By: Rich Flanagan
Photos: Zamani Feelings, Mike Nance, Kathy Leister & Geanine Jamison
PHILADELPHIA- The 2019-20 Pa. All-State Class 4A Team features three players that have dealt with severe injuries during their high school careers but battled back and are now considered some of the best in their respective leagues.
Start with Pa. All-State Class 4A Player of the Year Jordan Longino. The 6-foot-4 junior guard from Germantown Academy, who was named a First Team selection as a sophomore, avg. 22.8 points this season which included a 38-point game against Wissahickon and a 36-point performance versus Devon Prep. He’s been one of the top scorers not only in the Inter-Ac but across Pa. since his freshman season but being the Patriots starting quarterback has brought both highs and lows. As a dual-threat field general on the gridiron, Longino dealt with a right-knee injury as a freshman then aggravated it again as a sophomore, costing him the latter half of the schedule.
Lucky for Patriot's first-year head coach Matt Dolan, there were no injuries to report coming into the basketball season and he became the second player in Inter-Ac history to surpass 1,500 points in his first three seasons, joining all-time leading scorer, Deuce Turner (Malvern Prep). Even on nights when he started off, he finished strong, most notably in a 69-66 overtime win over the Haverford School, he scored 18 of his 29 points after halftime including six in the extra period.
Germantown Academy (15-12) finished the Inter-Ac season at .500 and advanced to the Pennsylvania Independent Schools Athletic Association Tournament, where it fell to the Perkiomen School in overtime in the first round.
Alongside sophomore Casey Traina (11.7 ppg), Longino, who holds offers from Virginia, Indiana, Villanova, Florida, Maryland and Temple, among others, has moved into sixth on the Patriots all-time scoring list (1,562) and he’s three points away from moving into the top five. He’s also gaining on his brother, Evan-Eric, who sits in second on all-time list, won three Inter-Ac titles and now plays at Kutztown after beginning his career at West Chester.
In his first season at the helm, Dolan saw much of what has made Longino such a coveted recruit on the field and in the gym.
“It comes down to a couple key areas,” Dolan said. “First, his work ethic. He has a terrific skillset and works very hard at his game, particularly outside of practice. He’s a wonderful teammate for our program. You can tell that he loves the game and wants to win. When you have those key qualities, it’s no surprise that he’s been improving and become a special player.”
Another player who has overcome a major injury is Archbishop Carroll junior John Camden, another First Team selection. He is the first Archbishop Carroll (17-10) player to be named Pa. All-State First Team since Ryan Daly (St. Joseph’s) in 2015-16. The 6-7 forward suffered a major knee injury as a freshman at the Westtown School and did not play a minute. He watched from the sideline as a Moose squad behind Mo Bamba (Orlando Magic), Cam Reddish (Atlanta Hawks), Brandon Randolph, who is currently in the G-League, and Jake Forrester (Temple) won the Friends School League title. Still, he had already brought in offers from Florida, Syracuse, Virginia Tech, Miami (Fl.) and Xavier, to name a few.
He transferred to Archbishop Carroll just as the PIAA season began.
He appeared in a few games including an 18-point outing vs. Boys’ Latin (Md.) but head coach Francis Bowe chose to shut him down before the midway point of the Philadelphia Catholic League season as the possibility of injuring that knee again became a growing concern.
“It’s been a journey and a half and it’s not even over yet,” Bowe said. “It’s almost like we had to pull back the reins on him. Following the injuries he had at Westtown, he comes right over to Carroll and he can’t make it halfway through the season. We were completely worried about him getting injured again. The first month or two I had to be the jerk, kind of, by telling him to slow down and take care of his body because he’s going to give you everything he’s got.”
Camden came back as a junior and put together his first full high-school season, avg. 15.9 points and turning himself into the Patriots’ go-to offensive option. He had a career-high 37 points vs. Wilkes-Barre Area, which included a school-record 10 three-pointers. Those 37 points were the most in a game since Daly had 33 against Neumann-Goretti on Jan. 22, 2016.
In only the third game of the season, Camden was cementing himself as the prospect many knew he could be, especially Bowe, and putting the knee injury behind him.
“He was smart, took care of his body and this was his first season of high school basketball and what he did for us is tremendous,” Bowe said. “He made some really nice strides and next year is going to be a blast.”
He put together several high-scoring games such as pouring in 28 against Abington where he hit five triples and a 26-point contest vs. Lansdale Catholic. He had a double-double with 24 points and 12 rebounds against Bishop McDevitt. He had 14 points in a Philadelphia Catholic League playoff loss to top seed Archbishop Wood that took overtime to decide the winner. He showcased his talent on the national stage with 22 points against Naismith High School Boys Player of the Year and Oklahoma State commit Cade Cunningham, Florida State commit Scottie Barnes and perennial power Montverde Academy (Fla.) in the Metro City Classic in Toms River, N.J.
A half-hour drive down I-476 S from where Camden has been reviving his career, Tyreese Watson finished off an impressive season of his own for the Bonner-Prendergast Friars (20-5). The 6-foot-4 senior was named to the Pa. All-State Class 4A First Team, joining his brother, Maurice Watson Jr., who made the all-state team in 2012. Watson avg. a team-high 17.4 points and 5.9 rebounds for Bonner-Prendergast, who looked primed to take home its first state title in program history after two consecutive losses in the semifinals before the PIAA Tournament was canceled due to the coronavirus epidemic.
Watson is the third straight Friars player to be on the Pa. All-State First Team, joining Miami (Fl.)’s Isaiah Wong, who scored 1,281 points in two seasons, who made it in 2018-19.
Under former head coach Jack Concannon, Watson was moved into the starting lineup as a sophomore but his season was cut short due to a left knee injury, which forced him to miss Bonner-Prendergast’s run to the Philadelphia Catholic League title game and PIAA 5A semifinals.
He rehabbed and was immediately inserted back into the starting lineup as a junior. Alongside Wong and big man Tariq Ingraham (Wake Forrest), he was instrumental in the Friars run to the 2019 PIAA Class 4A title game, scoring 11 points apiece in wins over Nanticoke and league-rival Archbishop Carroll. They fell to Notre Dame commit Elijah Taylor, a fellow Pa. All-State First Team pick, and Imhotep Charter in the state title game.
In addition to his all-state selection, Watson, who scored less than 10 points twice all season, was named First Team All-Catholic due to performances like a 31-point game vs. Conwell-Egan and a 20-point contest vs. Roman Catholic in overtime on the road. He also had a 27-point outing against Valley View which included 15 third-quarter points in the second round of the PIAA 4A Tournament.
Head coach Kevin Funston, who was an assistant during Watson’s sophomore season, has seen his point guard develop as a player who struggled to find his role with the team to the unquestioned leader.
“He was a long and lanky kid so the biggest thing was getting used to his body as he was growing,” Funston said. “From his sophomore to junior year, he grew two or three inches then this year he grew a little bit more. For him, we always knew he had the ability to be great and he worked his butt off but the biggest part for him was getting the coordination together so he could have the shifty speed and stop-and-go ability. His leadership was always strong and the more he became confident in his ability the more the leadership skills showed and that was a huge part of his success this year.”
Watson’s backcourt mate, Donovan Rodriguez was named a Third Team selection after avg. 13.3 points this season. He was a starter with Wong, Ingraham and Ajiri Johnson (Rider) on the 2018 team that made it to the Palestra then scored 19 points on the road at Neumann-Goretti in the league quarterfinals as a junior. The 6-foot combo guard stepped his play up during Bonner-Prendergast’s run to the 4A title game avg. 11.8 points in five state-tournament contests.
With Watson and junior Malik Edwards(13.0 ppg), Rodriguez matured into a solid all-around player and played big when the Friars needed him such as a 21-point game against the Vikings and 23-point game to down Archbishop Carroll.
It cannot be discounted that Rodriguez made the all-state team after being used primarily as on-ball defender as a sophomore and rarely looked to provide offense.
Rodriguez has meant so much to the Friars program since coming in under Concannon and Funston always appreciated how he took his role with acceptance and fortitude.
“He’s all heart and if you look at his progression, he has played whatever role the team has needed,” Funston said. “A couple years ago he was the guy we needed to be on the ball, on the floor and be scrappy. Last year, he came out of his shell even more by showcasing the ability to drive and finish while also hitting spot-up threes. This year, he blossomed with his pull-ups and in transition. Honestly, the best part about Donovan is that he’s always had the ability to do so many things but he has always done whatever is asked of him. This year was his coming out party because we really needed him to do so much.”
Longino, Camden and Watson all reemerged from injuries potentially better than they were before and have put together terrific careers. Watson finished off his on a high note while Camden and Longino head into their senior seasons hoping to add to their accomplishments.
Jordan Longino, 6-4 Jr. F, Germantown Academy
Tyreese Watson, 6-4 Jr. G, Bonner-Prendergast
Elijah Taylor, 6-8 Sr. F, Imhotep
John Camden, 6-7 Jr. F, Archbishop Carroll
Donald Whitehead, 6-7 Jr. F, Hickory
Caleb Dorsey, 6-8 Sr. F, Hill School
Isiah Warfield, 6-5 Sr. F, Central Valley
Nick Filchner, 6-8 Sr. F, Allentown CC
Ibrihim Kane, 6-5 Sr. F, Polumbo
Jake Kelley, 6-3 Sr. G, Bishop McDevitt
Gabe Dorsey, 6-6 Jr. F, Hill School
Zack Rovinsky, 6-7 Sr. F, Western Wayne
Drew McKeon, 6-3 Sr. G, Pope John Paul II
Steven Ressler, 5-11 Jr. G, Bedford
Donovan Rodriguez, 6-0 Sr. G, Bonner-Prendergast
Johnny Crise, 6-6 Sr. F, Highland
Justin Green, 6-5 Jr. F, Pope John Paul II
Peyton Mele, 6-3 Jr. G, Hickory
Player of the Year: Jordan Longino, Germantown Academy
Coach of the year: Brendon Stanton, Pope John Paul II