Hawks lock up in-state forward early

For the second year in a row, Saint Joseph's got a critical, key, in-state commitment prior to the hectic, cut-throat July recruiting period. Last year it was Charles Brown. This year? 6'8 Manheim Central (PA)junior stretch forward Taylor Funk committed to Phil Martelli and the Hawks on Thursday night. Get all the latest inside.

Last year, St. Joe's got a commitment from 6'7 wing Charles Brown in May, then watched as he lit up the Under Armour circuit in July. It's quite possible that history repeats itself. Phil Martelli and the Saint Joseph's Hawks staff picked up a commitment from 6'8 Manheim Central forward Taylor Funk Thursday.

Funk, who is home-schooled but plays his high school ball at Manheim, runs with the Jersey Shore Warriors on the AAU circuit. He followed up a strong high school season with an impressive April. George Mason and High Point extended offers Funk's way, joining La Salle, Monmouth, Rider, Boston University, and several others. Schools like Seton Hall, Virginia, Michigan, and Notre Dame also expressed interest and were planning to track Taylor during July.

I had an opportunity to watch Taylor Funk and the Jersey Shore Warriors in April at the Team Final Scrimmage. After watching the Warriors lose to Team Takeover, I got a chance to speak with Taylor. He had the following to say, and looking back on that, it's easy to see why he felt comfortable making an early pledge to the Hawks. This next paragraph is from my April 9th article on Taylor.

“They call me a lot,” he said about the Hawks. “Coach Duda was calling me for a while and then Coach Martelli took over. He called me, yesterday actually, and said, ‘Listen Taylor, I’m going to be honest with you. I want you. You’re my number one guy on our recruiting list for your class. And that felt great. It’s every basketball player’s dream to play D1, but when coaches are begging for you, it doesn’t get much better than that.”

Taylor Funk is a skilled, shooting 6'8 forward. The easy parallel to make here is SJU senior Isaiah Miles, who is currently participating in the NBA Draft Combine. The scouting report on Isaiah Miles is not dissimilar to Taylor Funk's. Both were known as rangy shooters who could light it up from deep, and on the flip side, both needed to add muscle and some bulk to reach their full potential.

When Taylor Funk is a freshman on Hawk Hill, athletic 6'6 forward Markell Lodge will be a junior, 6'8 forward Pierfrancesco Oliva will be a junior, and 6'7 combo forward Lorenzo Edwards will be a sophomore. It's a front court that will have shooting ability, versatility, and skill. This year's 28-win Hawk team had Isaiah Miles, Papa Ndao, and Checco Oliva in the front court, and it's a team that was one of the best all-time on Hawk Hill. Phil Martelli has said that he is willing to use this as a formula moving forward. Whether you want to call it 'playing small' or not, it's obviously a conscious decision to play with skill in the front court. Taylor Funk clearly fits that bill.

I will be speaking with Taylor Funk tomorrow and will update this article with quotes. For now, the Hawks are off to a strong start in 2017. They will have, as of now, just one more scholarship to play with in 2017. This was a big commitment from the Hawks, and key to get early with schools like UVA and Notre Dame circling. Check back tomorrow for much, much more.

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