Is Delaware Becoming The New Hot Spot For College Basketball Coaches?
By Jordan Ingram
In the past the state of Delaware has taken a backseat in sports to Philadelphia, New York, and New Jersey because of having no professional sports teams. With the second smallest city in the United States currently boasting five upper echelon high school basketball local prospects with potential ranging from high D-I to high D-II level, The First State is pushing for top billing.
Delaware’s upside as a future basketball hotbed is bigger than ever because of the multiple blue chippers present in the state more known for being the first state to join the Union than its stellar basketball play. Usually star players out of “The Diamond State” come out one in a time like former Temple University and NBA player guard Terrance Stansbury in the early ‘80s, former Virginia Union star and Washington Bullets second-round pick A.J. English as well as Villanova star Will Sheridan in the 21st century.
The new breed, consisting of Deon Jones (younger brother of Virginia’s Jeff Jones), Trevor Cooney, Malcolm Gilbert, Dominic Morris, and Andre Wilburn could be jumpstarting a new trend out of the small state. Most standout players that come out of Delaware usually find their talent questioned whenever they play in Philly but each of them garner instant name recognition and credibility wherever they play. Philly Phenom AAU coach Paul Gripper even thinks that one of the five kids has the potential to join the conversation with Stansbury and English.
“Even at 15 years old I definitely believe that Deon has a strong shot to become a pro when it’s all said and done,” said Gripper. “He’s starting to get really good and playing with Trevor [at Sanford High School] and being such a good ball handler at 6-foot-4 he has a tremendous upside.”
Jones and Wilburn make up the class of Delawareans athletes that aren’t native born but have come to call the state who’s motto reads “Liberty and Independence” as their home. Both ball players are natives of Chester who’s parents moved them to Delaware. Though they aren’t native’s of the small state, coming from a small city gives them insight into the motivation that Cooney, Morris and Gilbert have whenever they play in the big city.
“It’s definitely a lot of pressure whenever [Cooney, Morris, and Gilbert] step on the court because people that want them to lose say that when they come to Philly they won’t be as good but at the same time that brings a lot of motivation so it works both ways,” said Wilburn.
With the 6-foot-7 sophomore Morris transferring to Friends Central and the 6-foot-10 sophomore Gilbert going to the Academy of the New Church (ANC), Philly basketball fans will see more of the star big men who both were All-State performers in Delaware last season. Their individual performances at Eastern Invitational which led to being ranked in the top-20 of the camp and looking good with their respective teams in the LaSalle Team Camp ensure in fans minds that they won’t disappoint in their first full season in Philly.
Guards Cooney and Jones, both at the same high school the Sheridan led to a state championship in his junior year, form a formidable backcourt that also draws the some of the biggest attention because of the fact that their only rising sophomores. Cooney, a 6-foot-3 shooting guard,