Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Florida, Villanova, Kentucky Working Hard (and Early) For Super Sophomores Scottie Lewis and Bryan Antoine
MIDDLETOWN, N.J. — Scottie Lewis and Bryan Antoine are just sophomores, so there is a long road ahead in their recruitment.
That said, several schools have gotten in on the ground floor and already have an edge.
“Some schools we’re both considering,” the 6-foot-5 Lewis told ZAGSBLOG after his Ranney (N.J.) School team fell to unbeaten St. Anthony’s, 51-48, Tuesday night in the Hoop Group Showcase at Brookdale Community College. “Definitely Florida, Villanova, Kentucky, those are really the top three that we’re both considering going to.”
The 6-4 Antoine is ranked No. 8 in the 2019 ESPN 25, while the 6-5 Lewis is ranked No. 16. Bob Hurley, the Naismith Hall of Fame coach of St. Anthony’s — which has now won 41 straight games dating to 2015 — compared the duo to former Tollentine stars Adrian Autry and Brian Reese.
“The young talent is extraordinary,” Hurley said. “I told [Ranney coach] Tahj [Holden] after the game, if they could just manage the daily process of getting better . . . and not fall victim to the talent they’re showing right now, boy they could be good, both of them. We can’t get hung up on them and then dismiss them two years down the road because we didn’t push them to get better. That’s Tahj’s job.”
Various schools are involved for the two players, including Maryland, St. John’s, Rutgers and Seton Hall. And there is no guarantee that the duo will head to college together.
But they do discuss the possibility.
“That’s definitely a lot of the talk,” said Lewis after scoring 12 points in the loss while Antoine received game MVP honors upon scoring 19.
“We have a lot of the same offers just because of our dual status,” Lewis added. “A lot of schools want us to come together so we can bring that to their program. It’s definitely something that’s on the table for some situations. Some schools he’s highly considering and some schools I’m not.”
Kentucky stays in regular touch.
“We just off the phone with Coach Cal the other day,” Lewis said of John Calipari. “He said get ready for this game because he’ll be watching. I think he was going to watch it on television, hopefully, we’ll see. He might call us tonight, he might not. He calls my coach from time to time. ”
Lewis hopes to visit Kentucky and Duke in the spring.
“I think we might do a lot of our visits during spring break just because we’ll have that time, that long stretch to do those things,” he said.”
Kentucky has a long track record under Calipari of grabbing Jersey’s top talent, from Dakari Johnson to Michael Kidd-Gilchrist to Karl-Anthony Towns to Isaiah Briscoe.
“Briscoe didn’t have a lot of opportunities last year but this year he’s becoming a true point guard,” Lewis said. “He’s becoming stronger, he’s becoming smarter and those are the things I need in my game.”
Lewis also trains with trainer Bryce Stanhope, who trained Towns. Lewis sees Towns in the gym sometimes, and he’s in his ear about coming to Kentucky.
“Yeah, of course,” Lewis said. “He’s a really cool, down-to-earth person. He’s not really biased. He chose there because he can build his skillset, build his mentality and he said that Coach Calipari really did those things for him.”
Still, Kentucky has yet to offer Lewis or Antoine.
“No, not yet,” Lewis said. “They said they’re waiting on SAT scores and our grades and waiting for us to become killers.”
Meantime, Villanova coach Jay Wright and assistant Kyle Neptune attended a Ranney practice “the other day,” Lewis said.
“[Wright] really talks about the school more than anything, not really the basketball aspect,” he added. “He really takes pride in coaching at Villanova and coming from that program.”
Florida coach Mike White and his staff are also heavily involved for Antoine and Lewis. They sat in Florida’s seats at the recent Jimmy V game between Duke and Florida at Madison Square Garden.
“Yeah, we’ve been to Florida four times,” he said, most recently referencing a trip last month when Ranney was in the state for a holiday tournament.
“Coach White, every coach there we became really close with them. We’re always watching their games, trying to see what they do, watching how calm Coach White is, but also watching how he gets on his guys and how he wants them to play hard all the time. That’s the kind of coach I like, having the mixture of [Team Rio] Coach Mike Rice and the mixture of [Ranney coach] Tahj [Holden]. He kind of has both of those in them.”
Holden, meantime, won an NCAA title at Maryland under Gary Williams.
“Coach Holden doesn’t really talk that much,” Lewis said.
As for the Maryland staff, Lewis said Director of Operations Nima Omidvar, “He’s a funny guy, he’s hilarious.”
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Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.