2019 Pa. basketball recruiting: Lower Merion's Jack Forrest narrows list of schools down to four

Lower Merion’s Jack Forrest drives on Abington’s Xavier Monroe during 2nd quarter of District 1 Class 6A boys’ basketball semifinals at the Liacouras Center, Tuesday, February 27, 2017.

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When his final AAU season was all said and done, Jack Forrest took a week off.

“It was time for a little bit of a break,” the Lower Merion senior and 6-foot-5 shooting guard said with a laugh on the phone Tuesday evening.

After some time down the shore, Forrest and his parents, as well as Tony Sagona — the program director for his AAU team, the Jersey Shore Warriors — sat down to figure out his recruiting situation. Former primary suitors Penn and Princeton had both taken commitments at his position, but the seven other Division I offers he held by the end of the July live recruiting periods meant there was still plenty to talk about.

Forrest cut his list down to four options this week: Boston U, Brown, Bucknell and Columbia.

“When I was getting recruited,” he said, “the main [factor] was high-academic, and also a good basketball program. And I also want to go somewhere where I’m going to be able to make an impact, a strong impact, during my four years.

“And these final four schools, these coaches are all — not that the other schools who recruited me weren’t nice — but I just connect really well with these coaches, and I feel that I’d fit well in their systems.”

But so far, he’s only set two “official” visits — the weekend-long trips paid for by the schools, of which rising seniors can take a maximum of five. He’ll be visiting Columbia from Sep. 6-8, and to Bucknell from Sep. 15-17.

“I wanted to get some out in the beginning of September, and if I haven’t made my decision by the middle of September then I’ll probably do some more visits,” Forrest said.

In other words: If Forrest hasn’t been convinced by Columbia and Bucknell on their respective weekends, then Brown and Boston University get their respective shots.

Though Forrest admitted that Columbia and Bucknell were “definitely” his two most intriguing options, one school in particular has a built-in advantage.

Forrest and incoming Bucknell freshman Andrew Funk, an Archbishop Wood product, were teammates on the AAU circuit with the Warriors last summer, with Forrest playing up with the older group for the offseason.

Camera icon WILLIAM THOMAS CAIN
Archbishop Wood’s Andrew Funk plays now at Bucknell.

“He loves [Bucknell]. He’s only been there for a summer, and he talks great about it,” Forrest said. “Just talking to him, it puts [Bucknell] in the front for me just because I know how great of a player he is and he talks about how well the coaches treat him.”

The Bison, coming off back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances, went 25-10 last season and have won four of the last eight Patriot League tournaments.

That being said, don’t count Columbia out just yet.

“I love [head] coach [Jim] Engles. I love New York City,” Forrest said. “When I went up there, I had a great time. I loved the guys and the culture that they have, it’s a little bit different than some of the other Ivy schools that recruited me. And he thinks that I can make an impact pretty soon once I get there, as a freshman, and that’s really, really attractive to me.”

College basketball recruiting update

Drexel Dragons

Rising scholarship seniors: Troy Harper, Trevor John

Committed 2019 players: None

Projected open scholarships: 2

Notes: Drexel’s recruiting process is on hold for a couple weeks as the Dragons took a trip down to Australia for a 12-day, four-game affair. When they get back, they’ll be looking to schedule some official visits, including one from TaylorMade Academy (Fla.) guard Marion Humphrey later in September. Coach Zach Spiker has been working hard to bring in a wing this class, pursuing western Pennsylvania product Reed Fenton more as the summer went on. The Dragons have also been close with a pair of big men, Bonner-Prendergast’s Tariq Ingraham and Perkiomen School’s Keeshawn Kellman. Spiker has landed only one local product thus far, Cherry Hill East (N.J.)/Phelps School (Pa.) grad Timmy Perry Jr., now a redshirt freshman for the Dragons.

La Salle Explorers

Rising scholarship seniors: Cheddi Mosely, Pookie Powell

Committed 2019 players: None

Projected open scholarships: 2

Notes: New La Salle head coach Ashley Howard hasn’t yet made his first big recruiting splash outside of bringing in Mosely this offseason as a grad transfer from Boston University and adding Clemson transfer Scott Spencer, who has to sit this year out due to NCAA transfer regulations. Howard and his staff have been closely involved with several local prospects, including Plymouth Whitemarsh’s Naheem McLeod, La Salle’s Zach Crisler, Roman Catholic’s Hakim Hart, Shipley’s Ray Somerville and Imhotep’s Donta Scott. Expect him to be able to convince at least one of them to stay home and join a roster that already has four players with Public and Catholic League roots.

Penn Quakers

Rising seniors: Jackson Donahue, Tyler Hamilton, Max Rothschild, Jake Silpe, Collin McManus

Committed 2019 players: Jonah Charles (Rutgers Prep, N.J.), Max Martz (Upper Arlington, Ohio), Lucas Monroe (Abington, Pa.)

Projected open scholarships: N/A

Notes: Coach Steve Donahue has certainly built on the momentum of the program’s first Ivy League title — and NCAA Tournament appearance — in 11 years, putting together a class that is already in “good enough” territory, though the Quakers’ staff is working to add one more big piece to the mix. All three of the commitments thus far are wings, but all bring something different to the table. Martz is the biggest at 6-foot-6 and 205 pounds, but his best asset is his pure shooting stroke from outside. Monroe, a 6-5 combo guard, has great size for a lead guard and is a versatile defender, while the 6-3 Charles is another strong outside shooter who is the bounciest of the three. If they can snag Northfield Mt. Hermon big Max Lorca-Lloyd, who has also got Stanford, Vanderbilt, Ohio State and more in the mix, this class could be really special.

St. Joseph’s Hawks

Rising scholarship seniors: Chris Clover, Markell Lodge

Committed 2019 players: None

Projected open scholarships: 3

Notes: The Hawks picked up a couple roster additions this summer, adding South Florida grad transfer Troy Holston Jr. for likely two seasons and then picking up Patrick School (N.J.) center Valdir Manuel late for the 2018 class, leaving coach Phil Martelli with a considerably better roster situation than the one he had just a couple months earlier, when he only had nine available scholarship players this season. The Hawks took a couple blows on the recruiting trail this week, missing out on Bergen Catholic (N.J.) forward Zach Freemantle, who committed to Xavier on Tuesday, and Bishop Walsh (Md.) forward Yavuz Guletkin, who didn’t include SJU in his top four schools the day prior. But they’re still in the mix for Vermont Academy (Vt.) sniper Tyler Bertram as well as a number of local prospects such as Hakim Hart and Donta Scott.

Temple Owls

Rising scholarship seniors: Shizz Alston Jr., Ernest Aflakpui

Committed 2019 players: None

Projected open scholarships: 3

Notes: Temple head coach-to-be Aaron McKie had a new outlook this July, as the de facto head coach on the road, though outgoing boss Fran Dunphy was still on the road checking in on some Temple targets. Kinston (N.C.) rising senior Damian Dunn, who picked up an offer in July, is supposed to be taking an official visit early in September, but the Owls are involved in a number of high-level pursuits for local prospects, including Imhotep’s Dahmir Bishop and Donta Scott, plus Roman’s Seth Lundy, all of whom have numerous high-major offers. They also extended an offer this summer to Flint Hill (Va.) big man Qudus Wahab, who played his AAU ball with local squad WeR1. It’s an early test for McKie to see if the Philly native and Temple alum can out-draw the likes of La Salle and St. Joe’s.

Villanova Wildcats

Rising scholarship seniors: Phil Booth, Joe Cremo, Eric Paschall

Committed 2019 players: Eric Dixon (Abington, Pa.), Justin Moore (DeMatha, D.C.)

Projected open scholarships: 2

Notes: Villanova got an early start on a promising 2019 class, landing one of the area’s top prospects in the 6-7 Abington big man Dixon and the 6-5 Moore, who played on a Team Takeover 17-under squad that absolutely dominated the Nike EYBL this summer. And now, with many other top-level prospects cutting down their lists, the Wildcats remain in the mix for quite a few, including Ranney School (N.J.) duo of Scottie Lewis and Bryan Antoine, Pinnacle High (Ariz.) guard Nico Mannion and IMG Academy (Fla.)’s Josh Green as well as Bonner’s Isaiah Wong. Villanova never goes up to its full 13 scholarships, and without a likely early-entrant NBA prospect at this time, don’t expect the Wildcats to take two more commitments this fall.