Coach Chambers already has four future Penn State basketball players committed to the program. I've admittedly done a poor job keeping tabs on their individual seasons, but with district and state playoffs just around the corner, now is as good a time as any to see how our future Lions are doing this year.
Akosa Maduegbunam - Winchendon School - Winchendon, MA
The former Charlestown High star and Boston native has spent his senior year at the Winchendon School, which plays in the NEPSAC (New England Prep School Athletic Council). If you are unfamiliar with the NEPSAC, the league easily produces the most D-1 basketball talent year-in and year-out. Unfortunately, this year's Winchendon roster couldn't match up with some of the other powerhouses on their schedule like Brewster Academy and Northfield Mount Hermon. Their season is wrapping up as they're currently just 8-21 on the year. You can find a select few game statistics on Winchedon's website, but nothing's complete so I have no numbers to offer on Akosa's season.
Lions247 caught up with him last month. There's also some film out there on him, thanks to The Basketball Diary. TBD filmed both of Winchendon's games in the National Prep Showcase back in November. Check out the full games on youtube against Wilbraham & Monson and New Hope Academy.
Brandon Taylor - Trenton Catholic Academy - Trenton, NJ
Brandon plays for a stacked TCA team that features at least four other D-1 prospects in addition to himself. Fellow seniors Chazz Patterson (Mount St. Mary's) and Charles Cooke (James Madison) are already signed, and 2013 PF AJ Sumbry and 2015 G Malachi Richardson will also receive D-1 scholarships in the future. TCA is 19-4 on the season and ranked #6 in the state of New Jersey. It's been impossible finding complete stats on TCA's season, as apparently that 19-4 record is missing the results of some games. He did score 29 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in his last game.
I admit that I do not know for sure the format of NJSIAA's state basketball championships. I did find TCA listed as the 3rd seed in the Non-Public Group B tournament (even though they still have regular season games remaining). They will compete in that tournament and if they win, they will face the winner of the Group A tournament. The overall Non-Public winner will then compete with other group champions across the state in what is called the NJSIAA Tournament of Champions. If you want to read about this mess, check out this super organized manual. What I do know is that Brandon Taylor was a sophomore on the 2010 Trenton Catholic team that won the Tournament of Champions. They didn't win it last year, but I know Taylor and his teammates are hungry to be state champions again.
Once again thanks to the Basketball Diary, you can check out some of TCA's games this season in great quality, including their win against St. Patrick's (also featuring PSU target Jared Nickens), their loss against The Hotchkiss School (also featuring PSU targets Austin Colbert, Kyle Washington, and Makai Mason), and their loss to #1 St. Anthony.
Geno Thorpe - Shaler High School - Pittsburgh, PA
Geno's squad is currently ranked #3 in AAAA with a 20-2 record. They recently received the top seed in the WPIAL playoffs, which start this week. The WPIAL (district 7) gets 5 seeds in the AAAA state tournament, so they must win their first two games to qualify for states. Shaler went 11-1 in Section 3, losing to rival North Allegheny way back in December. Their only other loss was against Churchill in a holiday tournament in Maryland.
Shaler has uploaded all of their stats to MaxPreps, so we can get a stat line on Geno's junior season. He is averaging 22.0 PPG, 2.3 APG, 3.0 RPG, and 2.4 SPG. He is also shooting 61% on his 2PA and 40% of his 3PA. Shaler played State College last month, and Ben Jones cut some of Thorpe's highlights from that game.
Brandon Austin - Imhotep Charter High School - Philadelphia, PA
Imhotep Charter has dominated the AA scene the last few years. They've made the state semi-finals the last four seasons and won the state championship twice, including last season. They've also won the Philly Public League title the last 3 years. However, last week they were shocked by Communications Tech 66-61 in the round of 16 of the PPL tourney. The loss knocked Imhotep out of their #1 AA ranking and put their state playoff hopes on the line. Austin's team now must win Thursday's game against Delaware Valley Charter to clinch District 12's 4th seed in the AA state tournament.
Imhotep is 16-8 on the year, but their schedule has been very tough (including games against AAAA Chester and Roman Catholic). Austin is scoring 11 PPG, which is 2nd on the team behind unsigned senior guard Khyree Wooten. You can check out Imhotep's game against South Shore from Brooklyn (also featuring PSU target Terrence Samuel) on youtube here.
Considering the PA state championships are at the Bryce Jordan Center the weekend of March 24th, BSD will continue to keep an eye on how Imhotep Charter and Shaler do on their road to state championships. There are also plenty of other in-state prospects PSU is after that will also be competing for the State Championship. One team to look out for is #1 AA Beaver Falls, who features the hottest name on PSU's recruiting trail, Sheldon Jeter.
It's nice to have the basketball program so involved in the state-wide recruiting scene. Maybe now we can take advantage of the free recruiting visit all state champions have been making since the championships moved to PSU.