Kiski School basketball program establishing national presence
In the WPIAL, rarely are there expectations for Division I men's basketball recruits. Football-driven Western Pennsylvania, after all, isn't exactly a hoops hotbed.
The Kiski School is helping to change that perception.
Though not a member of the WPIAL, the Saltsburg-based prep school is bringing college coaches from around the country to the area to watch the talented Cougars, whose 72-24 record in coach Daryn Freedman's first three seasons has helped them to win championships each time in the Interstate Prep School League.
“We've sent nine players to Division I schools,” said Freedman, the former Duquesne University assistant whose fourth season at The Kiski School is off to a rousing 6-0 start.
The Cougars turned heads over the weekend at the National Prep Showcase in New Haven, Conn., upsetting New Hampshire-based prep school powers Brewster Academy and The Tilton School, the defending prep school national champion and runner-up teams, respectively.
Brewster Academy was the consensus preseason No. 1 team among the nation's prep schools whose top players include 6-foot-9 Chris McCullough and 6-3 Ron Patterson, a pair of Syracuse recruits, as well as 6-10 Kyle Washington (North Carolina State) and 6-8 Elijah Macon (West Virginia).
Rashad Richardson totaled 56 points to lead The Kiski School's latest victories, 79-77 over Brewster Academy on Saturday, when Richardson scored 33, and 94-86 over The Tilton School on Sunday, when he scored 23.
Kansas recruit Wayne Selden leads The Tilton School.
The 6-6 Richardson, who is committed to Summit League member Indiana/Purdue-Fort Wayne (IPFW) but is not signed, could reopen his recruitment, according to Freedman, who said that Pitt and Duquesne are among the schools who've begun to chase him.
“He's probably going to reopen because of what happened over the weekend,” Freedman said.
The latest victories were no flukes, Freedman insisted, although The Kiski School's roster includes just two players committed so far to Division I schools. The other, 6-4 guard Major Canady, is headed to Drexel.
“I've been saying all along that this team has great potential,” said Freedman, whose Cougars were 22-6 and ranked No. 15 in 2011-12 and were as high as No. 4 in 2010-11. “That tournament put us in a position where college coaches might be more willing to send kids here for a year.”
Former Duquesne assistant Greg Gary, now an assistant at Purdue, was instrumental in pointing Richardson to The Kiski School, Freedman said.
The two coaches once spent time together on former Duquesne coach Ron Everhart's staff.
“Rashad was the big school player of the year in Indiana and averaged 27 points per game at Lafayette Jefferson High School,” Freedman said. “His high school coach called around because he was short on credits and Greg Gary told him about Kiski and what we've been doing here. I think that helped out quite a bit.”
As good over the weekend as were Richardson and Canady, the North Huntingdon native who totaled 18 points, 26 assists and six steals over the weekend, the rest of The Kiski School's lineup was just as menacing. Seven-foot junior Satchel Pierce continued to impress his onlookers by posting double-doubles in both games.
His eye-popping, composite results read: 30 points, 31 rebounds, 15 blocked shots.
“Coach (John) Calipari (of Kentucky) was in the gym to watch him a few weeks ago,” Freedman said. “Pitt, Ohio State and Maryland like him, too. He's a high-level player.”
The Kiski School's quick start, accentuated by the two monster victories this past weekend, is almost certainly reason for Western Pennsylvania basketball junkies to rejoice.
“It helps the overall mentality of Pittsburgh basketball,” Freedman said. “The WPIAL is part of Western Pennsylvania high school basketball, but (Shaler star) Geno Thorpe is most likely the only Division I recruit this year.”
Dave Mackall is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-380-5617.