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Prepping for Preps '23-24: Bonner-Prendergast (Boys)

11/27/2023, 5:30pm EST
By Kadin Marshall

Kadin Marshall
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(Ed. Note: This story is part of CoBL’s “Prepping for Preps” series, which will take a look at many of the top high school programs in the region as part of our 2023-24 season preview coverage. The complete list of schools previewed thus far can be found here.)

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Billy Cassidy's earliest memory of Bonner-Prendergast basketball takes him back to elementary school. That's when he was a ball boy for the Friars' basketball program, and his sharpshooting during timeouts would make the crowd go wild. 

“That’s where you fall in love with the game,” Cassidy reflected. 

Those early roots propelled him to a successful hoops career, which took him from Bonner to Friends' Central, and from D-II Chestnut Hill to D-III Neumann, where he graduated from in 2018. Now, in his second year as Bonner’s head coach, he’s responsible for exciting fans with a winning program in the historically competitive Philadelphia Catholic League. 

Last season, the Friars finished 4-9 in league play (4-11 overall), and they haven’t had a winning record since the 2019-20 season when they finished at 14-4 under head coach Kevin Funston

This year, the Friars are without Brady Eagan who started in 20 games and shot 39.3% from 3 point range in the 2022-2023 season, and Nelson Lamizana, who averaged 7.6 ppg and 6.2 rpg before transferring to West Chester Henderson. 


Bonner senior forward Deuce Ketner is a Division I prospect. (Photo: Mark Jordan/CoBL)

However, returning seniors Kevin Rucker, Reggie Selden, and Deuce Ketner understand the rigors of the Philadelphia Catholic League, which explains why Ketner embraces the role of getting his teammates mentally prepared. He tells his teammates “Every game is like overtime. There’s no plays off. If you’re tired you gotta call for one. Everybody has to be energetic ” to convey the sense of urgency needed to be successful during league play. 

Much of Bonner’s success will depend on the leadership of the Friars’ seniors. During the 2022-23 season, the 6-foot-7 Ketner averaged 13 ppg at the forward position while Rucker averaged 14.5 points per game en route to third team All-Catholic League status. The tandem also averaged about 10 rpg collectively, and those numbers should increase due to their off-season growth and development. 

As a result of their promising performance on the court, both players have received multiple Division 1 offers to date. At 6-6 Rucker has received offers from Drexel, Rider, and Hampton; whereas, Ketner earned offers from the likes of Robert Morris, Albany, Mount St. Mary’s, and Drexel as well. 

Kyree Womack, a 6-foot senior guard who played at Chester last season, ran the offense throughout the fall at the point guard position. He can collapse defenses due to his quick first step and finishing ability. As a result, this should open up perimeter shooting and cutting lanes for the Friars this season.

“He’s the point guard that we needed,” Ketner said.

Junior 6-2 guard Devon Nelson, an all-league selection at Upper Merion last season, is another addition to the group. The Friars also add a talented freshman class to the mix.

Freshman guard Korey Francis should have an immediate impact as he has shown the ability to shoot the three with consistency and rebound at the guard position throughout the preseason. 

“Korey Francis is the leader of the program,” Cassidy said.. “He leads by example in every way of life, and it will pay off for him in the end.”


Bonner senior guard Kevin Rucker was a third team All-PCL selection. (Photo: Mark Jordan/CoBL)

Freshman point guard Kam Jackson brings promising talent to the Friars backcourt. In fact, Jackson played particularly well at the City of Basketball Underclassmen Exposure Camp where he displayed a wide array of crafty finishes and complimentary assists. 

Another exciting freshman guard, Kenjai Gatling, doubled as the starting quarterback for the varsity football team this fall. He will join the mix late after guiding the Friars’ football team all the way to the state quarterfinals, where their season ended this past weekend.

A familiar face returning to the Bonner-Prendergast bench is assistant coach Brian Daly, who averaged 22.5 points per game and won a PCL championship as a star for the Friars in 1988. The father of local star Ryan Daly played his collegiate basketball at St. Joe’s from 1989-1992 before he began his coaching career at Boston University and Penn State. 

“He’s one of the biggest names in Big 5 and Philadelphia basketball history, so to get him back is everything,” Cassidy said.

Bonner-Prendergast will tip off the season Dec. 1 with a slate of non league games before league play begins against La Salle College High School on Jan. 2. This year in particular, the PCL boasts some of the top national prospects such as No. 7 ranked senior guard Jahlil Bethea of Archbishop Wood and Georgetown commit Thomas Sorber. 

Cassidy and the Friars have some work to do to return to the upper ranks of the Philadelphia Catholic League.

Similar to Cassidy, Daly brings a championship pedigree and extensive experience as the Friars strive to achieve the heights he once obtained as a player. In fact, Cassidy points to Daly’s picture on the gymnasium wall as a daily reminder for players as they strive to reach the upper ranks of the Philadelphia Catholic League.

“I remind them every day to look at the wall in the gym,” Cassidy said. “He’s been super successful his whole life and coaching career, so whatever he’s saying is most likely the right thing.”


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