By Dan Arkans (@danarkans)
To call St. Elizabeth (Del.) senior Aidan Tobiason, a sleeper recruit, would be the understatement of the last several years at least.
In fact, Tobiason went from fringe D-2 offers entering his senior season to announcing his commitment to Temple University on Thursday.
Tobiason was first offered by the Owls on Oct. 21.
“It was always my dream to play D-I,” Tobiason said. “I had always had that goal for D-I. A lot of guys don't think they can make it there. I always had a positive mindset even when I had zero offers going into my senior year.”
While Tobiason’s rapid ascent up the recruiting charts are stuff that belongs in a Hollywood script, St. Elizabeth head coach Mike Cassidy compares it to the recruitments of current NBA players Bones Hyland (St. Georges) and Collin Gillespie (Archbishop Wood).
St. Elizabeth (Del.) 2024 wing Aiden Tobiason committed to Temple this week. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
“It’s crazy because you believe in your own kid,” Cassidy said. “Man, why aren’t they seeing what I see? Now, he takes it to another level and starts roping in 20 and 30-point games.”
For Tobiason though it was pretty simple aside from always believing in himself. This summer he wasn’t just a gym rat, but lived in the weight room too.
“My work ethic was the biggest change entering my senior year,” Tobiason said. “Over the years I put in a good amount of work. I got better in the summer than I did any of the other years. I put more work in. I really came out of my shell. Confidence came along and it showed. That was the biggest part.”
It’s clear where that work ethic comes from. His father Michael, was a basketball player and All-American golfer at Goldey-Beacom. In fact his father is a golf pro at Deerfield Golf Course and still enters professional tournaments.
“That’s where he gets his competitiveness from,” Cassidy said. “That’s how he is. When you are a golfer you have to be dialed in. You can’t be a halfway golfer. For Aiden that’s a good example he can dial in mentally same as a golfer would. When he’s in the huddle he’s just locked.”
One of his initial recruitments oddly enough was from Goldey-Beacom. This fall D-I offers followed from UMBC, Sacred Heart, Vermont, University of Delaware, Delaware State and Lafayette.
“It felt great (to get D-2 offers),” Tobiason said. “It felt awesome and I was really hyped. I knew I could do more.”
After a summer working on all parts of his game the athletic 6-foot-5 guard, who Cassidy says can play positionless on his team, soared to his dream.
Each weekend he began dominating showcases. Tobiason points to the West Chester Fall League and then the Mount St. Mary’s University team camp where he really started gaining steam.
However, Cassidy has a different turning point.
“There were a couple of games where he lit it up at City of Basketball Love (Interstate Shootout),” Cassidy said. “Ari (Rosenfeld of Elite HS Scouting) came over and said, ‘I really love this kid. He’s making good reads, getting teammates going.’ He has a good mix. He’ll set out and he can read the game. He gets the team going and then he’ll get himself going. That’s how it went at Haverford. That was one of them where he took over and showed what he can do.”
The games against Sankofa Freedom and Episcopal Academy at Haverford highlighted what Tobiason brings to the table.
“He’s such a late bloomer, and in such a rare …. Really nobody heard about this kid before June, and he was getting recruited by DIvision IIIs and was a Division II kid up until the start of the school year,” Rosenfeld said. “He’s a total blank slate: 6-4, 6-5, shoots the ball at a really high level, makes plays at a really high level and is unselfish.
“This late-blooming athlete who has no bad habits and is a total blank slate to build on top of what he already has, the shot-making and the length. A really good, humble kid. A lot of upside to continue to get better into college with a lot of things he can bring to the table right away, which is his length and his shot-making.”
That dominating fall led to open gyms as recently a month ago for Tobiason. That’s where Owls assistant coach Chris Clark met the Delaware senior for the first time. After a couple of visits the offer then came.
“We had a couple of open gyms where some coaches saw him work out,” Cassidy said. “Aiden can run workouts himself. That’s what he did. Talent aside, they saw his leadership skills.”
Tobiason calls his recruitment from Temple a process. However, the lanky senior guard knew where he wanted to call home during his first visit to Broad Street.
“I definitely felt a connection with them,” Tobiason said. “First of all they had high intensity practices for two hours. Biggest thing was I could see myself developing with these guys. I could see the developmental drills they did.”
Now Tobiason will join an impressive first recruiting class from Adam Fisher, which already includes 6-foot-7 forward Dillon Battie, son of former Temple great Derrick Battie.
While Tobiason is thrilled to be getting picked from Fisher, Cassidy believes it's win-win all the way.
“Temple got a good one,” Cassidy said. “They recruit true ball players. They know the game mentally. He lets them play with freedom. Aiden can put it on the ground. Also, he makes high IQ plays. You can see how (Fisher) came from Miami. He’s recruiting Miami recruits, guys who can make plays and score at will. You get five of those guys, it's hard to stop.”
Now that the recruitment is out of the way, Tobiason does have some business to take care of in Delaware after only making all-state honorable mention his junior year.
It might just be a revenge tour this season.
“It’s relieving,” Tobiason said. “Now, I don’t have to worry about the whole college process. I can focus on the season and winning a championship. Now, I am definitely preparing for Temple. It starts now.”