By Amauro Austin Sr
This week was a much lighter week on the trail but as usual I saw some interesting things that we’ll talk about here.. Follow me now…
Each Year MLK day in the Philly area there are always plenty of good games to check out. I jumped in the car around noon with “AA2” and we headed to the city to check out a few games..
First we stopped at Frankford High to their annual Alumni Day. On MLK day, Frankford normally takes on it’s little brother Sankofa Freedom Charter, coached by 2002 Pioneer Alum and Current Philadelphia City Councilman, Isaiah Thomas.. Sankofa even uses Frankford’s gym for its home games so it’s always a true family affair on MLK day. Sankofa will be a force in the 2A state tournament in March.. 6-4 sr SF Zaki Alston is a college prospect and one of the top Seniors in the Public League.. He will be profiled in our soon to come small college prospect list.. The Warriors also have a tough Sophomore backcourt in 6-1 combo guard Nasir Williams (14ppg), a dual-threat shooter & driver & 5-11 PG Asim Hardy (team highs 4.5assts & 2.5stls), a pure PG who plays under control.. Good guard play is very important during playoff time and ‘Kofa has it.. Frankford has an interesting team dominated by underclassman.. Could be a serious force in the Pub next year with natural progression.. The best of the group is 6-3 Jr 2G Zamir Parker-Barnes (avgs: 12pts, 5rebs & 3assts) Parker-Barnes is a good looking prospect because of his varied array of skills.. 6-4 Jr SF Sair Alsbrooks is also one of those guys who could make a huge jump from this year to next..
We jetted out of Frankford during the 3rd quarter to get to the Catholic League matchup of the day at 17th & Girard between West Catholic & St Joseph’s Prep.. The Burrs came into the year as one of the league favorites while many felt the young Hawks were on slow progression and would be a year away.. However, the 1st half of the season has proved different as the Prep has crashed plenty of parties.. No one told them that they were a year away cause they’ve arrived early.. The Burrs were in a tough spot here playing on the road without 2 normal starters but still were in it to the end.. Prep was just a little better today outlasting the Burrs in OT.. The top Hawk on this afternoon was sophomore Combo G Jordan Ellerbee with 20 points (4 threes). He made 2 BIG BOY corner treys in the OT period to seal the deal.. The BIG reason (no pun intended) that SJP has been ahead of schedule as been the great development of 6-10 250 Jr Center Tristen Guillouette. The Big Fella has been having his way this year night in and out and everyone in the city has taken notice. His 12pts, 14rebs & 6blks don’t begin to tell the whole story. He simply takes ownership of the painted area everywhere he goes these days controlling defensive glass and blocking/altering every shot in his area.. His impact has been priceless.. The addition on the coaching staff of Big Man coach Jamal Nichols (Ben Franklin/DePaul) has been key for the Prep. He has obviously made a huge positive impact in the development of Big Tristen.. The Burrs were led by their usual suspects in Srs SF Zion Stanford (Temple) 20pts & PG “Budd” Clark (Coppin State) 21pts, 9rebs, 7assts, 7stls.. Clark was a stalwart defensively pestering & berating Hawk ball handlers 94-feet from opening tip to final buzzer.. He was the best player on the floor in my opinion.. Games like this are making the narrative that anything can happen on a given day in the Catholic League a fact..
Tuesday night we went up the road to check out Plymouth Whitemarsh against William Tennent.. I see many of the PW games being that it’s my home school district. On this night, I was excited to see Tennant cause they have some talent this year.. PW has been running through Suburban One like a hot knife through butter with a now 11-0 Conference record, 15-2 overall. Coach Jimmy Donofrio, now in his 26th season, recently won his 500th career game. That’s a heck of a standard winning on average 20 games a season for more than a quarter century with a State Title mixed in in 2010. Salute to Jimmy D.. This year’s Colonial squad plays fast and furious on both ends of the court getting a lot of offense off of their tenacious defense. Sr F Qudire Bennett is a 1000 point scorer and 4 year Varsity contributor.. Every night he has a big number to the right of his name.. Jr PG Jaden Colzie is in his 3rd season as the starting lead guard. 6-6 Jr SF Jah Sayles is settling in as quite the 3-and-D guy.. 6-1 Jr Combo Guard Chase Coleman, has transferred in from Keystone Academy, a prep school in Erie, PA, after playing his freshman season at Archbishop Carroll. Coleman is a big difference maker for PW because of his ability to call his own number to get a bucket and his in your chest style defense. He’s a D1 prospect.. The Colonials also have great size in the paint with Senior Centers 6-6 Lincoln Sharpe, a gritty rebounder and great team guy & 6-8 240 Rodney Willis Jr, a true “5” with soft hands and underrated rim protection ability.. I wanted to lay eyes on Tennent solely to track the development of 6-3 Jr 2G Kirby Mooney, the nephew of Richmond University head coach Chris Mooney (Ryan/Princeton). I was more than happy with what I saw. Per my Scouts eyes, Mooney is the top junior prospect in Suburban One. He looks and plays the part.. But it’s funny he isn’t the kind of player you’d think he’d be.. Kirby is more of a downhill driving, paint touching athlete that puts pressure on defenses and eats contact.. Kirby will be profiled on my upcoming Juniors list this week.. Sr PG George Marion has the look of a high end Small college lead guard and will be profiled on my upcoming small College lists in a few weeks.. Said to be a good kid with good grades and has pedigree being a coach’s kid..
Thursday night it was back to PW for a girls game against 1-loss Upper Moreland.. The lady Colonials are the defending league, district & state Champs and defend is what they did figuratively and literally in holding UMs top scorer Emmy Faith Wood to 6pts en route to a big 7 point home win.. PW has 2 starters back from last years magical 34-0, Nationally ranked undefeated run in Penn signee 6-0 wing guard Abby Sharpe and likely the top unsigned Senior in the region in 6-1 Swiss-army knife type Small Forward Erin Daley, a 4-year starter. She does everything for the Colonials at times effectively playing all 5 positions (She’s the backup 1 & backup 5 in a sense).. Erin has had a Monstrous January with 33, 34 & 29 point performances in consecutive games while also leading the team in rebounding & being their best & most versatile defender.. But we’ll speak more about the lady Colonials after I Monday morning Quarterback the Maggie Lucas Classic at Jefferson University on Sunday..
And Finally the week came to an end yesterday with yet another trip to PW (they may as well give me office space there) to see the Colonials take on my childhood neighborhood high school John Bartram, my dad’s Alma mater.. Wasn’t much of a game cause Bartram is very young and inexperienced but they do have one of the top freshman in the region in 6-5 wing Lateef Lorenzaro. Double L has the 3 Ss: Size, Strength & Skill and will be a force for the foreseeable future.. PW is one of the top 6A teams in the state so this was a mismatch but it was still good to see..
Plus this is the 20th Anniversary of Bartram winning the 2003 Public League Title..
A young reporter with the Initials, “AA” behind the scenes gave the 2001-03 Braves a huge push. Back then I was in direct contact weekly via phone and email with USA Today’s high school staff and pushed for Bartram to be in the rankings back during the 02 season. By mid season my persistence worked and they appeared in the East Region top 10.. The Braves were 26-0 and firmly in the Top 25 until being upset in the Pub Semis by the legendary Maureece Rice led Strawberry Mansion squad at Temple’s Liacouras Center.. But it wasn’t over as the Braves returned 4 of the 5 starters for 2003 including UVA signee 6-10 F Jason Cain and began the season back in the USA Today “Super 25.” During the 02 season my friends at USA Today connected me with a good guy named Donnie Wilkie, the Vice President of the Prestigious City of Palms Classic in Fort Myers, FL. At that time, Donnie was responsible for getting the teams for the event and I recommended Bartram to him for the December 2002 event putting him in contact with Coach Lou Biester. Donnie offered Lou a spot and Lou accepted immediately and the Braves had a strong 2-2 showing at a National event losing one game by a point if I’m not mistaken. That team went on to close the deal beating Storied Simon Gratz for the Pub Title in March of 03 led by unheralded game MVP Todd “Kojak” McCoy, a football star who’d become a strong 5th starter and eventually switched to Hoops full time becoming a Juco All-American and a starter at Mid Major Indiana State, Larry Bird’s Alma mater.. Seeing the Braves today brought back fond memories of my own journey navigating through the Philadelphia Basketball scene and beyond.. Anyway thanks for reading.. Please Like, Share & Subscribe.. — AA