Josh Verlin (@jmverlin) &
Tyler Sandora (@Tyler_Sandora)
Here’s a recap of the Donofrio Classic’s second-round action that took place on Tuesday, April 10:
Team Philly looked like it might be on its way to a rout, as the AAU program which goes by K-Low Elite on the Adidas Gauntlet jumped out to an early 15-point advantage on LVBR. But the arrival of Hill School senior Chase Audige swung the balance in favor of the Lehigh Valley-based squad, which took a four-point lead by halftime and cruised in the second half to a 106-76 win. Audige, bound for William & Mary in a few months, immediately jumped into the game with a 3-point play and then knocked down a triple, followed by another bucket and three foul shots, all in a three-minute span; he finished with 27 points to pace his team, which also got 25 from Ohio State commit Luther Muhammad (Hudson Catholic, N.J.), 18 from New Hampshire commit Nick Guaderrama (Perkiomen School) and 16 from Loyola (Md.) pledge Kenny Jones (Mater Dei, N.J.). Team Philly got 20 points from soon-to-be Quinnipiac guard Tyree Pickron (Archbishop Wood) and 16 from Imhotep junior Dahmir Bishop.
Despite 16 three-pointers from the NJ Road Runners, the Raw Sports All Stars were able to pull away for a 109-94 victory. Jake Forrester dominated the paint for the entire game, and the Westtown senior and Indiana commit finished with 25 points, including some big slams. Mikeal Jones (2020/Girard College) added 21, and the 6-8 sophomore had some strong finishes around the rim. The point guard play of Sam Sessoms (2018/Shipley) was key in pulling out the victory, as the Binghamton commit was slowing down the Road Runners’ attack and finding the open man on offense. Sessoms and Allen Betrand (2018/Roman Catholic) both had 12. The Road Runners were in the game up until about two minutes were left, thanks to the hot shooting of Bergen Catholic junior Doug Edert, who hit seven 3’s en route to 31 points. Aaron Gao (2018/Bridgewater-Raritan) had 19, and Tyrek Battle (2018/Dickinson) scored 16.
Kharon Randolph (above) became the third member of Holy Family's incoming freshman class last month. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Randolph finds new landing spot at Holy Family
The last thing Kharon Randolph wanted in his college recruitment was having to sort through too many suitors, of having to make a decision between several schools that all presented equal options, not knowing if he’d make the right one. So he committed early, to University of the Sciences back on Nov. 8, before most Division II schools were even handing out offers, before things could get crazy.
But what Randolph characterized as a “miscommunication” between himself and the USciences staff led to his decommitment in February -- and suddenly, Randolph found himself in the exact scenario he was hoping to avoid, with quite a few schools calling after the 5-foot-11 senior guard who helped lead the Fords to a 23-6 season, their first Inter-Ac title since 1999 and a runner-up finish in the Pennsylvania Independent School Athletic Association (PAISAA) tournament.
He settled on a final trio of D-IIs East Stroudsburg and Holy Family plus D-III Ursinus, and committed to Holy Family a month after re-opening his recruitment.
Tigers coach R.C. Kehoe hadn’t wasted any time, showing up to the Fords’ practice for the PAISAA semifinals the day after Randolph’s decommitment and coming to their game the next day, then staying on the lead guard for the next month.
“They won four games last year and he’s looking to change the culture, get back to where it was,” Randolph said, hinting at the 2015-16 squad which won 26 games and hosted an NCAA Tournament regional. “And he felt that the recruiting class he has coming in can really change that and bring it back to prominence.”
He’s the third local senior to be committed to play for Kehoe, along with Neumann-Goretti’s Dymir Montague and Conwell-Egan’s Eric Esposito. Randolph is certainly a different player from the 6-3 Montague, a slashing wing, and Esposito, a 6-5 sharpshooter. Along with rising sophomore Mikey Powers, a Father Judge grad, they’ll form the backcourt of the future for the Tigers.
“(Kehoe) definitely said that we can all play with each other, we all bring something different to the table, and we can mesh well as a group,” Randolph said.
Randolph will arrive at the school’s Northeast Philadelphia campus in late August, like most college freshmen. But he’ll be spending the couple months prior at an overnight summer camp up in New Hampshire, working as a basketball counselor with kids of various ages. And while he’ll certainly have some fun on the job, there’s no doubt he’ll be thinking about what’s coming up when he gets home.
“I’ll be getting things done up there,” he said. “Working on my body, working out every day, just preparing for the next level.”
Baylor-Carroll makes college choice
Throughout his senior year, and his recruitment process, Donyae Baylor-Carroll feels that he was overlooked.
Playing for Milton Hershey, Baylor-Carroll led the Spartans to the PIAA 5A District 3 championship this past season, and knocked off some big time opponents in the state tournament. Milton Hershey defeated Bishop Shanahan and Archbishop Carroll in back-to-back games, but lost to Mars Area in the semifinal. In both of the victories, Baylor-Carroll scored over 25 points.
“It was amazing. Our goal was to win states and districts,” he said. “We accomplished one and fell short of the other one, but we really put the school on the map and a lot of people followed us. It was a great journey.
“We went off the fact that people told us we were going to get knocked off early. We used that to motivate and beat everyone in front of us.”
For his college options, Baylor-Carroll also felt that he was overlooked, and wasn’t getting the attention he thought he deserved. Earlier this week, he decided to commit to D-III Penn State-Harrisburg, over D-II’s East Stroudsburg and Shippensburg.
“It was just a big relationship thing,” Baylor-Carroll said. “Coach [Don] Friday, we were really close and he told me that I was his number one guy and that he really wants to put me in his program to take it to the next step.”
Last year, Penn State-Harrisburg went 8-17. They return Philadelphia natives Khalil Williams
and Chris Bing, and Anthony Bennett Jr., all of whom averaged double-figure scoring last year. Only three seniors graduate from last year’s team.
Only standing 5-foot-9, Baylor-Carroll makes up for his size with his quickness and scoring ability. He can shoot it from deep, which makes him much more of a threat, and get blow by defenders to get to the basket. Baylor-Carroll finished his prep career with over 1,000 points, and played a huge role in Milton Hershey advancing to the state semifinals for the first time since 1981.
Since he’s been overlooked for so long, Baylor-Carroll is ready to show people that his game can translate to the college level, starting from day one.
“I feel that a lot of people don’t know me yet, and I want to wake them up like I did senior year,” Baylor-Carroll said. “I want to become a better shooter and [show] how my skills work on the next level, I [think] could have a big impact.”
One of the many senior stars from Hazleton High School is nearing a college decision, as 6-5 wing Jeff Planutis took his first official visit to Mount St. Mary’s last weekend. Planutis said that his commitment can be expected in the “next couple of days,” and though he didn’t say to where that commitment would be, he did say that the Mountaineers are the only program currently recruiting him. Jeff’s older brother, Bobby Planutis, is currently a sophomore at the Mount -- in other words, it would be an absolute shock if he went anywhere else. Planutis can stretch the floor with his ability to shoot it, but can attack the rim and score through traffic as well.