NEPTUNE, N.J. – Even one of New York’s no-nonsense, fundamentally based coaches decided to heap praise on Tavin Pierre Philippe. If you know Artie Cox, who coaches at Christ the King High School (Middle Village, Queens) and with the New York Rens, this is rare.
“What really makes him special is the leadership and work ethic; his best days are still ahead. You love when kids are great practice players and that’s Tavin. He’s always putting up shots and wants to stay after practice to get better. He played junior varsity because there were better guards ahead of him but that year on the JV really helped,” said Cox, who also coached Philippe on the CTK junior varsity squad last winter.
Philippe is a rising junior point guard who did not play varsity for the New York Catholic League powerhouse, but saw his star rise on the junior varsity. The 6-foot-3 sinewy package guided the Royals to the city junior championship and bagged Most Valuable Player honors. Instead of seeing limited playing time on the varsity, it suited Philippe best to log serious minutes and sharpening his skills before embarking on the summer circuit.
Philippe’s scout says: He can shoot, handle, pass and rebound with his skills becoming more refined. He makes the players on the floor better. Eventually he’s a high major.
Cox said, a Big 12 program is impressed and is on the verge of offering Philippe. In April, Philippe exploded at the Hoop Group’s Pittsburgh Jam Fest, earning MVP.
That’s when his serious recruiting began.
“To use a baseball analogy, Tavin [Philippe] is a five tool player,” Cox said.
The final weekend was full of action at the two venues.
The Rens were among the more than 100 teams competing in 17U, 16U and 15U at the Hoop Group’s Buzzer Beat conducted on Saturday and Sunday. The opening day was mostly housed at the state-of-the-art Sportika in Manalapan and the finals were at the Hoop Group headquarters.
Crown Basketball of Long Island captured the 17U championship on Sunday and rising senior Thornton Scott was the MVP. It was the second event title for the New Yorkers, who won 20 wins in the final two weeks of the summer session.
Scott, a 6-5 combo-guard from Holy Trinity (Hicksville, N.Y.), who can flat-out shoot and pass it. Here’s a player on the rise with FDU, Loyola (Md.) and Boston University expressing the most interest.
The event was aptly named because several players made a hard push on the final weekend of the live observation period to impress college coaches.
10 That Caught My Eye
Though there were seven courts up and running at Sportika and more at the headquarters, these are players based on my eyewitness accounts.
Calistus Anyichie, 6-9, 2018, NJ Roadrunners 17U: He’s a power forward with long arms and poses a defensive presence. He can start the break and finish above the rim. His jumper needs work. He attends St. Mary (Elizabeth, N.J.) and has interest from Binghamton, FDU, Seton Hall, NJIT and Stony Brook. A mid-major is Anyichie’s eventual landing spot.
William Brodnitzki, 6-4, 2018, Boston Warriors Select (Mass.): He was listed as a 6-4 power forward but he look more comfortable on the wing as a 3. The Natick (Mass.) product is scrappy, competing on every possession. He finished drawing contact and will step out to knock down the 3-pointer. Probably a very good D3 recruit.
Mason McMurray, 6-8, 2018, TBNA Ohio: He attends Stow-Munroe Fall (outside of Cleveland) and is a true, long 4. He played down low but guarded the 3, 4 and 5. He can take it off the dribble and sink the jumper. He’s a recruit flying under the radar. Perhaps he’s a stretch-4 or a 3.
Brendan Medley-Bacon, 6-11, 2018, Crusader Nation 17U (Md.): Medley-Bacon is a project now, but that’s OK with several schools because you can’t teach height. He attends Archbishop Curley, a member of the Baltimore Catholic League, and is a disruptive player in the post. He defends well and uses long arms to make life tough for smaller players. However, he need polish on his offensive game and footwork.
Hunter Oakford, 6-5, 2018, LBA Team Attack (Va.): This Virginian, who attends Freedom (South Riding), has made quite a splash this spring and summer. Because Team Attack is guard-oriented and structured, Oakford is the stretch-4 but in college he’s 2 or 3 depending on the program. He’s a pick-and-pop type guy and a low to mid-major.
Jacob O’Connell, 6-11, 2019, Shoreshots 16U (N.J.): Here’s raw post that has transferred to St. Joseph Prep (Philadelphia) and play for legendary coach Speedy Morris. Last year, the big man was buried on the bench at Eastern (Voorhees, N.J.) but the change of scenery and life in one of the nation’s premier league is only an upgrade. He’s a good rebounder and runs the floor well, but his overall game is a work in progress.
Kahari Rogers, 6-5, 2019, NY Renaissance Black 16U: He’s an athletic wing that his know to fill it up from beyond the arc. Right now he’s attracting mid-major interest. He attends Bishop Loughlin (Brooklyn) and the New York Catholic League will only heightened his recruiting awareness and prep him for the next level.
Daniel Sofield, 6-5, 2019, Shoreshots 16U (N.J.): Sofield is the type player that all coaches want. He attends Jackson (N.J.) Memorial and is a mid-major talent with high motor. He hustles back on defense, never takes off a possession, can attack the rim and knock down the trey with consistency. Though he’s a thin 2-guard, Sofield will fill out and is fearless and anticipates on defense. This high-rising prospect would look good in the MAAC, CAA or Atlantic 10.
Lance Ware, 6-9, 2020, New York Rens 15U: This is one of the few players at the event that looks like a future pro. Then after further checking, he attends Life Center Academy (Burlington, N.J.) and is coached by NBA alumnus Pervis Ellison. At 6-9, 205 pounds, he has all the skills, a soft touch, and I am told he is still growing. High major talent without question.
Treshawn Warren, 6-8, 2018, Team Rebel 17U (Md.): He’s a rising senior at Perryville (northeast of Baltimore) is physical 4 or 5. As expected he rebounds at both ends, runs the floor and has post-up moves. He can guard 4 or 5. Stay on Warren.
Another Half Dozen
Here are six more that stood out over the weekend in New Jersey:
Abdul Ajai, 6-6, 2018, Rhode Island Elite 17U; Jalani Abdul-Aziz, 6-2, 2019, Long Island Rough Riderz (N.Y.); Andrew DeSantis, 6-5, 2018, Crown Basketball 17U (Long Island, N.Y.); Jaden Robinson, 6-5, 2017, Team Rebel 17U (Md.); Eric Turner, 6-5, 2018, Crusader Nation 17U (Md.) and Camren Wynter, 6-3, 2017, Crown Basketball 17U.
Note: Robinson is likely off for a post-graduate year, but is athletic and plays at full speed. This is the third event I’ve seen him play and he’s a low to mid Division I recruit with another prep year only benefitting.
Though the regular summer circuit is over, the Hoop Group continues with camps, clinics and the Future All-American Camp at Albright College in Reading, Pa. The FAA will be conducted this weekend, Aug. 3-6, with the top players from the classes of 2020 and 2021 invited.
Last week, the nation mostly convened in Las Vegas but now the blossoming talent will thankfully gather in eastern Pennsylvania.
“There will be unknown kids who will excel at the camp and suddenly everyone will now who they are. It’s funny because once the go back to high school, people think they have identified the next great player in their area but that’s something we’ll have already done in the summer,” said the Hoop Group’s sage analyst Steve Keller.
This event is obviously closed to college coaches. Players from all the national shoe sponsored circuits, adidas, Nike and Under Armour, will be ready for individual instruction from coaches with college experience, film breakdown and a written evaluation when campers depart.