St. Joe's off to strong start in 2015

Over the weekend, St. Joe’s reeled in two commitments from local 2015 standouts. On Friday afternoon, Neumann-Goretti (PA) rising senior Lamarr Kimble announced his commitment to the Hawks, and that was followed up roughly 48 hours later when St. Joe’s Prep (PA) shooting guard Chris Clover offered up a pledge of his own. Get the latest on what the two signings mean and what could be next inside.

All July long, through three live recruiting periods, St. Joe’s head coach Phil Martelli, along with assistants Geoff Arnold, Dave Duda, and Mark Bass, tracked their top 2015 recruiting targets. Two names that have long been near the top of the proverbial wish list were Lamarr Kimble and Chris Clover. It didn’t long for both Kimble and Clover to make their college decisions following the hectic month.

What exactly is St. Joe’s getting in the two Philadelphia Catholic League stars? Lamarr Kimble is a 5’11 point guard who has been a starter at South Philly powerhouse Neumann-Goretti since his sophomore year. He picked the Hawks over offers from the likes of Creighton, La Salle, Drexel, Robert Morris, Rider, and more. Last year, he played in a four-guard lineup alongside current Miami freshman Ja’Quan Newton and current Campbell freshman Troy Harper. This year, he will be joined in the backcourt by big-time 2017 guard Quade Green.

Kimble has been with Team Final his entire AAU career, and he capped off his great career with a strong July. During the 2014 EYBL, he averaged 8.1 points, 4.6 assists, and 3 rebounds per game. The highlight of his summer was an 11-point, 10-assist, 4-steal, 4-rebound outing against Mac Irvin Fire, and elite point guard Jalen Brunson.

Lamarr will arrive on Hawk Hill at a time when the only point guard on the roster will be then-sophomore Shavar Newkirk. While both are right around 6-feet tall, maybe a touch under, there is no reason for this to be a ‘one or the other’ type of scenario where one is the point guard of the future and the other is not. Newkirk is a tough-minded, jet-quick New York City lead guard, while Newkirk is a solid, steady, true point guard from Philadelphia, a city that prides itself on its guard play. The two should compliment each other very well.

Kimble’s commitment on Friday was Phil Martelli’s first from a Philadelphia Catholic League player since D.J. Rivera in 2006. Kimble’s commitment is significant then, for a few reasons. He broke a dry spell in recruiting the Catholic League. Kimble also played for AAU powerhouse Team Final. Landing a well-regarded player from Rob Brown’s program will only help St. Joe’s in recruiting Team Final moving forward.

Just 48 hours after landing Lamarr Kimble, the good news kept rolling in for the Hawks. While playing with his high school team, St. Joe’s Prep, on Hawk Hill, 6’4 shooting guard Chris Clover decided to end his recruitment. He also held scholarship offers from Temple, George Mason, La Salle, Rider, and San Jose State.

Clover averaged roughly 22 points per game at The Prep last year for Speedy Morris, in a year where he was called upon to be the primary scorer. Early on in his high school career, Chris played primarily in the post, while the backcourt was manned by current Notre Dame guard Steve Vasturia and current Wake Forest guard Miles Overton. Last year, with Vasturia and Overton gone to college, Clover played entirely in the backcourt and shouldered The Prep’s scoring load successfully, including dropping a season-high 32 against his future backcourt-mate and Neumann-Goretti.

This past summer, Clover played at the Reebok Breakout Classic, then spent the remainder of the month running with Philly Pride. When I watched him and Philly Pride at the Elevate Hoops Summer Showdown, Chris demonstrated an ability to knock down jumpers out to three while also being more than adept slashing to the rim. His size and strength at the two-guard spot puts him at an advantage. He is able, and willing, to mix it up on the boards while also posting up smaller defenders.

Like Lamarr Kimble and Team Final, Chris Clover also comes from one of the area’s more well-respected AAU programs. At the 16u level, there are a handful of players that could be St. Joe’s targets, most notably swingman DeAndre Hunter, who already holds a St. Joe’s offer.

With Lamarr Kimble and Chris Clover now in the Hawk fold, the SJU coaching staff is able to shift their attention to the recruitment of a face-up forward and then a fourth player to fill out the recruiting class. Cody Schwartz, Charlie Thomas, Pierfrancesco Oliva, Markis McDuffie, Ernest Aflakpui, Jesse Bunting, and Emmitt Holt all seem like viable frontcourt options for the Hawks. And, while they have already signed two perimeter players in the class, it may not be totally out of the question for them to remain in the mix with Ewing (NJ) wing guard Trey Lowe and Life Center Academy (NJ) guard Malik Ellison.

Over the coming week, Hawk Hill Hardwood will go into depth looking at the players with offers at the 4-spot. Emmitt Holt cut his list to ten last night, and St. Joe’s made the cut. Recent offers Cody Schwartz and Pierfrancesco Oliva are also interesting targets. I will have profile pieces up on them this week as well.

With two of the Hawks’ top two targets committed, the staff has lots of positive momentum within the city. Can they parlay that into a commitment from a third Catholic Leaguer? Or will they turn to North Jersey (Oliva), the DC area (Thomas), or Wisconsin (Schwartz) for their next commitment? Stay tuned for all the latest regarding the rest of the 2015 Saint Joseph’s recruiting class

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