The Philadelphia-area has one of the best small college basketball teams in the country. Cabrini College located in Radnor has the No. 2 ranked Division III basketball team. The Cavailers have been nothing short of sensational this season. Cabrini has a 20-0 overall record and 14-0 mark in the Colonial States Athletic Conference. Marcus Kahn, Cabrini College head coach, has put together a powerhouse team that seems to be picking up as the team heads into the final weeks of the season.
“It’s a tremendous accomplishment especially with the schedule we put together this year non-conference,” Kahn said. “We played a couple teams early on that were ranked ahead of us. We just played very well and continued that. We have a very good group of guys this year. They have a very good mindset about what we’re doing.”
The Cavaliers have established themselves as one of the top Division III teams over the last few years. It’s no secret Cabrini has done so well. The Cavaliers are no strangers to the national spotlight.
“Two years ago, we made it to the Final Four,” Kahn said. “Last year, we made it to the Elite Eight. I really believe it’s the players we got in here. I would like to tell you it was great coaching, but I think any coach of a team that’s performing at a high level (will) … tell you it’s the guys you’re putting out on the floor. We can be geniuses on the chalk board, but if you don’t have the right guys out there and put it into play then we’re not going to win.
“When this all kind of got started my second year. We had a guy name Cory Lemons out of Wilmington, Delaware,” Kahn continued. “He really helped us get a jumpstart. He became an All-American. He was our senior point guard. He went to the Final Four. We’ve just had good players in place.”
Cabrini has been able to build its program with a number of local players such as Camden’s Aaron Walton-Moss and Imhotep Charter’s Deryl Bagwell. Walton-Moss, a 6-foot-1 junior, leads the team in scoring. He averages 25.1 points a game. Bagwell, a 5-foot-11 freshman, knows how to win from his playing days at Imhotep Charter. He helped the Panthers win the Public League and the PIAA state championship last year. He’s averaging 6.6 points and 3.3 rebounds a game in his first collegiate season.
“We got some very talented guys like Aaron Walton-Moss who is an All-American,” Kahn said. “You talk about making an impact on a program. When he first came here, I thought we got Aaron Walton-Moss. I said, ‘No way, you got him from Camden.’ He joined us midyear the year we went to the Final Four. This is not a coincidence. Our run to the Elite Eight was led by Aaron. Our team success is led by him. He can play at any level. He’s a great kid.”
Kahn added, “Deryl Bagwell is playing great for us. We knew bringing him as a freshman, he was going to be a good player. He was somebody who could have started for us. He’s such an energizer guy. I like him in the sixth man role. He comes off the bench. He just gives us a spark. When other teams are kind of feeling their way through the game, he’s just a ball of energy. He makes things happen at the defensive end. He comes in and you’re guaranteed that something good is about to happen.”
The Cavaliers have a host of terrific players such as 6-foot-4 senior Fran Rafferty (14.8 ppg) and 6-foot senior A.J. Picard (17.0 ppg). The CSAC postseason tournament will begin on Feb. 22. The conference championship game will take place on Feb. 28. After that, Cabrini will head to the NCAA tournament. Right now, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point (21-1 overall) is the No. 1 team in Division III.
“I’ve seen them on film,” Kahn said. “They have a very good team. We’re the last undefeated team in Division III. It’s going to be interesting. If we’re going to be No. 1, it’s the last week of March rather than now.”
Cabrini has the talent to compete for a national championship. This is an excting time for them.
The Philadelphia 76ers haven’t had much to cheer about this season. The Sixers have a 15-39 record and quite frankly have been playing some terrible basketball. If the team has anything to get excited about, it’s Michael Carter-Williams, the Sixers’ outstanding rookie. Carter-Williams will be one of the top players to watch in the Rising Stars Challenge on Friday, Feb. 14 in New Orleans during the NBA All-Star Weekend.
There will be 18 first and second-year players displaying their talents in this game. Carter-Williams, who was the 11th overall pick by the Sixers in last spring’s NBA draft, is averaging 17.1 points, 6.4 assists, 5.4 rebounds and 2.2 steals a game. He leads all rookies in scoring, rebounding, assists and steals. He is looking to become just the third player going back to 1950-51 to lead rookies in points a game, rebounds a game and assists a game, joining Oscar Robertson (1960-61) and Alvan Adams (1975-76).
In league history, the only rookies to average at least 17.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 6.0 assists for an entire season are Robertson, Magic Johnson (1979-80) and Steve Francis (1999-00). The last players to average at least 17.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, 6.0 assists and 2.00 steals in a single season were Chris Paul and Dwyane Wade in 2008-09.
In addition to Carter-Williams, he will be joined by fellow rookies Steven Aadams (Oklahoma City), Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee), Pero Antic (Atlanta), Trey Burke (Utah), Tim Hardaway, Jr. (New York), Victor Oladipo (Orlando), Kelly Olynyk (Boston) and Mason Plumlee (Brookyln).
The sophomore class includes Harrison Barnes (Golden State), Bradley Beal (Washington), Anthony Davis (New Orleans), Andre Drummond (Detroit), Terrence Jones (Houston), Damian Lillard (Portland), Jared Sullinger (Boston), Jonas Vaianciunas (Toronto) and Dion Waters (Cleveland).
This is the third consecutive year rookies and sophomores will be mixed together on teams.
The Catholic League playoffs should provide the fans with a lot of excitement. They’re going to see some of the best basketball players in the Philadelphia area. Chris Clover is definitely one of them. Clover, a 6-foot-4 junior guard from St. Joseph’s Prep, averaged 22.0 points a game. He’s the second leading scorer. St. Joseph’s Prep will visit La Salle on Friday, Feb. 14 at 7 p.m.
Clover is one of the rising stars in the league. Two years ago, he played on a St. Joseph’s Prep team which lost to Neumann-Goretti for the league championship.
The matchup with La Salle should be an interesting one. La Salle’s top players are Dave Krmpotich and Najee Walls.
Speaking of Neumann-Goretti, the Saints are loaded again. N-G has a number of great players such as 6-foot-3 senior Ja’Quan Newton, 6-foot junior Lamarr Kimble, and 6-foot-1 senior Troy Harper. The Saints are the defending league champions. Newton is one of the best guards in the country. He’s averaging 21.8 points a game. He will play his college basketball at the University of Miami.
Harper is a guard who can really get to the basket. He has great leadping ability. He’s averaging 12.7 points a game. He will be playing Division I basketball at Campbell University next year. Kimble is another bright young star in the city. He’s a terrific ballhandler and has a nice touch from the perimeter.
Roman Catholic has one of the best backcourts in the city. Shep Garner, a 6-foot-2 senior, is averaging 12.2 points a game. The All-Catholic League standout should have the Cahillites in the hunt for a title. Garner will play his college basketball for Penn State. Garner’s teammate Rashann London, a 6-foot-2 senior, can handle the ball, penetrate and hit the open man. He’s averaging 15.4 points a game. London is Roman’s leading scorer.
Archbishop Carroll should be a strong contender for the league championship. Carroll will entertain Archbishop Wood at 7 p.m. on Friday. The Patriots have 6-foot-6 junior Derrick Jones, 6-foot-9 junior Ernest Alfakpui and 6-foot-1 Austin Tilghman. Carroll has one of the biggest teams in the city. Their height should be a huge factor in the postseason. Jones is one of the top juniors in the nation. He’s being heavily recruited by several major colleges such as Syracuse, Kentucky and Kansas. Jones is averaging 14.1 points a game.
Alfakpui is magnificent post player. He averages 10.2 points a game. He does a nice job of complimenting Jones up front. Tilghman can get the ball to the big men around the basket. He can also score the basketball. He averages 10.6 points a game.
Archbishop Wood’s strength is in the frontcourt. The team is led by 6-foot-5 senior Pat Smith and 6-foot-4 Luke Connaghan. Smith leads Wood in scoring tallying 15.8 points a game. Connaghan is averaging 12.3 points a game.
SMU will visit Temple on Feb. 16 with a national ranking and plenty of Philly flavor. The Mustangs are ranked No. 23 in the country. The team’s last appearance in the AP Poll was on March 12, 1985. A big reasons for SMU’s success has been the play of Markus Kennedy who grew up in West Philly and played at Villanova during the 2011-12 season before transferring to SMU.
The Mustangs have been quite a story in Dallas, Texas, where the school is located. SMU has posted wins over Cincinnati, Memphis and Connecticut. Kennedy is looking forward to coming home and playing against the Owls at the Liacouras Center at 2 p.m.
“It’s exciting,” Kennedy said. “I’m pretty pumped for it. It’s my first time coming back since I left Villanova. It’s going to be a good feeling. We have a goal to continue to play well. I’m going to have a lot of family and friends there.”
Kennedy, a 6-foot-9, 245-pound sophomore, is averaging 11.9 points and 7.3 rebounds a game. The Mustangs forward played a lot of basketball in the city. He gives plenty of credit to Marcus and Markieff Morris, twin brothers who played for Prep Charter and are now members of the Phoenix Suns. He also played AAU basketball for the Hunting Park Warriors.
“I was born and raised on 60th Street in West Philly,” Kennedy said. “I played a lot of basketball in North Philly. I would have to say my mentors were the Morris twins. They kind of showed me the game. They always made sure everything was all right for me. They made sure I was trying my best and working my hardest.
“The Hunting Park Warriors were my squad. We had some good players like Jerrell Wright [La Salle] John Johnson [Penn State] and Erik Copes [George Mason]. We had a lot of guys. We had a pretty good team.”
Kennedy plays for former Sixers head coach and Hall of Famer Larry Brown at SMU. Brown has two assistants Eric Snow and George Lynch who played on the Sixers 2001 team that went to the NBA Finals.
“It’s great playing for him,” Kennedy said. “I mean all the stories you hear about him as far as how good a coach and a teacher he is. It’s all true. He’s remarkable as a teacher. It’s still overwhelming some times I sit back and think about playing for a legend and making history. It’s all happening so fast and it’s all fun. I’m just enjoying the moment.
“Eric Snow and George Lynch played on that team which played for the championship. They bring so much insight from the NBA to college. You got to soak it up and take it in because they didn’t play 14-15 years for no reason. They know what they’re doing.”
The Mustangs are 19-5 overall and 8-3 in the American Athletic Conference. Kennedy hopes SMU can make a strong run in the NCAA tournament.
“We got a goal and that’s to get to the Final Four,” Kennedy said. “The Final Four is in Dallas. It could be great if that where we end it. That’s what we’re working towards.”
James Bell named Big 5 Player of the Week
The Philadelphia Big 5 has selected James Bell from Villanova as its player of the week. Bell continued his outstanding play by notching 27 points and eight rebounds in a victory over Xavier. He followed that up with a 20-point, six-rebound performance in a win over Seton Hall. He made 17-of-25 shots in those two games including 10-of-17 from three-point range.
La Salle to battle Saint Joseph’s at Tom Gola Arena
La Salle and Saint Joseph’s will battle in an Atlantic 10 Conference game at Tom Gola Arena on Feb. 15 at 11 a.m. The Explorers forward Jerrell Wright has been playing some terrific basketball. He averaged 18.5 points and 7.5 rebounds a game. Langston Galloway has played extremely well for the Hawks. Galloway had a game-high 24 points to help Saint Joseph’s defeat VCU last week.
Walter Pegues had the ability to play a number of different positions for Central High’s football team. Pegues has played wide receiver and running back in his scholastic career. His versatility will serve him well at the next level. Pegues, a 5-foot-9, 160-pound senior, will play his college football for Indiana University of Pennsylvania. IUP, a Division II football power, is a member of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC).
“I’m definitely happy with my decision,” Pegues said. “They have a good program. Indiana University of Pennsylvania is in a good conference. They’re recruiting me as a slot receiver, kick returner and punt returner. IUP had a good season with a 9-2 overall record. I’m looking forward to playing for them.”
Pegues was one of the top running backs in the city. He had 151 carries for 1,187 yards. He rushed for 14 touchdowns. He also had 12 receptions for 219 yards. And when he wasn’t running and catching the football, Pegues was returning punts and kickoffs. As a junior, he was a wide receiver for the Lancers. He had the skills to get down the field and run good pass routes. He made a smooth transition to running back.
“We had Hakeem Ellis and Jesse Gillis last year,” Pegues said. “They were two good running backs. I played wide receiver. I think the experience should help me in college. I’ve had a chance to play a lot of different positions. I’ve learned a lot over the years. Coach (Rich) Drayton (Central head coach) has really helped me, too.”
Drayton feels Pegues will be a solid contriubutor at IUP. He believes the All Public League standout is a very knowledgeable player.
“He understands what he has to do,” Drayton said. “He’s a great competitor. He played running back for us. We had to keep the ball in his hands. But I think playing wide receiver will help him down the road. It allowed him to work on his route running. They recruited him as a receiver and return specialist.”
Pegues is a very talented athlete. Right now, he’s running on Central High’s indoor track team. In the spring, he will be running outdoors. Track and field will help him with his football skills.
“I’m running indoors,” Pegues said. “I’m working on my speed. I’m running the 200 (meters). I’m also doing the long jump and triple jump. I’m going to the state championship. I’m going to run in the spring. I plan to run the 4x100 and 4x400 (meter relay teams). I think track is going to really help me as far as my quickness on the football field.”
Pegues has performed extremely well on and off the field. Last spring, he was honored at the 17th annual Eagles Top Achiever Awards at the NovaCare Complex Auditorium. Pegues was recognized by the Eagles Youth Partnership and Philadelphia Futures for his academic excellence. He has already selected his major for college.
“I’m going to major in communications,” Pegues said. “I would like to work in radio and television.”
Pegues is headed in the right direction.