The PIAA basketball championships are this weekend at the Bryce Jordan Center for the 6th consecutive year. The first 5 editions haven't had the fanfare this year's will, at least in regards to Penn State interest. This is the first year a Penn State commit will be participating in the state finals since the PIAA moved the championships to PSU back in 2007. There is a very special Class AA matchup that should have the attention of all Penn State basketball fans.
Unfortunately there will be just one PSU commit playing for a championship this weekend. Geno Thorpe's team was knocked out in the AAAA state quarterfinals. Shaler had a great run despite losing their big man, JP Holtz (remember him?), to a foot injury in the first round. Geno averaged 25 PPG in their three playoff wins, but he was on the bench with foul trouble nearly the whole game in their loss to Erie Cathedral Prep (just 3 points in 12 minutes).
As far as recruiting for this weekend, it is just an evaluation period right now meaning the coaches can be there, but they cannot contact the prospective recruits. If the PSU coaches do attend, it would also count against their 130 academic recruiting days. The only actual recruiting the coaches can do is if prospects decide to visit on their own after the state championships. It still doesn't hurt to at least have these kids visit the campus/BJC for free.
Here's a quick rundown of all four championships with rankings coming from the Patriot News. Apologies to the girls' finals, but I know nothing of that sport. Each of the boys finals are paired with a girls final for doubleheader session tickets. Find all your ticket information here.
Class A Final - Today, 2 PM
#1 Constitution (22-9) vs #2 Lincoln Park (26-4)
Constitution, representing the Philadelphia Public League, features a dynamic duo in seniors Savon Goodman and Daiquan Walker. Goodman was once a top-50 recruit and Villanova commit, but grade issues arose and he's fallen off in the rankings. The opponent, Lincoln Park, is representing the WPIAL for the second year in a row in the finals. They lost last season, but they will look to win it this year behind 2012 Temple signee Devontae Watson, a 6'10" center.
Class AA Final - Tomorrow, 2 PM
#1 Beaver Falls (28-2) vs #2 Imhotep Charter (21-8)
This was the matchup PSU fans have been hoping would materialize after seeing each team on the other side of the AA bracket. Aside from the obvious Sheldon Jeter vs Brandon Austin interest, this will likely be the most competitive and entertaining game of all the finals. Imhotep has won states two out of the last 3 years and are the current defending champions. Beaver Falls has been looking good all year and are ranked #1. If you are in State College, you should go to this game. It would be nice to get some fan support for both Austin and Jeter considering they're playing for a championship on our campus.
As far as Jeter's recruitment is concerned, it is still in progress. He has two official visits remaining, but he has yet to announce where he will be taking them. He has already visited Wisconsin, South Carolina, and Kansas State, but Florida State recently entered the picture. Penn State was supposedly going to get an official, but he could visit Florida State and Seton Hall instead. Either way, he doesn't seem close to a decision, despite some rumors out there.
Class AAA Final - Today, 8 PM
#1 Neumann-Goretti (27-3) vs #4 Montour (24-4)
This is a rematch of last year's AAA final. NG has been state champs the last two years and beat Montour last year, 55-45. The Saints are loaded with young talent again and expect to be the favorite. They feature multiple D-1 players in senior Derrick Stewart (Rider), junior John Davis, and sophomores Ja'Quan Newton and Troy Harper. Newton is the highest rated player on NG as a 4-star top100 recruit in the class of 2014.
Class AAAA Final - Tomorrow, 8 PM
#1 Chester (31-0) vs #2 Lower Merion (29-3)
Chester is far and away the best team in the state. They are defending AAAA champs and have won 58 games in a row. They've won all four of their state playoff games by at least 19 points. However, if anyone can give them a run, it will be Lower Merion, who lost to the Clippers just a few weeks ago 61-53 in the District 1 championship. Chester doesn't feature as much star power as you might think outside of Rondae Jefferson, but they are long, athletic, and deep. Lower Merion's best player is junior forward BJ Johnson.