By: Rich Flanagan
Photos: Mike Nance & Geanine Jamison
PHILADELPHIA – Hysier Miller had just delivered, perhaps, his best performance of the season. He poured in 17 points at the Palestra as Neumann-Goretti downed Roman Catholic in the Philadelphia Catholic League title game, securing head coach Carl Arrigale’s league-record 11thcrown. Playing on a starting lineup with three Division I prospects in Jordan Hall (St. Joseph’s), Cameron Young (Bowling Green) and Hakim Byrd (Marist), Miller stood out time and again as a junior. It’s no surprise that his senior season proved why he was a standout on one of the deepest starting lineups in Pa.
In a season marred by the COVID-19 pandemic where some teams played as many games as a normal year while others were limited to much less, Miller was as consistent as any player in the state and that superior play earned him the 2020-21 Pa. All-State Class 4A Player of the Year.
Arrigale notes that Miller’s versatility allowed him to develop into a more complete player and, even more importantly, a prototypical Saints player.
“With the season that he had, it was a shame he didn’t get to play in any postseason games,” Arrigale said. “Still, he was recognized as the best player in the state and that might help the sting a little bit. He was phenomenal as far as filling up the stat sheet. He was the consummate Neumann-Goretti player: he led on the court with his performance and by example. He’s a poster child for what we stand for.”
The 6-foot-1 combo guard averaged 18.4 points, 10 rebounds, 6.4 assists & 2.9 steals this season. The Temple commit became the first Neumann-Goretti player to be named an all-state player of the year since Quade Green (Washington) in 2016-17. Miller recorded two triple-doubles this year, including a 30-point, 12-rebound and 10-assist outing in an overtime loss to league champion, Archbishop Wood. After playing his first two seasons at Martin Luther King, he finished his career with 1,071 points.
As Miller gets ready to continue his career under Aaron McKie, Arrigale is confident that the Owls are getting a program-changing prospect.
“I don’t think they even realize what they’re getting,” Arrigale said. “They’re getting a guy that’s going to walk through their door and help culture-wise right away. They’re getting a guy that’s a winner and a guy that cares and leads by example. He can change a lot of things for them just by his presence. What they’re getting is a guy who can lead and get people to follow them.”
Also joining Miller on the Class 4A First Team is Archbishop Carroll senior forward Anquan Hill, who recently committed to Fairleigh Dickinson. The 6-8 forward avg. 17.4 points, 9.4 rebounds and 2.2 blocks this season.
After playing alongside Tairi Ketner the last two years, Hill stepped in as the Patriots primary post player and became one of the premiere big men in the Philadelphia Catholic League. He is the second straight Archbishop Carroll player to be named first team all-state, joining Memphis commit John Camden, who played at Brewster Academy (N.H.) this year.
Patriots head coach Francis Bowe, who has coached Hill for three seasons, witnessed his maturation firsthand and saw him take a huge step forward in his final season.
“When it’s your time to be a senior, the special ones rise to the occasion,” Bowe said. “You see it with a lot of kids. When I first got here, it was Luke House. Last year, it was a mix between John and Tairi. Now, it’s Anquan and it happens for some kids. Everything clicked from the confidence to the hours in the gym. It really paid off and he did not shy away from the moment. He never backed down from it.”
Hill’s teammate Moses Hipps, the 6-3 freshman point guard, who holds an offer from La Salle, was named to the second team after avg. 13.6 points per game.
Hipps was one of the most heralded freshmen in the Philadelphia Catholic League and he lived up to expectations as evidenced by his 19-point performance against Martin Luther King in the District 12 4A title victory. He hit 37 three-pointers in his first season.
Hipps was the lone freshman on the Class 4A team and the first Philadelphia Catholic League freshman to be named to the all-state team since Roman Catholic’s Jalen Duren in 2018-19.
The future is bright for Hipps and Bowe has seen the work ethic of his young floor general from day one.
“Usually, as a coach, you want to call the guys and say, ‘Let’s go over film after practice’ but Moses does it on his own,” Bowe said. “On days when we didn’t do Zoom sessions, he wanted to do individual player breakdown. He wanted to see what he could do better. He would watch the film another time after I watched it and say, ‘Hey coach, I think I missed this, this and this.’ He’s a student of the game.”
The Philadelphia Catholic League also had two representatives on the Pa. All-State Class 3A Second Team in Bishop McDevitt’s Justin Moore and Devon Prep’s IV Pettit. Moore began his career at Cheltenham and took over the starting point guard role as a sophomore for the Panthers when St. Francis (Pa.) freshman Zahree Harrison went down with a knee injury in the season opener. The 6-foot-1 guard arrived on Royal Avenue as a junior and scored 24 points in his debut, which was against Devon Prep.
He avg. 12.1 ppg this season and will be looking for another school as Bishop McDevitt is slated to close its door at the conclusion of the academic year. With Moore’s selection, this is the third consecutive season the Lancers have had at least one all-state selection (Robert Smith Jr. and Jamil Manigo, both now at West Chester University, made it in each of the last two years) and he is the last Bishop McDevitt player that will be named an all-state selection.
Moore continued the recent run of stalwart guards to lead the Royal Lancers under Will Chavis and the head coach, who won 63 games in four seasons at the helm, has wanted his lead guards to embody himself with the ball in their hands.
“I just want them to be leaders,” Chavis said. “Justin improved dramatically in being more of a vocal leader. We talked about him talking his teammates through things and just being an extension of me on the court. I think he did a great job of that, just as well as anyone of those guards we ever had.”
Pettit, who played his first two seasons at West Chester Rustin, burst onto the scene for the Tide as a junior avg. 14.2 ppg. The 6-2 combo guard is the second Devon Prep player to be named to an all-state team, joining Jeff Hughes in 2009-10, and was instrumental in leading the Tide to their first Philadelphia Catholic League semifinal appearance. He enters his senior season with 1,073 career points.
What makes Pettit’s breakout season even more remarkable is the fact that he played the last three weeks of the season with “two, pretty badly sprained ankles” because “he didn’t want to let the team down because each of the games toward the end of the year meant so much,” according to head coach Jason Fisher. Still, he pressed on and put together a strong year, one Fisher knows will carry over into next season.
“It’s obviously very difficult when you transfer into a new school, not only on the basketball court but in the classroom,” Fisher said. “He fit in perfectly with us. As the season went on, he rose to and met every challenge that was presented to him whether it would be to score in certain games or to facilitate.”
Math, Civics & Sciences senior and Miami (Fla.) commit Nisine Poplar was named First Team, this third straight all-state selection. The 6-4 guard avg. 19 points, eight rebounds & three assists this season and finished his career with 1,490 points. He helped MCS claim the 2019 PIAA Class 2A and 2020 Philadelphia Public League title.
Hysier Miller, 6-2 Sr., Neumann-Goretti (POY)
Peyton Mele, 6-3 Sr., Hickory
Anquan Hill, 6-8 Sr., Archbishop Carroll
Liam Joyce, 6-6 Jr., Allentown Central Catholic
Tyson Thomas, 6-1 Jr., Allentown Central Catholic
Trey Martin, 6-4 Jr., Boiling Springs
Andrew Ammerman, 6-7 Sr., North Catholic
Braden Bohannon, 5-11 Sr., Elco
Adou Thiero, 6-2 Jr., Quaker Valley
Connor Evans, 6-5 Sr., Hickory
Dakari Bradford, 6-5 Sr., Lincoln Park
Moses Hipps, 6-3 Fr., Archbishop Carroll
Damon Gripp, 6-3 Sr., Tyrone
Devin Whitlock, 5-9 Jr., Belle Vernon
Jayden Weishaar, 6-0 Sr., Littlestown
Alex Walinski, 6-4 Sr., New Hope-Solebury
Michael Brooks, 6-0 Sr., Grove City
Coach of the Year:Dennis Csensits, Allentown Central Catholic
Idris Ali, 5-9 Sr. Loyalsock (POY)
Nisine Poplar, 6-5 Sr., Math, Civics & Sciences
Saraj Ali, 6-5 Jr., Loyalsock
Jevin Muniz, 6-5 Sr., Executive Education
Aaron Collins, 5-11 Sr., Erie First Christian
Brendan Boyle, 5-10 Jr., Notre Dame-Green Pond
Ty Barrett, 6-0 Jr., Troy
Justin Moore, 6-1 Jr., Bishop McDevitt
Michael Balichik, 6-3 Sr., Mount Carmel
Devin Atkinson 6-0 Sr., Lancaster Catholic
IV Pettit, 6-2 Jr., Devon Prep
Kobe Magee, 6-4 Jr., Executive Education
Kody Kratzer, 6-3 Sr., Palmerton
Matt Whysong, 6-0 Jr., Chestnut Ridge
Brandon Reed, 5-9 Sr., Riverside
Ethan Hartman, 6-5 Sr., Warrior Run
Benny Cano, 6-3 Sr., Greenville
Cameron Khoza, 6-7 Sr., Bishop Guilfoyle
Jace Miner, 6-3 Sr., Brookville
Coach of the Year: Ron Insinger, Loyalsock