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WPIAL

Pittsburgh-Area Players to Watch in the NCAA Tournament

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As the NCAA Tournament kicks off on Thursday with the First Four play-in matchups, many Pittsburgh-area natives are getting ready to perform on the big stage. Here is a list of the local talent that will be on rosters playing in Indiana throughout the tournament.

Puff Johnson – Moon Area High School – University of North Carolina

Johnson, the former 2019 PIAA Class 5A champion with Moon, is now playing for Roy Williams and the Tar Heels. A forward-heavy team, North Carolina has not used the freshman Johnson much this year, as he has only played 58 minutes all season. His best game of this season came against Notre Dame, when he scored two points and grabbed two boards in a season-high ten minutes.

Johnson and the eighth-seeded Tar Heels will take the floor for the first time in tournament on Friday, March 19 at Mackey Arena (home of Purdue) against eighth-seeded Wisconsin.

Naim Miller – Allderdice High School/First Love Christian Academy – Mount Saint Marys

After leading Allderdice to two city titles and an appearance in the state finals, Miller transferred to finish his high school career at nearby First Love. He is now in his sophomore season at Mount Saint Marys, where he has failed to play more than ten minutes in a game this season. His best game of the year came at Fairleigh Dickinson, where he played nine minutes and scored two points while grabbing two rebounds.

Miller’s Mount Saint Marys squad won the Northeastern Conference title this season and earned a spot as a 16 seed in the play-in round. The Mountaineers will be kicking off the tournament against Texas Southern on Thursday, March 18 at 5:10 p.m. The winner of this First Four matchup between two sixteen seeds will advance to take on Michigan on Saturday, March 20 at 3 p.m.

Isiah Warfield – Central Valley – Liberty

Coming out of Central Valley High School, Warfield was the highest rated recruit in the history of Central Valley basketball. The 6-foot-5 freshman guard appeared in 19 contests this season, averaging just 4.5 minutes per game. He went a solid 8 of 13 from the field this year and averaged 1.2 points per game.

Warfield’s 13-seeded Liberty team will be taking on fourth-seeded Oklahoma State and its star powered lineup centered around NBA draft prospect Cade Cunningham. The Flames have won twelve straight games and sit at 23-5, posing a serious upset threat to the Cowboys. This game will tip off on Friday March 19 at 6:25 p.m. in Indianapolis.

Coletrane Washington – Quaker Valley High School – Drexel

After finishing his Quaker Valley career with over 1500 points to his name, the 6-foot-4 guard Washington went on to play for Drexel. In his sophomore campaign last season, Washington tied for first in the Colonial Athletic Association in 3-point percentage (43.9%). Unfortunately, Washington has suffered from an ankle injury that has kept him sidelined this season.

16-seeded Drexel will be taking on top-seeded Illinois in the first round of the tournament on Friday, March 19 at 1 p.m.

Nelly Cummings – Lincoln Park – Colgate

After being named an All-State and All-WPIAL selection three times during his career at Lincoln Park, Cummings went on to play his freshman season at Bowling Green. He then decided to take his talents to Colgate, and sat out his sophomore season due to transfer rules. This year, the 6-foot guard has played a massive role for Colgate, as he is averaging 12.3 points and 2.8 rebounds in 26.4 minutes per game. His best game of the season came in his first game of the year against Army, when he went 9 of 13 from the field and finished with 24 points.

Colgate finished the season 14-1, winning the patriot League as the No. 2 seed in the conference tournament. The Raiders are a 14 seed in the NCAA Tournament, and they will be taking on third-seeded Arkansas on Friday, March 19 at 12:45 p.m.

Ethan Morton – Butler – Purdue

After leading Butler to the WPIAL Class 6A Title, the top-100 ranked recruit Morton took his talents to Purdue to play under Matt Painter. He appeared in 23 games this season for the Boilermakers, scoring in just four of them. He played his most minutes (25) in an early season game against Clemson, but failed to score that game. However, he did dish out five assists and grab one rebound in the contest.

Purdue will be competing in the south region of the bracket as a four seed, and it will be opening things up with a matchup against 13-seeded North Texas. That game will tip off on Friday, March 19 at 7:25 p.m in Indianapolis.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
 
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