all different teams out there, all different types of players from all over so I think It’s good to see where we are as a team to see who can really hoop and who can’t. 

Hidalgo added that Thomas, Fred and himself will have more responsibilities and use the experience from last year. They need to do more talking to the young players and step up, especially now that they will be without their two best scorers Manny Joe-Samuel, who transferred to Camden, and Josh Eli, who graduated and will start his college career at Army West Point.  . 

“Do whatever it takes to get further in season, further in the playoffs,” Thomas said about the team goals for next year. 

To be competitive and have a successful season as a team, the leaders also want to lead through their work ethic and improve their skill set this summer. While Thomas said he will be working on ball-handling and getting to his favorite spots more easily, Hidalgo said he will focus on his speed, body and on being a more consistent player. 

“All I gotta do is work on my shot a little more, my handle [...] expand my game,” Fred said. “ I feel like I play strong physically around the rim and I do all the fundamental stuff that my team needs me to do like rebound, block shots, garbage points.”

For Hidalgo, Thomas and Fred the recruiting process is just getting started and while they have been talking to a few coaches, they believe that this summer will help them get more recognition while they keep working on their game. — Antonello Baggi


Aiden Tobiason & Julius Wright (2024s | St. Elizabeth, Del.)

With a young core of players that now have more experience, St. Elizabeth’s goal is to become  a contender in the Delaware state tournament. At St.Joe’s prep, they executed an entertaining and fast style of play, as they looked to run in transition and get shots up in the first seconds of the action. 

The Vikings will be led by rising seniors 6-4 combo guard Aiden Tobiason and 6-2 guard Julius Wright, who produce a large amounts of points, assists and rebounds. Steve Nixon (2025), Caden Harris (2025), upcoming freshmen Kiyen Alexander and Masen Price will be other important pieces.

Under head coach Mike Cassidy, the Vikings ended the season with an overall record of 12-8 and they want to improve. 

“A big thing with us is getting a run out on teams and what we have to work on is just closing our games,” Tobiason said. “We are all guards, we got no bigs, so all of our points come from transition,” Wright added. 

The two guards said that they have been playing a summer league at the 76ers practice facility — the Chase Center in Wilmington, Del. — and they haven’t lost a game yet. As they look to keep winning and get better in the summer, they said that one of their goals is to go far in states. 

“I would say definitely going to the Final 4 at the Bob Carpenter center,” Tobiason said. “We are gonna compete and be up there with a lot of good teams in Delaware.”

Tobiason has heard from schools at all three levels. Mount St. Mary’s was a big one that reached out to him and his only offer so far is D-II Goldey-Beacom. Other schools that have been talking to him are West Chester, Randolph-Macon and Arcadia. 

“I wanna see a school that is interested in me and I wanna see a nice campus and I'm really looking forward to doing business management,” Tobiason said. I’m always open to get more information and know more schools.”

Arcadia has been reaching out to Wright as well. Wright said that some D2 and D3’s have been asking Cassidy about him. 

“I want the campus to be good and my major is forensic science, so I wanna make sure that I have a good forensic science program,” Wright added. 

The two guards both play AAU for Delaware’s Role Model Elite and the experience in the HoopGroup tournaments will help them to get even more exposure. In the meantime,Tobiason and Wright will keep working on their game during the summer. 

“My ball-handling and my shooting,” Wright said about which aspects of his game he will be working on. “I’m working on my finishing and my speed, being faster,” Tobiason added. — Antonello Baggi


Brady Loughlin (above) mixed in some strong takes with his typical shooting. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

Quick Hits
Brady Loughlin (2025 | Don Bosco Prep, N.J.) didn’t plan on a 360-spinning layup and-one that included him basically throwing the ball backwards over his head, but he’s not going to give the points back, either. 

“That’s kinda instinct,” he said, laughing. “I tried to go up with my left, he cut it off…just tried to make something happen.”

Louglin’s been more good than lucky, for sure; the 6-5 wing guard, who’s playing his grassroots ball with Jersey Force, contributed 18 points in Don Bosco’s 56-33 win over Archbishop Carroll on Saturday morning, going 4-of-9 from downtown with a couple and-ones, including the circus shot. It’s consistent outings like that which have helped him pull in offers from Albany, Fairfield and Iona, with interest from some higher levels; he said he’d heard from George Washington, Florida Atlantic, William & Mary and “some Patriot League schools” and he’s also doing the Ivy League camp rounds, going to Yale, Harvard and Princeton’s at various points this summer.

“Definitely something I’m looking for in a school is the high academics,” he said. “I just want to play the biggest basketball I can at the best school I can. Anywhere I can find both would be a great fit.”

Isaiah Brown (2024 | Don Bosco Prep, N.J.) showed why he’s picking up steam amongst low-to-mid-major types with a strong 15-point outing in Bosco’s win over Carroll, the muscular 6-0 lead guard adding six rebounds (three offensive) and dishing out three assists to round out a solid game. He’s got offers from St. Francis (Pa.) and Marist, and said he’s got interest from Albany, NJIT, Bryant, Iona and more; he’s yet to visit either of the schools that have offered him and said he didn’t yet have plans to do so, and is looking for “a school where I fit [...] a winning environment, getting everybody involved, and just bonding with the team.”

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