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Hoop Group Southern Jam Fest: Recruiting Notebook (Pt. 2)

05/20/2024, 7:30pm EDT
By Josh Verlin

By Josh Verlin (@jmverlin)
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HAMPTON, Va. — The Hoop Group’s Southern Jam Fest was held during a live recruiting period for the first time this past weekend, with Division I coaches able to come watch a collection of HGSL-affiliated programs and some other independent squads hit the courts at the Boo Williams Sportsplex — and a few other area facilities — during the course of the three-day event.

Here’s the second half of a two-part coverage notebook featuring area prospects from the weekend; CLICK HERE for part one:

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Julian Sadler (2024 | PA Coalition 17U Edwards)

Decision time is approaching for one of the top scorers in District 1.


Julian Sadler (above) is weighing some college options or a prep year. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

After finishing out his stellar career at Perkiomen Valley with 1,450 points, good for third in the school’s history, Sadler’s got a growing list of options as he weighs his next step.

Though he averaged 22 points per game as a senior, leading PV to a 20-win season, it wasn’t until recently that Sadler’s college interest became more serious. He picked up his first scholarship offer, from D-II California (Pa.), on May 1; Shippensburg became the second PSAC program to offer when the Raiders did so on Saturday morning. 

Sadler said he’s already visited both schools, with a quality impression of each.

“Both are really nice campuses, good coaching staffs,” he said. “I have enough info on the programs, I just have to decide if I’m going to reclass and do a prep, that’s still an option.”

Sadler said he’s also been hearing from Millersville and Roberts Wesleyan (N.Y.) and other D-IIs, as well as Patriot League programs Army and Holy Cross. If he elects to do a post-graduate year, he said he’s been talking to Phelps, Perkiomen and Putnam Science (Conn.), all quality options.

Whether or not he reclassifies into the 2025 class is still up in the air. 

“It’s just depending on the situation I get myself into when I go to college,” he said. “Am I going to play right away, do schools want me to take a prep year and then take me as a 2025? It just depends on what they want.”

Having proven he can score at a high clip, the 6-foot-1 left-handed guard said he’s trying to show he can be a distributor at the next level, knowing that he won’t be able to just be a pure scorer if he wants to be a Division I guard. That scoring touch was still apparent as he averaged around 17 points on the weekend, according to his PA Coalition coaches, hitting a variety of tough jumpers and knocking down triples during a brief watch on Saturday afternoon.

“Just trying to work on my decision-making,” he said. “I want to be a point guard, I just want to make good decisions all the time and [make] my teammates better. I feel like I’ve shown I can score the ball a lot, so I want to work on my facilitating and my defensive abilities.”

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Khamai Orange (2025 | PA Hoops Academy 17U Platinum)

Despite graduating five seniors from a 14-win season in 2022-23 which saw it finish in the middle of the pack in the Bicentennial Conference, Delco Christian took a nice step forward in 2023-24, finishing in second place in the league Dock Mennonite in the BAL championship game. 


Khamai Orange (above) is hearing from a variety of small-college programs. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

A significant part of that unexpected success was due to the development of Orange. The 6-foot-2 guard became one of the top scorers in the BAL as a junior, averaging just shy of 17 points per game, leading Delco Christian to a 20-win season which ended in the opening round of the PIAA Class 2A state playoffs. 

With five more seniors set to graduate in just a few weeks, Orange knows an important offseason is ahead once again for him and fellow seniors Beau Lyren and Caleb Jameson, two other returning starters for head coach Reggie Parks.

“People thought that last year was going to be a bad year because of a rebuilding year, we lost five seniors; this year we’re graduating five more seniors,” he said. “Especially for me, Beau and Caleb, (we have) to connect more with the upcoming guards and have them varsity-ready.”

Orange showed his scoring abilities this weekend with PA Hoops Academy’s Platinum squad, working hard for 16 points against a physically imposing Red Rush squad from Canada on Saturday, grabbing eight rebounds along with four steals and two assists in a six-point loss. 

He’s one of a number of quality area lead guards on the team, including Constoga’s Ben Robinson and Rustin’s Ben Malley. All three take turns initiating offense and handling the press break, allowing Orange to work on some of his abilities as a scorer, a similar role to what he might see at the next level. 

“It makes it way easier for off-ball [practice],” Orange said. “My school, I usually have the ball in my hands [...] they make it easier for us to drive, shooting and working off screens.”

Orange said he’s hearing from a good variety of small-college programs already this spring, the strong student talking to Swarthmore and the University of Chicago along with a couple Maryland schools in Salisbury and Hood College and more. He said he’s taken a few visits to schools up and down the East Coast, including a few HBCUs, as he starts to weigh what he wants to do next.

“After these four years, even if I can play at the next level or play overseas, it’s all about academics for me,” he said. “Finding a school like Swarthmore or University of Chicago, it’s like Ivy League level academics, it’s really good, so finding a school that fits me academic wise and basketball-wise.”

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Keron Booth (2027 | East Coast Power 16U HGSL)

Call Booth a trend-bucker. 


Keron Booth Jr. (above) was a key reserve as a freshman at Phoenixville. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

In an era where more and more young athletes are leaving public schools for private, Booth did the opposite, and it’s working out quite well. After playing for the Haverford School as an eighth grader and then considering a transfer to Episcopal Academy, he instead went to Phoenixville for his freshman year. 

He ended up becoming one of the Phantoms’ top reserves as they won the Pioneer Athletic Conference championship for the first time since 2007, then advanced to the District 1 5A semifinals and PIAA state tournament. 

“I feel like it was a great move,” he said. “We wanted more, we lost in the districts against Unionville but overall I think we had a very successful season. We (hadn’t made) states since I was born, so we accomplished so many goals, and we’re hungry to win more next year.”

An athletic, 5-7 point guard, Booth makes up for his stature with a great handle and a strong layup package. He showed both of those abilities by scoring 11 points (with six rebounds) in a one-point loss to Team Richmond HGSL in the 16U semifinals on Saturday morning, getting past defenders in pick-and-roll situations and using the glass well to finish at the rim with both hands. 

He credits his love of the game to his dad, Keron Booth Sr., who played at Franklin Learning Center and has had his son in the gym since Keron Jr. was a little boy, the sport sticking on son like it did on father.

“He always showed me how to persevere,” Booth Jr. said, “and he told me whatever you do in life you’ve got to work hard, find something you love, and basketball’s what I love.”

It’s too early for college coaches to be looking at Booth, who’s playing up a year with the East Coast Power 2026 group, and who has three full years before he’ll be getting to a college campus. All the focus right now is on personal improvement and the upcoming 2024-25 season; expectations are still high for Phoenixville with Booth, rising junior Dawson Brown and rising senior Deacon Baratta all back in the fold from last season.

With point forward Max Lebisky (Scranton) and guard Christian Cervino graduating, Booth’s in line to move into the starting lineup and split ball-handling duties with Brown as a sophomore.

“This summer I’m trying to become a way better ball handler, make more decisive passes, closing games,” Booth said. “Whether that’s making the right play, being the coach on the floor, getting stops, making wide-open jump shots, making free throws to close out games, just being the best leader I can and being able to help my team win.”

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Quick Hits
 


Kodi Johnson (above) is trying to show his versatility this summer. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

— Kodi Johnson (2025 | East Coast Power 17U HGSL) is trying to change the perception that he’s just a 3-and-D player. That’s an easy range to fall into when you’re an athletic, 6-6 wing with long arms, but the Phelps School junior wants to show he can do more than stretch the floor and defend as he aims to kick-start a recruitment that coming into the weekend was still waiting on its first bit of collegiate interest. 

That’s part of why he likes playing with East Coast Power’s top squad, which features a number of wings around his height, all of whom get to rotate through the ‘2’ through ‘5’ depending on matchups and situations. He showcased good versatility during a 15-point, nine-rebound effort on Sunday morning, hitting one corner catch-and-shoot trey but otherwise getting into the lane, hitting a couple mid-range pull-ups and getting to the line on multiple occasions.

“I’m more comfortable with the ball in my hands, I think I can showcase my dribbling,” he said. “A lot of times I get labeled as a ‘3 and D’ but I’m actually versatile. I like this team, the fact that I can put the ball on the floor with the height we’ve got.”

Lleyton Fried (2024 | East Coast Power 17U HGSL) is trying to make the choice between college and prep school, as he weighs a couple good options before seeing if anything else presents itself following the live period. The 6-3 guard from Central Dauphin, a second team Mid-Penn Conference selection following his senior year, picked up an offer from D-II Mansfield University earlier this month, but has also been considering a year at the Phelps School in Malvern. 

A combo guard with good size, Freid is a versatile offensive threat who guards the perimeter well, skills which he showed this weekend with East Coast Power, who he joined this spring for the live period. Freid said he’s been to a number of PSAC games, seeing a few Central Dauphin alums who are playing in the league, and knows the quality of play; Mansfield head coach John Szentesy had been recruiting him all season, finally offering him on a visit to the school a couple weeks back. 

“I just gotta talk with my family, see what we’re thinking,” he said. “Phelps School, it is a lot of money, too, a private school like that. There’s a couple more factors in my decision.”

— Rutgers Prep (N.J.) wing Myles Parker (2025 | NJ Panthers 17U HGSL) had a pleasant surprise earlier this month on a visit to Boston University. Though the BU staff, led by head coach Joe Jones, had only seen him once in person, their impression of the high-academic, high-flying, sharpshooting left-hander was positive enough to extend him a scholarship offer.

“Very shocking, we weren’t expecting it,” he said. “It was my very first time, they came and watched me play one time, at a workout at my school, and after that they were like ‘let’s get you up there,’ so I went up and they offered me. Very nice campus, very nice coaches.”

In addition to his one offer, Parker said he’s been hearing from Marist, Lehigh, Princeton, William & Mary, Lafayette and Penn. A lanky wing, Parker’s best asset is his ability to stretch the floor, something he showed plenty of over the weekend. But he also has been working on his explosiveness, he said, which explains the clips of a few transition dunks he threw down over the course of the evening. 

Nasir Williams (2025 | Philly Pride Select) had perhaps the most impressive individual performance of the entire event, going for 41 points on 17/23 shooting against VA Premier Select on Saturday afternoon. He’s hoping that’ll help kick-start a recruitment that’s been fairly quiet thus far for the Sankofa Freedom; Williams said he knows some D-II and D-IIIs had been in touch with his coaches, but he wasn’t aware of any specifics.

A 6-1 combo guard, Williams said as he prepares for his final year of high school basketball he’s working on his vocal skills and leadership, preparing to help a mostly-young Sankofa group stay near the top of the Public League this winter. The Warriors made it to the PIAA 2A state playoffs last year, losing to Dock Mennonite in the second round.

“I feel like me being a senior I need to be more vocal [...] leading a bunch of freshmen coming in and stuff like that,” he said. “I’m someone they’ll look up to, just need to communicate more.”


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