I had big basketball plans this summer. They included not working, driving to AAU hotbeds in Philadelphia and South Jersey, and watching kids play basketball. I’m at the point in my life now where the dream of becoming a professional athlete is dead. I mark the exact moment of death as Devin Booker getting drafted. So, now I live vicariously through kids that are playing their asses off in absurd Mid-Atlantic summer heat to impress the recruiting guys that dot the sidelines.

For a lot of people, recruiting is simply an extension of college basketball fandom. The schools that a lot of the guys come from aren’t necessarily normal high schools. IMG Academy is for sports. Oak Hill is in the middle of nowhere. Bishop Gorman is a hotbed for both basketball and football. There are parts of the country, though, where recruiting brings a sense of local pride. The Chicago public league has a long-standing history of success. Atlanta is also fantastic much of the time.

Similarly, I am from Philadelphia. Philadelphia, and its closely neighboring areas, are about as good as it gets in terms of high school basketball. Finally, I had a free summer and I was going to graze the recruiting circuit and grace the internet with in-depth profiles of three-star recruits that probably won’t play for their first two years in college. Then, I got an internship and was sent to Boston, which is not a hotbed for basketball. So instead, I am reminiscing on the basketball I saw this season and all the basketball I am sure I am missing.

This past season

Growing up for me has been watching an endless assembly line of stellar athletes churned out by the Philadelphia Catholic League. In arenas such as Roman Catholic’s, which is too narrow for a corner three, or West Catholic’s, which is a classic step-down gym, or the final four of the conference in the historic and iconic Palestra, I had the pleasure of watching scores of division one athletes and ESPN top 100 recruits.

Guys like Steve Vasturia, who Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey said is the best player he has ever coached. Or like Jaquan Newton, whose career at Miami has been one of a classic college trajectory, and he is finally slated to be “the guy” for the Hurricanes in his senior season. Guys like Derrick Jones, Jr., who was in the fucking dunk contest as a rookie even though he was either hurt or did not play the majority of the games before the All-Star break.

This season was no different. There were two players in particular that really stood out and they are guys that are worth looking out for come hoops season. I’ll throw an honorable mention to Neumann-Goretti forward Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree, who committed to play for the Villanova Wildcats (no biggie).

This is Quade Green. He is listed at 6’1″. That is a lie. Quade Green is no taller than 5’11”, but his pure stroke, steady handles, and mature IQ has led him to the highest ranking in the ESPN 100 for a PCL product since Maalik Wayns. He is a more touted recruit than either NBA Dunk Contest participant Derrick Jones, Jr. or PCL legend/Miami guard Ja’quan Newton were.

Since he is the highest ranked point guard prospect for a Kentucky team that again has major turnover in their backcourt, he will most likely start for Calipari, but don’t look at him as the traditional one-and-done guy. He will never miss a corner three, though, ever. So look out for that, too.

Collin Gillespie came out of virtually nowhere to be one of the most sure-things in the country that you have never heard of. Of all the amazing talents I had the pleasure of watching during their high school years, none of them came close to Gillespie’s IQ level.

In this season’s PCL Final in the Palestra, Gillespie’s Archbishop Wood Vikings took on the five-star Green and Neumann-Goretti. Gillespie dominated with 24 points, 7 assists, and a flurry of the “right play.” He led a comeback effort after being down by double digits at half and completed the comeback in the fourth quarter by making veteran, correct decisions on both ends of the floor. All while the five-star Green basically shot his team out of the game during the same time.

Gillespie will only get smarter under the leadership of Jay Wright and as Jalen Brunson’s under study. Look out for Gillespie next season, or the season after, to be an absolute stud at Nova.

This summer

Cameron Reddish, Westtown School, Class of 2018

Alright so this isn’t a PCL guy, but any time a Philly-area kid is a top-ten recruit, I’m all in. Also, he’s a 6’8″ combo guard, so that’s pretty damn exciting, too. Here’s a mix from EYBL Peach Jam.

The Rising prospects I missed didn’t get to see.

This is what I wanted to do. Of course, like I said, I didn’t quite get to. I wanted to watch guys like Tyree Pickron, a teammate of Colin Gillespie’s at Archbishop Wood fish for division 1 offers. I wanted to watch guys like Myles Thompson finally figure out what the right position is for him. Jameer Nelson has a kid named Jameer Nelson, Jr. I want to watch a young Meer! But alas, none of the above. So instead I’m just crying as I read this City of Basketball Love article. There’s always next summer.