CoBL Staff (@hooplove215)
(Ed. Note: This article is part of our 2018-19 season coverage, which will run for the six weeks preceding the first official games of the year on Nov. 6. To access all of our high school and college preview content for this season, click here.)
Those of you who impatiently await the beginning of the next college basketball season as soon as the previous one ends -- as we certainly do here at CoBL -- can rejoice a little earlier this year. The start of the 2018-19 college hoops season was pushed up from its typical Friday tip-off to Tuesday, Nov. 6, with the start of six weeks of preseason practices similarly getting moved up 72 hours.
So for the seventh year in a row, we mark the unofficial start of the hoops season with the release of our 2018-19 City 6 Preseason Awards -- a year of change in the City of Brotherly Love, with a new Big 5 head coach, several key players returning from injury and other important faces making their debuts with new squads.
Here’s our best guess at who excels in the upcoming year:
Eric Paschall (above) is our pick for City 6 preseason Player of the Year, but it's a wide-open race. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Preseason All-City 6 First Team
Eric Paschall (R-Sr./Villanova)
Our City 6 Preseason Player of the Year didn’t put up the biggest numbers of any returning player in the city; in fact, his scoring average from last year (10.6 ppg) puts him outside the top 10 in City 6 returnees. But that doesn’t take into account how the versatile, powerful 6-7 wing was the fifth scoring option behind four players now in the NBA; how he scored 24 points in the NCAA Tournament semifinal win over Kansas on 10-11 shooting; how, in the last 25 games of the season, he shot 46.1 percent from 3-point range and over 67 percent from inside the arc. How, by all accounts, he was one of the most impressive players at the high-level Nike Basketball Academy this summer.
With Mikal Bridges, Jalen Brunson, Donte DiVincenzo and Omari Spellman now making money playing hoops, it’s Paschall’s time to step up in his third and final season on the court for ‘Nova, his fourth overall after transferring from Fordham. And don’t forget -- he was Rookie of the Year in his one season in the A-10, averaging 15.9 ppg and 5.5 rpg, though he wasn’t nearly as efficient a scorer as he’s been able to be on the Main Line. With plenty of talent still around him on the Wildcats’ roster, Paschall won’t need to shoulder the whole burden of a program coming off its second national championship in three years, but he’s most uniquely suited to become their x-factor and most important player if they want to keep up their recent five-year run of dominance in the Big 5 and the Big East.
Shizz Alston Jr. (Sr./Temple)
A four-year contributor for the Owls, Alston has started all 65 games over the last two seasons, playing more than 2200 minutes (35.0/game) in that span, averaging 13.6 ppg and 3.6 apg while hitting more than 37 percent of his 3-pointers as well. The Haverford School product is only 54 points from 1,000, which would make him the 53rd member of the Owls’ 1,000-point scoring club; at his current pace, that would put him just outside the top 30 in the program’s long hoops history, but the top 25 is within reach for the 6-3 guard with a sustained postseason run and/or a slight uptick in the scoring column.
Charlie Brown (R-Soph./Saint Joseph’s)
Two years ago, the Philadelphia native and George Washington HS product was one of the top freshmen around, averaging 12.8 ppg and 5.0 rpg while hitting 38.4 percent of his 3-point attempts (71-of-185). The 6-6 wing looked primed to be an all-Atlantic 10 honoree as a sophomore, but a broken wrist suffered in the offseason just didn’t heal like it was supposed to, and Brown ended up taking a redshirt for the 2017-18 season. Now finally fully healthy, Brown is ready to pick up where he left off, with more weapons around him than the last time he suited up for the Hawks.
A.J. Brodeur (Jr./Penn)
In his first two seasons at Penn, Brodeur is already piling up an impressive resume: 13.4 points, 7.1 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.8 blocks per game, making over 53 percent from the floor while starting in 61 contests for the Quakers, who are coming off their first Ivy League championship in 11 years. The versatile 6-8 forward out of Northfield Mt. Hermon (Mass.) didn’t shoot the ball particularly well from deep (20-of-70, 28.6 percent) as a sophomore, though only five more makes would have bumped him up to 35 percent; a more consistent 3-point shot and better foul shooting (61.1 percent as a sophomore) are certainly tops on his list of necessary improvements.
Phil Booth (R-Sr./Villanova)
There’s no doubt that Booth has left his mark on Villanova over the last four years, though what a strange journey it’s been: from solid reserve as a freshman to key reserve as a sophomore, playing hero with a 20-point outing in the national championship game, then missing all but three games as a junior due to injury before starting 31 of the 33 games he appeared in this past season, finishing sixth on the Wildcats in scoring (10.0 ppg) while adding 3.2 rpg and 2.9 apg. Now in his final season on the Main Line, Booth should find yet another role, as one of the team’s go-to scorers and leaders on and off the court.
Pookie Powell (Sr./La Salle)
It wasn’t guaranteed that Powell would be able to play this season, after redshirting his first year in college (at Memphis) and then again in 2015-16 following his transfer to La Salle, but the Orlando native was given an extra year of eligibility this offseason, giving new Explorers head coach Ashley Howard a proven bucket-getter to rely on right away. Powell averaged 13.7 ppg in his first year with La Salle and bumped that up to 16.9 ppg as a redshirt junior, putting him a little more than 150 points away from 1000 in an Explorers uniform alone; the 6-1 guard also averaged 4.2 rpg and 4.3 apg a year ago.
Ryan Betley (above) returns after leading the Quakers with 14.3 ppg as a sophomore. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Ryan Betley (Jr./Penn)
After missing the first half of his freshman season due to injury and then coming out of nowhere to nearly power the Quakers into the Ivy League championship game as a freshman, this 6-5 Downingtown West product proved his run was no fluke, averaging 14.3 ppg and 5.0 rpg as a sophomore while hitting 84 3-pointers (fourth in one season in Penn history) on 39.1 percent shooting from deep -- this time, for the Ivy League champs. On track to join Penn’s 1,000-point club this season (685 so far).
Joe Cremo (Sr./Villanova)
Arguably the biggest prize on the grad transfer market this offseason was Cremo, who’s been giving the rest of the America East Conference fits while at Albany the last three years. A 6-4 guard, Cremo poured in 1,469 points as a Great Dane (14.7/game), averaging 17.8 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 3.8 apg and hitting 45.8 percent of his overall shots and his 3-point attempts as a junior. While the Big East represents a sizeable step up in competition, Cremo’s shooting ability and veteran experience should have him fitting right into the Wildcats’ free-flowing, selfless offense.
Alihan Demir (Jr./Drexel)
Demir was perhaps the most pleasant surprise in the entire city last year, as the Turkish native came to University City after one year at Central Wyoming (Junior) College. The 6-8, 220-pound forward missed the first five games of the season and only scored in double figures once in his first five appearances but then became one of the Dragons’ most regular contributors, averaging 10.7 ppg, 5.4 rpg and 1.9 apg on the season while proving himself a capable 3-point (36.5 percent) and foul shooter (75 percent). Now as a junior, he could become Drexel’s go-to scorer and could see even a bump over his 31.3 minutes from a year ago.
Taylor Funk (Soph./Saint Joseph’s)
At 6-9 and 225 pounds, with a beautiful 3-point stroke and solid mobility Funk is the prototypical ‘4’ man in the modern game. The Manheim Central (Pa.) product wasted no time acclimating to the college game a year ago, averaging 11.8 ppg and 4.9 rpg (both third on the team) while making 39.4 percent of his 3-point attempts; his 84 makes from deep set a new record for SJU rookies. Now that he’s a known perimeter threat and sure to be in the starting lineup come November, Funk needs to add more to his arsenal to make the jump to the next level -- and become a bona fide NBA prospect.
Lamarr Kimble (R-Jr./Saint Joseph’s)
It’s been a rough 20 months for the Neumann-Goretti product, who broke a bone in his left foot in Feb. 2017 and then re-injured it during the first game of what would have been his junior year, causing him to miss almost the entirety of the 2017-18 season. Now in perhaps the best shape of his life, the 5-11 point guard is hoping to get back to where he was for most of 2016-17, when he averaged 15.5 ppg, 4.5 apg and 4.0 rpg, though he won’t need to be counted on quite as much as he did that year, when injuries ravaged the rest of the Hawks’ lineup as well.
Quinton Rose (Jr./Temple)
In terms of raw talent and upside, there might not be anybody in the city quite like Rose, a lanky and athletic 6-7 wing guard out of the Albany area who can legitimately play the ‘1’, ‘2’ or ‘3’ for the Owls. As a sophomore, he averaged 14.9 ppg, 4.3 rpg and 2.3 apg, chipping in 1.5 spg as well, though he turned it over nearly two and a half times per game. His shot selection also could use work, as Rose shot exactly 43 percent from the floor in his first two seasons, despite raising his 3-point percentage from 29.6 as a freshman to 34.5 as a sophomore.
Traci Carter (R-Jr./La Salle)
Troy Harper (Sr./Drexel)
Kurk Lee Jr. (Jr./Drexel)
Nate Pierre-Louis (Soph./Temple)
Jahvon Quinerly (Fr./Villanova)
Max Rothschild (Sr./Penn)
Others to Watch
Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree (Soph./Villanova), Isiah Deas (Jr./La Salle), Collin Gillespie (Soph./Villanova), Troy Holston Jr. (R-Jr./Saint Joseph’s) J.P. Moorman (Soph./Temple), Cheddi Mosely (Gr./La Salle), Pierfrancesco Oliva (R-Jr./Saint Joseph’s), De’Vondre Perry (Soph./Temple), Saul Phiri (Jr./La Salle), Cole Swider (Fr./Villanova)
Five-star point guard Jahvon Quinerly (above) will try to follow in the footsteps of Ryan Arcidiacono and Jalen Brunson. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Preseason Rookie of the Year
Jahvon Quinerly (PG/Villanova)
Three years ago, Jay Wright brought in a five-star, McDonald’s All-American point guard, and all Jalen Brunson did in his three years at ‘Nova was win two national championships, a National Player of the Year award, earn his degree and then head to the NBA, where he signed a multi-year deal with the Dallas Mavericks. Now his replacement arrives in the form of Quinerly, a 6-1 guard out of Hudson Catholic (N.J.) and fellow McDonald’s honoree, who was part of the talented Sports U “Fab 5” AAU squad and helped popularize the “JellyFam” movement, with the wrist-twisting layup known as the “jelly” at the heart of it all. Quinerly doesn’t arrive on the Main Line without some baggage, as he was formerly committed to Arizona before that Wildcats’ program was implicated in the FBI probe into college basketball, but he has never been formally named in the investigation and there’s no indication to this point that his eligibility will be compromised. In a crop of rookies around the city that should play integral roles on their teams, Quinerly is our pick to have the biggest impact of them all.
Others to Watch
Jared Bynum (PG/Saint Joseph’s)
Ed Croswell (PF/La Salle)
Alex Imegwu (SF/Penn)
Jared Kimbrough (PF/La Salle)
Timmy Perry Jr. (C/Drexel)
Cole Swider (SF/Villanova)
Michael Wang (PF/Penn)
Camren Wynter (G/Drexel)
Preseason City 6 Breakout Player
Nate Pierre-Louis (Soph./Temple)
The Owls’ 2017-18 season certainly didn’t go as intended; by early January, Temple was floundering at 7-8 overall, and 0-4 in American Athletic Conference play. Then Pierre-Louis, a 6-4 guard out of Roselle Catholic (N.J.), got his chance, and he proved to be a major sparkplug, averaging just under 10 ppg during a 15-game stretch where Temple went 9-6, with nine double-digit outings in that span. Likely a starter this year, Pierre-Louis looks primed for a big-time uptick in production if he continues to bring the energy that got him on the court a year ago.
Others to Watch
Miles Brookins (Soph./La Salle)
Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree (Soph./Villanova)
Jarvis Doles (Soph./Drexel)
J.P. Moorman II (Soph./Temple)
Jamir Moultrie (Soph./La Salle)
De’Vondre Perry (Soph./Temple)
Eddie Scott (Soph./Penn)
Jarrod Simmons (Soph./Penn)