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Elevate Hoops Showdown: Day 1 Notebook (17U)

07/10/2016, 1:00am EDT
By CoBL Staff

High-major target Ejike Obinna (center) took on another massive frontcourt on Global Squad Denmark. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

CoBL Staff (@hooplove215)
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Here’s a notebook from the opening day of the Elevate Hoops Showdown, focusing on the 17U action from Philadelphia University; for 16U coverage, click here:

Ejike Obinna (2017/Uncommon Bulls)
The floors at Philly U didn’t quite shake in a matchup of the Uncommon Bulls and Global Squad Denmark, but they seemed to come close a few times.

Two massive frontcourts went head-to-head, led by one high-major recruit in Obinna (6-10, 240) and one who’s about to become one in Global’s Asbjorn Midtgaard (7-1, 260), who we wrote about earlier this week.

“The kid is tall and big and very strong but it was a good competition because I like playing with guys that are really good so you see where you’re at,” he said.

So what did he learn from this particular matchup? Survive and advance.

“Just keep playing basketball, keep working,” he said. “Whatever’s going on, what matters is the win.”

Obinna’s stock has risen steadily over the last two years, and now the Nigeria native has an offer list of more than 20 schools: locals Temple and Saint Joseph’s are involved, as are Penn State, Rutgers, Florida, Texas A&M, DePaul, Central Florida, LSU and more.

Several of those schools were on him last summer, when he drew notice for the effort he gave every time he stepped on the court. Now that he’s adding some post moves and continuing to develop his overall feel for the game and basketball IQ, the sky’s the limit.

“I think I finish better now, I make better decisions,” he said. “I still play hard and try to play harder, even though I play hard already. I try to play harder every single time I step on the court.”

And it sounds like not one of the schools that has offered has given up in vying for his services next fall.

“Every school that’s in my list of offers, they’re all recruiting hard,” he said. “They all want me to visit and all that stuff. I don’t have any one (favorite) in particular, but I know they’re all interested. Hopefully after this July I’m going to start narrowing down and stuff.

“What matters the most is where people care about you,” he added. “I want where I’m going to be loved and appreciated and get a good education, not only (have) good basketball." -- Josh Verlin

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Justin Jaworski (above) received a number of Division II offers after a stong start to his July at Philly U this week. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

Justin Jaworski (2017/East Coast Power)
Jaworski, a two-sport star at Perkiomen Valley, has had the same vision throughout his high school career.

His summer so far is help pushing it toward a reality.

“Ever since ninth grade, my goal has been to play Division I basketball and do it in the Patriot or Ivy (Leagues),” he said Saturday.

Jaworski is still waiting on his first Division I offer, but in the last two weeks, he’s started hearing from Holy Cross. And with the way he played on Saturday at the Elevate Hoops Showdown, more interest might be close behind.

A 5-11 guard who's also a standout wide receiver for Perk Valley's football team, Jaworski put on a show on Saturday morning, scoring 28 points as his East Coast Power narrowly lost to Team Melo. Jaworski showcased his jump shot in that game, draining five 3-pointers.

In East Coast Power’s second game of the day, Jaworski was more in attack mode, getting out on the break and showing he’ll sacrifice his body to get to the rim. Jaworski was more in assist mode in the second game, making a handful of pretty passes and finishing with seven points in a win over Team Philly.

The Perkiomen Valley player has received a few D-II offers recently, with Kutztown, Millersville and West Chester offering Jaworski a roster spot. Jaworski also collected an offer from USciences on Saturday night. But Jaworski is hoping he can keep playing well and fulfill his ninth grade dream.

“It’s been really cool,” he said of hearing from Holy Cross. “We’ve been talking a few different times a week. So just knowing that could become a reality is awesome. I know I’ve been doing well individually, but I want us to play better as a team. That’s what I want to do and see how the next few weeks go.” -- Stephen Pianovich

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Jesse Turkson (above) has a chance to become a special part of Pub history with a big senior year. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

Jesse Turkson (2017/Hoopdreamz)
With the senior year he’s expected to have at Julia R. Masterman School, Turkson and one of his teammates will join a special group of Philadelphia Public League basketball players.

As a freshman at the city’s premier academic public school, Turkson -- along with classmate Liam Shanahan -- was named to one of the Public League “E” Division all-league teams. Shanahan, who led the team with an 18.4 ppg average, was a second-team selection; Turkson, at 14.3 ppg, made the third team.

Each of the last two years, they’ve both been first-team selections. And there’s no reason to think it won’t happen for a fourth year in a row, putting them up there with some of the most famous players in the city’s history.

There’s no exact list of who’s gotten such honors. On city historian Ted Silary’s site, which goes back to 2001, only two others were even honored as freshmen: Nurideen Lindsey (2006/Overbrook) and Maurice Watson (2009/Boys’ Latin), both of whom went on to play at high-major Division I programs.

“There’s been guys who’ve been All-Pub all four years -- I’m sure Rasheed Wallace did,” Turkson said. “It’s still great company to be in.”

Right now, Turkson said he is talking with D-IIIs like Washington College, Immaculata and Albright, and is focused on whatever school provides him the best education.

For Masterman to have a basketball player with college recruitment is somewhat rare; to have a pair of athletes good enough to play at the next level is even more so at the magnet school.

“We get overlooked a lot for basketball because it’s hard for us to get the athletes, a lot of them go to the Catholic schools or the private schools,” Turkson said. “But academically, we’re ranked probably number one in the state every year, and that’s why I stayed there, I prioritize that over basketball -- because I feel like if you’re good enough, coaches will find you, and I put education first.”

At 6-2, Turkson has the body of a guard but the game of a wing/forward, with the ability to create off the dribble but a preference for hanging around the basket and putting in work there. That’s how he got the majority of his 14 points in a 60-39 loss to the NY Ionians.

“There’s a lot of mismatches for me, people might put a guard on me but I’ll just post them up instead,” he said. “I see what the defense throws at me and I attack it from there.” -- Josh Verlin

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Quick Hits
-- Malik Archer (2017/Basic Ball Philly) got his day off on the right foot, knocking down three second-half 3-pointers to lead Basic Ball to a hard-fought, 41-38 win over Philly Heat in the opening round of the tournament’s secondary bracket. The 6-3 guard, who helped Math, Civics & Sciences on its surprise run to the 2016 PIAA Class A championship game, has seen his recruitment approaching Division II level with a strong spring and summer; D-IIs Millersville and Bloomsburg are interested, as is D-I Nicholls State and D-III Penn State-Lehigh Valley.

--Chris Orlina (2017/Team Melo) had a great game in an opening-round win over East Coast Power, dropping 25 points to help his team to a close 59-57 win. The 6-6 forward, who just finished up his junior year at Woodside after transferring there from Capitol Christian (Md.), is looking at going to prep school this far; he said he’s considering Massanutten Military (Va.) and Hargrave Military (Va.), among others. Hampton and Old Dominion are both after the athletic wing, who showed off a high motor and got a lot of his production within 10 feet of the hoop, knocking down a few mid-range jumpers and cleaning up after his teammates as well.

--Bourama Sidibe (2017/St. Benedict’s) continues to see offers role in as the 6-10 forward is having quite the summer. Sidibe cleaned up the glass and a good portion of his 11 points in WeR1’s win over New York Dragons came from putbacks. In the past few weeks, Sidibe said he’s received offers from Texas, Maryland and Seton Hall, and he also has offers from Syracuse, Memphis and more. If Sidibe can keep utilizing his size and make his presence felt defensively, he’ll see his college options grow even more.

--Nazreon Reid (2018/Roselle Catholic), one of the most coveted recruits at the weekend’s camp, had a scary moment during an afternoon game when he appeared to land awkwardly and hurt his knee. The severity of the injury was not immediately known, but Reid needed help leaving the court. Reid, a 6-9 forward who was playing with Sports U, was ranked fourth in the 2018 ESPN 60.


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