Isaiah Watkins- Watkins, a 6'8 forward from Saint Benedict's Prep (NJ), was another in the long list of players active Saturday with an offer from Saint Joseph's. Watching him play, and later speaking with him, it becomes obvious why the Hawks are one of over forty schools to extend an offer Isaiah's way. On Saturday, while he didn't do much in the scoring column, Watkins did show off his athleticism throwing down an oop off the backboard. More impressive, he showed that he can pass the ball a bit as well. He kicked the ball out of the post to fellow Jersey junior Jared Nickens for a made three, threw a nice outlet that led to a run-out, and was involved in one of the day's more impressive plays. Isaiah grabbed a defensive rebound, pushed it up court, and dropped a pretty behind-the-back bounce pass to teammate Tyler Roberson for a two-handed slam.
Hawk Hill Hardwood caught up with Watkins after the game and got the latest from him. At the moment, all of Isaiah's focus is on AAU ball, with finals at St. Benedict's wrapped up. Watkins said that his AAU squad, CIA Bounce, is currently 9-0 in EYBL play and in first place. Through nine games, Watkins is averaging roughly 7 points and 4 rebounds per game. In terms of recruitment, Watkins told Hawk Hill Hardwood back in February that he was wanting to see "what coaches and what schools show up to my games this spring" when considering his possible college choice. There is no decision imminent for Isaiah as he continues to focus on his academics, which have the attention of the Ivy, and AAU play.
Ben Bentil- Bentil was one of the more impressive sophomores in Saturday's game, and that says something considering the day's talent level. By my unofficial tally, Bentil finished Saturday's game with 14 points, and in the vicinity of 8 rebounds. A physical specimen, Bentil certainly looks the part in the class of 2014, and on Saturday showed that he could run with elite talent. Nearly all of Ben's points Saturday came in the form of rim-rattling dunks. Raw offensively, Ben is much more than a typical big-man project. He possesses good court awareness, and that was evident at the Philly Jam Fest and even in the helter-skelter environment of Saturday's game. Ben rebounds at a high level, is a good athlete, and his background in soccer is evident in his conditioning. Even in this up and down game, Ben was able to more than run with the guards and wings. Already being recruited at a tremendously high level, Ben is garnering even more attention with his play this spring on We R 1. Syracuse, Temple, Villanova, and Saint Joseph's are just a few of the programs already actively, and vigorously, recruiting the 6'8 forward.
JaQuan Newton- Newton, a 6'3 guard out of Philadelphia, was not on the original roster for the Mary Kline Classic. Arriving at the game and seeing him there brightened the eyes of anyone that has seen him play before though. There are few guards in the city of Philadelphia that have a higher upside than Newton, and on Saturday he played a terrific floor game. Ja'Quan had one of the day's highlight moves when he faked the behind-the-back pass on the break and laid it in himself. More impressive than his scoring, which by my count was 9 points, was his ability to distribute the ball. Aside from Jaren Sina, who had at least a dozen dimes by my count, and Tyler Ennis, one could argue that Newton was the most creative guy in the gym Saturday with the dribble. On back-to-back possessions, he found Ben Bentil with gorgeous dimes that led to thunderous dunks. Newton can go out and get a bucket for himself, but seems every bit as happy setting the plate for his teammates.
Ranked by Scout as the seventh best point guard in 2014, Newton is already drawing elite interest. Saint Joseph's has offered, and other schools actively involved include Temple, Villanova, Georgetown, Miami, Penn State, Rutgers, and Syracuse.
Isaiah Watkins, Ben Bentil, and Ja'Quan Newton all hold offers from the Hawks, and all showed off their big-time ability on Saturday. Whether the Hawks can keep any of the three close to home is uncertain, and given the offer sheets for all three, it won't be easy.
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