Josh Verlin (@jmverlin)
Division III basketball recruiting always takes a little longer to sort itself out. Schools can’t offer athletic scholarships, so before players can commit to play for schools they first have to get accepted. Lately, a number of local high schoolers have committed to several eastern Pennsylvania D-III colleges. Here’s the first of several updates this spring/summer, spotlighting four talented seniors who should all contribute immediately at the next level:
P.J. Kelly, Scranton
High School: St. Joseph’s Prep
Position: Point guard
Why Scranton: “It’s a great school, great academics too, I visited for my overnight in October and I loved it, so that’s what I made my decision based on.”
What he brings: Kelly is a left-handed point guard who knows how to win. Not much of a scorer, Kelly was perfectly happy to defer to his teammates at St. Joe’s Prep and hit the open 3-pointer when needed. A solid 5-11, he plays the game with a high basketball IQ and doesn’t take possessions off.
Steve Vasturia (Notre Dame) and Miles Overton (Wake Forest) deservedly got a lot of attention as Prep went 24-6 this season, but a good share of credit goes to their fellow senior. Kelly gives a lot of credit to Hall of Fame coach William “Speedy” Morris for helping be a more complete player.
“He’s definitely taught me a lot about the game, being more poised. He teaches kids to play his way with your talent and it works like that,” Kelly said.
The Hawks went further into the state playoffs than the school had ever been, making it all the way to the PIAA Class AAAA semifinals before falling to Chester 62-53 in a game that was closer than many expected.
“We had a great season,” Kelly said. “I don’t think anybody regrets anything–we fell short to Chester, but we were pretty satisfied.”
Kelly made his decision between Scranton and walking on at D-1 High Point (N.C.), though he was also looking at D-3s Susquehanna, Catholic U, Moravian and Washington College; he plans on majoring in “something along the lines of exercise science.”
Kyle McCloskey, York
High School: Council Rock North
Why York: “I went to a Hoop Group earlier this year and I was talking to them previous and I got to meet the whole staff was just really nice. I went up for a visit and right when I saw it I was sold on it. Their new gym is real nice and I went around to the classrooms and it looked really nice.”
What he brings: A 6-foot-6 stretch-four, McCloskey can really rebound the basketball and runs the floor very well. A solid shooter as well, he’s capable of stretching defenses and also guarding any of the forward positions.
He wasn’t always 6-6 and 215 pounds, though. At first, McCloskey was a point guard–until after his freshman season.
“I had (a growth spurt) going into sophomore year of high school,” he said. “I grew seven inches in one summer.”
Suddenly he found himself with a good offensive skill set and the size to play inside, and he’s still working on that transition. At York he’ll likely play the four, meaning he’s got to bulk up from around 210 pounds up to between 225-230.
“Definitely trying to put a lot more weight on so I don’t get hurt in college, that’s a big thing,” he said. “Just want to be able to hang physically with the big guys down low if I have to play a big spot, so just more strength and conditioning and being in the best shape I can when I get there.”
Maurice Stevens, Rosemont
High School: Math, Civics & Sciences
Position: Point guard
Why Rosemont: “I just felt that Rosemont was a good fit for me. They’re not heavy on guards, so it’s a really good for me in that spot as a point guard. They’ve been telling me they really want me to play right away.”
What he brings: Stevens was the backup point guard on the 26-3 Mighty Elephants only because Robert Morris-bound Britton Lee transferred in for his senior year. A solid all-around guard, a big reason that MCS had such a successful year was its offense didn’t skip a beat with Stevens on the court; at 5-11 and 165 pounds, Stevens had the size and strength to guard opposing teams’ ball handlers and limited his own mistakes on the offensive end.
Rather than resent his role as a bench player in his final year of high school basketball, Stevens embraced the opportunity to play an important part on a team with city and state title aspirations.
“I felt that coming off the bench was good for me because I always bring intensity to the team and hype the team up,” he said.
He plans to bring that same mindset to the Ravens: “Just a good attitude, and a good mindset of winning. Being a part of the Mighty Elephants, I always expected wins every game. I’m a winner, I just want to win coming into Rosemont College.”
Mike Sturdivant, Immaculata
High School: Masterman
Position: Shooting guard
Why Immaculata: “When I went up for a tour and I was talking to the coach, the way he was speaking, he was selling the school like everything came from the heart and really family-based and that was what I was looking for.”
What he brings: A pure scorer, Sturdivant is the all-time leading point accumulator in Masterman history. At his best going to the rim, he’s a tough 5-10, 165-pound guard who’s working on his shot but shouldn’t have a problem creating opportunities for himself in the CSAC.
He averaged 20.7 ppg in his senior season to break that barrier for the second season in a row, finishing his career with a school-record 1,661 points to shatter the old record by over 350 points
“It’s great, it’s crazy,” he said of his achievement. “I worked so hard and it finally paid off and now when I’m older I could show my son that I’ve made history, it’s a really good feeling.”
He chose Immaculata over Ursinus, Cairn and “most of the other schools in the CSAC,” joining another area player in Roman Catholic shooter Matt Simon. Sturdivant said he’s never played against Simon, but has seen him and knows what he brings to the table as a 3-point shooter with NBA range.
“Having a shooter like him, he spaces the floor so I can really operate,” Sturdivant said. “They have to respect his jump shot so the way I play, the lanes will be wide open because they have to respect him.”
As for his plans this summer: “Getting a consistent jump shot, consistent 3-point jump shot. Slowing the game down and making the right decision every time down the floor.”