Although there is plenty of season left to play, November can't come soon enough for some Seton Hall fans, and for good reason. Kevin Willard's five-man, 10th-ranked 2014 recruiting class is absolutely tearing it up in local high school gyms.
Because he was the first to commit his future to Seton Hall on a muggy July afternoon in Newark, lets start with Newark East Side's Ismael Sanogo. He's not always flashy, and he won't ‘wow' you with ridiculous stat lines, but "Ish" does work for the East Side Red Raiders. Sanogo is a double-double threat every game, as the senior wing averages 12 ppg and 10.8 rpg for New Jersey's No. 1 ranked school. Sanogo and "Beast Side" recently knocked off the previous top team in the state, Paterson Eastside, 52-51 in overtime to claim the top spot, official when NJ.com releases their updated top-20 rankings later today.
On defense, Ismael has embodied the style of play that the Red Raiders implement: tough, up-tempo, harassing defense. As a result, he contributes with steals, deflections, and blocked shots that high school stat sheets usually don't record. Here is a scouting report (with video) of Ismael that I wrote after East Side's season-opener against Blair Academy. Aside from his workman like attributes, Ish can do exciting, too:
Next, who else other than Abraham Lincoln (N.Y.) star Isaiah Whitehead. Always a threat to break the 30-point barrier, Whitehead can't stop scoring for the Railsplitters. Whitehead has posted point totals of 39, 12, 22, 20 over the last two-plus weeks against Brooklyn Collegiate, Yates (Tx.), Westinghouse, and Boys & Girls, respectively. Most recently, the likely McDonald's All-American bound Whitehead scored 35 points and added 12 boards and 6 assists in a win over South Shore yesterday.
The game that Whitehead scored just 12 in? Lincoln teammate and fellow Seton Hall commit Desi Rodriguez scored 25 points on 10-of-16 shooting at the 2014 Hoophall Classic. An athletic 6-6 wing forward, Rodriguez has reportedly been the Robin to Whitehead's Batman, throwing down several dunks, including this one against Brooklyn Collegiate, in the process. Seton Hall landed a commitment at the right time from the high-flying late-bloomer, who was mostly an unknown commodity at the time of his pledge on December 23rd, despite earning MVP honors at last season's PSAL title game. This nasty flush (skip to :50) at the City of Palms is just a sample of what Desi can do.
Seton Hall's third commitment from New York City isn't doing so bad either. While Isaiah Whitehead is the unanimous headliner of the Hall's 2014 class, Bishop Loughlin scoring guard Khadeen Carrington has something to say about that. After posting scoring totals of 21, 36, and 27 against talented opposition in Iona Prep, Cardinal Hayes, and St. Raymond this January, Carrington excelled in the spotlight at the SNY Invitational this weekend. Khadeen matched Rutgers commit Mike Williams on Friday night by scoring 26 points in the first round against St. Mary's (N.Y.) before leading the charge with an MVP-worthy 20 points and 10 boards against St. Anthony (N.J.) in the final. After the game, Khadeen gave SNY's Adam Zagoria some mouth-watering quotes on how Seton Hall's backcourt may shape up next campaign.
I was able to watch both of Khadeen's games this weekend and uploaded a few HD highlights to Vimeo. I'll embed two of the videos here, there are four more on my channel. The second clip contains a quote from Kevin Willard.
Whitehead, Carrington, Rodriguez, and Sanogo will fill in on the wing and in the backcourt next season, leaving Seton Hall's fifth commitment, power forward Angel Delgado, to bolster the Pirates' depth up front. After transferring from Huntington Prep (W. Va.) in December, Delgado landed at The Patrick School, located in Elizabeth. After a tepid first few games, Angel has scored over 20 points in six of his last nine games, including a 26-point, 13-rebound outburst in an upset of then No. 2 Roselle Catholic. Yesterday, Delgado scored 18 points and snared 16 boards in a win over Roman Catholic (Pa.), good enough for Hoop Group MVP honors. Delgado plays alongside budding sophomore guard Bryce Aiken, who has been offered by Seton Hall, Rutgers, Creighton, Auburn, and others.
Despite a disappointing loss to St. John's last week, Seton Hall is just one win from .500 in the Big East with last place Butler coming to town on Wednesday. Kevin Willard's squad is sitting sixth in the Big East (1-6 receive first round bye in BET) and play four of their next six at home, leaving a lot of room for improvement and plenty of meaningful basketball in the near future.
But the more distant future, one that involves these five high school standouts, is hard to ignore and easy for Seton Hall fans to get excited about.