After the threat of a snowstorm pushed Sunday’s slate of Catholic League games into the chilly embrace of Monday’s arctic chill, who could have thought July’s warmth would have helped La Salle knock off host Neumann-Goretti?
Oft-overlooked, La Salle’s senior point guard, Allen Powell, spent his summer months honing his craft to ensure he couldn’t be overlooked any longer.
His game-high 22 points (10 in the fourth quarter) kept the Explorers (16-0, 9-0) undefeated, gave La Salle its first victory against the Saints since the 2012-2013 season, and forced people to pay attention.
Hartford, Hofstra and Drexel, among others, have made inquiries, but Powell is a quick and shifty 6-foot-2 point guard without a scholarship offer … yet.
On the AAU circuit last summer, Powell “scorched” the competition in July, according to one of his AAU coaches with Philly Pride.
“I know he believes in his mind now that he’s just as good or better than a lot of those guys,” said Amauro Austin, co-director of the Philly Pride basketball club. “And he’s going out to prove it.”
On a court with several committed or signed Division I basketball players, Powell stood out Monday night.
Teammates Konrad Kiszka (Princeton) and Zach Crisler (Rice) added 18 and 5 points, respectively. Neumann-Goretti senior Chris Ings, who has committed to Rider, finished with 12 points for the Saints (9-4, 5-2).
Powell finished 2-of-4 from behind the three-point line, 5-of-9 from the field and 10-of-12 at the foul line. Equally as important, his heady and unselfish play helped the Explorers when they needed it most.
La Salle built a 25-15 edge at intermission and seemed to make a play each time the Saints threatened.
Powell’s assist to junior guard Jake Timby gave the Explorers a 45-32 edge seconds before the third quarter ended. Timby then added a three-pointer little more than 30 seconds into the fourth quarter.
The Saints seized modest momentum later in the fourth before Powell’s poise — and a driving layup — pushed La Salle’s lead to 12 points with 1 minute, 49 seconds remaining
“I always had it,” Powell said of his confidence and poise, “I was just -- not taking a backseat, but kind of taking a backseat to the people ahead of me. But I’m taking the opportunity now to show everybody what I can do, letting these college coaches see what I can do, too.”
Powell may have sat in the backseat last season. But this year, all eyes are on him when he looks in the rearview mirror. Leadership, in addition to skill and athleticism, are his biggest areas of growth this season, he said.
When asked about the recruiting process, Powell said, “No offers yet, but I can see them coming. I’m just going to wait. I’m not going to rush it. Everything’s going to work out fine.”
His mind is focused on winning with his team. Thursday night, the Explorers host Bonner-Prendergast and dynamic point guard Isaiah Wong, a Miami signee and the reigning Catholic League MVP.
Powell said he needs "two good practices this week before the game. Stay mentally focused. Don’t get too hype … because we’re 16-0. Stay humble. Come into the game ready to go.”
But don’t let the cool attitude fool you. Being patient and focused aren’t easy when you feel overlooked. Powell has been dubbed “the silent assassin” by Austin, who said the guard is as competitive as they come.
“It’s kind of hard,” Powell said. “I’ve been overlooked. I know I’m as good as some of these people who have offers, but I’m not going to make a big deal about it. I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing, keep progressing as the season goes on so college coaches know.”
He only recently turned 17, so prep school remains a possibility, Austin said. But no matter when it comes, every high school athlete wants his first scholarship offer.