‘The Weekend’ HS Hoops Event: Jersey’s Top Players Show Out for Slew of Colleges
MONTCLAIR, NJ — Spectators stood shoulder-to-shoulder, forming a wall around the sidelines. The bleachers behind one of the baselines was at capacity, while a line of chairs hosting college basketball coaches from across the country, such as Kentucky’s John Calipari, populated the other end.
Montclair State University’s Panzer Arena was split into two makeshift basketball courts, but the talent on them was anything but makeshift on Sunday.
As the time reached just after 1 p.m., on one court was Kahlil Whitney, the high-flying wing from Roselle Catholic who is among the most sought after players in the nation. On the other was Paul Mulcahy, the premier 6-foot-7 combo guard from Gill St. Bernard’s who shocked many in May when he announced his commitment to stay in-state and play at Rutgers University.
Attention in the packed gym was nearly split with fans trying to get an up close look at two players who will soon be playing on national television on a nightly basis.
Both Whitney and Mulcahy — two of the top players in the class of 2019 — highlighted a display of the area’s best high school basketball teams at The Weekend event. Mulcahy and Gill-St. Bernard’s won the eight-team tournament.
Gill St. Bernard’s Wins Afternoon
Last season in the NJSIAA North, Non-Public B Final, Roselle Catholic upended a fundamentally-sound powerhouse Gill St. Bernard’s team. The two schools have formed quite a friendly rivalry in recent years, and a midsummer re-match was certainly a possibility heading into Sunday.
That didn’t quite happen, but Gill certainly isn’t complaining.
Led by Paul Mulcahy’s 16 points, nine rebounds, and six assists, Gill took down Montclair Immaculate, 67-52, in the tournament final to win the Sunday event. Immaculate had shocked Roselle Catholic in the semifinal to prevent an anticipated matchup between the defending North Non-Public finalists.
Gill-St. Bernard’s, coached by New Jersey basketball legend Mergin Sina, came from behind to defeat new-look Patrick School in the semifinal. The Knights beat nationally-renowned DeMatha of Washington D.C. in their first game of the event.
With the pressure of committing now off his shoulders, Mulcahy will help lead Gill.
Whitney Draws Insane Hype
There was copious talent inside Panzer Athletic Center throughout The Weekend, but on Sunday morning, all eyes were focused Kahlil Whitney and defending Tournament of Champions winner Roselle Catholic.
Whitney is the No. 14-ranked player and second-ranked power forward in the United States, according to ESPN, and he has yet to announce a college commitment. Since his recruitment is still open, college coaches have been flocking to his games all summer long, but perhaps no larger amount of them have seen him before Sunday.
Though his Roselle Catholic team’s run ended in the semifinals to Montclair Immaculate, Whitney was his usual self. The 6-foot-7, 190-pound forward wowed the crowd with high-flying dunks, pull up shooting, and quick ball handling all throughout the morning-into-afternoon. Whitney dropped 26 points in the first game of the day as Roselle Catholic upended Hudson Catholic, 65-41.
The highlight of Whitney’s afternoon came during the semifinal game, when he caught a fast-break alley-oop from Josh Pierre-Louis and posterized an Immaculate defender with a one-handed jam.
Coaches Out in Droves
July is known as the “live period” in NCAA basketball recruiting. Per NJ Hoops on Rivals and DavesJoint.net, the following schools were in attendance:
Kentucky, Rutgers, Seton Hall, Princeton, St. Peter’s, Monmouth, FDU, NJIT, Louisville, Illinois, Connecticut, Georgia, Penn State, Notre Dame, Miami, Boston College, Robert Morris, Morgan State St. Joseph’s, St. Bonaventure, Wagner, Marist, La Salle.
Montclair Immaculate Stuns Roselle Catholic
During the 2018 North Non-Public B sectional tournament, Montclair Immaculate was the ultimate bracket buster. In the span of three nights, it upset Patrick School and Top-Seeded Hudson Catholic.
Then came Roselle Catholic, which blew out Immaculate by 30 points in the sectional semifinal.
Flash forward nearly five months, and the tables turned — though the stakes were a bit lower.
In front of a predominantly Roselle Catholic crowd and all attention on the Lions’ Whitney, Montclair Immaculate persevered and came away with a tight 57-53 victory. 6-foot-7 big man Nick Jourdain dropped 13 to lead the Lions of Essex County.
Montclair Immaculate this spring graduated stars Jalen Carey (Syracuse) and Justin Winston (post-grad year at Putnam Science), but as Sunday showed, can be one of the state’s top teams this winter.
Defending TOC Champs Display New Look
Roselle Catholic thrived through the scintillating play of 7-foot “point-forward” Naz Reid over the past four years, winning the TOC in 2015 and 2018 while spending mostly all of that time high amongst the national rankings.
But Reid, a projected 2019 NBA lottery pick, is off to Louisiana State, and the Lions, coached by Dave Boff, have reloaded with a bit of a new cast to defend their TOC crown.
Without Reid’s unrivaled prescnese down low, Roselle Catholic showed that it will run through returners Whitney, Pierre-Louis, and Colby Rogers — all holders of Div. I offers. Pierre-Louis’ stock has skyrocketed this summer, as the athletic wing with bounce now has 16 offers, per 24-7 Sports, including Rutgers, Georgia, and Temple.
The Lions recently added shifty guard Richie Greaves, a transfer from Rutgers Prep, who ran the point during Sunday’s event. He’ll figure to make up for the loses of guards Ithiel Horton (Delaware) and Jason Battle (Ramapo).