Josh Verlin (@jmverlin)
(Ed note: Over the next few weeks, high schools all around the greater Philadelphia area will have open gyms for their basketball teams after school, giving college coaches a chance to see drills and scrimmages. CoBL will be attending many of the open gyms; Josh Verlin checked out Archbishop Carroll on Sunday afternoon.)
The 2012-13 edition of the Archbishop Carroll Patriots will undoubtedly rest on the shoulders of the team’s underclassmen. Starting point guard Yosef Yacob and his backup, transfer Zafir Copeland, are the only two seniors on the whole squad, which will have at least two sophomore starters as they try to improve upon last season’s 20-8 (11-2) record that got them to the Catholic League semifinals and the PIAA Class AAA quarterfinals.
Power forward, Class of 2015
The newest member of the Patriots, the 6-foot-8 Aflakpui is a Ghana native who arrived in the United States last Sunday and will compete for Carroll this season with three years of high school eligibility remaining. The youngest member of Ghana’s U-18 program, the 15-year-old Aflakpui is–while still far from a finished product–already well on his way to being a clear mid-to-high-major prospect.
“My early impressions are for someone that is 15 years old and really hasn’t been coached a whole heck of a lot, he has great footwork, great hands and we’re thrilled to have him,” Carroll coach Paul Romanczuk said. “He’s only been here a week but you can see him joking around with our guys and really taking to being part of this team, which is nice. And he works hard, which is great–that’s all I ask of the guys, is to come out here and be willing to be coached and work hard and he does that already.”
Aflakpui has a great frame that could make him a high-major prospect if he grows another inch or two; as is he’s clearly destined for the Atlantic-10 range if not even higher. Much more comfortable finishing with his right hand than his left, Aflakpui showed off a decent power move to the hoop, taking one dribble if necessary but not settling for jumpers; he showed a consistent ability to get to the hoop if given the ball within 10 feet of the bucket, usually when going against a more-than-capable defender in Derrick Jones. The few times he tried to dribble in the open court didn’t go nearly as well.
Point guard, Class of 2013
Copeland will most likely play backup to fellow senior and recent Binghamton commit Yosef Yacob at point guard this season, but the Upper Darby transfer certainly gives the Patriots something they lack–experience.
“This is only the second time I’ve seen him in open gym…so I don’t know that I can comment too much about him as a player,” Romanczuk said. “To have that type of experience–he plays at Upper Darby and plays a lot of minutes for them as a junior–so it’s great to have that experience at the backcourt coming into this (season).”
Copeland is a quick 5-10 point guard with a solid build and a quick crossover, but his jumper had a lot of arc under it he wasn’t really accurate in this open gym. Still, he looks like a true point guard and not a scoring guard, and with two talented bigs it’ll be helpful to have a number of players who can both get into the lane–Copeland likes to use the pull-up jumper–and feed the post. Copeland would likely be an impact player at the D-III level his freshman year, if not then soon after.
Forward, Class of 2015
Jones burst onto the scene last year as a high-flying, 6-6 power forward whose sheer athleticism and raw ability opened eyes as a true freshman who averaged 8.7 points despite lacking a consistent jumper, getting most of his points on fast breaks or put-backs. Now, as a sophomore, Jones will begin to transition his game out to the wing, where he projects as a potential high-major candidate if he can continue to improve his skills.
“He’s a kid that because he’s so coachable and is a nice kid and wants to learn and doesn’t have this big ego about him, that got him on the court last year and he improved to the point where he was our best rebounder, easily our best shot-blocker last year as a freshman and you just don’t see that,” Romanczuk said. “Now as his game is now expanding more and more, he’s probably going to be a college wing, and I don’t have any hesitation saying that I think he’ll be able to do that and transition to the wing.”
That transition to more of a perimeter forward is still very much in its early stages. Jones, a lefty, has an average handle at best, though he does have a nice spin move when driving. His jumper still has a lot of moving parts and is by no means accurate, though his form is certainly improved from when I saw him in the early part of the summer AAU season. Having Aflakpui manning the post should allow Jones to roam a little bit more this season, but he’s still a year of hard work away from being able to showcase his skills on the offensive end of the court.
Guard/forward, Class of 2014
A starter on the JV squad last year, Sorentino is primed to make a big impact in his first year on the varsity squad. A 6-4 wing with a good jumper, Sorentino currently projects as a high-level D-III player who’s sure to have a lot of area schools getting in on his recruitment. Saying he could challenge for a starting spot, Romanczuk clearly has high hopes for the junior.
“He’s really improved a lot over the summer for us, played some great games over the summer for us and just worked really hard,” the coach said. “He’s a very good shooter, so he spreads the court for guys like Derrick and guys like Ernest to score inside without teams doubling–and if they are gonna double, Armand can knock down shots. But he’s also improved his ballhandling, taking the ball to the basket, being stronger with the basketball, and I expect big things from him.”
Not just a spot shooter, Sorentino did show off an above-average handle, with a quicker release off the bounce than as a spot shooter. He tends to shoot from his shoulder, which slows his release down considerably, but with his size at the next level that might not be too much of a problem. He also showed a willingness to hit the boards, showing off a nice turnaround jumper from the baseline after collecting a teammate’s miss on more than one occasion.