Elevate Hoops Icebreaker: Thursday Recap

The first full day of July’s first live recruiting period saw dozens of college coaches descending on Philadelphia University for the Elevate Hoops Icebreaker. St. Joe’s head coach Phil Martelli, along with assistant coach Mark Bass, were among the coaches that packed the gym. 2017 Hawk commit Taylor Funk, 2018 offer Allen Bertrand, 2019 offer Isaiah Wong, and others impressed.

I kicked the day off watching We R-1’s 16u squad, coached by former St. Joe’s player Terrell Myers. Over the years, St. Joe’s has actively recruited a number of players out of the We R-1 program, most notably current Boston Celtic Ben Bentil. Despite lack of success to date landing a player from the program, SJU is still working the program hard. Allen Bertrand, Isaiah Wong, and Tyree Pickron are three guys that caught my eye today while watching. Mark Bass and Phil Martelli were both courtside for We R-1’s blowout win over Legit Basketball out of Indiana.

Tyree Pickron- The 2018 guard out of Archbishop Wood (PA) was the game’s standout star. Pickron, who missed the April live periods with an injury, came out firing on Thursday. Literally. On first glance, the muscular 6’2 Pickron would appear to be more of an athletic slasher. While he is athletic, and can get into the paint, it was his three-point shooting that stole the show. Tyree went 7-12 from deep and finished with a game-high 25 points. At the moment, Pickron has offers from Stony Brook, Drexel, and Delaware State. If he continues to play as he did Thursday, that number is going to increase exponentially. It would not surprise me at all if St. Joe’s, La Salle, and Temple jumped into his recruitment more heavily in the coming weeks.

Allen Bertrand- Allen Bertrand, a powerfully built 6’3 guard out of Philadelphia’s Samuel Fels High School, already holds an offer from the Hawks. Watching the 2018 guard Thursday, it was easy to see why. While he didn’t put up huge numbers, he showed great flashes on both the offensive and defensive ends. Bertrand already possesses a nearly college level body, a strong handle, and he can stroke it from deep. Allen hit two threes in the win, accounting for all six of his points. He also had a great assist on the break to a diving Isaiah Wong. Again, while his numbers don’t necessarily indicate a strong performance, Bertrand impressed.

Isaiah Wong- It’s not often that St. Joe’s extends scholarship offers for rising sophomores. But that’s exactly what happened two weeks ago when Notre Dame (NJ) High School participated in the St. Joe’s high school team camp on Hawk Hill. Phil Martelli was so impressed by the 6’3 2019 Isaiah Wong that he offered. It was Wong’s first, and if his play Thursday was any indication, it won’t be his last. In fact, if his play Thursday was any indication, his recruitment will be a tough one for the Hawks to stay in. Isaiah finished with 10 points. After a slow start, missing a runner and missing a three, he scored on two drives in the halfcourt, then had a big one-handed dunk off a Bertrand assist on the break. He also knocked down a three. Playing up a year, as a 2019 on the 16u circuit, Wong looked right at home. After scoring 10 in the morning win, Isaiah had a team-high 14 later in the afternoon for We R-1. Between Tyree Pickron, Isiaah Wong, and Allen Bertrand, this We R-1 team is one that Hawk fans will be reading about, and talking about, a lot over the coming year.

After watching We R-1 dismantle Legit Basketball, I moved up to catch a 17u contest between the Jersey Shore Warriors and Baltimore United Black. The main draw here from a St. Joe’s standpoint was 2017 commit Taylor Funk. Phil Martelli was courtside watching Funk for a third straight game at 1 o’clock Thursday.

Taylor Funk- Funk, a 6’8 rising senior from Manheim Central (PA) was St. Joe’s first 2017 commit when he pledged to the Hawks shortly after taking an official visit to Hawk Hill in early May. Taylor had 10 points for the Warriors in a comfortable win over Baltimore United, while also chipping in 7 rebounds, two assists, a steal, and a block. In the first half, Funk missed his first two shots, both threes, then had a tip-in waved off for basket interference. A dunk off a sweet assist from Eli Brooks was his only first-half basket.

The second half was a different story. In a matter of about 45 seconds, Funk hit back-to-back threes from the right wing, both a good three or four feet beyond the arc. Moments later, he added a short jumper from the left baseline. Taylor finished the game 2-5 from three, and 4-7 from the field, en route to his ten points.

He also impressed in several other facets of his game Thursday. While his calling card is, and likely always will be, his three-point shooting ability, he also has good vision at 6’8. While he isn’t a player who will create off the bounce for others, he picked up two assists Thursday swinging the ball to the opposite side of the floor. He sees the floor and reads the defense well. Taylor also demonstrated an ability to corral a defensive rebound and push the ball upcourt. He’s not Ben Simmons. He’s not a 6’8 two-guard. He’s a forward, a face-up stretch forward. But his ball-handling and vision are ahead of where you’d normally expect for an Atlantic 10 recruit entering his senior year of high school.

Taylor will need to continue to get stronger, and get serious about the weight room. His rebounding at this level is due to height and good instincts. He’s going to need to continue to fill out, but he has well over a year to do that before he plays his first game on Hawk Hill.

All in all, it was a productive day at Philadelphia University. I will be back this weekend to check out the likes of 2017 offers Ejike Obinna and De’Vondre Perrry, along with a new set of 2018s, including Justin Anderson and Matthue Cotton.

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