Ari Rosenfeld (@realA_rosenfeld)
The Elevate Hoops Summer Icebreaker wrapped up at Philadelphia University, with teams competing for championships at the 15U-17U levels. Several college coaches stuck around for the third and final day, including Big 5 assistants from Saint Joseph’s and Drexel.
The championship game results were as follows:
17U- Virginia Elite 67, WeR1 63
16U- WeR1 47, Team Melo 34
15U- Team Final 57, Baltimore Supreme 55 (2OT)
Here’s a notebook featuring two local prospects, as well as a DMV product with a connection to a certain Big 5 guard:
Maurice “Moe” Williams (2016/WeR1/Life Center Academy, N.J.)
Throughout the entirety of the Summer Icebreaker, spectators at other courts could be sure to hear several roars from the crowd wherever WeR1 was playing. While the Delaware-based program certainly had its fair share of entertaining players, almost all such roars could be attributed to highlight plays on behalf of Moe Williams.
Whether it was alley-oop slams or Lebron James-esque chasedown blocks, the 6-foot-6 highflyer kept fans and coaches alike entertained, showcasing his elite athleticism from the wing.
While his perimeter game is still developing, it’s those physical abilities that have helped Williams receive offers from George Mason, Drexel, and James Madison as he begins his final live periods on the AAU circuit.
He’s held all three of those offers since his high school season at Life Center, and said he likes all three programs. However, he’s going to wait out the live periods to see if any one of the number of higher level programs that have expressed interest (he named Miami, West Virginia, Xavier, Temple, Saint Joseph’s, and Georgetown) decide to extend offers before he begins to hone in on the options he already has.
“I visited James Madison and George Mason. The coaches talk to me like twice, three times a week,” he said. “I liked them a lot, but of course my options are wide open. I’m definitely gonna see how this July plays out and see if the schools that’s interested in me actually offer.”
Williams certainly looked the part of a high-major player throughout the week. He already has the frame to play at that level, and there wasn’t a single defender at Philly U that could stop him from getting to the rim when he was determined to do so.
As much potential as he has on offense, Williams is even more effective right now on the other end. With his blend of size, strength, and athleticism, he can defend anyone from point guards to power forwards, and can also be an intimidating force swatting shots away as a help defender.
With WeR1’s entire starting five in Charlotte for the week at the Under Armour All American Camp, it was up to Williams to set the tone for his team with his energy and highlight plays. He’ll look to bring the same spark to the Under Armour Association Finals next week, even without the same playing time.
“It’s just all confidence in my game,” he said of his attitude at the Icebreaker. “When I’m confident, I feel like nobody can stop me, so being confident in my game and being consistent on the court keeps you on the court and coaches see you that’s what I’m trying to do.”
If all goes well for Williams in the next few weeks, he’d prefer to commit before the early signing period in November. While he’s hoping for a high-major offer to come in, he thinks he’ll ultimately end up at whichever school truly wants him the most.
“Most important is somebody who loves me. Whoever loves me the most, I feel like that’s the school I’d be great at,” he said when asked of what he’s looking for in a college. “Also, a family environment, a great education, and a team that plays uptempo. I can play halfcourt, but uptempo is really where I can showcase myself.”
Maliq Sanders (2016/South Jersey All Stars/Eastern Regional, N.J.)
In a tournament featuring several teams that had multiple players with Division I offers, it was a bit of a surprise to see the South Jersey All Stars, which had no such players, up double digits on a talented Virginia Elite squad in the 17U semifinals.
Maliq Sanders was one of the main reasons the team was able to get that far, as his shotmaking ability and scoring instincts gave them a true go-to guy in close win against Team Philly, and against Virginia Elite, which ultimately came back to win.
Like all of his teammates, Sanders is currently devoid of a Division I offer. He mentioned Columbia as a school that had expressed interest, and he’s also been in touch with a bevy of Division II and III schools, including Stonehill, York College, Connecticut College, and Albright.
Sanders has started and scored in double figures for strong Eastern teams during each of the last two seasons, and at almost 6-foot-6, he certainly has the size to be a Division I wing. Right now, he’s hoping for more team success with his relatively unheralded squad, which could ultimately translate to a D-I offer.
“I’ve just got to play together with my team,” he said. “When we play together we win games, and I think the farther we go, the more exposure we can get. So I think if I play well and help my team play well, we’ll get further and that will help with exposure.”
Obviously, Sanders has his fingers crossed for an opportunity to play at the highest level of college basketball. If that dream doesn’t come to fruition, though, he’ll pursue Division II or III options with the same relentlessness that he brings to the court now.
“I don’t want to settle for that,” he said. “I want go to a D-I school, but if it comes down to it, I’ve just got to play hard at any level and show that I deserve to be at the highest level possible.
Joining Sanders on the South Jersey All Stars are fellow Garden State standouts like Austin Kearney (Gloucester Christian), Acosta Kittles (Glassboro), and Timmy Perry (Cherry Hill East). All four have the tools to play at the Division I level, and went a long way this week towards proving that those tools translate against a higher quality of competition than they face on a game-by-game basis during the season.
While South Jersey is known for its spirited, entertaining basketball, it’s not traditionally a hotbed for Division I recruits. Sanders and his teammates, however, are looking to change that as they attempt to make more waves on the AAU circuit throughout the rest of the month.
“We’re not really worried about where we’re from, we just want to play our game,” he said. “I just want to represent South Jersey for the most part. It’s not about where you’re from, it’s about what you bring to the table.”
Darryl Morsell (2017/Team Melo/Mount Saint Joseph, Md.)
The low scoring 16U championship game saw plenty of missed shots from both teams, but it was one in particular that allowed Darryl Morsell to catch the eyes of everyone in attendance.
Early in the first half, one of his Team Melo teammates put up a short jumper that caromed off the backboard before hitting the front of the rim. In came Morsell, soaring from the middle of the lane and elevating above the rim for a putback dunk attempt in traffic.
While he wasn’t able to complete the dunk, the energy and athleticism that Morsell displayed on the attempt is exactly what has had his phone buzzing with college coaches reaching out over the last month.
Right now, the young wing holds offers from in-state schools Towson and University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), as well as Cal State Northridge and UNC Greensboro.
“Since the coaches have been able to talk to us after June 15, I’ve been in touch with them a lot and also a lot of other D-I schools,” he said.
Those other Division I schools that he referenced include high-major programs like Maryland, Miami, and Virginia, along with traditionally strong mid-majors such as George Mason, James Madison, Richmond, and UMass.
For the rest of the live periods, coaches will be watching to see how well Morsell adjusts to playing as a guard before they potentially offer him. He said that he’s traditionally played as a forward, and his husky frame makes it easy to see why, but at 6-foot-4, he’s probably best suited to play shooting guard at the next level.
“This year I’ve transitioned to the guard position so [coaches] want to see how well I transition to the guard position,” he said. “They want to see me shoot the ball better, extend my range. That's basically it. They want to see me develop my game.”
Morsell feels the transition is going well so far. While his jumper still looked a bit shaky, his ballhandling seemed strong, and he even brought the ball up the floor for Team Melo a number of times.
“I like it,” he said of playing in the backcourt. “I like to get my teammates involved, I’m a team player. I like playing point guard, shooting guard, and getting my other teammates involved. It’s a learning process. I’m working everyday to get better at it.”
While Morsell is not a local product, he does have a connection to a current Big 5 standout; as an attendee of Villanova guard Phil Booth’s alma mater, Mount Saint Joseph, he was a freshman at the school when Booth was a senior. After seeing the success that his former teammate had in the recruiting process and now at the next level, Morsell looks to Booth as a role model.
“I knew he was a pretty talented kid but I walked in and I saw how hard he worked, his leadership,” Morsell said of Booth. “Most guys that’s like high-major, big time guys, they’re arrogant, but he took me under his wing and taught me how to become a better player over time.”
If Morsell keeps progressing, Booth should expect to have another Mount Saint Joseph alumnus joining him in the high-major ranks in a couple years.