Irish import starring for Hill

The Hill School's John Carroll swats away a shot. "My goal in coming here was to get a scholarship to a Division I school," he said.      
The Hill School's John Carroll swats away a shot. "My goal in coming here was to get a scholarship to a Division I school," he said.       (CHUCK GARRETSON)
Posted: February 22, 2014

Among the sports John Carroll played while growing up in Ireland were basketball, Gaelic football, golf, rugby, and soccer.

Eventually, the 6-foot-8, 220-pounder decided, in part because of a rapid growth spurt, to concentrate on hoops. And to pursue the sport at the highest level, he relocated to Florida three years ago.

"A lot of secondary schools in Ireland have basketball, but it's not a big thing over there," said Carroll, now a postgraduate at the Hill School in Pottstown. "My goal in coming here was to get a scholarship to a Division I school."

Carroll spent two years at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., before coming to Hill last August.

His father, Paul, who played for a professional club team in Ireland, "was all for me moving here," John Carroll said. "My mom [Lisa] wasn't so big on the idea at first, but she's on board now. She sees that it's been a positive thing for me."

Carroll and the No. 3-seeded Blues will face No. 2 Phelps School in the semifinals of the Pennsylvania Independent Schools tournament at 8:15 p.m. Friday at Malvern Prep.

The Hill-Phelps survivor will face No. 1 Westtown or No. 5 Kiski Prep for the title at 6:45 p.m. Saturday at Malvern.

For the 18-3 Blues, who compete in the Mid-Atlantic Prep League (MAPL), Carroll is an inside force with an improving perimeter shot and is averaging 18 points, 9 rebounds, and 2 blocks.

Two weeks ago, Carroll registered 20 points and 17 rebounds as Hill beat Blair Academy (N.J.), 58-49, to capture the program's third MAPL championship.

"His biggest strengths are his toughness and competitiveness," Hill coach Seth Eilberg said. "He has a genuine passion for basketball."

Carroll, who at one point had an offer from Niagara, was slowed by two concussions and a sprained ankle in his last year at IMG. He opted to go the prep-school route to gain more recruiting exposure.

Irish natives Pat Price, an instructor at Competitive Edge Sports in King of Prussia, and Paul Cummins, who spent a prep year at South Kent (Conn.) and played at Lafayette from 2004 to 2008, suggested that he give Hill a try.

"It's been great competition in basketball," Carroll said. "And the academic side of it is solid, too."

Carroll, who is from Howth, outside of Dublin, has scholarship offers from Binghamton, Fairleigh Dickinson, Hartford, and Sacred Heart. Columbia is another possibility.

What does Carroll, an 18-year-old who began playing basketball at 12, miss most about the Emerald Isle?

"Probably the breakfasts," he said. "Sausage, bacon, scrambled eggs, maybe beans. They do it up right. It's hard to beat."

Extra points. Pope John Paul II senior guard James Bleming, who will play baseball at Lehigh, has drilled 69 three-pointers this season. . . . For Malvern Prep, Will Powers (70), Joey Fitzpatrick (55), and Jack Doherty (53) combined for 178 treys. . . . Pennsbury junior guard Cameron Jones has hit an area-best 81 threes. . . . Chester's go-to scorers are Mahir Johnson (18.9 ppg.) and Tyrell Sturdivant (15). . . . Phelps senior Terry Larrier, who is bound for Virginia Commonwealth, is averaging 21 points.

Friends' Central junior guard Jonathan Lawton averaged 23.7 points and nailed 68 three-pointers. . . . Senior guard Kris Warren (16 ppg., 46 threes) sparked Friends Select this season. . . . Lower Merion junior guard Corey Sherman, who made four threes in Tuesday's 58-43 win at Penn Wood, has 53 treys in 25 games. . . . Junior Zach Muredda and sophomore Dan Long averaged 15.7 and 13.4 points, respectively, for Pennridge. . . . For Holy Ghost Prep, the No. 1 seed in the District 1 Class AAA playoffs, senior forward Matt England averages 16.8 points.


robrien@phillynews.com

@ozoneinq

www.inquirer.com/ozone

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