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College basketball coaches flocked to Westtown School in West Chester several times in September to see a Moose team that has been stocked with Division I prospects for the better part of the last decade.
Several were drawn by senior guard Jalen Gaffney, who committed to UConn last week. Others were there to see junior wing Noah Collier, whose recruitment started with several Big 5 offers last summer and now consists of a dozen scholarship opportunities — with more sure to come.
What they all got was a healthy dose of John Camden.
The Downingtown native, a 6-foot-7, 180-pound sophomore guard at the private boarding school since ninth grade, was the recipient of some high-level attention quickly. The University of Miami became the latest school to offer a scholarship, joining a group that already includes Syracuse, Xavier and Penn State.
The Nittany Lions offered first, on Aug. 31. The rest have all come in the second half of September.
"It's a little overwhelming just because I've never been the guy that gets the mix tapes, that kind of stuff," Camden said after Westtown's open-gym workout Wednesday. "I feel like I've been working harder than everyone in my grade since seventh grade, so it's a little expected just because of how much work I've put in. But at the same time, it's really an honor to receive all this attention."
Though Camden's ability to contact coaches is limited now — he is allowed to speak to coaches only when he initiates contact through the phone until June 15 after his sophomore year — he has spoken to each of the head coaches who have offered him thus far.
"They're just telling me that they like my game. They like the way that I play," he said. "They think I could fit into their program's style well, and they're excited to continue to watch me."
Camden, who plays his AAU ball with Nike-backed Team Final, said he has only one visit on his schedule, a trip up to Penn State for the Nittany Lions' football game against Iowa on Oct. 27.
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While Collier and Gaffney, as well as junior guard T.J. Berger — son of Moose head coach Seth Berger — all played well at Wednesday's series of full-court pick-up games, Camden showed why he's found himself holding ACC, Big Ten and Big East offers before he has played a single game of his sophomore year.
With his size on the perimeter and an all-too-easy outside shooting stroke, Camden already possesses some important traits if he wants to play at the highest levels of hoops. And he's more than just a stand-still shooter, with an improved attacking ability shown by several finishes through contact.
Now that Camden is moving into more of a regular role for Westtown, the five-time defending Friends Schools League champion, his development should quicken. And that's a scary thought for opponents of a school that has turned out the likes of Cameron Reddish (Duke), Mohamed Bamba (Texas/NBA), Brandon Randolph (Arizona) and more over the last five years.
"I've seen other players. Sophomore year is when the recruiting tends to pick up. But you never really know," Camden said. "My first offer … that was a validation for me. And it really gave me a lot of confidence, going into these open gyms, that I'm one of the best out here. So I've got to play like it."
Rising scholarship seniors: Troy Harper, Trevor John
Committed 2019 players: None
Projected open scholarships: 2
Notes: The Dragons have an official visit coming up this weekend for TaylorMade Prep (Ariz.) wing guard Marion Humphrey. According to the school's Twitter account, he's also got one planned for San Diego on Oct. 5-7. Drexel's fall recruitment starts later than most schools, with the trimester system meaning classes don't begin until mid-September. But there are still a few key targets out there for Drexel, including Bonner-Prendergast big man Tariq Ingraham and T.J. Bickerstaff, a 6-8 wing forward out of Sandy Creek (Ga.) who recently received an offer.
Rising scholarship seniors: Cheddi Mosely, Pookie Powell
Committed 2019 players: Christian Ray (Haverford School, Pa.), Brandon Stone (Christ School, N.C.)
Projected open scholarships: 0
Notes: After bringing in a trio of transfers this offseason, coach Ashley Howard landed his first pair of high school commitments this fall, first from the Haverford School's tough-minded wing Ray, and then from a 6-11 skilled post in Stone, a Pennsylvania native doing a prep year in North Carolina. Though that puts the Explorers at a projected full 13 scholarships on the roster for next season, don't expect the La Salle staff to stop recruiting for 2019 just in case any spots open up under the new regime as Howard and his staff try to get the program the way they want it. Either way, they're in pretty good shape for the next few years in terms of their roster.
Rising seniors: Jackson Donahue, Tyler Hamilton, Max Rothschild, Jake Silpe, Collin McManus
Committed 2019 players: Jonah Charles (Rutgers Prep, N.J.), Max Lorca-Lloyd (Northfield Mt. Hermon, Mass), Max Martz (Upper Arlington, Ohio), Lucas Monroe (Abington, Pa.)
Projected open scholarships: N/A
Notes: Anybody who had doubts about the job Steve Donahue could do at Penn is surely over them by now. As if the program's return to the top of the Ivy League wasn't proof enough, this recruiting class certainly should be. The trio of wings — Charles, Monroe and Martz — already brought in a variety on the perimeter: shooting, athleticism and skill. But the addition of Lorca-Lloyd, a 6-10 forward who picked Penn over Ohio State, Stanford and Vanderbilt, shows that the Quakers are going to recruit at the level that Harvard, Yale and Princeton have for several years. Lorca-Lloyd is an athletic rim-runner who should slot in right away alongside A.J. Brodeur and Jarrod Simmons to give Penn one of the best frontcourts not just in the Ivy League but also the whole Northeast.
Rising scholarship seniors: Chris Clover, Markell Lodge
Committed 2019 players: Hakim Hart (Roman Catholic)
Projected open scholarships: 3
Notes: Phil Martelli got his first commitment from a local player since Charlie Brown more than three years ago with the pledge from Hart, a still-growing 6-6 shooting guard who tore up South Jersey in his first two years at Kingsway (N.J.) before transferring to Roman last year. A strong outside shooter, Hart has received some comparisons to Brown with his length on the perimeter and defensive potential, though he's developing his secondary scoring abilities with a floater and other attacking options appearing over the summer. There is still plenty of room left in this class. Recently, the Hawks offered Vermont Academy (Vt.) senior forward Tommy O'Neil, a skilled 6-8 "4" man whose scholarship list is nearly 20 schools long.
Rising scholarship seniors: Shizz Alston Jr., Ernest Aflakpui
Committed 2019 players: None
Projected open scholarships: 3
Notes: It hasn't been a great few weeks for Temple on the recruiting trail. Dahmir Bishop (Imhotep Charter) committed to Xavier. Seth Lundy (Roman Catholic) didn't include the Owls in his final four schools. Nor did Qudus Wahab (Flint Hill, Va.) in his final five. Hart committed to St. Joe's. That means the staff is all-in on Bishop's Imhotep teammate, Donta Scott, though it will be facing stiff competition from Maryland, South Carolina, Georgetown and several others. The 2019 class isn't a crucial one for this program, with 10 scholarship players in the junior and sophomore classes. But head-coach-to-be Aaron McKie was hoping to make a big splash on the recruiting trail with so many strong local players in that class.
Rising scholarship seniors: Phil Booth, Joe Cremo, Eric Paschall
Committed 2019 players: Bryan Antoine (Ranney School, N.J.), Eric Dixon (Abington, Pa.), Justin Moore (DeMatha, D.C.)
Projected open scholarships: 1