It looks like T.J. McConell won't be the only member of his family to play Division I basketball.
Matty McConnell, a 6-foot-1 junior guard at Chartiers Valley High School, picked up a scholarship offer from Robert Morris Tuesday night. It is the first Division I offer for Matty McConnell. But it likely it won't be the last for McConnell, whose older brother T.J. plays at the University of Arizona.
A few other mid-major schools are starting to show interest in Matty. Fairleigh Dickinson called Monday and Massachusetts-Lowell also is interested.
McConnell played well in the Pittsburgh Jamfest AAU tournament this weekend. Some college coaches saw him there and liked him. McConnell was playing with other WPIAL players on Team Bounce, coached by Jeannette coach Adrian Batts. Hempfield junior Kason Harrell also played for the team and some mid-majors are interested in him. Jeannette point guard Julian Batts, son of the coach, also plays for the team.
Team Bounce will play in some other AAU tournaments this spring and summer. It will be interesting to see what other offers might come McConnell's way.
Alabama offers Jenkins
Baldwin offensive tackle Sterling Jenkins has picked up a scholarship offer from Alabama. Jenkins, ranked by Rivals.com as the No. 34 player in the country for the class of 2015, has scholarship offers from teams across the country.
But despite the many offers and despite the Alabama offer, Jenkins said today he still is keeping his final list of schools at two - Penn State and Ohio State. Many expect him to eventually pick Penn State.
Hooker a "valuable" basketball player
Malik Hooker is going to Ohio State to play football. But over the past few weekends, he again gave evidence of his basketball abilities.
Hooker played in two basketball all-star games with the best players in Western Pennsylvania. He got the MVP in both. He scored 23 points and was the MVP for his team in the Roundball Classic April 12.
Then this past Saturday, he scored 24 points and was MVP for his team in the Hoops For A Cure event.
If he chose to concentrate on basketball and really worked on his game, there is little doubt he could have been a Division I basketball player. He wouldn't have gone to a level like Ohio State and the Big Ten, but possibly a mid-major school.
But he certainly didn't make the wrong choice. I've said before that if he gets the football part down, he'll be playing football on Sundays. He's that good of an athlete. His chances of making the NBA? Ahhh, slim to none.
The "Positive" ones
Twenty-six athletes and two coaches from the WPIAL will be honored Saturday and given Positive Athlete Awards at the Heinz History Center in the Strip District. This is the third year of the Positive Athlete program, led by former Steeler Hines Ward. Roberto Clemente Jr. also is part of the program, which promotes positive attitudes in sports. Principals, athletic directors, coaches and parents nominated athletes from 125 WPIAL schools. The list of honorees is below.
Highlands High School will also be honored as the Highmark Most Positive High School for how the school came together following the tragic death of football player Ryan Richards.
Also, Murrysville mayor Robert Brooks will present FR Proud T-shirts to all of the athletes as a gesture of thanks to the entire region for the support of Franklin Regional High School.
As for the honored athletes, in addition to excellence on the field, each nominated Positive Athlete was required to show characteristics such as an optimistic attitude, teammate encouragement and ability to admit imperfections.
The 26 honored athletes are: Plum's Matt Gunsallus (baseball); Mount Pleasant's Marcus Malara (basketball); Vincentian's Ally Bartoszewicz (basketball); South Allegheny's Stephanie Mandella (cheerleading); South Fayette's Ryan Lerda (cross country); Neshannock's Elizabeth Manickas (cross country); Norwin's Anna Romeo (field hockey); Moon's Cole Blake (football); Upper St. Clair's Thomas Steve (golf); Laurel Highlands' Kelsay Soom (golf).
Moon's Megan Tamilia (gymnastics); Central Catholic's Kellen Carleton (hockey); Mt. Lebanon's Caleb Reynolds (lacrosse), Blackhawk's Lia Vinciguerra (lacrosse); Canon-McMillan's Alex Hannigan (soccer); Greensburg Central Catholic's Deanna Dicesere (soccer); Freeport's Alexis Roenigk (softball).
North Allegheny's Zach Buerger (swimming); Plum's Erin Shepard (swimming); Springdale's Matt Milkus (tennis); Fox Chapel's Kaitlyn Schaffer (tennis), Baldwin's Luke Smorey (track and field); Mars' Lydia Dennis (track and field); Norwin's Daniel Conwell (volleyball); South Side Beaver's Cheyenne Seik (volleyball); Southmoreland's Jacob Beistel (wrestling).
COACHES - Seneca Valley's Katie Smolter (girls tennis); West Allegheny's Bob Palko (football).