2017 LVBR FALL TOUR
Stop #2: Emmaus High School
Emmaus is coming off their most successful season as they reached the Quarterfinals of the PIAA 6A Playoffs. The Kachelries Era is officially over L - David is at NJIT and Matt is at Bloomsburg. Coach Steve Yoder has done a great job of establishing this program as one of the best in Eastern Pennsylvania. The Green Hornets have qualified for state play 3 of the last 4 years.
Entering his 10th season, Head Coach Steve Yoder seems just as excited about his club as he has been the previous years. Many want to focus on what was lost; Yoder and his staff seem pumped about what they have. What they have, are seniors with size and big game experience. 2018 6’6 Josh Artis is one of the best athletes in the area. An intimidating presence with strong jumping ability, Artis will be relied upon to be defensive enforcer in the paint. 2018s 6’4 Cole Ferguson and 6’4 Corey Riegel both had important, secondary roles last season. Solid defenders and rebounders, these two are expected to pick up some of the scoring void. Riegel’s biggest play was his clutch free throw during state playoffs. Also, expect 2018 6’0 Chris Smith’s role to expand as a reliable ball handler.
If the Green Hornets are going to make a return to the state playoffs, 2019s 6’5 Bryce Diehl and 6’9 Zach Sabol will most likely be the key reasons. Diehl is turning into an impactful player. He displays a nice, high-arching shot which is excellent in catch/shoot situations. This offseason Diehl seems to have expanded his game by improving his ball handling and production in the open court. Sabol is a major force in the paint that shows the ability to use both hands around the basket. After an injury plagued freshman year, Zach rebounded as a sophomore starter all last season. 2019s 6’2 Mark Swedberg, 6’3 Carlton Lovett, 6’3 Devon Boyko, and 6’0 Keyon Carroll-Herring will all compete for minutes after a successful JV season. Swedberg has been very active this offseason and making legit strides. Carroll-Herring continues to display tremendous effort and very coachable. Boyko and Lovett bring lots of length and energy. 2019 5’11 Cameron Brooks is expected to emerge as the point guard after football season.
Coach Quote: "What excites me most about this year's team is how excited they are to make their own legacy here at EHS. It really is contagious for me. They are so excited and so coachable. I want to be at my best for them. We have been very blessed to have had some success over the last several years, and this group wants to further it. As successful as some of the prior groups have been, this group knows they have a chance to do some things that they were unable to do. Specifically, win an EPC and District Championship. The fact that the program can talk about goals like that motivates all of us. It certainly will be a daunting task, but nothing worth having is easy, and the thought of being along for a ride like that truly excites us as a staff." - Steve Yoder
2017 LVBR FALL TOUR
STOP #1 Bethlehem Catholic
Our first stop on the annual LVBR FALL TOUR was to the reigning, defending, District XI 4A champions- Bethlehem Catholic. The Golden Hawks return many players as they are the profound favorites to repeat as District champions and also win the EPC18 title. Expectations are high for Bethlehem Catholic and they are excited to erase last season’s first round PIAA exit.
Head Coach Ray Barbosa is in his third season and definitely has his best roster. This roster starts with the multi-talented; rebound hoarder- 2018 Ryan Young. He now stands at 6’10, and the Northwestern commit game continues to grow just as rapid. Young is a tough competitor that shows no fear, yet displays an incredible skill set of precise passing and 20+ feet shooting. Ryan will be joined in the post with his bruising brother- 2019 6’8 Kyle Young. “The Krusher” is a very, physical presence who can also shoot it well from 15 feet. His play over the offseason earned him his first scholarship offer from NEC Champion Head Coach- Jamion Christian (Mount St Mary).
All Area representative 2019 Justin Paz has been a scoring machine since stepping on the court as a freshman. The guard has an enact ability to get buckets in bunches. 2018 Will Melson is a veteran guard entering his 3rd year of varsity basketball. His experience keeps him very cool in clutch situations as proven with his District semifinal, buzzer-beating dagger.
Barbosa has very solid depth. 2018 DJ Gardener had a very impressive summer. While many of the Golden Hawks were exploring AAU opportunities, DJ used the opportunity to establish himself as a legit, perimeter force. 2018 Scott Kuna is fully recovered after an injury plagued junior season, Scott is looking superb and earning D3 interests. Kuna will give Barbosa a bigger, scoring option on the wing. 2018 Dameon Robinson can play multiple positions and was a key contributor last season. It should be interesting to see the continued development of 2020 Julian Thomas. As he continues to improve, it will be difficult to keep the 6’2 playmaker off the floor. 2019 Caden Giordano will be a solid contributor as a stretch forward off the bench.
Coach Quote: "We are excited about the opportunity to compete everyday. Guys have been working hard to get better as a team. We are hopinig the hard work we put in the offseason will help us compete at the highest level this winter." - Ray Barbosa
The LVBR Fall Tour made a stop to the most prolific collegiate team in our region the last five years. The reigning, defending PSAC Champions know how to throw a party! Fresh off winning their second PSAC championship in three years, the East Stroudsburg University Warriors held their 10th Midnight Madness to jumpstart the upcoming season. In front of a frantic crowd of loyal Warrior disciples, the champs were introduced and showered with love.
Two of the most loved were seniors Matt Tobin and Whis Grant. Tobin is the returning starting point guard who naturally is a leader on the squad. The veteran led the team in minutes (975), assists (205) and steals (70). Tobin is very comfortable with his role, “I am one of the leaders especially since losing leader last year. Our seniors have to step up and continue to build chemistry. As the point guard, I have get guys in open spots and deliver good passes. Whis Grant is the decorated All American guard who led the team in points (562), free throws made (124) and three pointers made (88). Whis seems to handle the pressure and star status with the same ease he shoots 25 foot jumpshots. “I appreciate the accolades, but it’s just another day. I don’t get caught up in all the extra stuff. I’m here to do a job- help the team. If I have to be the leading scorer, so be it! Our goal is to repeat as champions and impove daily.”
The LVBR caught up with ESU Head Coach Jeff “Spider” Wilson for a lil Q&A
1. Give us more insight on the midnight madness. How long you been doing it? Why do you do it? What are the bonuses of hosting this event?
We have been holding Midnight Madness for approximately 10 years. This event gives us the opportunity to expose the Men’s and Women’s Program to our campus, local community and fan base. This is a great opportunity for our players to have a little fun with the 3 point contest, team scrimmage and dunk contest while interacting with the student body at ESU. One big bonus is that our fan base gets early exposure to a GREAT environment and gets them excited for the year ahead. Our home court has been a major advantage for us and this event tips off our season!
2. Midnight Madness gets the players and fans excited, what gets you excited?
I get excited about the opportunity to compete and see how good of a team we can assemble from year to year. My job allows me to compete daily whether it is in practice, games, recruiting or connecting with alumni and donors. I get excited about working with our players on a daily basis and seeing their progression in all phases of life (academically, athletically and socially).
3. Expectations are higher than ever, how are the players and coaches handling this situation? Do you sense any added pressure on yourself and/or players?
I think at this point the players have done a good job of handling the expectations placed upon them. As coaches we have talked about not short changing the process and journey that every team must take. Our goals have to be
1. Qualify for a PSAC playoff bid.
2. Challenge for a PSAC East Title
3. Challenge for PSAC title
4. Qualify for the NCAA Tournament
5. Survive and advance in the NCAA as deep as you can go. If we don’t work daily to become the best team we can and achieve those goals in sequential order, we will not have a great season. But if we can focus on becoming the best team we can become daily, we have a chance to achieve some very good things. Our veteran leadership has been great to this point in focusing on the daily goal of individual and team improvement.
4. How do you think (if at all) last years' success will help you this season?
As stated previously, I feel the
success the program has achieved over the last 6 years and more specifically last season should be a huge benefit. We have a core group back that has experienced winning in both the PSAC and
NCAA Tournament. This year’s senior Class of Matt Tobin, Whis Grant, Muhamadou Kaba and Lamont Tillery should leave as the most successful class in ESU History in terms of overall wins.
As I have discussed with those guys, it is time for them to lead this team and put a stamp on their legacy. After 5 practices, I am happy with the leadership they have shown and if they can
continue this through a long season, I feel we can have successful 2014-2015 season.
Hosted by Team Final Red 610ers
The first HoopRootz SkillsCase in the Lehigh Valley took place, and the LVBR Fall Tour was on hand to check out the talent. The event was coordinated by Marlon Thomas and Chuck Rockmore, who did a wonderful job gathering talent from various areas. Marlon states, “The demographic of players that attended ranged from Philadelphia, New Jersey, the Poconos, Berks County, and the Lehigh Valley. The turnout was tremendous and the community supported whole heartedly.” Events like this have taken place before in our area for high school players, but it’s believed to be the first of this stature with junior high athletes. “I wanted to bring exposure to Lehigh Valley athletes. After traveling to Columbus, Ohio with our players and having them participate in a showcase featuring over 600 student-athletes competing, I said to myself Allentown needs something like this. We have an on-going working relationship with hooprootz.net, so we decided to move his event from Philadelphia to Allentown this year.” Chuck Rockmore is a consistent staple in the Lehigh Valley for youth basketball. He felt this was an important day for our area, "This is a continuation of the great movement of basketball that we are presenting to the area. The talent here is great and we look forward to developing more quality players. The Mid-Atlantic and beyond better look out for it!"
2018s Mikey Esquilin (Whitehall) and Jared Chambliss (Immaculata) proved to be the best equipped to make an immediate impact on the varsity level. Mikey is a blurr on the court as he’s blessed with exceptional speed. However his best attribute is his ability to finish under any circumstance. While most that fly to the basket have a difficult time finishing, Esquillin repeatedly was able to compose himself and finish at will. Jared is a rapidly developing wing player. On this day Jared really imposed his will on all counterparts. He attacked with sheer aggression and finished accordingly- with dunks!
2018s Jake Bartholomew(Parkland-pictured) and Xavier Starks (Reading) showed nice potential as wing prospects. Bartholomew displays perfect form on his jumpshot which allows him to let it fly from deep. Starks likes to attack the basket and use his athletic abilities. Xavier and Jake both excel in the open court where they are most dangerous.
2019s Lucas Monroe (Reading-pictured) and Bryce Calloway (Reading) certainly represented in Allentown. . Monroe is a problem. Standing at 6’2, he is a lead guard with plenty of ability. On first look, Lucas seemed to be the best overall prospect in the SkillsCase. Calloway is a forward that’s evolving to the perimeter world. He rebounds well and knows how to finish around the basket.
2019 Chris Ings (Philadelphia) and 2018 William Melson (Dieruff) were the two best ball handlers at the event. The two creatively weaved in and out of traffic all afternoon. Ings seemed to possess more speed, while Melson’s handle was very tight with serious range on his jumper. However, they both displayed the ability to find open teammates and challenge defenders at the rim.
The LVBR Fall Tour officially kicked off at the 6th annual Muhlenberg Shootout. The event featured 32 teams from VA, MD, NJ and PA. Each team played 3 games versus opponents they would not normally compete against. The Muhlenberg Men’s Basketball staff once again put forth an outstanding effort to make this one of the premier fall events. Many players rose to the challenge bestowed upon them and elevated their game. #AlwaysWatching
Muhlenberg Shootout Solo Acts- Seniors
2015 6’3 Da’Shon “DoItAll” Giddings (Del Val Charter) always impresses whenever he steps onto the floor. The multi-talented player doesn’t necessarily have a set position, but has the capabilities to do everything. It's very puzzling how or why this player has no scholarship offers, but we certainly see him as one of Philly’s best. We are going to put the target on his back and deem him Philly’s Most Underrated.
2015 6’2 Chase Ta (Montgomery- NJ) made a major impact during the early games. Ta has excellent size for a point guard and plays with boundless energy. Chase is a triple double waiting to happen! He rebounds very well and has good vision in transition. Expect a monster year from this rising prospect.
2015 6’3 Doug Brightly (North Hunterdon- NJ) showed off his shooting ability in Memorial Hall. He made multiple three point shots in each of his 3 games. Brightly has ideal size for a wing; with continued ball handling improvement, he has chance to be a nice prospect.
2015 6’5 Karl Charles (Rutgers Prep) did damage to all foes. Karl showed no signs of tentativeness even though he is recently returning from an ACL injury. After missing his junior season, Charles seemed to be on a mission to destroy anyone in his path. Although Charles has a solid, muscular frame, his skill set cannot be denied. Nerd schools are all very attracted to this intriguing prospect.
2015 6’3 Jahaad Proctor (Harrisburg) was a major force all evening. Proctor has no problem scoring and can do so in various ways. Proctor’s ball handling has improved, and we can see him transitioning to a point guard in the Patriot League. Holy Cross came into PA and grabbed a very solid player.
2015 6’1 Justin “Yaboy” Jones (Parkland) is a shooter that you must account for. The “Atown Throwdown” MVP is continuing to show people that he will make you pay if you only focus on Parkland’s bigger named players. On the main floor, the strong guard was unconscious and hit at least 4 three pointers.
2015 6’6 Daniel Wilson (St Paul- MD) is a very chiseled forward with a high motor. Wilson was extremely active on the boards and a good interior defender. Although offensively he still needs some work, his constant activity compensated for any limitations. LIU Brooklyn and St Thomas Aquinas are prime targets for Wilson.
Muhlenberg Shootout Duo Standouts- Upperclassmen
2015 Paul VI (VA) PG Franklin Howard and 2016 wing VJ King lived up to their lofty status. Howard, a Syracuse commit, is a long, lanky point guard. His range seems to be prototypical for the Orange system. Howard was very aggressive attacking bigger defenders in the paint, whether to score or dish. VJ King was the most impressive of many standouts at the event. King has incredible body control off the bounce and is simply a smooth operator. He avoids opponents with an array of dribble moves combined with excellent footwork. His pro-hop and euro-step moves initiated many acrobatic finishes at the basket. King has officially been given our prolific “Stamp of Approval.”
2015 Conestoga forwards Dan Vila and Andrew Diehl (pictured) made their presence felt during the late afternoon games. 6’5 Vila has the looks of a Baywatch lifeguard. The chiseled forward was all over the court defensively and swatting shots high into the Memorial Hall bleachers. Vila also looked comfortable shooting from beyond the arc. Diehl is a soaring wing/forward. When Diehl decides to turn on the engine, he is force. The curly blonde demonstrated why he is one of the best long jumpers in PA. Several times we witnessed Diehl cruise by defenders and lift-off from long distances with an appropriate slam to finish. Conestoga is our early favorites to take the District 1 crown.
2015 Immaculata (NJ) guards Gianni Buarne and Julian Alexis brought their Garden State flavor to Atown. 6’0 Buarne impressed with his rebounding ability and also shot the rock well. 6’2 Alexis looks like a solid prospect on the wing. The springy athlete likes to play in the passing lanes and is a good shot blocker from the guard position.
2015 Westtown shooters Jair Bolden and Edvinas Rupkas displayed long range accuracy routinely. Playing against more highly touted players, these two showed zero fear. Bolden is the pg who plays with tenacity and flare. The NYC point guard has no problem letting opponents know that they better respect his game. Meanwhile, Rupkas brought his European game to Muhlenberg. The Lithuanian senior was not shy to let it fly- rightfully so. Edvinas range extended well beyond the college three point line.
2015 Scranton Prep scrappers Tim Rose (pictured) and Bobby Casey are your typical gritty Lackawanna County guards. Both like to compete and usually hold advantages over their counterparts because of their keen awareness. Casey is the floppy hair 6’1 senior with a nice touch and good rebounding capabilities. 6’0 Tim Rose is a meddling point guard that makes things happen. Rose is very aggressive and will not shy away from any competitor. He has various moves in the lane and is a strong ball handler. Rose is poised to lead the Cavs into 3A state play where they will be a legit contender.
2015 Constitution 1-2 of Kimar Williams and Ahmad “JR” Gilbert are no strangers to Allentown, PA. Their comfort level showed as their team won all 3 contests. Gilbert is the best player on the best team in Philadelphia. JR has always been touted as a good prospect; however his game continues to improve. The silky lefty is draining threes with complete ease. Step back- good. Transition pull up- smooth. Hand in the face- doesn’t care. The George Mason commit is our pick as the Philly Pub A Division MVP.
Kimar’s game continues to grow as does his frame. He’s always been recognized as a good undersized guard. Not anymore! Kimar looks like he’s on the BALCO regiment. He arrived in Allentown standing 6’0 tall with defined, muscular arms. Williams ran the team very efficiently and had guys in the right positions. Scoring is never issue for the talented guard. MAAC and CAA schools are taking notes.