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Jackson Donahue becomes second Penn 2015 commit this week

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Following a visit last week, Northfield Mount Hermon School (Massachusetts) 2015 guard Jackson Donahue committed to Penn. His coach, John Carroll announced the commitment through the program’s Twitter account on Thursday night.

Donahue, the 6-foot-1 Connecticut native, was being courted by other Ivy League schools before picking the Quakers. This past weekend at the Providence Jam Fest, I spoke to Donahue after he dropped 27 points in a win for his Middlesex Magic AAU team. He had recently returned from Penn, leaving the visit with positive vibes from the coaching staff and about the school.

Donahue is a sharpshooter, hitting 92 3-pointers in his first season at NMH. During the Jam Fest, Donahue began to drive to the basket, something coaches were looking to see more from him. Despite his lack of size, he’s a competitor, the product of being one of the younger brothers in a large basketball family. His older brother, Sam, is a rising sophomore at Boston College.

Nat Graham, who was named as an assistant coach at Penn last week, was part of the BC staff that recruited his brother. That familiarity made an instant impact on Jackson Donahue’s recruitment.

Within the last week, Penn has added two pieces to its Class of 2015, the first being Lower Merion High (Pennsylvania) forward Jule Brown, who committed on May 8. They join Hebrew Academy (Florida) point guard Morris Esformes, who pledged back in March.

Without five players after rules violation, Penn falls to Delaware

Jerome Allen
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Five Penn players, including the team’s second-leading scorer Miles Cartwright, sat on the sidelines Friday night, held out of the game for an unspecified violation of team rules during the Quakers’ 83-60 loss to Delaware.

Cartwright, who is averaging 14.3 points per game, sat out alongside guard Tony Hicks and Steve Rennard and forwards Darien Nelson-Henry and Henry Brooks.

“It was really no challenge,” Penn head coach Jerome Allen said after the game, as reported by Dave Zeitlin of CSNPhilly.com. “We had a game plan and we expected to go out and execute. It’s a team sport. Whether seven guys played or 15 guys played, I expect the guys to go out and impose their will on the opposing team.”

Without Cartwright in the lineup, the Quakers shot just 39 percent from the floor and turned the ball over 17 times. According to Allen, there is no specific timeline for the players’ return except that the team is taking it “one game at a time.”

With the loss Friday night, Penn falls to 2-8, just one season after finishing 20-13 and being in the race for the Ivy League’s automatic NCAA tournament bid. A big part of the drop-off is the departure of guards Zack Rosen and Tyler Bernadini. The two together averaged more than 30 points and six assists per game, while shooting close to 40 percent from behind the three-point line.

Penn now has a week off before its matches up with Wagner on Dec. 29.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Arizona State assistant Scott Pera reportedly leaving to join staff at Penn

Scott Pera
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Arizona State assistant Scott Pera is leaving the Sun Devils to become the top assistant at the University of Pennsylvania, Doug Haller of the Arizona Republic is reporting.

Pera has been with Arizona State for six years, but now accepts a position closer to his hometown and family in Hershey, Penn.

“It’s been an emotional few days,” Pera told the paper. “It’s a great feeling on many levels. We’re very excited. It’s a terrific opportunity for me and my family.”

Pera’s move comes after former Penn assistant Dan Leibovitz left the Quakers to take a job with the Charlotte Bobcats. Penn has had to replace all three assistants on its staff this off-season.

Coach Mike Martin left the Quakers to become the head coach at Brown, while assistant Rudy Wise left the program.

Pera is known as a high-level recruiter, having had a hand in getting both James Harden, now with the Oklahoma City Thunder, and Derek Glasser, the school’s all-time assists leader, to Arizona State.

He now joins a Penn team that finished 20-13 last season. Quaker head coach Jerome Allen will be entering his fourth season with the team in 2012-13, having amassed an overall record of 39-43 in his first three seasons.

As for the team Pera leaves behind, Arizona State is looking to guard Jahii Carson to help the team rebound from a 10-21 finish last season.

Photo Credit: Robert Kline/Cactus Ranch

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Penn assistant Dan Leibovitz reportedly leaving to take job with Charlotte Bobcats

Dan Leibovitz
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Penn assistant Dan Leibovitz is reportedly leaving his post with the Quakers to take a job with the NBA’s Charlotte Bobcats as a player development coach, according to Jeff Goodman of CBSSports.com.

Leibovitz has been an assistant with the team since coming over from Hartford in 2010.

Charlotte recently hired St. John’s assistant Mike Dunlap to become its new head coach, and Leibovitz is reportedly a close friend of Dunlap’s. The Bobcats finished last season with the worst record in the NBA, prompting the front office to fire coach Paul Silas and hire Dunlap.

For Leibovitz, prior to his time at Hartford, he coached under Temple legend John Chaney.

As pointed out by Jonathan Tannenwald of Philly.com, if Leibovitz does indeed leave for Charlotte, that would mean all three Penn assistants will have rolled over since last season.

Mike Martin left the Penn bench to take the head coaching job at Brown, while volunteer assistant Rudy Wise left the program.

We recently saw a reported college-to-NBA move end up falling through, as Eastern Michigan coach Rob Murphy was reportedly on the move to the Orlando Magic, but a clause in his contract is keeping him with the team. Had he left, he would have had to pay $210,000 to the school.

Penn finished 20-13 this past season, including 11-3 in the Ivy League.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Madness begins, Harvard & Penn nearly even in Ivy League

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Two weeks ago, following a 56-50 road win over Penn, it looked like Harvard was solidly in control of the Ivy League.

But then they flattened out. By going 3-2 in their next five while Penn won five straight, the Crimson allowed the Quakers to creep back into the conference title race.

Now it comes down to the final weekend, and Harvard showed Friday night that they are ready to stand their ground.

Behind 16 points from senior Keith Wright, Harvard survived an overtime scare and defeated Columbia, 77-70, at Levien Gymnasium in New York City.

This is where the situation gets dicey.

We remember last year’s dramatic finish, when Princeton snatched the automatic bid for the Ivy League with a win over Harvard in a one-game playoff. Things could be headed in that direction again this season.

Harvard’s win keeps them in first place in the conference for now, up half a game on Penn, who pulled away from Brown to get a 54-43 win on Friday night.

Penn has two games remaining and they hold the key to their own destiny.

With wins in both of their remaining games, they would either win the Ivy League outright, were Harvard to lose their final game to Cornell, or gain a share of the conference title, which would force a one-game playoff to decide who will be heading to the Big Dance.

Penn takes on Yale (19-8, 9-4) on Saturday and Princeton (17-11, 8-4) on March 6th to end their season.

Should I break out the Ivy League chalkboard to straighten out the postseason scenarios?

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_