The second day of the Big 64 event out at West Chester had just two pods of eight teams in action at the South venue (as opposed to four pods of eight), though the level of talent was just as high as it was during Day One. Teams like Westtown, Roman Catholic, Abington, Lower Merion, Friends (Md.) and others took the court for three games apiece as area high school coaches are just starting to figure out what their teams will look like come December.
Here are seven players who impressed on Sunday:
Jair Bolden (2015/Westtown School)
Playing alongside a number of future Division I players always helps, but Bolden did plenty to impress on his own. The St. Anthony (N.J.) transfer and was running point for the Moose all day on Sunday, and though his offensive game is still developing he showed flashes of being a Division I level basketball player. He’s certainly got the athletic capability, with a solid handle that got him the space to create his own shot; unfortunately, on this particular day that shot wasn’t exactly going down. He played hard on the defensive end as well against a tough Roman Catholic backcourt, using his lanky frame and bounce to his advantage.
Mikal Bridges (2014/Great Valley)
The 6-7 Villanova commit is getting better every time he steps onto the basketball court. He demonstrated this weekend that he is evolving into more than just a stand-still jump shooter. He was able to take his man off the dribble at will and was in attack mode all day long. Bridges competed on the defensive end on every possession and showed that he can be a shutdown defender at the next level. One area that Bridges has really improved is how much stronger he has gotten over the last few months. If he continues to grow as a player this year, Bridges will have a a chance to make an impact with the Wildcats the following year.
Jule Brown (2015/Lower Merion)
Every time we see Jule Brown play, he shows us something he wasn’t doing weeks or months before. This time, it was a strong finish in the lane with his left hand, another step in his evolution towards being a collegiate wing. The 6-7 forward is going to be one of the leaders for the Aces this season, especially as the season moves on and he continues to find his voice out on the court. Has the ability, like Bridges a year before him, to go from being an Ivy/Patriot level player to really
Ryan Betley (2016/Downingtown West)
A 6-3 shooting guard, Betley was one of the pleasant surprises of the weekend. Betley is probably one of the better shooters in the very talented 2016 class in the Philadelphia area. He displayed the ability to not only be a deadly standstill 3-point shooter, but he can knock down the pull-up jumper as well. In the first game of the day against Abington he was almost impossible to guard and made seven 3-pointers throughout the game. He also showed a high basketball I.Q., usually making the right decision on the court with pinpoint accuracy. Betley is someone to keep an eye for the future, and I really look forward to watching him play during the upcoming season.
Gemil Holbrook (2015/Roman Catholic)
One of the transfers that went a little under-the-radar in the area this summer, Holbrook looks like he’s going to play a big role for Roman Catholic based on the way he performed this weekend. He came over from Penn Wood back in June, getting a chance to play with the Cahillites in the N.E.B.L. earlier this summer, and that early familiarity seems to be paying off. Holbrook was a good sparkplug off the bench, bring size and shooting ability on the wing, hitting a number of 3-pointers in a 22-point victory over Westtown.
Georgios Papagiannis (2015/Westtown School)
Easily the biggest name coming into the event, the highly-touted Greek center made his public Westtown debut on Sunday and did not disappoint. The true 7-footer has an advanced offensive game, hitting a few 10-foot jumpers in addition to hitting the boards and putting back quite a few layups. He has great footwork and loves to use the pick-and-roll, catching every ball thrown his way and finishing around the basket with both hands. He does need to improve his athleticism; a lot of his rebounding attempts consisted of him just sticking his arms up in the air and thus shorter players were able to take advantage.
Matt Penecale (2015/Abington)
Slowly but surely, Penecale has taken himself off the fringe of being a Division I prospect and put him squarely in that territory. He’s been playing on the ball more and more as the summer’s gone on, and his point guard instincts are starting to come around as he learns how to run an offense. The next step is working on more of an offensive arsenal, like adding a floater and a mid-range jumper to his arsenal.