Discover more from Cerebro Sports
2023 Philadelphia Catholic League: An Introduction & An Update
By Chad Graham
I like to think of the Philadelphia Catholic League to be a crown jewel of high school events in Cerebro’s database, as it’s widely considered one of the top leagues in the country. It’s produced recent pros like Jalen Duren (Roman), Jordan Hall (Neumann-Goretti), and Collin Gillespie. There are a host of current players in the PCL committed to playing at the next level: Budd Clark (West Catholic/Coppin St), Zion Stanford (West Catholic/Temple), Rob Wright (‘24 Neumann-Goretti/Baylor), Anthony Finkley (Roman/St. Joe’s), Izaiah Pasha (Cardinal O’Hara/Iona), Xzayvier Brown (Roman/St. Joe’s), Horace Simmons (La Salle College/Drexel), Carson Howard (Archbishop Wood/East Stroudsburg), and many more to come. This is an introduction to the PCL and an update on how some of the league’s top uncommitted prospects are performing 8-9 games into PCL play.
After his first in the PCL (2022), where he was a force of nature on both ends and one of the top five performers in the league (C-RAM 12.8), Sorber has returned with more polish. His points (20.0) and rebounds (10.3) are up, but it's his overall feel (plus his conditioning) that’s most improved. He has to compete against the refs more often than he does a big of comparable size. So, although his blocks are down (3.7 to 3.0), he’s not getting in foul trouble (2.4 fouls/g) as often from trying to send everything into the stands. And if/when he is in foul trouble, he understands how to still play his game without picking up more. Sorber figuring out just how and when to mix in some finesse - through his counters and touch - with his power has made him the most dominant player in the league thus far. It’s also likely why Villanova recently added their name in the hat with the likes of programs like Maryland, Miami, Penn State, and Providence.
Nobody in the league has had as dramatic of a change in production and role, from one season to the next as Bethea. Based on Cerebro’s numbers, he went from a “3 and (some) D”, movement-shooting specialist in 16 minutes off the bench to a “modern guard” who drives the Vikings’ offense for 28 minutes a night. Ironically, all of his counting stats are up, except for his 3-point shooting (22.6 ppg, 93.5% FT, 7.1 rpg & 3.8 apg). In short, they signify that he’s a better all-around player. Put differently, they’re a reflection of Bethea’s growth in terms of how he approaches the game. Instead of hunting for threes, he’s learning to get to his mid-range pull-up and to attack the basket earlier, as well as when to pick his spots. Furthermore, the development of his handle and teams scheming against him provide ample opportunities for Bethea to showcase his advantage creation. As much as he enjoys lighting defense up from beyond NBA range, he seems to find even more joy in throwing teammates open. Bethea’s now a consensus top-100 player in his class, but that might still be too low.
Playing down at the 5 for the Saints, Adewale profiles as a high-motor forward and “Rim Runner” (C-RAM 10.6). NG’s guards are always able to find him with dump-offs and lobs for high-percentage looks (ATR 89). The PCL leader in offensive rebounds, he averages 4.5 per game and 10.8 rebounds total. His work cleaning the glass pays tremendous dividends in their four-out offense, even when it isn’t him getting the second-chance bucket. They also like to get him the ball at the top of the key for DHOs and the occasional three, which he is taking at an increasing rate (30.8% on 1.6 3PA). Adewale flashes versatility on defense too (DSI 102). Depending on the matchup, he’s mobile enough to hard hedge and recover or just switch in PNR coverage. His length and comfort playing in space give him the advantage in those situations. With an average of 1.6 blocks, he can do some traditional rim protector things as well like play drop coverage. American East, CAA, and MAAC programs are on him heavy.
30.8% 3P (0.5 of 1.6), 1.0 stl
Orchard is a pillar within DP’s system (C-RAM 9.5). They ask him to do more this year and they’re better for it. Offensively, he may not create advantages, but he does extend them. Orchard attacks tilted defense by getting into the paint and then kicking it out or finding backdoor cutters for 3.1 assists per game. The other part of his game is his floor spacing (3PE 89). The uncommitted wing shoots 46.3% from three, averaging 2.4 makes on 5.1 attempts. Going the other way, Orchard nabs 2.6 steals each night by helping down on drives and by getting his hands into passing lanes ((DSI 94). Monmouth and Seton Hill are the main schools involved in his recruitment.
Coleman-Newsome is a combo guard who can complement any style of lead guard. For this Carroll team, he’s their leading scorer (16.4 ppg), tertiary playmaker (2.6 apg), and point-of-attack defender (1.7 spg). DCN’s able to play through contact and hold his spots with his size/strength. He stretches the floor too, making 39.4% of his threes, on an average of 4.7 attempts. His frame allows him to defend bigger initiators - guards and wings - too (DSI 84). His overall performance (C-RAM 8.7) is a major reason why the Patriots are in the top half of the league this season. High academic D1s recruiting him, but elite D2s are beginning to sniff around.
Since joining the Cahilites in the summer, Stewart-Herring’s development has been a revelation. The Delaware native is a plus defender in man and/or zone (DSI 80). They’re able to mix in different looks due to his feel and athleticism on that end. His vertical pop is most evident in transition when he can play above the rim. Besides the transition buckets, Stewart-Herring is able to play off Roman’s primary playmakers. He only takes about two threes per game, but he hits 33.3% of them. His free throw numbers - 90.3% FT on 3.9FTA/g - suggest he can eventually space the floor at a higher clip. Regardless, he’s a winning player who’s helped Roman get to the top spot in the conference right now. Hampton just offered.
Shelton is one of the best shooters in the Catholic League at 43.5% on almost 6 attempts per game (3PE 91). He’s best when shooting off-screens, but he can get it done while simply relocating or floating to open space. His production stands out even more when you factor in that he averages just under 17 minutes of playing time. Shelton has a thin frame, yet even his marginal strength gain during the off-season has paid major dividends. His overall game is improving, particularly his ability to attack closeouts and cut off defenders. He got his first offer from Gannon University the other day.
2024s to keep an eye on
McGuinn is the player that started out as more of a wing earlier in his development and has grown into more of a “big” (C-RAM 9.8). The fluid mover fits into both the “Stretch Big” and “3 and D” archetypes. McGuinn had some exciting moments recently in pick-and-pop which increased his 3-point numbers to 42.9% on 2.6 attempts per game (3PE 72). His most consistent contribution comes as their rim protector (DSI 98). The mobile forward averages 3.1 blocks with his ability to wall up on the strong side and/or rotate from the weak. NJIT offered in September.
Guillouette is slowly becoming one of the better centers in the area (C-RAM _. With almost identical averages compared to last season, he’s been a more efficient player in 2023 (10.6 ppg, 9.1 rpg, 2.6 apg, & 2.8 bpg). Many of the touches he gets inside, he kicks back out to one of their many shooters. Besides that, he cleans up misses around the basket (ATR 86). The rest of his effort is spent anchoring their defense (DSI 89). Rather than block shots like a volleyball player going for a kill, SJP’s man in the middle gets his rejections with a little more touch. A few mid-majors have extended offers for his services and more are sure to be on the way.
D-Will is coming into his own this season. As a sophomore, he was a “Connector” wing, spotting up for three and taking the opposing team’s best perimeter player. Now he’s at his natural two-guard spot where he’s flourishing (C-RAM 8.8). When he’s not running off screens for movement threes, he’s using them to get to his stepback (3PE 89). D-Will shoots 34.8% on a whopping 9.4 attempts per game. His offensive emergence hasn’t come at the cost of his defensive impact either DSI 95). Williams is still racking up 2.6 steals through his activity on the perimeter. A10 and CAA schools are taking notice.
After playing in just 7 total Catholic League games over his freshman and sophomore seasons, Gorman is now a player the Hawks can’t keep off the floor (C-RAM 8.1). He’s the perfect “3 and D” guard for this team. Gorman shoots 46.4% on an average of 3.5 attempts (3PE 82) and is an active help defender with 1.5 spg (DSI 89). He relocates off-ball, makes the extra pass (2.4 apg), and doesn’t need to be featured in order to positively impact the game (13% usage). With his rapid improvement since the summer, SJP’s glue guy is just starting to pop on college radars.
At this stage of his development, Mir-Will is rounding out into the epitome of a “3 and D” wing (C-RAM 7.9). Converting 30% of his average 6.9 three-point attempts, he’s catching and shooting with confidence (3PE 77), which is huge when you factor in that he was only shooting 30% (2.2 attempts/g) as a sophomore. His off-ball movement is progressing too, making splash plays on routine backdoor cuts and lobs from Rob Wright III. Likewise, Williams continues to showcase his lateral movement skills when guarding perimeter players and on weak-side rotations (DSI 98). The 1.6 steals and 0.9 blocks back that up.
I’ll circle back after the playoffs to highlight more of the PCL’s top performers.