NEPA Sports Nation

Boys Basketball Players To Watch

BEN CHILSON, Tunkhannock

Chilson’s status grew on a night last season when the Tigers stepped outside District 2 and he set a district record for 3-pointers in a game, making a dozen while producing the season’s highest-scoring effort with 50 points. There, however, is more to his game than just the ability to fill it up from long range. At 6-foot-5, Chilson has the post moves to go inside and work from there when the match-up is right. His length and IQ make the returning second-team Wyoming Valley Conference Division 1 all-star a valuable defender, altering shots and providing help to his teammates.


Finarelli began this season with a 35-point game at Scranton Prep on the opening weekend and has already twice had 17-point quarters. His shot selection makes him a highly efficient offensive player, picking the right spots to show off his accurate 3-point shooting touch. Strong for his size, Finarelli is a finisher as much as a shooter, fearlessly going to the basket. A second-team all-star last season when Dallas was in WVC Division 2, Finarelli is a tough defender who can contain guards and help the post defenders when the Mountaineers are outsized.


The reigning Lackawanna League Division 4 Player of the Year is also one of just three players back from last season’s all-District 2 team selected by Mowry was a second-teamer on that unit after leading Elk Lake to an unbeaten season in the division and a spot in the District 2 Class 2A championship game. The 6-foot-2 small forward can score from anywhere on the floor. The team’s second-leading 3-point option over the past two seasons also has a strong mid-range game and can operate close to the basket.


Nemitz, a junior guard, is already a two-time, first-team Lackawanna Division 3 first-team, all-star. As he has been surrounded by other talented young players on an up-and-coming team, he has taken fewer shots each season, thus his scoring average has dipped. His accuracy from 3-point range, however, is improving, making Nemitz a three-level scorer with his mid-range game and driving ability. He also can set up teammates and defend.


Nocito has hit well over 100 shots from beyond the arc in his four-year career, many of them coming in clusters. When he heats up, Dallas can pile up the points in a hurry and he can make the difficult shots that frustrate opposing defense. Nocito was a first-team, all-star when Dallas spent last season in Division 2 after being named to the second team in Division 1 in both his freshman and sophomore seasons. An intense, fiery player, he can spark momentum changes on either end of the floor.

MATT PROCIAK, Holy Redeemer

As one of District 2’s biggest players, Prociak is a strong rebounder and post presence on defense while using a varied skill set to produce on the offensive end. Prociak can get to the basket on a pick-and-roll or stand and hit the 3-pointer with consistency off a pick-and-pop. He also possesses the ability to read defenses to make the most of those skills. The 6-foot-6, 200-pounder has his point production up this season to nearly 20 points per game in the team’s 5-0 start. Prociak is a returning first-team Division 2 all-star after receiving honorable mention as a sophomore.

ROBERT ROSSI, Scranton Prep

Rossi’s position on the Class 3A all-state football team defines him well: “athlete”. Rossi can get the Scranton Prep fastbreak going with his rebounding, then join it by running the floor like the guards. The returning first-team Lackawanna Division 1 all-star is a low-post presence, allowing him to take on an increasing share of what is otherwise generally a balanced offense. That athleticism shown as a receiver/defensive back has Rossi positioned to join the Penn State football program as a preferred walk-on.

RYAN RUDDY, North Pocono

Over the past four years, Ruddy’s strong all-around floor game has been a large role in North Pocono’s upward climb. He was a first-team all-star as part of the Trojans’ Lackawanna Division 2 title last season. After proficient scorers graduated over the past two years, Ruddy is now more of a scorer, but he continues to have a great feel for managing the tempo of the game and getting his teammates involved. Now a scoring point guard, Ruddy does it by eschewing the 3-point shot and instead getting into the lane where he can remain that dual threat of scorer/distributor.


Using last year’s all-star selections as a barometer, Shields is District 2’s top returning player. He is the reigning Lackawanna Division 1 Player of the Year for his role in division and District 2-4 Class 6A Subregional championships as well as the only player back who was a first-team, all-District 2 selection. Step-by-step, Shields has built his game from being a 3-point shooter with deep range to adding more offensive versatility and stronger rebounding. With all the attention he receives from opposing defenses, Shields’ shooting percentage is a little below where he wants it so far this season, but he is contributing to more total scoring plays with an increase in assists.


Whether he’s dunking over bigger players on the basketball court, racing through opposing secondaries while playing a new position in his return to football after three years away or winning a state long jump championship in his debut in the sport, Shoats makes a strong case for being District 2’s premier athlete. Shoats has been an offensive force since leading a late-season run by the Royals as a freshman in 2019. With his spins, changes of speeds and direction, Shoats can get within range of a layup or dunk from many different angles. After earning WVC Division 2 Player of the Year and first-team, all-District 2 honors as a sophomore, Shoats was a first-team division all-star and second-team, all-District 2 selection last season.


Arguably District 2’s top freshman last season, Tanner maintained that status among Class of 2024 players during the summer with a strong performance at the CP3 Rising Stars National Camp in North Carolina. The 6-foot-3 forward has added strength, making him even tougher to stop around the basket while he also adds to his shooting range. His well-rounded game makes Tanner the team leader in points, rebounds, assists and steals on the Lackawanna Division 2 favorites. He was a second-team, all-star in the division as a sophomore.

J.J. WALSH, Pittston Area

Walsh has built a reputation for his incredible range and clutch late-game plays, but the only returning first-team WVC Division 1 all-star has also shown the ability to adjust while the Patriots improve as a team. Walsh has looked comfortable taking the most shots on the team and taking the least. Mixed with the smooth release of his jumper is a toughness that fits the leader of an Al Semenza-coached team, both on the defensive end and running the offense.

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