Taurean Thompson to Transfer, Eyes Seton Hall

During the summer, the College Basketball transfer market is one of the busiest periods. With hundreds of players switching schools all over the country, coaching staffs are always busy trying to add to their current team. However, even with schools across the nation starting classes this week, additions are still being made to rosters. Such is the case for Kevin Willard and the Seton Hall Pirates.

Coming into this year, Seton Hall is a consensus Top 25 team in both the AP Poll and the Coaches Poll. Returning four starters, including three 1,000 point scorers in Angel Delgado, Khadeen Carrington, and Desi Rodriguez, the Pirates look poised to make a run in this year’s NCAA Tournament. Aside from their three-headed monster, the Pirates also return two-year starter and defensive stalwart Ish Sanogo, sharpshooter Myles Powell, and aggressive big man Michael Nzei. The Pirates also bring in a recruiting class that features Top 100 player Myles Cale, Point Guard Jordan Walker, and big man Sandro Mamukelashvili, the Pirates have a deep roster.

Recent news has come out however regarding a former Seton Hall target, former Top 100 Forward Taurean Thompson. The big man who averaged 9.2 points with 3.8 rebounds on a very solid 55 percent shooting from the field showed a lot of promise for the Syracuse Orange in his freshman campaign despite only playing 18 minutes a game.

On Monday morning, Donna Ditota of syracuse.com reported that Thompson had left Syracuse and is unlikely to return to the University.  “We have been informed that Taurean is taking a leave of absence from Syracuse University,” Head Coach Jim Boeheim said on the matter, “My understanding is he wants to go to school closer to home due to some family health issues.”  Thompson was expected to be a big piece for Boeheim and the Orange this year.

Since Thompson announcing his decision to leave, all signs have pointed to him transferring to the Hall.

Now what does this mean for the Pirates?

Seton Hall would be adding a valuable piece to an already loaded roster. With former 2017 commit Darnell Brodie electing to take a Post Graduate year at Montverde Academy, Seton Hall is left with an open scholarship for this year. Adding Thompson would not only fill the scholarship, but be a good piece for the future as it is more than likely he will have to sit out this year due to NCAA transfer rules. The Pirates landed transfer Quincy McKnight earlier in the summer. Both he and Thompson would be great pieces to add, once eligible for play.

Thompson only being a sophomore sets the Pirates up to have a good foundation after the inevitable graduation of the four seniors and the possibility of loosing Nzei to a graduate transfer. A Thompson commitment gives the Pirates a future front line of Thompson, Mamukelashvili, and current JUCO transfer and 7 footer Romaro Gill, who is expected to red shirt this year. That would be a good core for Willard to work with.

Follow Matt on Twitter – @PignataroMatt

Early Big East Predictions

An Early Look at What To Expect from the Big East in the 2017-2018 Season

Class may not be in session, but that doesn’t mean it’s too early to start talking about college hoops. With that in mind, let’s look at how the standings may shape up in the Catholic Conference this year.

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Undiscovered Vol. 1: From Unknown to Recruited

With the game of basketball constantly evolving and progressing, we are starting to see the talent pool of high school basketball vastly deepen. Consistently playing above the rim, sinking NBA range threes, and no-look pocket passes are a few of the skill sets we are getting accustomed to seeing on a daily basis. So many players are good now a days. Some of them are really good. But skill level and potential don’t mean much unless you are seen.

A lot of college level players stay under the radar throughout their careers. It may be because of a certain location, not playing on one of the popular AAU circuits, or a delayed growth spurt; some players don’t end up getting the exposure they need to get to the next level.

Hoop Group Elite camps offer the chance for players to cancel out all of the factors above and get the opportunity to show what they can do in front of the people that need to see. Hoop Group has had many players come to camp with little or no interest and leave with college interest and scholarship offers. The following are a few that have come through in the past few years.

 

  • Gabe Stefanini

Gabe Stefanini came to all three elite sessions in the summer of 2016 holding only one offer as he started the live period. After his successful summer playing in camp, he had a long list of sixteen Division One offers! He eventually narrowed his choices to Santa Clara, Princeton, St. Bonaventure, and Columbia before committing to play at Columbia University in the fall.

  • Keve Aluma

Keve Aluma came in a relative unknown in the summer of 2016. After playing in Elite 1, he made an impression on over ten Division One schools. One of those ten, Wofford College was the school that Keve ended up committing to. He will be playing in the black and gold this season and hopes to continue on Wofford’s success in the Southern Conference.

  • Josip Vrankic

Coming from Canada, Josip didn’t have much interest from schools in the US before coming to the Elite 1 session. After the week, it was an entirely different story. Josip blew up at camp and drew offers from over ten Division One programs. He decided to take his talents west as he will enroll at Santa Clara University of the WCC.

  • Sandro Mamukelashvili

Sandro Mamukelashvili first game in the United States as at Hoop Group Elite Session 1. At the beginning of that session, he held zero D1 offers.  After the week, he was offered scholarships from five high major schools and will be suiting up for Seton Hall University next season.

  • Devin Jensen

Devin Jensen brought his sharp shooting abilities to Elite Session 1 and Team Camp in the summer of 2016. There he was seen by Coach Joey Gallo of Merrimack College. Over the five days Coach Gallo began recruiting Devin who he ended up committing to the Warriors on a full scholarship. Jensen will be a name to watch in the NE-10 these next four years.

  • Matt Faw

Matt Faw held just one Division 1 offer coming into the Academic 2 session at the end of July. After the week, he not only led his team to the league’s championship game, but also picked up offers from five Ivy/Patriot League schools. Matt eventually committed to play for the Crusaders of Holy Cross and will be playing for them this upcoming winter.

  • Michael Myers

Michael Myers injury last March caused him to miss the entire spring season. With the chance of a derailed recruitment, Michael decided to come to Elite camp; he had zero interest at the time from schools at the next level. Through his time at camp, he had the chance to catch the eye of every high academic school on the east coast. Michael eventually found a home at Williams College in of the NESCAC and will be an integral piece of the Ephs as they look to build upon an already historic tradition.

 

College Coaches: Stay tuned to the Hoop Group Undiscovered series as we try to predict who this year’s hidden gems are!

Pooley’s Picks: New Jersey Tip-Off

Pooley’s Picks

2016 New Jersey Tip-Off Preview

Qualifications:  Sticking with the theme of high school events we have NEW JERSEY BASKETBALL BACK!  Nothing like the start of basketball season in NJ and nothing like the 2016 New Jersey Tip-Off.  This week we’ll have a little different approach to Pooley’s Picks.  No specific qualifications this week, just some pointers for people to watch out for during this event and really the rest of the season.

Picks are in no particular order. Please enjoy the fifth installment of Pooley’s Picks.

2016 New Jersey Tip Off

The 2016 New Jersey Tip-Off: Ten great match ups. 5 of the top 7 teams in NJ.

The Event: For years (17 to be exact), the Hoop Group has put on the NJ Tip-Off.  Each year, it features high-profile match ups and top-tier talent. The event itself is well run and the venues are always excellent.  The 2016 New Jersey Tip-Off will be very much the same.  First, Eric Kessler and Dave Fedor have a ton of experience running events, and more importantly a ton of knowledge of the teams.  When you get the best teams together to start the season it is important to have a great setup and planning.  This event will have that and more.

 

HC of Pope John at 2016 New Jersey Tip-Off, Vincent Johnson, while at Lehigh.

Vincent Johnson: Vincent was named the head coach of Pope John after former coach Jason Hasson left for Pennsylvania.  “Chico” as many know him, is a great coach with an unbelievable background in basketball.  More importantly, he is a good friend of mine and an excellent mentor to many young ball players.  The #1 thing I’m excited for at the 2016 New Jersey Tip-Off is to watch Coach Johnson in his head coaching debut.  Now, he has been matched up with Roselle Catholic, a staple at the top of the NJ rankings.  Don’t be surprised if Coach Johnson and his young, talented squad can keep it close.

2016 New Jersey Tip-Off participant Mike Morreale

2016 New Jersey Tip-Off participant Mike Morreale

Michael Morreale:  The 6’5″ 2017 senior is one of my favorites.  He is an excellent player, known both for his excellent athleticism and long range jumpers.  Entering his senior year, he’ll be a valuable asset for Coach Mergin Sina and the Knights.  Look for Mike to knock down a couple threes and convert on a jam or two.  More than that, look for Mike to make the big play at the end.  Defensively Mike is one of the best around, guarding point guards right on down to centers.  More importantly, he is a great kid and a great teammate.  No question that at the 2016 New Jersey Tip-Off everyone will enjoy watching Mike.

 

 

Blair v Linden: Earlier in the year, in the first installment of Pooley’s Picks I predicted the most productive players in New Jersey.  This match up features (admittedly) my biggest snub: Tavon Jones.  I can’t wait to watch Tavon in his first opportunity to prove me wrong.  The big guard can do it all and will have a huge test against one of my favorite backcourts on the east coast.  Let’s not forget the match up also features two great coaches: Phil Colicchio and Joe Mantegna.

 

Bergen Catholic v St. Benedict’s:  Mark Taylor’s team is led by impressive Syracuse commit Bourama Sidibe and fab frosh Noah Farrakhan.  Billy Armstrong’s team is led by two senior guards Gabe Stefanini (Columbia) and Taj Benning (Fairfield).  Something has to give here.  This is the most evenly matched game of the weekend, and one I really am excited to see.  Look for the X-factor, 6’8″ freshman Matt Zona, to jump onto the New Jersey seen.

 

Ja’Quaye James:  The small, heady PG will have his work cut out for him against Newark East Side.  First, the Red Raiders are one of the best defenses at the 2016 New Jersey Tip-Off.  Second, they are led by senior stopper Elijah Olaniyi and sophomore stud Anas Amos.  However, none of that matters to James, who has been taking on the country’s best for years.   Watch for some highlight reel excitement, some up-tempo basketball, and a lot of buckets from James.

 

Hun vs Union Catholic:  Just a solid match up.  Union Catholic is tough and physical, Hun is tough and physical.  Guard play from both schools will be the difference in the game.  Hun will try to keep Jordan Pierce of the offensive boards and Union Catholic will need to keep Tyler Washington and Desmond Cambridge away from the rim. Freshman guard Niels Lane, who got a lot of minutes at PSA Cardinals Showcase just two weeks ago, is another X-factor.

 

Calistus Anyichie 2016 New Jersey Tip-Off commit

Calistus Anyichie 2016 New Jersey Tip-Off commit

St. Mary’s Elizabeth Bigs: Certainly not a group the casual fan would talk about, but I think that’s about to change.  Both bigs, Calistus Anyichie and Casmir Ochiaka, have big upside and great coaching.  Perhaps a little underrated right now, I’m looking for them to have a breakout 2016 New Jersey Tip-Off.  As the season continues, look for colleges to start taking notice as well.

Jabri Abdur-Rahim: First of all, it’s not often you get to see a freshman play major minutes in a High School game.  Second of all, it’s less often you get to see a top player nationally impact a game.  Finally, both of those two will come together for the 2016 New Jersey Tip-Off, as Abdur-Rahim will do his best to live up to the hype.

 

Samba Diallo:  Will BLOW UP this season.  Been hearing his name a lot lately in some basketball circles.  Samba has started coming into his own. First, look for this kid to have his first big game of the year at the 2016 New Jersey Tip-Off.  Then, look for him to finish his sophomore year with all of the offers.  The big lefty can do it all, and legitimately play 4 different positions.

 

Special Guest this week, Event Director Eric Kessler:

Start of live period brings highly anticipated excitement

If you ask anyone affiliated with high school and college basketball what the most chaotic and busy part of the year is, they’ll probably give you one of two answers: the March Madness, or the July Live Periods.

For four days out of the second, third, and fourth days of each week Division I coaches have the opportunity to watch players all across the country, making each live period a critical time for scouting.

Today, at 5:00 PM, marked the beginning of the first live period, and dozens of D-I coaches flocked to Albright College to see what kind of talent the Elite camp has to offer.

To read about the best performers on the first day of live period, click here

Some of the most notable programs that showed up to scout our talented pool of players included DePaul, St. Bonaventure, George Mason, and Hofstra. A wealth of Patriot and Ivy League coaches were also in attendance, as the bulk of this week’s coaches in attendance were of the mid-major variety.

A bulk of the players that showed off their skills already hold solid lists of Division I offers. Specifically, two of our rising juniors have impressive lists of offers that they can certainly build on this week and in the remaining live periods this summer as members of the class of 2018.

Cormac Ryan (Milton Academy ’18), one of the top prospects at Elite 1, already holds offers from Tulane, DePaul, St. John’s, Davidson, Rice, Boston College, and Penn, While he also holds interest from Notre Dame, Stanford, and Michigan, according to Verbal Commits, the coaching staff of the Maryland Terrapins also told Ryan they planned to be in attendance to see him play this week. 

“I’m excited to get out here with my team, it should be a fun July,” said Ryan. “Hopefully me and my team can get a couple of wins and get looked at. I’m trying to prove that I’m just as good as anybody else, I improved my game in the spring and I want to show that I’m continuing to get better.”

Atiba Taylor (Hackensack ’18), an explosive 6-foot-3 guard  also has the potential to add to his already impressive offer sheet, which includes Connecticut, Rutgers, Manhattan, Fairfield, Rider, Seton Hall, and Temple. Taylor also cited recent interest from SMU and Louisville since the contact period began for rising juniors.

With three days left of live period, countless other players are poised to show off impressive skill sets to a growing list of D-I coaches. We’re looking forward to another great day of hoops!