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Home arrow Recruiting News arrow 89 Games: The Best Of
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89 Games: The Best Of
Monday, 24 March 2008

by Brian Crownover
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Ryan Pearson
The high school season concluded last week in most states.  It's been a fun season that has seen plenty of high and low moments.  After watching 89 games, it is time for us to give out our awards.  We watch a mix of high major and mid major players, but the focus of these awards is the mid major players.

Player of the Year

Ryan Pearson (2008, 6-7 SF/PF)
The Christ the King Royals were runners up in the New York Catholic League playoffs.  They had a strong season and were led by George Mason signee Ryan Pearson.  While Florida bound Erving Walker was up and down all year, it was Pearson who was steady game in and game out.  Ryan plays very aggressive and is a monster inside.  He finishes very well and loves to attack off the dribble.  He also showed the ability to knock down jumpers throughout the season.  Ryan had a huge season and looks like he may have an immediate impact next year for the Patriots.

Team of the Year

Academy of the New Church
The Lions were already expected to have a good season, but the offseason additions of Larry Loughery and Clay Penecale took this team to another level.  Senior Sammy Givens, who committed to Drexel, is the lone player who has signed with a school.  This team full of mid level prospets wasn't always the most talented team to take the floor, but they played hard and smart and shared the ball.  Never was that more evident when they stunned then #1 nationally ranked St. Benedict's Prep.  They slowed down McDonald's All American Samardo Samuels and a slew of other high major prospects.  Academy of the New Church's only two losses on the season were to prep school programs American Christian Academy and Apex Academy. 

Coach of the Year

Mike Evans, Norristown High School
Everyone expected Chester and Pennsbury to be among the elite AAAA, but few could've predicted the success that the Norristown Eagles would have this year.  They finished the season with just two losses (both to Chester) and a state runner-up finish.  Their statement victory was in the District 1 semifinals where they knocked off favored Pennsbury.  Coach Evans won with great balance and without a household name.  Khalif Wyatt had a good year and is starting to make a name for himself and Senior Russell Graham played well, but most casual high school fans might be hard pressed to name either player.  The Eagles did it with balance, tough defense and the ability to share the basketball.  Mike Evans got all he could out of this team and really suprised people throughout the state.

Best Single Game Performance

T.J. DiLeo (2008, 6-3 PG/SG)
It was tough to pick one great performance after seeing a pair of 40 point games.  T.J. made the most of senior day as he scored 44 points and finished with 11 assists in a 101-63 win over Palmyra.  He was on fire from the perimeter, did a fantastic job of driving and finishing and also setup his teammates.  T.J. has good size and the ability to score from the perimeter or going at the hoop.  This game was tight until his second half explosion.

Dwayne Davis (2008, 6-4 SG/SF)
It was early on in the Public League playoffs when we watched Dwayne errupt for 42 points in a 113-87 victory over Hope Charter.  Dwayne scored 23 of his points in the second period with fellow star Devon White on the bench.  His three point shot was on and when that's the case, this scorer is impossible to stop.  He's a tough guard who is able to attack off the dribble and bulldoze his way to the rim.  His toughness also showed when he grabbed 8 rebounds as well.

Most Improved Player

Khalif Wyatt (2009, 6-2 PG/SG)
Last spring, Khalif would come off the bench for his AAU and score some, but didn't do a lot else.  He has lost 15-20 pounds and thus has added quickness.  Khalif continued to show that scoring ability this year as he led Norristown to a state runner-up finish.  He can hit from nearly anywhere on the court and in a variety of ways.  He also showed he is unselfish though as he distributed the ball very well throughout the year.  Khalif should have a strong spring and summer and will make Norristown tough again next year.

Game of the Year

Academy of the New Church over St. Benedict's Prep
We weren't able to make it to the Gray Bees gym for this early tip until halftime, but it was definately worth the trip.  We were stunned when we entered the gym and saw Academy of the New Church trailing by a small margin.  Even more shocking was that the Lions strong play continued against then #1 nationally ranked St. Benedict's Prep.  ANC played tough on defense.  They packed in their zone defense to slow down the powerful Gray Bees frontcourt.  They dared St. Benedict's guards to hit jumpers.  On offense, the Lions spread the floor and played one on one.  This strategy worked for what was probably the biggest upset in the entire country this past season.  When the clock showed all zeros, it was tiny Academy of the New Church 53-50 over St. Benedict's. 

Best Shooter

Chris Fouch (2008, 6-1 SG)
Traditional New York City Catholic League powerhouse Rice High School has some high profile players in Kemba Walker and Durand Scott.  Drexel bound Senior Chris Fouch was instrumental in their strong season as well.  This sharpshooter loves to fire away from anywhere beyond the arc.  He has nearly unlimited range and is very consistent.  Chris doesn't typically take a lot of shots, yet he's still usually in double figures.  He had a strong 20+ point performance in a road win against future teammate Kevin Phillip and Bishop Loughlin.

Most Electrifying Player

Karon Burton (2008, 5-8 PG)
When they're on, few people can make the plays that this diminutive guard can.  Karon has fantastic quickness and isn't afriad to go to the rack.  He has a large array of playground moves that can freeze the defense.  When his three point shot is on is when he's really at his best.  That was the case against AA champion Jeannette.  Karon dropped 32 points on the Jayhawks in the victory.

Most Underrated Player

Kevin Green-Germany (2008, 6-0 PG/SG)
Chester won the state gold this year.  When people talk about the Clippers, Nasir Robinson and Karon Burton are the first names that enter the conversation.  Even after that, Rahlir Jefferson and Russell Johnson are known for their toughness inside.  Shooting guard Kevin Green-Germany is often overlooked on this team.  The senior stepped into a starting role after the graduation of Micah Covert and the Clippers haven't missed a beat.  Kevin is a very smooth shooter who you can't give an inch of space to.  He'll shoot from anywhere on the court, whether it's from very deep or using his good mid range game.  Kevin doesn't consistently get to the rim, but he can get by defenders if they play too close to him.  He doesn't force his shots, but still gets his points.  Kevin was a big key to the Chester run.

He Got Next

Chaz Williams (2009, 5-7 PG)
Last fall, Hofstra got rare commitment from an underclassmen.  Junior Chaz Williams gave a verbal to Tom Pecora.  Chaz has done nothing but improve his stock this winter.  When was saw him in the Tom Crotty Classic, he did everything.  He's a very quick ball handler who is tough in traffic.  He can change directions in a hurry and stop and pop from everywhere.  Chaz can burry three pointers as well as the mid range jumper.  He also has good vision and can setup his teammates as well.  Chaz is quite athletic for his size too.  If he was a senior, he'd be among the top incoming players to the CAA.  Only being a junior, it's going to be tough for traditional powers like George Mason and Virginia Commomwealth to match this pickup.  We really look forward to watching this talented lead guard over the spring and summer. 

Top Freshman

Aaron Brown (2011, 6-5 PF)
He might not be the smoothest player on the court, but this youngster just produces.  Aaron is tough on the inside and finishes well around the rim.  He's an aggressive rebounder too.  He started at 6th man, but worked his way into the lineup for Roman Catholic as the year wore on.

Nicest Gym

Parkland High School
I went back near my old stomping grounds in District XI for the AAA state semifinals.  I've been there several times before and was always impressed with the facility.  The beautiful school, which is close to 10 years old now, is well laid out.  You enter near the cafeteria (where you can grab some food) and walk into the gym.  You enter the gym from the top behind the basket.  There is an opportunity to stand there and watch the game or move down into the seats.  The five or so rows of high seats above the basket are a unique touch.  Not to mention being given rosters by the staff was a nice touch.

Favorite Gym

Geigle Complex, Reading High School
I've been here a few times as well, but still really love the old school feel of this gym.  There are plenty of of lower level Division 1 programs that would probably be happy to call this huge gym home.  I've typically been there for playoffs games, so the atmosphere has always been great. 

Most Interesting Gym

North Catholic
The red and white bleachers at "The Pit" at North Catholic catch your attention right away.  If there ever was a throwback gym, this would be it.  The seats are steeply sloped and I can't imagine there's much room when it's full.  Luckily, I had plenty of room to spread out the night that I was there.  The bleacher and the row behind it are on the same level and very close to each other.  The court is below grade and the ceiling is low in this 1926 gym.  The stairways behind each basket are also a unique aspect.

Best Atmosphere

Penn Wood vs. Chester
Nothing quite brings out the crowd like when the state's best team comes to town.  That was the case when Penn Wood hosted Chester in their tiny gym.  Both sides brought quite a few fans and they were going back and forth (as were the enthusiastic cheerleaders).  I arrived late and was thankful to be media.  Many fans were left outside of this cramped gym.  In the end, the home team fell to the powerhouse Chester squad, but the gym was electric as Penn Wood made a furious second half comeback attempt. 

Best Food

South Philadelphia High School
When you work a normal 9-5 and then watch games, some good food at concession stands is always a plus.  Unfortuneatly, finding anything really good to eat is a rarity.  That's why we were suprised and impressed to some quality hot sausage and fries at South Philadelphia High School for the first round of the state playoffs.  Cherry Hill East had some quality food options as well including a meatball sub.

Last Updated ( Monday, 24 March 2008 )
 
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