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  • Jared Exler

Philly Area 17u AAU Preview Part 1

Updated: Jul 6, 2020

*Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, AAU basketball competition has unfortunately been delayed. I’m still hoping for the best, and that these players will be able to get the opportunities they deserve to showcase their abilities at some point, whether that’s sometime in the mid to late Summer or even early Fall. This is the first of a 3-part series of team previews.

Philly Pride: The defending Under Armour 16u champs will look to carry that over to the 17u level and repeat what happened last year. Coach Brandon Williams is known for always having his teams play with energy and tough defense and this group is no different.

The group is headlined by one of the biggest stock risers on the east coast in the past year in 6’2 point guard Stevie Mitchell from Wilson HS. Arguably the best scorer in the state of Pennsylvania, Mitchell can get to the rim at will and with his improved athleticism and ability to run a team, the high major offers have begun to pour in as Stanford, Miami, and Georgia Tech all have offered him in the last few months. If Mitchell can develop a consistent three point shot he has the potential to become one of the cream of the crop players in the 2021 class.

Playing next to Mitchell on the wing is another guy whose stock has soared in the last year as well in Ed Holland from Friends Central. Holland has great size for a wing at 6’6 which helps him get his smooth shooting stroke off over defenders with ease. Because of his 6’10 wingspan he also has tremendous defensive potential. A strong student, his recruitment has varied as he has offers from places like Penn State, St. Joe’s, Lehigh, Penn, and Yale. Certainly could pick up more high major offers getting to show his ability on the 17u UAA stage.

This is a team that has multiple big wings and 6’7 Zach Hicks from Camden Catholic is another one of them. Has similar qualities to Holland with his ability to shoot with his great size and defend with his length. Hicks is also a tremendous rebounder with his athleticism and has even more potential in that regard as he gets stronger. Has current offers from schools in Philly like Drexel, Temple, and LaSalle and those schools are probably hoping he doesn’t get seen more because he certainly looks like a high major guy to me with his size, athleticism, and high level skill set.

A new add to the team is 6’9 Italian import Nicolo Nobili who plays for Paul VI (NJ). Played at a high level back in Italy with top club Virtus Bologna on their junior team. Has adjusted well so far to American basketball as a stretch 4 with his ability to shoot the three as well as finish at the rim with a high percentage. Has a current offer from Lehigh and that makes complete sense as he should be an Ivy/Patriot league priority.

Adding to the firepower in their backcourt is 6’0 point guard Rhadir Hicks who just came off a strong season helping Malvern Prep win the Inter-AC, and also made the all Inter-AC first team. Known primarily for his playmaking and defensive abilities he gives Coach Williams some intriguing options as he can at times play Mitchell at the 2 with Hicks running the 1. Hicks really knows how to run a team and is a guy other players love to play with. Just got recent offers from George Washington and Towson and is a strong student as well, so expect schools from the Ivy/Patriot leagues all the way up to the A-10 to be pursuing him.

Christian Tomasco brings more size to this team with his 6’9 frame. He will play the 4 or 5 with this team and has shown the ability to really shoot the ball well from mid-range as well as the occasional three. Holds an offer currently from St. Francis (PA) and expect low major D1s to be looking closely at him in the next year. Has the potential to play his way up to a CAA or MAC level prospect if he gets stronger and becomes a more consistent three point shooter.

Another addition to this team is 6’3 combo guard Wisler Sanon from Paul VI (NJ) who just committed to NJIT. Sanon was a perfect add for this squad as his style of play fits exactly with what Coach Williams wants to do. Sanon truly enjoys playing defense and uses his athleticism to be a pest on defense as well as finish at the rim in different ways. Will be a tremendous asset for Coach Williams whenever he chooses to full court press. Definitely a great get for NJIT as he fits that level perfectly in the A-Sun.

Rounding out this team is Mike Mcclain who is a 6’4 small forward and was a key contributor for a Cheltenham team that made the PIAA 6A District 1 title game. He gives this team another defensive stalwart as he uses his lateral quickness and length to cause havoc on that side of the ball. He can also provide some spot scoring for this team as he has good touch on his layups to finish at the rim. A guy who all PSAC schools and D2s in the state of Pennsylvania should be taking a hard look at.

Overall, Philly Pride has a really well balanced team and should no question be one of the contenders to take home the UAA 17u crown.

East Coast Power: This is a group who high academic D3s are going to need to make a priority to see as East Coast Power has a number of talented students on this squad. They compete in the Hoop Group Summer League. From first glance this squad has some intriguing players in their frontcourt.

Starting with a returnee from last year's 17u squad is 6’8 power forward Evin Timochenko from one of the best teams in the state this year in Wilson HS. Timochenko is doing a prep year at The Hill School in hopes of bolstering his recruitment to the D1 level. He is a big physical presence who has a soft touch around the rim as well as always bringing tough defense. If he can turn into a consistent three point shooter look for him to be hearing from low D1 schools in conferences like the Ivy, Patriot, or NEC.

Another player who will be manning the interior for this team is 6’7 power forward Jax Trickey from Cardinal O’Hara. He’s a player whose defense is certainly ahead of his offense at this point but his instincts on defense are impressive. He has great knowledge about where to be with his rotations in order to be in the right spot at the right time to either block a shot or grab a tough rebound. Strong student so expect high academic D3s to be at many of his games this next year.

One of the top players in the Central League this year was John Seidman from Haverford HS. Seidman is a 6’3 combo guard who can really score the ball whether from the three-point line or at the rim. Also has shown to be a quality secondary playmaker who can take stress off the point guard. A top-notch student, he would be an immediate impact player at a high academic D3, but with a strong season in the HGSL as well as leading Haverford on a run in districts or states next year, he could play his way up to the Ivy or Patriot level.

Manning the point guard spot for this team will be Anthony Wise who is a 6’1 point guard from The Hill School who is a 2022 playing up on this team. Wise is a very good ball handler and facilitator who will always find his open teammates. Defensively he is a pest and is adept at taking charges. Learning from former East Coast Power player and Army commit at Zach Lezanic will have benefitted him for the future and will help him become the Ivy/Patriot level player he can be.

Next up, this team has two guards who will be counted on heavily next year in the Philadelphia Catholic League for Devon Prep in Eamonn Walsh and Chris Patton. Walsh is a 6’3 wing who can score it both at the rim and from three. Patton is a 6’2 shooting guard who is a sharpshooter with range out to the NBA line when he’s hot. Coach Jason Fisher runs an offense at Devon Prep with a lot of ball movement and cutting so any D3s that play that style as well as like to let it fly from 3 should be recruiting these two.

The other point guard on this team, which gives them two great options at that position, is 6’3 Jayden Rowe from Downingtown East. Played Robin this year at Downingtown East to Andrew King’s Batman (West Chester) but next year it will be his show. He has a really smooth stroke from the three point line as he shot 40% from three for Downingtown East. Brings great size to the point guard spot which he uses to find open teammates and finish at the rim. Right now looks to be an immediate impact D3 guy with the potential to play his way into a scholarship D2 prospect with showing his game on the HGSL or proving he can step right into King’s role next year with no problem.

Another big body on the inside is 6’7 power forward/center Jimmy Casey from Lansdale Catholic. Also a talented football player as a tight end, he brings his football traits onto the basketball court as he plays with a lot of heart and toughness. Defensively, he does a good job staying straight up as well knowing the right timing on when to go for blocks. Offensively, he has soft hands and finishes close to the rim at a high rate. Casey is another good student on this team who high academic D3s should be in touch with. Will be interesting what sport he chooses to play in college.

Zach Genther, a 6’0 combo guard from Haverford School, provides this team with another guy who can really space the floor as he has great form on his shot as well being a secondary playmaker in the backcourt for them at times. His outstanding GPA at a prestigious school like Haverford School along with his game would make a conference like the Centennial perfect for him.

Rounding out this team are James Welde and Oliver Hutchison. Welde is a 6’4 shooting guard who played mainly as a role player for Bonner this year, which was one of the top teams in the state. He has good size for his position in addition to being a smooth shooter who has decent athleticism. With the losses of all-catholic guards Tyreese Watson and Donovan Rodriguez his role will expand substantially next year. Nearing a 4.0 GPA in the classroom, another one on this team who should have high academic D3s in hot pursuit. Hutchison is a 6’2 shooting guard from the Hill School who is also playing up as a 2022 along with Wise. Hutchison is a very good shooter who looks to still be developing physically. His main role on Hill School was a spot up shooter this year but only a sophomore now and will have to continue evolving his game to show he can become a secondary ball handler and do more off the bounce. Also nearing a 4.0 GPA in the classroom, he looks to at least be a high academic D3 player by the time he’s a senior with the potential to go higher if he can develop more physically.

This group has a lot of players who play a similar style which will make them tough to defend as they will be able to put out many different lineup combinations. Look for them to be right in the thick of things again in the HGSL and prove to be a tough out for all of the teams in that league because of their unselfishness and high IQs as players.

Copyright © 2020 Jared Exler, All rights reserved.

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