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Donofrio Classic Report: Mon., March 25, 2024

03/26/2024, 12:00am EDT
By Josh Verlin + Kevin Gamlin

Josh Verlin (@jmverlin) +
Kevin Gamlin (@gamlinkev)

The 2024 Donofrio Classic got underway Monday night, with the first of five first-round nights to take place over this week and into next, with 25 games ultimately determining the champions come April 16 at the Fellowship House in Conshohocken.

CoBL will be there for coverage every night as we get our recruiting coverage started this offseason; CLICK HERE to access our 2024 Donofrio hub. Read ahead for game recaps and a notebook featuring several of the players who took the court Monday night:


Game One: Basketball Finders 71, K-Low Elite 65
A big early stretch was the difference-maker for Basketball Finders, as Sam Rines’ Rocktop Academy-heavy squad used a 36-12 start to create enough cushion to hold on against a talented K-Low Elite squad. Leading the way for Basketball Finders was Rocktop post-grad Jackson Gaffney, whose 20-point outing paced three in double figures; he was joined by fellow Rocktop ‘24 Terrence Cobb (four 3-pointers, 13 points) and junior big man Tammar Brown, who had several big dunks as part of a 12-point outing. K-Low Elite, which got as close as 58-55 with under six minutes to play before an 8-0 run by Basketball Finders put the game away, got 21 points (four 3’s) from Archbishop Ryan senior Darren William (FGCU), but he was the only one in double figures on a night where K-Low Elite’s sharpshooters just couldn’t hit shots. 

Game Two: NEPA Elite 94, K-Low Elite CTC 87
NEPA Elite came down with a deep group and put it to good use, getting a few big-time outings to power it to a high-scoring win over a second K-Low Elite group that came to play. Delaware commit Macon Emory (2024 | Perkiomen School) led the way with 28 points, getting 17 of those in the first half; Mahanoy Area junior Jace Yedsena picked him up with a huge second half, 15 of his 17 coming as NEPA came from behind to take the lead with a big second-half spurt; Mikey Cumbo (2024 | Dallas Area) added 12 and Quadri Bashiru (2025 | Hill School) 10 for the group from the northeast part of the state. K-Low CTC got 22 points (six 3’s) from Roman Catholic senior Travis Reed, 19 points from Cristo Rey senior Amari Dow, 16 from Cristo Rey junior Devin Booker and 13 from Roman senior Kabe Goss.


Rocktop Academy post-grad Gaffney playing the waiting game

Jackson Gaffney is still trying to find a home for his next basketball season and his academic future. 

The 6-8 wing just finished a prep year at Rocktop Academy after attending Radnor as a senior and St. Joe's Prep the years before that. Gaffney thinks the post-grad year did him good and prepared him for his future, especially on the basketball court.

Jackson Gaffney (above) is hoping for a spot once the transfer portal shakes out. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

“It was different, it was a year I needed to take and I think it helped me a lot,” Gaffney said. “They made me into a guard a little bit, and it kind of helped me transition because I always had the skills, they let me play point guard sometimes and I think that will help me to flourish at the next level.”

Gaffney is continuing to prove college coaches his worth, putting up 20 points in Monday’s Donofrio Classic opener for Basketball Finders in the win over K-Low Elite. He knocked down a couple 3-pointers but otherwise got his production attacking the rim, using his length to finish over and around defenders.

With Gaffney’s high school years concluding his eyes are now set elsewhere: a chance to play college basketball for anyone willing to send him an offer. Gaffney mentioned some schools are reaching out and expressing interest, but he wasn’t naming any particular schools. Ultimately, he hopes a decision is made sooner rather than later. 

“Right now I’m talking to some schools, the transfer portal is crazy so I’ll have to see where coaches and players end up, hopefully within the next month I’ll figure it out,” Gaffney said of his decision. “A lot of mid-major schools are very interested, no offers at the moment but lots of conversation and lots of phone calls.”

During what can be a stressful, yet exciting time, Gaffney looks for clarity and hopes to stay patient, knowing that everything will sort itself out. 

“The journey has been tough, but the harder the path, the better the person will come out on the other side,” Gaffney said. “I’m on five phone calls a day so I think something within the next week will definitely be coming in.” 

Whether it be 10 miles down the road or halfway across the country, Gaffney doesn’t care how far it is. Ultimately, he is focused on a positive environment, and a team that treats each other like family. 

“I’m open to everything, I just wanna find a good situation that feels like home, doesn’t matter where or how far, I wanna go somewhere and stay there for 4 years,” Gaffney said of his college selection. “I want to enjoy the culture, the coaches, the players, the school, and the academics.” — Kevin Gamlin


Shinholster ready for recruiting stretch run

Kai Shinholster has a big spring and summer ahead of him after winning the Inter-Academic League championship this past season. 

The 6-5 guard from Penn Charter had a successful junior season to say the least. Shinholster was one of the top players on a team with mostly juniors in the rotation, receiving 2nd team all Inter-Ac honors to back that up.

Kai Shinholster (above) has half of the Big 5 recruiting him hard. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

“I’ve just been relaxing and recovering, I really hurt my ankle the first game of the season, so I’ve been getting doctor’s appointments, trying to see what was up with that,” he said. “I took a break from basketball for a little bit to make sure my body was good, but now I’m back.”

Shinholster was back in action on Monday during day one of the Donofrio Classic but he and his team didn’t have the best shooting night; Shinholster contributed eight points in the K-Low loss. 

With a chance to solidify his recruitment, Shinholster is ready for whatever AAU will bring. He has one last summer with K-Low Elite, a team he’s been playing with for the last five summers.  

“I’m very excited for AAU [...] it just feels like family,” Shinholster said. “Even if basketball doesn’t go the way I want it to go, I’m still excited to spend the summer with my guys.”

Shinholster holds offers from the likes of Saint Louis, Temple, Mississippi State, St. Joe’s, Penn, and many others. He is hearing mostly from St. Joe’s, Temple, and Penn and he attended one game for all these teams during this season. 

Shinholster also noted that Virginia Tech and Creighton are now circling into the picture. He hasn’t received offers from them yet, however, he’s started to talk to both coaches. 

“The mindset this year is just to make the most of it, I’m happy with the group of schools I have, but definitely I want to take advantage of this opportunity this summer, this spring, just to see what I can get,” Shinhsolster said of his recruitment process. “I feel like just enjoying it (AAU), it’s my last summer playing AAU basketball ever, so just enjoy it.”

With all that being said, Shinholster thinks he needs to do more in order to get ready for the next level of play. He’s made it known that he wants to get in the gym and eat healthy, trying to put on 15-20 pounds of muscle going into his senior year. 

With the spring being right around the corner, Shinholster is aiming to set up some visits with schools and get ready to make his decision. 

“I want to get on a lot of campuses  this spring and summer, and I want to make my decision around late summer or early fall,” Shinholster said of his commitment. “I want to continue to work on my body, I feel like that can take me from the player I am now to the next level.”


Roman hero Kabe Goss enjoyed moment in the spotlight

Kabe Goss got back to his car after the Catholic League championship game and began to realize the enormity of the shot he’d just hit. It was when he picked up his phone and had more than two thousand notifications that it began to sink in — he was the man of the hour, not just in the city of Philadelphia, but quite a ways beyond it.

Kabe Goss (above) enjoyed his 15 minutes of fame in February. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

It took him more than an hour of scrolling to go through it all, more texts and posts pouring in the whole time. 

“Unreal. I couldn’t believe it,” he said. “You grow up thinking about stuff like that, seeing your name everywhere, everybody talking about it. It was a dream, for real, I’m just waking up from it.”

The Roman Catholic senior guard’s game-winner over Archbishop Ryan in the PCL title almost immediately went viral, appearing on SportsCenter that evening, some videos of his foul line pull-up racking up more than a million views while others merely pulled in hundreds of thousands. 

“I had three people call me at 12 o’clock at night, and then called me early in the morning, like ‘yo, you’re on SportsCenter. I didn’t believe it, I was like ‘you’ve got to record it and show it to me.’ It was a dream, you don’t believe stuff like that until you see it with your own eyes.”

The shot was the last one of Goss’ high school career. A transfer from Trenton High (N.J.), Goss was ineligible for the PIAA state tournament; he had to watch from the sidelines as the Cahillites got bounced by Parkland in the 6A quarterfinals. 

But he’s not done playing grassroots hoops. Goss said he’ll be suiting up for the Jersey Force MHC 17U squad this spring, playing in April and May tournaments to continue to get his name out to college coaches. 

Right now, he said he’s been hearing from D-IIIs Montclair State (N.J.) and Gwynedd Mercy, along with some Division II programs in Bloomfield (N.J.), Georgian Court (N.J.) and Holy Family. 

“It feels amazing, knowing you can go to school for hopefully free, just knowing people want you, it feels good to be wanted,” he said. “I’m not really looking for a level. It’s just the best fit.”

The 5-foot-5 senior is a tough, physical point guard who said he’s trying to show that his size doesn’t matter, that he can compete on the biggest stages and hang with anybody. It’s not about showing off his skills, but the intangibles the brings to the court.

“Hopefully they can see that I’m a winner,” he said.

If they haven’t by now, that’s on them. — Josh Verlin


Quick Hit
— After spending the 2022-23 season on Rocktop Academy’s secondary squad, Tammar Brown bumped up to the main group this year, and now the Jamaican big man is ready for his EYBL debut. The 6-foot-11, 200-pound class of 2025 big man is playing with Team Final this summer, where he’s hoping to prove he’s worthy of Division I scholarships after garnering some interest thus far. 

Formerly a high jumper earlier in his youth, he got into basketball earlier in his high school years, spending one year at a school in Colorado before coming to Rocktop two years back. He’s still raw, but showed the ability to catch and finish lobs on Monday night, and he’s got a strong, athletic frame with good mobility and fluidity. 

“I need to work on my offensive game, getting into the post and scoring, not trying to pass out,” he said. “I just need to work on my offensive game right now.” — Josh Verlin

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