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Team Final Scrimmages: Recruiting Notebook

04/06/2015, 11:15am EDT
By Josh Verlin, Tom Reifsnyder & Ari Rosenfeld

CoBL Staff (@hooplove215)

Here’s a recruiting notebook from the action at the courts at Life Center Academy:

Dylan Painter (2016/Hershey HS/Team Final)
The 6-foot-10 forward out of central Pennsylvania ended his junior season at 215 pounds, and was determined to get to 225 by the time AAU season started. But he surpassed that, putting on 15 pounds in just a few short weeks, which should certainly help in his first go-around on Nike’s high-level EYBL circuit.

Already, his move to his new AAU program has paid off, with Penn State becoming the first power conference school to offer him a scholarship when head coach Pat Chambers extended one last week over the phone. He becomes the fourth member of that team with a PSU offer, joining the Roman Catholic trio of Tony Carr, Nazeer Bostick and Lamar Stevens.

“[Chambers] said about me playing with this team that it was a good thing for me, like I deserved to be with them,” Painter said. “It felt really good, it made me proud of myself.”

Painter said he plans on visiting Penn State for the Blue/White football scrimmage on April 18.

Penn State wasn’t the only school to extend an offer this week, with new George Mason head coach Dave Paulsen doing the same on April 2. Paulsen got to know Painter while he was head coach at Bucknell, though they weren’t one of the eight other schools that had previously offered.

“He said they really wanted me at Bucknell, but they knew I was going to get some higher-level offers,” he said. “Now that he got the job at George Mason, they want me to come there, they said I was one of their top guys that they liked at Bucknell, but now that they’re at George Mason, they think it’s a better level for me.”

Holy Cross, Boston University, La Salle, Lafayette, George Washington, American, Lehigh and Marist are the other schools that have offered Painter, who projects as a stretch-four at the higher levels but could play right away as a back-to-the-basket big man if he stays in the Patriot League.

When he was offered by La Salle and GW last year, he was vocal about his interest in the Atlantic 10, but he’s certainly intrigued by the leagues of the majority of the schools that are recruiting him.

“We’ll just see where it goes right now,” he said. “The Atlantic 10 definitely, I still like the Patriot League and if more of these Big 10 schools [offer], that’s a pretty good league for big men.” --Josh Verlin

Cameron Reddish (2018/TBD/Team Final)
The Haverford School hasn’t traditionally been known as a local basketball powerhouse, but in the last several years, a number of Division I prospects have come through the Main Line campus and helped develop the Fords into a force to be reckoned with.

That recent run of success may be coming to an end, however, as the Fords’ freshman phenom will become the latest top prospect to leave the school.

WIth Temple-bound guard Levan Alston wrapping up his four-year Haverford career this season and head coach Henry Fairfax recently announcing that he would be stepping down from that position, high-major 2016 forward Lamar Stevens decided to transfer to Roman Catholic for the start of next school year.

That decision left Reddish as the lone returning impact player on the Haverford roster, and he will instead take his talents elsewhere for the remainder of his prep career.

“I was a little bummed,” Reddish said of his thoughts after Fairfax’s resignation. “I was like, ‘Wow, I can’t believe this is happening.’ Now Lamar is leaving, so I’m looking at other schools. I have a couple schools in mind. I’m not sure where I’m going yet, but I’m looking.”

Reddish has already visited both Westtown and Friends Central, and plans to make a decision between those two independent schools. Both offer a strong combination of academics and basketball, and are about a half-hour away from his home in Norristown, about the same distance as Haverford is now.

“I know they give a good education. I’m looking for a school where I can get a good education and good basketball,” Reddish said. “I know Westtown, their basketball team is really good, as well as Friends Central, and they both give out good educations.”

At Westtown, Reddish would team up with a number of high-major prospects, namely 2016 guard Jair Bolden and 2017 center Mohammed Bamba, as well as 2017 wing Najja Hunter. Friends Central as its own crop of Division I recruits, as 2016 forward DeAndre Hunter holds a number of power conference offers and 2016 guard Chuck Champion projects as a mid-major player.

For now, Reddish is focusing on the start of the AAU season, during which he will be a primary scorer for Team Final’s 16U team. He will also be travelling back to Colorado Springs on May 28 for a second round of tryouts for USA Basketball after having attended the program’s junior mini-camp in October. --Ari Rosenfeld

Tommy Funk (2016/Archbishop Wood/Jersey Shore Warriors)
The 6-foot, 165-pound guard has started at point guard ever since joining Archbishop Wood’s varsity squad for the first time his sophomore year, during which he made an immediate impact for the Vikings.

But Funk’s recruitment, on the other hand, hasn’t been as swift as he would like.

Heading into his last round of AAU ball with the Jersey Shore Warriors before his senior year, the heady playmaker has yet to receive a Division-I offer.

While Funk would be a great pickup for most D-II or D-III schools, he’s hoping he can garner some higher-level interest this summer on the AAU circuit.

“I’m kind of just looking into the Ivy and Patriot, nothing really specific yet,” Funk said. “Hoping to see where it takes me.

“I’ve heard from some local D-II, D-III schools and I’m just hoping to see this summer where it takes me.”

Funk mentions Brown and Yale as the D-I schools that he has been talking to the most.

But to upgrade from interest to offers, Funk knows that he has a lot of work to do this summer.

“Definitely trying to work on my jump shot,” he said. “Just be a consistent jump shooter and be able to make shots. And then my defense, I need to get quicker because…you saw today…there’s kids that are quick out there.

“I need to get quicker, I need to get stronger, and I need to make jump shots.”

While Funk’s combination of sound decision-making skills and ball control makes him an ideal candidate for D-II’s and D-III’s, his size remains a key factor in the reasoning for his lack of D-I offers.

However, if Funk hits the weights this summer and shows coaches that he can knock down an open three-pointer with consistency, an Ivy or Patriot League offer would not be out of the question. --Tom Reifsnyder

Zane Martin (2016/Neumann-Goretti/Team Final Black)
This was supposed to be a rebuilding year for Catholic League power Neumann-Goretti, with the Saints losing four starters from a team that won the school’s sixth consecutive PCL title and a Class AAA state championship.

Instead, the Saints made it all the way back to the league championship game and captured yet another state crown, their fourth in the last five years, and the emergence of Martin was a primary reason why.

The 6-foot-3, 190 pound wrecking ball went from seeing rare playing time as a sophomore to averaging 16.5 points per game, good for second on the team and sixth in the Catholic League. While his play has yet to earn him any Division I offers, he has had a number of schools expressing interest recently.

“It’s a lot,” he said, before listing Campbell, Towson, George Washington, Fairfield, and Stony Brook as just some of the schools that have reached out.

Martin said he would like to start taking some visits this month, and Towson sticks out as a place that he would particularly like to go.

“I talked to my old teammate [and current Towson sophomore] Johnny Davis,” Martin said. “He just was telling me how much he likes it, how much the coach is with the team. I think that’s a school I’d like to visit more than anything.”

Neumann-Goretti’s four guard offense provides plenty of space for Martin to operate, especially with defenses keying on Saint Joseph’s commit Lamarr Kimble and high-major sophomore guard Quade Green. Playing for Team Final Black, however, Martin must prove that he can score while being the focal point of an offense, yet do so under control, which the occasionally reckless guard struggles with at times.

He looked comfortable doing so on Saturday, getting to the rim like he is seemingly always able to do, but also showing off a mid-range pull up jumper and a bit of a back-to-the-basket game as well.

“I’m relaxed. I’m not forcing it. Letting the game come to me, letting my teammates play,” Martin said. “I just come out and play my best, and always go hard. Every game, no matter if I did have an offer or didn’t have an offer, I’m gonna go hard regardless.

“I plan to have a bunch of offers by the end of the AAU season.” --Ari Rosenfeld

Jonas Stakeliunas (2016/Hill School/Jersey Shore Warriors)
After spending last season at Gill St. Bernard’s in Gladstone, N.J., this 6-foot-9 Lithuanian native will attend Hill School next season and reclassify to the 2016 class.

Stakeliunas at one point held offers from Holy Cross, Siena, Marist, and Fairleigh Dickinson, but interest waned after a disappointing senior season. He averaged less than five points and four rebounds per game for a Knights team that struggled to overcome injuries to a number of key players, including five-star 2016 recruit Tyus Battle.

At Hill and with the Jersey Shore Warriors, Stakeliunas will look to get back to his level of play from last summer that earned him all four of his offers over a three month span.

“I obviously want to get better as a player and maybe get some more options for college,” he said. “I just want to play basketball and see what happens.

Stakeliunas, who is still in just his second year in the United States, did not know much about Hill School before head coach Seth Eilberg reached out to him about the possibility of taking a postgraduate year there. He was sold immediately, and never even looked at other options before choosing Hill’s Pottstown campus as his destination for next year.

“Coach Eilberg contacted me and he really wanted me to come and I couldn’t let that opportunity go,” Stakeliunas said. “It’s a great school, great coach, and I think I’ll fit in the system. I know Coach Eilberg will take care of me.”

Aside from changing schools, Stakeliunas is also transitioning to a new AAU program. After playing last summer with Hoop Heaven, his relationship with Jersey Shore Warriors coach Tony Sagona helped him earn a spot on the roster.

While the Warriors suffered a setback against the Albany City Rocks on Saturday, they have the makings of a strong group, with a number of players looking to solidify themselves as Division I prospects, just like Stakeliunas.

“Coach Sagona’s a great guy, he helped me a lot last season. I really wanted to play for his program so I talked with him,” Stakeliunas said. “This was a rough game but I think we still need to bond a little bit, we still need to play together more.” --Ari Rosenfeld

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