Philly Pride and Big Shots hosted an AAU tournament at Germantown Academy this weekend, which saw K-Low Elite, Phenom-Hoopdreamz, Team Final’s 16s and 15s plus a talented Team Speed squad from Jersey as well as several other local teams in the mix.
Here’s a notebook from the day’s action:
Ray Somerville (above) saw his offer list grow to more than a dozen Division I programs after April. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Shipley big Somerville has busy April
Ray Somerville calls his decision to go from his public school at Penncrest over to the Shipley School and repeat his sophomore year two summers ago the best one of his life, and it’s not difficult to figure out why -- from a recruiting standpoint, the additional year has paid dividends.
The 6-foot-9, 230-pound center has taken advantage of the extra time, going from a very raw young forward to a prospect coveted by double-digit Division I programs, after he had one of the busiest Aprils of any 2019 prospect around.
Somerville entered the two live recruiting weekends last month with six offers and left it with seven more: Rhode Island, Towson, CCSU, Bowling Green, Rider, Canisius and Toledo all jumped on board after seeing him play with Philly Pride on the Under Armour Association.
“No, I didn’t expect April to be like it was for me,” he said. “Just coming out here with the idea of playing my best basketball and seeing who likes me, and it was just great.”
The offer from new Rhode Island head coach David Cox was Somerville’s second in the Atlantic 10, joining La Salle; Mount St. Marys, NJIT, Stony Brook, Hartford and High Point were his other five prior to this fall.
The Explorers’ offer originally came from former coach John Giannini, but Somerville said that new boss Ashley Howard had reached back out and reaffirmed the offer. That’s a telling sign for a prospect who, despite his imposing size that would have made him one of the few true centers in the Central League, couldn’t make the varsity roster at Penncrest as a sophomore.
“It’s just showing me that I can become what I want to become, and I can play high-level basketball,” he said. “I still have another live period in July and I want to be sure in June I’m doing as much as I can to get ready.”
With most of the schools involved in his recruitment located in the Northeast, and all of them working to get him on campus Somerville said he and his father will sit down soon and plan out visits in June, though he didn’t yet have any dates planned.
So far, he’s only been to see High Point and several of the local schools, but the process gets more intense as the summer goes on.
“I’ve been telling all the coaches...once I see a school and once I find a school that feels like home, and I visit there a couple more times, I can make that decision,” he said. “It doesn’t really matter, whether I’m local or not. I’ve been trying to be independent and no matter where I’ll go, I’ll always have family within a couple hours.” -- Josh Verlin
Jordan Longino (above) picked up his first Division I offer, from Rhode Island, earlier this month. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
GA’s Longino picks up first scholarship offer
One of the area’s top young prospects is in the midst of his coming-out party.
Last summer, Jordan Longino was playing on the Philly Triple Threat 14U squad, just a few months away from the start of his freshman year at Germantown Academy. And though he impressed during his rookie season on the varsity level, averaging 18.7 ppg to lead the Patriots, he did so on a team that went 2-8 in the Inter-Ac and 9-17 overall.
But this AAU season, Longino has made a big jump up in exposure, starting for Philly Pride’s 16U squad, where he’s the team’s leading scorer (13.4 ppg) while grabbing 3.3 rpg as well. And that was enough to catch the eye of several Division I programs -- including Rhode Island, which became the first school to offer last month.
Longino got the news through his mother, who was told by Philly Pride director Kamal Yard; college coaches can’t directly contact prospects until June 15 after their sophomore seasons, still a ways off for Longino.
“[My mom] was like ‘you know, Rhode Island’ offered, and I was like ‘no, they can’t talk to me,’” Longino said. “I thought she was joking, and my dad was like no, they’re serious. I was like, ‘wow, dream come true.’”
“[It] means a lot,” he added. “I’ve still got some work to do but just means I’m going in the right direction. Just keep working on my game, hopefully I get some more offers.”
He showed plenty on Saturday, scoring 16 points in a 66-35 win over G2G Elite, knocking down four 3-pointers along the way.
Already 6-foot-5 and up to 180 pounds, the younger brother of former GA standout Evan-Eric Longino -- now a rising sophomore at West Chester -- has also received early interest from Marquette and La Salle. The left-hander with a smooth outside shot and already strong attacking skills is sure to hear from plenty more as the months and years roll on, especially if he continues to round out his floor game.
“Just working on my athleticism, my defense, just my overall game,” he said. “Trying to become more of a point guard than just a shooter.” -- Josh Verlin
Eustace’s Morini chasing first Division I offer
At Saturday’s event, some players may have traveled over an hour from their hometowns to compete, but Mattia Mornini has a case to be amongst of the most travelled there.
The junior came from Italy to play for Bishop Eustace this past winter. Following the school season, he joined Team Speed for this summer as the big man prepares to spend his senior year in the United States.
This all is a part of a six-year plan where Morini plans on playing American basketball, getting as he put it “the English, the degree, the diploma” before he heads back to Italy to play professional basketball. Currently, Morini named close to a dozen Division I schools who have shown interest, though he’s still waiting on his first Division I offer.
However, the plan did take some time to grow on him.
“It was hard,” Morini said. “I was scared for like one month and then my Italian coach talked to me and I then I decided to come here.”
Morini credits both his teammates at Bishop Eustace and on Team Speed for helping him get settled in off the court. On the court, the forward has had to adjust to a whole different brand of basketball and a new way of speaking about the game.
In spite of English being taught to him since first grade, Morini’s basketball knowledge has always been in Italian. After a few communication lapses early on, he believes he has grasped the concepts and begun to develop his game to be more than just a shooter.
“Last year when I was in Italy, I was mostly a shooter,” Morini said. ”But now when I have the ball, I don’t have it in my mind just to shoot, but I can drive, make a pass, make a move, go rebound the ball. That’s the idea.”
Ultimately, he hopes to take the new skills and fuse them into a combination of the Italian game and American game to give himself an advantage over those who have only experienced one type of basketball.
The challenge and his American life are both things that the forward is enjoying, but there is one thing he wishes he could get from Italy.
“I’ll be honest,” he said. “I miss the food.”
-- After a strong spring and a high school season that saw Donta Scott led Imhotep Charter to a PIAA 4A state championship, Georgetown became the latest to extend a scholarship offer. The 6-7 rising senior also mentioned South Carolina, Temple, and St. Joe’s as schools hard on his tail. Scott plans to sit down after the next few summer sessions and consider planning some visits.
He’s been to South Carolina once, as well as Temple and St. Joe’s, both which are in Scott’s hometown. Scott, who plays with Philly Pride’s 17u team, is a do-it-all small forward with a chance to rake in some more high-level offers before the end of the summer. As for improving his game, Scott cited his finishing abilities, athleticism, and his jumper as things to work on. Scott scored seven points in his teams win over K-Low Elite’s Blue team on Saturday morning.
-- All season long for Imhotep Charter, 2020 prospect Elijah Taylor was the only true low post presence. But this summer on Team Final’s 16u squad, he’s got Nnanna Njoku, a 6-9 2021 prospect from the Sanford School (Del.) who can also bang down low on the blocks. This gives Taylor a little bit more of an option to leave the paint and do some damage from the elbows and in the mid-range game.
“We have a young big who is really trying to find himself right now,” Taylor said. “I want to be a good leader and a good teammate to try and put him in a good position. Now, I can expand my game because I have another big, but in the high school season, I’m limiting to being the ‘5’ the whole time.”
His efforts so far this spring are starting to show, as Seton Hall offered the young big man this past week. The Pirates join VCU and Rutgers as the three schools to offer Taylor so far. At 6-8, Taylor can alter shots in the paint, and brings a ton of energy on the defensive end. He scored 11 points in a loss to Team Thrill, and showed some nice flashes of moves outside the paint. Playing off the ball should be a good opportunity for Taylor this spring, as he won’t be the only big man when he gets to college in two years.
-- Though Team Final 15s lost to Team Thrill (Md.)’s 15s 41-36 in a showcase game, there was still plenty to like about a pair of young prospects playing up an age group for the local Nike-backed squad. Jalen Duren and Justice Williams will both be attending Roman Catholic for their freshmen years this fall, and that pair looks like they’re going to cause plenty of damage in the Catholic League over the next few seasons. Duren, a 6-9, 215-pound forward with easily a 7-foot wing span, finished with seven points and as many rebounds, with only a couple blocks but quite a few more altered shots. On a Roman squad lacking for true post size, he could slide right into the starting lineup as a freshman. Williams, a 6-3 guard with a confident floor game, chipped in nine points, all in the first half, and played with great tempo in the open court.
-- Shippensburg and Kutztown were the two D-II schools talking to 2018 Archbishop Carroll guard Justin Anderson the most, and he was planning to decide between the two of them, but now Anderson said he has made the decision to attend junior college next year. Although a school hasn’t been picked out yet, Anderson is looking for somewhere in the area where he get the chance to improve his game, and be ready to find a school once he’s finished at JUCO. expect a decision to be made in the coming days as to where Anderson will spend the next two seasons. A 6-2 guard, Anderson has a smooth stroke from the outside and can also get into the paint.
-- In a back and forth battle, Philly Pride 15s beat Team Thrill’s 15s 47-38 behind a trio of solid performances. Friends Central’s Ed Holland impressed offensively, putting up 17 points while showing off a solid jumper. As for guards Isaac White and Rahdir Hicks, the chemistry between the two was showcased in their abilities to seamlessly switch which one of them is the primary ball-handler. Hicks’ handles specifically allowed for him to create space and drive the lane multiple times throughout the game. With the duo of Hicks and White returning along with Deuce Turner to Malvern Prep, their core remains mostly intact from the team that finished 18-8 (8-2 Inter-Ac) this past season.
-- Only a few days removed from receiving a legacy offer from Syracuse to play football at his father’s alma mater, Marvin Harrison Jr. was impressing on the hardwood. Harrison played a key role in Team Final’s 15s 59-31 victory over G2G, scoring nine points while showing off nice touch behind the arc for a pair of threes. The game also was a showcase of the pure athleticism which has allowed the 6-3 freshman to thrive in both football and basketball, but which one does Harrison enjoy more?
“It depends on the season,” said the son of the former Roman Catholic standout, who played 13 seasons in the NFL and was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2016. “Football season, I like football. Basketball (season), I like basketball, so I don’t know yet.”