Darius Kinnel (above) snapped up an offer from Hartford that came just at the end of his senior year. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Josh Verlin (@jmverlin)
(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.)
Philly hoopers are everywhere.
While many of the city's prep stars stick around for their collegiate years, there are plenty more who leave the city confines for school, quite a few of which become stars at the next level.
Here's Part 1 of a list of CoBL-area alumni who are playing Division I ball this season somewhere other than the City 6 (those who are sitting out this season due to transfer are not included); for Part 2, click here:
Sedee Keita (R-Soph./St. John’s)
A mobile 6-10 big man and Philadelphia native, Keita’s name might not be as recognizable on the local scene as he played at several out-of-area prep schools, finishing up at 22 Ft. Academy (S.C.). He played his freshman year at South Carolina, averaging 1.1 ppg and 2.0 rpg in 29 games (9.6 minutes/per), then transferred to St. John’s, where he sat out last season but has a chance to make a big impact this year.
Darius Kinnel (Fr./Hartford)
A 6-0 point guard who was on the Division I radar since his sophomore year at St. Joe’s Prep but never quite able to pull in an offer, Kinnel put together a terrific senior campaign for the Hawks, averaging 16.2 ppg and earning first team all-Catholic League honors. That earned him an offer from another Hawks coach, and now Kinnel joins a deep and experienced Hartford backcourt that’s coming off its best season since joining Division I in 1984-85 (19-14, 11-5 AEast).
Matiss Kulackovskis (R-Fr./Bowling Green)
Coming out of Archbishop Ryan, Kulackovskis was expected to make an impact in his first season at BGSU, but then the 6-8 stretch-forward suffered a knee injury in the preseason, forcing him to take a redshirt instead. The native of Saldus, Latvia is now back healthy and in the mix for the Falcons, who could use the 3-point shooting ability that propelled him to average 17.2 ppg as a senior for the Raiders.
Devin Liggeons (Sr./Wagner)
After two seasons coming off the Seahawks’ bench, Liggeons -- a 6-3 wing guard out of Imhotep Charter -- started 22 of 33 games as a junior last year, averaging career-highs of 6.4 ppg and 4.6 rpg for head coach Bashir Mason. He came up with 14 points and 11 rebounds in the NEC championship game, which Wagner lost to LIU Brooklyn after winning the regular season with a 14-4 record (23-10 overall).
Marcus Littles (Fr./George Washington)
There’s not much that’s little about the newest Colonials forward, who stands 6-9 and weighs just north of 250 pounds. A big body since he came onto the high school scene at Academy New Church before transferring to Neumann-Goretti, Littles has great hands and an improving face-up ability, but his ability to play right away in the A-10 will depend on conditioning and defense.
Xzavier Malone (R-Soph./Fairleigh Dickinson)
Malone didn’t have much of an impact in his first collegiate season, scoring a grand total of 21 points in 23 games as a freshman at Rider. But a move to FDU and a year working on his body should help the lanky 6-4 left-hander see more of the court in his first season of eligibility for the Knights, who can take advantage of his ability to guard multiple perimeter positions and score the ball like he did back at Plymouth-Whitemarsh HS, where he poured in over 1,000 points in just two years.
Tyere Marshall (Jr./Rider)
A 2015 graduate of Martin Luther King, who then did a post-grad year at Putnam Science (Conn.), Marshall has become the man in the middle for the Broncs, who won the MAAC regular-season championship last year. The 6-9, 225-pound forward averaged 10.3 ppg and 6.6 rpg as a sophomore, playing 22.7 minutes in 32 games (31 starts); his best effort was a 19-point, 16-rebound effort against Iona late in the year.
LaPri McCray-Pace (Soph./Morgan State)
A hard-working wing and one of the integral pieces of Conwell-Egan’s 2015 state championship squad as a junior, McCray-Pace arrived at Morgan State last fall after doing a prep year at Putnam Science (Conn.). The 6-3, 210-pound bulldog of a wing played in 27 games with 10 starts in his first collegiate season, averaging 5.9 ppg and 2.7 rpg; he also shot better from 3-point range (40.5 percent) than 2-point (36.5 percent).
Clifton Moore (Soph./Indiana)
Coming out of Hatboro-Horsham last year, the 6-9, 210-pound Moore looked like he needed some time to adjust to the physicality of the college game. And indeed, the big wing only appeared in nine games as a freshman for an average of just under five minutes, scoring a total of six points and missing his only two 3-point attempts. This fall will tell us a lot how much progress he’s made over the offseason.
Sa’eed Nelson (Jr./American)
The South Jersey Player of the Year when he graduated from St. Augustine Prep in 2016, Nelson looks headed towards similar honors by his senior year at AU. The 6-1 point guard was a second team all-Patriot League selection after averaging 18.6 ppg and 5.1 apg as a sophomore; all five first-teamers were seniors. With 985 points entering his junior year, Nelson looked primed to take a run at Russell Bowers’ school scoring record of 2,056 points (1977-81), and should end up in the top three in assists as well.
Paul Newman (Soph./Bucknell)
A product of Roman Catholic, who he helped to a pair of PCL and PIAA Class AAAA championships as a junior and senior, Newman then did a prep year at St. Andrew’s (R.I.) in 2016-17 before beginning his college career last season. The 6-9 left-hander saw action in 20 games as a collegiate rookie, averaging less than a point and rebound per game, but there are plenty of minutes available up front now that Nana Foulland and the rest of a crucial senior class have moved on.
Anthony Ochefu (Soph./Stony Brook)
The younger brother of former Villanova center Daniel Ochefu, Anthony appeared in 22 games in his first year at Stony Brook, averaging 2.0 ppg and 2.1 rpg. The 6-8, 245-pound forward did move into the starting lineup for eight of the Seawolves’ final nine games, though he still only played about 10 minutes per contest.
Tyree Pickron (Fr./Quinnipiac)
After a terrific career at Archbishop Wood, where he was a four-year starter for head coach John Mosco, Pickron heads up to Connecticut to play for former Villanova assistant Baker Dunleavy. A 6-2 sharpshooter who rebounds well off the wing, Pickron is expected to challenge for a starting role at QU from the get-go.
Daeqwon Plowden (Soph./Bowling Green)
The only member of the Falcons to play all 32 games a year ago, Plowden served as BGSU’s sixth man, the 6-6 wing forward averaging 4.8 ppg and 2.9 rpg in just about 15 minutes per contest. As he progresses throughout college, look for Plowden to play less of the ‘4’ and more of the ‘3’, though he’ll need to work on his 3-point shooting, which was only at 26.5 percent (13-of-49) as a freshman.
Brandon Randolph (Soph./Arizona)
A top-40 recruit out of the Westtown School, Randolph carved out a role in his freshman year at Arizona, averaging 3.7 ppg in 11.6 mpg, playing in 31 games with four starts. A 6-6 sniper, Randolph only hit 32.6 percent (15-of-46) from deep as a freshman, but that should improve with more reps and confidence as he likely steps into a starting role this fall.
Cameron Reddish (Fr./Duke)
The prospect-to-watch in the Philadelphia area the last five years, Reddish went from an intriguing 6-4 eighth grader at the Haverford School to a can’t-miss stud by his senior year at the Westtown School, a 6-8 point guard with a smooth 3-point stroke and an NBA future. Almost certainly at Duke for just one year,
Fatts Russell (Soph./Rhode Island)
One of the more electric scorers this city’s seen in the past decade, Russell took his talents up to Kingston last fall and jumped right in as a scoring option off the bench, averaging 7.0 ppg and 1.6 apg in just under 18 minutes, playing in all 34 games for the Rams, who went 26-8 and advanced to the NCAA Tournament’s second round. With Jared Terrell, Jarvis Garrett and EC Matthews all having moved on, Russell’s role is sure to grow.
Sam Sessoms (above) will compete for a starting spot at Binghamton from the get-go. (Photo: Mark Jordan/CoBL)
Sam Sessoms (Fr./Binghamton)
After a stellar career at the Shipley School, where he set the Gators’ school record for scoring and also became one of the members of Philly’s 2,000-point club, Sessoms is ready to take the reins immediately for a Binghamton program that hasn’t brought in a freshman of his talent level in some time. A 5-11 guard who’s at his best getting to the rim, Sessoms has got the confidence to be successful right away in college.
Josh Sharkey (Jr./Samford)
A 5-9 point guard out of Archbishop Carroll, Sharkey has spent his first two years at the Homewood, Alabama institution as the Bulldogs’ backup point guard, averaging 7.8 ppg and 4.6 apg in just over 23 minutes per contest, getting 10 starts in 66 games. With former starter Christen Cunningham now at Louisville, Sharkey is poised to jump into the starting spot full-time as an upperclassman.
Lamar Stevens (Jr./Penn State)
Though Tony Carr decided to take his chances at turning pro this offseason, signing with a team in Italy, his former Roman Catholic teammate stayed in school to continue building on what’s already been a strong college career. A 6-6 wing, Stevens has averaged 14.2 points and 5.8 rebounds in his first 72 career games, starting all of them; he also surpassed the 1,000-point mark late in his sophomore season and will join the 1000/500 club early as a junior.
Horace Spencer (Sr./Auburn)
A native of the Philadelphia suburbs, Spencer spent his first two years at William Tennent before going to Findlay Prep (Nev.) for his junior and senior seasons. The 6-9, 220-pound forward has been at Auburn all four years under Bruce Pearl, playing in 84 games with 43 starts, with similar stats each year; for his college career, he’s averaging 4.9 ppg and 4.6 mpg in 17.4 mpg.
Koby Thomas (Soph./Robert Morris)
The former high-flying Imhotep Charter wing didn’t waste any time making an impact for the Colonials a year ago. A 6-6 wing with bounce to spare, Thomas set the new RMU mark for games started (33), averaging 12.0 ppg and 6.9 rpg for a young Colonials team, including a 22-point outburst in his debut game at Ohio State. Outside shooting has never quite been a strength for Thomas, who went 19-of-79 (24.1 percent) from deep as a freshman.
Myles Thompson (Fr./St. Francis Pa.)
Versatile and athletic, Thompson comes to a St. Francis squad on the rise after four years on the varsity squad at Camden, where he averaged a double-double in both his junior and senior seasons. Capable of playing the ‘3’ or a small-ball ‘4’, Thompson’s has a downhill style and can affect the game if he’s playing on the ball or off it. Hard not to see him finding a significant role right away.
Dennis Tunstall (Jr./Towson)
A South Jersey native and product of Life Center Academy (N.J.), Tunstall has played in 61 games in his first two years at Towson, all off the bench. He saw his minutes jump from around seven per game as a freshman to 15.1/game as a sophomore, averaging 2.7 ppg, 4.1 rpg and 1.1 bpg a year ago, and could see another increase now that he’s a veteran on a young team.
Josh Warren (Jr./Cornell)
A 6-8, 220-pound forward out of Downingtown West, Warren spent his first two years with the Big Red as Stone Gettings’ understudy, averaging 4.8 ppg and 3.3 rpg in 57 games (six starts). With Gettings now at Arizona for a grad transfer year, Warren looks primed to step into a starting role as the only true post player with experience on the Cornell roster.
Mike Watkins (R-Jr./Penn State)
Watkins has certainly been a headline grabber at Penn State, both for his play on the court -- he averaged 12.1 ppg and 8.9 rpg as a sophomore, and has 158 blocks in 62 games despite not playing more than 26 mpg -- and his issues off it, as he had yet another run-in with the law this offseason. If he can stay out of trouble, the 6-9 forward is as productive a two-way force as there is in the Big Ten.
Kimar Williams (R-Jr./Rider)
Coming out of Constitution HS, Williams chose to head south, spending two years at Florida International, where he averaged 4.8 ppg, 2.9 rpg and 2.5 apg in 50 games (35 starts). Now, the spindly 6-0 guard with a bit of Iverson in his game reunites at Rider with his former high school teammate Ahmad Gilbert, and will play this year after sitting out the 2017-18 season.