There are a lot of new faces within the St. Benedict’s Prep basketball program in Newark (NJ) this season. From new head coach Mark Taylor to Class of 2015 must-see point guard Isaiah Briscoe and more new talent on the Gray Bees’ roster it is an exciting new era for the program in Newark. One player that still seems to be under the radar nationally is Isaiah Watkins, another member of the Canadian AAU program CIA Bounce that will look to excel this year for Taylor’s squad.
“What drew me to St. Benedict’s was the goal of becoming better,” Watkins told NBE earlier this evening. “Improving every day and hopefully being able to win at the highest level possible.”
The improvement of Watkins has been ongoing through the spring and summer according to Nolan Shulman, National Recruiting Analyst of Flagrant Fouls and Editor-in-Chief of the Ultimate Recruiting Handbook which is the authority on Canadian basketball prospects. Shulman also noted that Watkins will come to work every single day at St. Benedict’s, which should only enhance his goal of improving.
By Alex Schwartz
ALLENTOWN, N.J. — Although the Summer Shootout is not necessarily well-known outside of New Jersey, the event is filled with quality teams and talented players on a yearly basis. The 2011 edition was no different, as NBE Basketball Report took in some of the action on Saturday and got to catch up with a handful of Big East recruits.
Isaiah Watkins, a 6-foot-8, 215-pound power forward, really saw his stock increase this summer. A class of 2013 prospect who hails from Toronto and is in his first year at St. Benedict’s (NJ), Watkins already lists a number of high-major offers.
Watkins said that Santa Clara, Missouri, Arkansas, Cincinnati and Virginia have all extended scholarship offers to him. In addition, he is hearing from Harvard, Ohio State, Georgetown, Michigan, Elon, Lafayette, Niagara, Villanova, Rutgers, Seton Hall, Temple, West Virginia, Kansas and more.
By Matt Whitfield
After spending Thursday in Philadelphia for the Reebok Breakout Challenge NBE headed to Reading (PA) and the campus of Albright College to take in some action at the Hoop Group’s Elite Camp Session One. The massive camp is always entertaining and well run for players at all levels. NBE will stay in Reading through the day taking in playoff and all-star game action. Tomorrow we will remain on the Albright College campus for the Hoop Group Elite team camp which will certainly draw an impressive crowd from the college coaching community.
Rutgers head coach Mike Rice was on the scene early on Friday morning, checking out the action by 9 AM. Below are some notes from the early action this morning. More to come throughout the day….
Lennard Freeman, a 6-foot-7 forward out of St. John’s College HS in Washington (DC) seemed to have the attention of the Rutgers head coach this morning. Freeman, who plays on the AAU circuit in the Team Takeover program, mentioned DePaul, Washington, South Florida, Penn, Northwestern and Albany. He has also taken an unofficial visit to NC State.
Transferring to Suffield Academy from Westminster Prep is Myles Marshall. The Class of 2013 prospect was a 2nd-team All-NEPSAC Class B selection last season at Westmnster. At this point he is hearing from Elon, Siena and Iowa.
Class of 2013 shooting guard Stanford Robinson of Paul VI High School is one of the top prospects coming into the Hoop Group Elite camp and his recruitment certainly backs that up.
“I got an offer from Miami, Rutgers and UMASS,” said Robinson. “Xavier has been calling as well as Georgetown, Virginia Tech, Maryland, and a lot of ACC and Big East schools. I got some calls from Syracuse as well.”
Calls from schools in the BIG EAST and other major conferences keep Robinson pushing towards his goals and making him feel like the hard work is beginning to pay off, motivating him to keep pushing.
“The calls from Syracuse makes me feel like I’m an elite player and I need to keep working so I can have more of these schools like Syracuse keep calling.
My goal is to play at an elite [basketball] school.”
Robinson has been to NC State on an unofficial visit and will hope to take a few more trips in August.
One of the players drawing the most attention this week in Reading is Geno Thorpe of Shaler High School near Pittsburgh (PA) and the NJ Playaz AAU program. Word spread on the internet that Thorpe could be making his college decision by September, but the 2013 recruit seemingly backed off that speculation this morning and gave the picture he is unsure of what he’s going to do regarding colleges.
When asked if he was going to make his decision in September. Thorpe responded, “Yeah, but I might reopen it.”
Thorpe mentioned he considers himself open at the moment.
“I’m just kind of open with everything,” he said.
There was speculation recently that Thorpe would be moving to New Jersey for his junior season, Blair Academy and Hudson Catholic being possible destinations, however a little more of an upgrades schedule will keep him at Shaler for now.
“I’m going to Shaler next year….they kind of upgraded the schedule a little bit.”
Currently the school list for Thorpe reads Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Seton Hall, Wisconsin, Kansas State, Baylor and Gonzaga. His relationship with the Pitt staff has been documented, but he also has a strong relationship with the Rutgers head coach, who was watching him this morning, as he has known Mike Rice for several years.
“I went to the Robert Morris Camp in 7th grade and that’s how we met up,” said Thorpe.
College basketball is a year-round sport. In the summer there is news of players coming and going from programs to keep track of, a busy recruiting season and more and more summer leagues that offer the players a chance to stay sharp against high-level competition. While many incoming freshmen just celebrated their high school graduation in the last few weeks and even days, many are already on a college campus and competing in the summer leagues and attending classes with their new teammates.
Today we take a quick run through some of the latest stories in the BIG EAST that touch on each of those subjects…
In Mike Helfgot’s Recruiting Notes in the Chicago Tribune there is an update on 6-foot-2 rising junior Jaylon Tate, who recently confirmed rumors he will be transferring from De La Salle High School to Chicago Simeon. At Simeon Tate will join a loaded roster that includes classmates Jabari Parker and Kendrick Nunn and senior Steve Taylor. All four players are considered sure-fire high-major recruits.
As for Tate, Helfgot reports that has offers from Northwestern, Providence and Xavier, according to his mother, Arisa Johnson, with several other high-majors such as DePaul, Marquette, Tennessee, Florida State and, as of this week, UCLA, expressing serious interest.