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HIGH SCHOOL HOOPS AROUND THE CORNER: Pre-Season Top 25 Philly Area Teams and All Stars

Photo credit: http://www.neumanngorettihs.org

By Jeremy Treatman, Liberty City Press Sports Editor: 

HIGH SCHOOL HOOPS AROUND THE CORNER

For high school hoops junkies, the 2013-2104 season is about to start. Practices start in mid-November and games will be underway on December 6th.

Here is one man's assessment of the top 25 teams in the area.

I have heard all summer how Archbishop Carroll will be the top team. And it's hard to argue. Six-foot-6-inch junior Derrick Jones has been offered by Kansas and Kentucky. His play for AAU giant Team Final was reportedly off the charts this summer. He figures to have the most upside of any player from the Delaware Valley this season. He's not alone at Carroll though. The Patriots also feature 6-10 junior Ernest Alfakpui, who has been offered by Temple and others already. Football star Austin Tilghman, a top-75 point guard transferred in from St. Andrews, De. Joe Mastardi, captain and sharpshooter, and freshman David Beatty are two other potential standouts for coach Paul Romanzcuk. For me, it’s a coin flip for the top spot. I am going with Neumann-Goretti, another PIAA AAA state contender, and Catholic League power. Coach Carl Arrigale has won 9 Catholic League championships and the last five consecutively. His top assistant, John Mosco, left for the job at Archbishop Wood this year. But the player's cupboard is not bare. Top player Ja' Quan Newton, a Miami recruit, may be Neumann's top player in the last 20 years. Troy Harper, Jamal Custis, freshman Quade Green, and junior Lamaar Kimble are other key contributors. Personally, I think Neumann and Carroll could play four times this year and I won't be surprised if they split. Who wins the Catholic League title and who wins the PIAA AAAA title, is anyone's guess. When both teams have 6 or 7 Division I college players in its rotation, it's hard to choose. Here's our pre-season top 25 and all-star selections. And of course, these rankings will likely change from week to week, and game to game.

1. Neumann Goretti (see above)

2. Archbishop Carroll (see above)

3. Imhotep Charter... The Panthers have won state titles in 4 of the last 5 years, although last season it won in the AAA in its first year. Imhotep voluntarily moved up from AA. Andre Noble is the master chess piece mover who has built the winner in Northwest Philadelphia. His best player ever Brandon Austin is now at Providence but talent is abundant in Basil Thompson (St. Francis), Dejon Evans, Dymir Logan, Jawkwon Jones, Devin Viggeons, and Haverford School transfer Sean Lloyd, who reportedly came to Imhotep a week ago

4. Roman Catholic. The Cahillites are a top threat to win a AAAA state title in Pennsylvania. This is arguably the Cahillites' best team and best chance to succeed in the post-season since they won the Catholic League in 2007. Amazingly, the Cahillites can win a AAAA state crown and finish third in the Catholic League this year. Senior guards Rashann London (Drexel) and Shep Garner (Penn State) will team with 10th grader Tony Carr for the best backcourt arguably in the state. Manny Taylor and Trevaughn Wilkerson return as starters in the frontcourt. Gemil Holbrook and D'Andre Vilmar are other contributors.

5. Math Civics and Sciences.....The Elephants are loaded after graduating their starting five last season. Mike Watkins, a 6-8 center who is committed to Penn State, is the new man in the middle. Samir Doughty, an electrifying guard came to the school after Communications Tech closed in the summer. Dono Van Barnes, Keith Griggin, and Lou Myers, a Norfolk State recruit, will be other stars for young coach Danny Jackson.

6. Chester...The Clippers will once again be formidable. Will a return fourth straight AAAA championship game appearance be in the cards? Maybe. Chester has a new potential star in 10th grader Marquise Collins, a 6-5 swingman. Conrad Chambers is a potential Division I guard and a returning starter. Tyrell Studivant, a Stonybrook recruit, transferred from Glasgow Del. Mahir Johnson, another transfer, may start. Maurice Henry Gabe Adesina are two blossoming players to keep an eye on as Larry Yarbray tries to lead his team to another title. The Clips won it all in 2011 and 2012.

7. Lower Merion...The Aces' won't necessarily be a state championship contender in 2014 but they will be in the mix for a title and certainly another PIAA AAAA state bid. Justin McFadden (Binghamton) is the team's top overall player. Returning point guard Jaquan Johnson returns with his lightning speed, terrific defense, and ability to get to the hole. Corey Sherman and Jule Brown are juniors who should break out. Nick Jones, who transferred in from Archbishop Carroll is an 11th grader who has the inside track on the 5th starting spot. Gregg Downer and his staff are also one of the best in the state every year.

8. Great Valley.....Mikal Bridges is the most unheralded player to come though these parts in years. But the Villanova recruit is no secret anymore. The 6-7 swingman can play any position and is good enough to take Great Valley to a AAAA title. Help comes from Cyree Ames, Nate Cohen, Ricky McQuay, Ryan Buckholz, and Brad Sherry.

9. St. Joseph's Prep...Speedy Morris' squad is not being looked at by many pundits this year. But that would be a mistake. In 2003 and 2004 his team won the Catholic League title even though Cardinal Dougherty had Division I talent up and down its roster. The Hawks' top player is Chris Clover, who has been offered by four of the six city schools. Kyle Thompson and Tom Fox are other top guys.

10. Pennsbury will be led this year by Cameron Jones, Mekhi Bryant, and Derrick Woods. This will be the Lions’ best team since the Lavoy Allen-Dalton Pepper days.

11. Martin Luther King...Coach Sean Colson did a fantastic job last season reviving the King program. The team lost only four games and made it to the state playoffs. He has a young team that features 10 players he expects to see regular minutes.

12. Constitution coach Rob Moore may have his beast team since he took over the program. The Generals top player is Ahmad Gilbert, a forward with high Division I potential. Kimar Williams and Chad Andrews are other players who may make their mark this season. They are one of the favorites to win a AA state crown.

13. Westtown Friends (Has 5th year players) coach Seth Berger, a co- founder of shoe giant And One, has two great players in Maryland recruit Jared Nickens and 7-foot Greek import Georgios Papagiannis, who experts think is a potenial NBA-lottery pick. Papagiannis is highly skilled and may turn pro after this season in his native Greece.

14. Haverford School (Has 5th year players)..Though the Fords lost Sean Lloyd recently, the team is stlll expected to win the Friends' League. Levan Alston is a junior point guard being recruited nationally and offered by Temple so far. Eric Anderson is a big man who has committed to Yale. Derek Mountain will see time as well.

15. Archbishop Wood's new coach is Mosco, who was top assistant at Neumann-Goretti for the last two decades. Pat Smith, a Cornell signee may be the area's top marksman. Tom Rush, Joe Lostracco, Luke Connaghna, and Tommy Funk will be other key players.

16. Penn Wood coach Clyde Jones always has an array of talent at the Lansdowne School.

17. Germantown Academy...Jim Fenerty graduated nearly his entire line-up of a championship team in 2013. But he is excited about his next wave of young players coming into the program. This team is a year away.

17. Upper Darby/Conestoga...Bob Miller returns four starters from last year's Royals’ team that made the AAAA state playoffs. Mike Troy’s Pioneers will be much improved. Penncrest has a strong nucleus and good young players.

18. Coatesville coach Chuck Moore was hired over the summer by Coatesville AD Jim Donato, only to see him resign weeks later after a racial text scandal. The Raiders always have players and Moore is the right man to get the team winning sooner rather than later.

19. Norristown...Coach Mike Evans graduated four seniors but his team is always a tough out in the district and state playoffs.

20. Abington...Matt Penecale is one of the best juniors in the area and the team’s top player.

21-25. West Chester Rustin, Friends' Central (DeAndre Hunter, the team's top player is out for the year with a leg injury) and Church Farm should all compete for their league crowns. Council Rock North and Plymouth Whitemarsh are expected to have decent seasons. Penncrest, Harriton and Philadelphia Electric are all sleeper teams.

PRE SEASON TOP 16 ALL STARS

JA' QUAN NEWTON NEUMANN GORETTI 6-3 SR

DERRICK JONES  ARCHBISHOP CARROLL 6-6 JR

MIKAL BRIDGES GREAT VALLEY 6-7 SR

GEORGIOS PAPGIANNIS WESTTOWN SCHOOL 7-1 JR

DE'ANDRE HUNTER FRIENDS CENTRAL 6-7 SO (INJURED)

JUSTIN MCFADDEN  LOWER MERION 6-4 SR

SHEP GARNER  ROMAN CATHOLIC 6-3 SR

SAMIR DOUGHTY  MCS  6-2 JR

CHRIS CLOVER  ST JOES' PREP  6-6 JR

LEVAN ALSTON HAVERFORD SCHOOL 6-4 JR

TYRELL STUDIVANT CHESTER 6-6 SR

AHMED GILBERT CONSTITUTION 6-6 JR

BASIL THOMPSON IMHOTEP 6-6 SR

PAT SMITH ARCHBISHOP WOOD 6-7 SR

ERNEST ALFAKPUI ARCHBISHOP WOOD 6-10 JR

MIKE WATKINS  MCS  6-8 JR