skip to Main Content

17U boys squads set for NEPA Elite

Players from 13 high schools across four leagues have come together to form the rosters of the first two boys teams that will represent the new NEPA Elite AAU Basketball Club.

The club’s two 17U boys teams have been selected following delays by the coronavirus, which wiped out the spring AAU season and pushed back the tryout process.

With tryouts complete, the rosters have been set for separate teams, which will be coached by Brian Coyle and Clay Basalyga, the Director of Basketball Operations at Riverfront Sports in Scranton. The rosters are drawn primarily from the two District 2 leagues, the Lackawanna League and Wyoming Valley Conference, but also from Pocono Mountain West of the East Penn Conference in District 11 and Danville of the Heartland Athletic Conference in District 4.

The teams are based out of Riverfront Sports and will be entered in AAU tournaments as those schedules are finalized in the gradual reopening of sports competition.

“I’m extremely excited with the response that NEPA Elite has received from the boys side,” said Kevin Clark, co-owner of Riverfront Sports and founder of NEPA Elite. “I think our coaching staff mixed with the level of talent within that group is a perfect combination.

“Brian Coyle has been involved in the game of basketball for many years and I know that he will continue reaching the level of success with each group that he has been with, both on and off the floor.”

NEPA Elite Coyle features Justice Shoats, a first-team all-District 2 selection from Holy Redeemer and five other players from the district who were named first-team division all-stars by the website.

Shoats, who is heading into his junior season, was the Wyoming Valley Conference Division 2 Player of the Year and the leader of a District 2 Class 3A championship team.

Wilkes-Barre Area’s Brandon Hall, Tunkhannock’s Ryan Harder, Wyoming Seminary’s Ethan Meuser, Riverside’s Michael Rickert and Lakeland’s Caleb Vigil were the first-team division all-stars. Hall helped Wilkes-Barre Area to a District 2-4 Class 6A championship while Meuser helped the Blue Knights to the WVC Division 2 championship.

Every player on the team has already received some sort of all-star recognition on the high school level.

Scranton Prep’s Gavin Bednarz and Michael Skoff and Wilkes-Barre Area’s Cole Walker were second-team, division all-stars while Pocono Mountain West’s 6-foot-8 Christian Fermin and Danville’s Jagger Dressler also received all-star recognition in their leagues. Bednarz, Skoff and Walker all were prominent parts of district championship teams.

“As we move forward into our AAU season, I’m excited to be working with the best talent in our area,” said Coyle, who has experience as a head and assistant coach locally on the college level. “I look forward to helping this select group of student-athletes prepare for the collegiate level.

“I am also honored to be a part of NEPA Elite’s inaugural season where we can showcase the basketball talents in northeast Pennsylvania with a first-class organization.”

NEPA Elite Basalyga has two players from the Dallas team that was the only one left representing District 2 when the remainder of the state tournament was canceled because of the pandemic.

Junior guards Nick Nocito, a second-team WVC Division 1 all-star, and Austin Finarelli, who received honorable mention on the division team, were a big part of the Mountaineers being in the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association Class 5A state quarterfinals.

Harry Johnson, from the championship Abington Heights team, and Jason Shields, from Scranton, were both second-team Lackawanna Division 1 all-stars.

Jacob Anderson is another player from the Abington Heights division championship team. Brandon Roche and Andrew Ferguson are from Scranton Prep’s District 2 Class 4A champions.

Jajuan Nicholls, a 6-7 junior forward, and Doug Walsh will be trying to help Holy Cross continue its run as Lackawanna League Division 3 and District 2 Class 2A champions.

Justin Smith from Pocono Mountain West and Johnny Rose from Scranton are also on the team.

“We are looking forward to watching these groups compete against the top talent in the Northeast,” Clark said.



No. First Name Last Name Class Height Pos. High School
  0 Ryan Harder 2021 6-4 G Tunkhannock
  2 Jagger Dressler 2021 6-3 G/F Danville
  5 Gavin Bednarz 2021 5-10 G Scranton Prep
10 Cole Walker 2021 6-4 G/F Wilkes-Barre Area
11 Justice Shoats 2022 6-0 G Holy Redeemer
12 Michael Rickert 2021 6-0 G Riverside
13 Michael Skoff 2021 6-2 G Scranton Prep
15 Caleb Vigil 2021 5-9 G Lakeland
21 Christian Fermin 2022 6-8 F Pocono Mountain West
22 Brandon Hall 2021 6-4 G Wilkes-Barre Area
33 Ethan Meuser 2021 6-7 F Wyoming Seminary



No. First Name Last Name Class Height Pos. High School
  1 Austin Finarelli 2022 5-11 G Dallas
  2 Jajuan Nicholls 2022 6-7 F Holy Cross
  3 Jason Shields 2022 6-3 G/F Scranton
  4 Brandon Roche 2021 6-4 F Scranton Prep
  5 Nick Nocito 2022 5-9 G Dallas
10 Johnny Rose 2021 5-7 G Scranton
11 Doug Walsh 2021 6-0 G Holy Cross
13 Harry Johnson 2021 6-5 F Abington Heights
14 Andrew Ferguson 2022 6-0 G Scranton Prep
  0 Justin Smith 2021 5-8 G Pocono Mountain West
25 Jacob Anderson 2021 6-3 G/F Abington Heights


Back To Top
×Close search

Get the latest news from Backcourt Hoops! Enter your email below.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.