The two guards who made up the St. Joseph’s Prep starting backcourt are in the same boat.
Both Kyle Thompson and Darius Kinnel were three-year starters for the Hawks, both 1,000-point scorers for Speedy Morris, both multi-year all-Catholic League selections and the Prep’s two leading scorers this season. And, with their high school careers ended after a recent loss to Abington in the second round of the state playoffs, neither has a single scholarship offer.
“It’s not really something we talk about, really,” Kinnel said. “We’re both aware of our situations.”
But this time of year is always a whirlwind in the college basketball landscape, with March Madness only part of the insanity. The end of the regular season always brings with it multitudes of firings and hirings, hundreds upon hundreds of players transferring, and plenty of available seniors still looking for landing spots.
So both Thompson and Kinnel are in some ways just riding out the storm.
“The way that I’ve been looking at it is that everything’s going to work out in time. There’s no reason for me to stress about it right now because there’s nothing I can do about it,” said Thompson, the son of former Drexel standout Michael Thompson. “That’s exactly what my dad’s saying. Everything’s going to work out.”
The two players aren’t being ignored by college coaches.
Thompson, a 5-foot-11 combo guard best known for his outside shooting ability, has been tracked by Colgate for a couple of seasons, and also said Hartford and NJIT have been checking in, along with several Division II schools from the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference, including West Chester and East Stroudsburg.
Kinnel is also hearing from several Division I schools — Mount St. Mary’s, American, and Cornell are after the muscular 6-1 point guard — as well as some of those same PSAC programs, which are waiting as usual to see if their top targets will pick up those D-I looks or not.
The Prep seniors are well aware of the dance that’s going on and the patience they need to have for some of the dust to settle.
While their high school careers are over, Kinnel — he scored 28 points against Abington in front of coaches from, among others, Hartford and Drexel — and Thompson can still play AAU ball in the spring, during the April live recruiting periods.
“That really helps me out, knowing that schools are really just waiting to see what happens, really,” Kinnel said before the playoff loss. “Based on what I’ve done this year so far, as long as we still keep playing and I keep playing well, I believe I’ll definitely get a scholarship offer.”
Three other recruits to watch
Dean Noll, Eastern
Splash Mountain was fun.
But the real thrill for Shawnee basketball star Dean Noll came when he checked his phone after exiting the ride recently at Disney World.
“Coach [Joe] Kessler texted me and said I was going to get a call that night and an offer,” Noll said Friday from his senior trip at the resort in Orlando, Fla. “I was at a Pizza Shop in Disney World when I got the call. It was awesome.”
Noll, who earned South Jersey’s Player of the Year honors after leading Shawnee to the Group 4 state title, has committed to attend Cornell University and play basketball in the Ivy League.
Cornell coach Brian Earl, a 1995 Shawnee graduate who starred at Princeton, called Noll Thursday night to offer him a spot on the roster.
“It’s definitely a relief,” Noll said. “I was definitely stressing about it. But now to know where I’m going, to be playing in the Ivy League, it’s a dream come true.”
The 6-foot-1 Noll averaged 21.6 points in leading Shawnee to a 29-5 record and the No. 1 spot in the Inquirer’s final Top 25. He had offers from NCAA Division II programs such as Caldwell and University of the Sciences.
But he was holding out hope for an offer from a Division I program.
“I am so happy and proud of Dean,” Kessler said. “He has worked so hard and this could not have happened to a better person.”
Cornell was 12-16 last season and finished fourth in the Ivy League. The Big Red lost to top-seeded Harvard in the semifinals of the Ivy League tournament at the Palestra.
Noll has not visited Cornell. He plans to travel to the school in Ithaca, N.Y., this spring. He said the offer was especially rewarding since he had worked so hard in the offseason to command an offer from a Division I program.
“It definitely feels like all my hard work has paid off,” Noll said. “This was my goal all along. For it to happen, it’s just awesome.”
— Phil Anastasia
Nick Alikakos, Hill School
Patience has been key for former Episcopal Academy standout Nick Alikakos.
After playing well this year at the Hill School, a coeducational preparatory boarding school in Pottstown, the 6-foot-8, 215-pound swingman is still waiting on a Division I scholarship offer.
Alikakos is receiving interest from American, Manhattan, and New Hampshire. Also, Holy Cross recently requested his academic transcript.
“I was pleased with the season we had as a team and how I played,” he said. “I was able to take my game to another level due to the competitive scheduled we played.”
Alikakos averaged about 14 points and 10 rebounds while helping lead the Blues to a second-place showing in the Mid-Atlantic League and the Pennsylvania Independent Schools Athletic Association championship.
“I’ve improved as a three-point shooter, and I’ve gotten better at guarding smaller, quicker players,” he said.
Alikakos committed to play at Navy early in his senior year at Episcopal but opted to switch gears after going through two weeks of preliminary training at the Naval Academy Prep School in Rhode Island.
Manhattan is scheduled to visit Hill next week to watch Alikakos, a four-year starter at Episcopal, and a few teammates in an open-gym workout. The 19-year-old from West Chester plans to play AAU ball during the evaluation periods in April.
— Rick O’Brien
Khalil Turner, Sankofa Freedom
Khalil Turner, a junior at Sankofa Freedom, recently got the school’s first offer from a Division I college, Hartford.
Turner is a 6-5 wing who benefited from a 4-inch growth spurt in his sophomore year that took him from finger rolls to follow dunks in the span of a season.
Before he sprouted, Turner logged minutes as a point guard, which, coach Isaiah Thomas said, helped Turner become more versatile.
Turner is athletic enough to finish above the rim in traffic yet skilled enough to create his own shot or penetrate, draw defenders, and kick out to shooters.
The Warriors’ run in the PIAA Class 1A playoffs ended in Round 2, but with Turner returning, Sankofa is poised for another run next season.
Turner received his scholarship offer from Hartford just a few hours after scoring 14 points in an eye-opening victory over Girard College in the first round of the playoffs.
Thomas said Turner’s scholarship offer was icing on the team’s cake.
“This time around [in the playoffs] has been even more special [than last year] because of Khalil Turner getting a Division I offer and the talent level of our kids,” the coach said. “We knew these kids were good in ninth and 10th grade.”
— Aaron Carter
Local college recruiting update
By Josh Verlin
Current scholarship seniors: Sammy Mojica, Tyshawn Myles, Miles Overton, Austin Williams
Committed players: Coltrane Washington (Quaker Valley, Pa.)
Open scholarships remaining: 4
Notes: Drexel’s likely going to fill a number of these scholarships with transfers, perhaps going the graduate transfer route to get someone immediately eligible — help in the post is a must for this offseason. Washington, a 6-4 guard known as a plus outside shooter, lived in Drexel Hill from when he was 4 until he was 12, when his family moved to the western part of the state.
La Salle Explorers
Current scholarship seniors: B.J. Johnson, Pookie Powell (He will apply for 6th year of eligibility), Johnnie Shuler, Amar Stukes, Tony Washington
Committed players: Jack Clark (Cheltenham), Ed Croswell (St. Joseph’s Prep, Pa.), Jared Kimbrough (Neptune, N.J.), Osun Osunniyi (Putnam Science, Conn.)
Open scholarships remaining: 1
Notes: The Explorers are content with their quartet of committed players, which includes a 6-6 wing guard in Clark plus forwards in the 6-7 Croswell, 6-8 Kimbrough, and 6-10 Osunniyi, which stocks up the frontcourt for the foreseeable future. If Powell, who sat out his first year at Memphis and also took a transfer year to La Salle, can’t get a sixth-year waiver this offseason, look for them to go after another guard, perhaps as a postgrad.
Current seniors: Dan Dwyer, Darnell Foreman, Sam Jones, Matt MacDonald, Caleb Wood
Committed players: Michael Wang (Mater Dei, Calif.)
Open scholarships remaining: N/A
Notes: Nothing new in Penn’s recruiting landscape, with the commitments of Wang and Ohio junior guard Max Martz already in hand for several months. But the Quakers’ Ivy League title is sure to help as Steve Donahue’s staff pushes hard for key 2019 and 2020 classes; with Martz, a 6-5 sharpshooter in the fold, they’re off to a good start.
St. Joseph’s Hawks
Current scholarship seniors: James Demery, Shavar Newkirk, Jai Williams
Committed players: Jared Bynum (Georgetown Prep, D.C.)
Open scholarships remaining: 2
Notes: With four of his five sophomores and both of his freshmen all seeing plenty of minutes, Phil Martelli doesn’t need to bring in a ton of talent for next year. But he has started his 2018 class off strong with Bynum, a 5-10 combo guard who enjoyed a terrific 2017 summer with the DC Blue Devils on the Under Armour circuit; if St. Joe’s hadn’t snapped him up in May, there’s no doubt that high-major programs would have come after the well-rounded lead guard with a college-ready body.
Current scholarship seniors: Josh Brown, Obi Enechionyia
Committed players: Arashma Parks (Phelps School, Pa.)
Open scholarships remaining: 1
Notes: Nine of the 13 scholarship players on Temple’s roster are either freshmen or sophomores by eligibility, so Fran Dunphy’s 2018 and 2019 classes are likely to be on the small side. He’s already filled one of the two spots set to be vacated by Brown’s and Enechionyia’s graduations with Parks, a burly 6-9 forward who is also the half-brother of Villanova freshman Omari Spellman.
Current scholarship seniors: N/A
Committed players: Brandon Slater (Paul VI, Va.), Cole Swider (St. Andrew’s, R.I.)
Open scholarships remaining: 0
Notes: With Mikal Bridges looking more likely to be in the NBA next season and Jalen Brunson a good bet to join him, there’s going to be a youth movement next year, which will include the 6-6 Slater and 6-8 Swider, both impressive perimeter pieces, in the rotation. There’s room for those two even if Bridges and Brunson don’t leave, but coach Jay Wright doesn’t typically carry 13-man rosters. In other words, don’t expect them to stay.
Here are some recruits who have committed:
Player, School, College
Chase Audige, Hill School, William and Mary
Allen Betrand, Roman Catholic, Towson
Ahmad Bickley, Cheltenham, Chestnut Hill College
Tyrel Bladen, Coatesville, Eastern Kentucky
Antwuan Butler, Cardinal O’Hara, Austin Peay
Kyle Cassidy, Central Bucks East, DeSales
Jack Clark, Cheltenham, La Salle
Ed Croswell, St. Joseph’s Prep, La Salle
Kevin Dodds, Bishop Shanahan, Gannon
Eric Esposito, Conwell-Egan, Holy Family
Jake Forrester, Westtown, Indiana
Andrew Funk, Archbishop Wood, Bucknell
Ajiri Johnson, Bonner-Prendergast, Rider
Marcus Littles, Neumann-Goretti, Geo. Washington
Da’Quan Morris, Hill School, Randolph Macon
Dymir Montague, Neumann-Goretti, Holy Family
Arashma Parks, Phelps, Temple
Tyree Pickron, Archbishop Wood, Quinnipiac
Tom Quarry, Father Judge, Johns Hopkins
Cameron Reddish, Westtown, Duke
Sam Sessoms, Shipley, Binghamton
Charlie Schappell, Conestoga, Denison
Karrington Wallace, Archbishop Wood, Central Connecticut State
Tymere Bennett, Cherokee, Bloomfield
Ray Bethea Jr., Atlantic City, Howard
Myles Thompson, Camden, St. Francis
Matt Cotton, Eastern, Yale
Caleb Fields, Wildwood Catholic, Bowling Green
Isaiah Sanders, Timber Creek, Notre Dame College
— Rick O’Brien, Phil Anastasia, Aaron Carter, Josh Verlin