Pennsylvania Basketball Players To Reach March Madness Sweet 16

Written By Corey Sharp on March 21, 2023
March Madness still includes lots of PA players in the Sweet 16.

After an incredible opening weekend of March Madness betting, only 16 teams remain standing. Though no Pennsylvania team made the Sweet 16, the Keystone State is still represented across those squads left in the tournament.

The Sweet 16 has a wide array of schools that include contenders and Cinderellas.

PlayPennsylvania takes a look at players left in the NCAA Tournament that have Pennsylvania ties.

Princeton’s unsung hero in shocking run

Princeton is one of the biggest Cinderella’s of March Madness, joining the likes of Florida Gulf Coast, Oral Roberts and St. Peter’s as the only No. 15 seeds to reach the Sweet 16.

Princeton staged a 12-point comeback with 11 minutes left to knock off No. 2 seed Arizona, 59-55, in the first round, and dominated No. 7 seed Missouri with a 78-63 victory in the second round.

Two seniors, Ryan Langborg and Tosan Evbuomwan, get most of the hype with the two leading the team in scoring. However, Allentown native Keeshawn Kellman is the unsung hero for the Tigers.

Kellman averaged eight points per game on the season and scored eight points in both NCAA Tournament games for Princeton. The senior also collected 10 rebounds combined over the two games.

Kellman starred at Allentown Central Catholic and the Perkiomen School before the 6-foot-9 forward headed to Princeton. He started every game for the Tigers this season.

Princeton is aiming to shock the world once again with a date against No. 6 Creighton on Friday. Tipoff is scheduled for 9 p.m. in Louisville, Kentucky.

Two PA high school stars lead Miami to second straight Sweet 16

Miami has reached the Sweet 16 for the second straight year for the first time in program history.

A lot of Miami’s success is on the shoulders of Isaiah Wong. Wong hails from Piscataway, NJ, but played high school at Monsignor Bonner, located in Delaware County outside of Philadelphia.

Wong broke many records playing in the Philadelphia Catholic League and carried the success to Miami. The junior point guard has started every game and leads the team in scoring, averaging 16.1 points per game. Wong poured in a game-high 27 points in Miami’s 85-69 second-round win over Indiana.

The Hurricanes have a great supporting cast led by Philadelphia native Wooga Poplar. Poplar is a sophomore guard averaging 8.4 points per game and has started in every game but one this season. Poplar helped carry Miami in its opening round win against Drake, scoring 15 points in a 63-56 victory. The sophomore added six points against Indiana.

Poplar played high school basketball at Math, Civics and Sciences in Philadelphia, and was labeled a four-star recruit.

The Hurricanes face top-seeded Houston on Friday at 7:15 p.m. in Kansas City, Missouri.

PA point guard takes Michigan State back to Sweet 16

When you watch Michigan State, you’ll notice AJ Hoggard dominates the ball for Tom Izzo.

Hoggard, a Coatesville, PA native, is the floor general and helped lead his Spartans to an upset win over Marquette on Sunday, 69-60. Hoggard finished with 13 points and four assists in 29 minutes.

The junior has started every game this season and averaged 12.5 points and 6.7 assists per game on the year.

Hoggard also played in the Philadelphia Catholic League for Archbishop Carroll his freshman and sophomore seasons of high school. He transferred to Huntington Prep in West Virginia for his final two seasons.

Hoggard and Michigan State play No. 3 seed Kansas State on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at Madison Square Garden.

Other March Madness players with Pennsylvania ties

There are a few other players left that are from the Keystone State or have ties in some way.

Jahvon Quinnerly is a key member of Alabama’s top-seeded squad. The senior point guard started his career playing for Jay Wright at Villanova in 2018-19. Quinnerly only played 9.1 minutes per game in 25 appearances before transferring to Alabama.

He averaged 15.7 points and 13.8 points per game his sophomore and junior years, respectively, for the Crimson Tide. After coming off a torn ACL in last year’s tournament, Quinnerly is a spark-plug off the bench averaging 8.6 points per game.

Jalen Gaffney is from Columbus, NJ, but played high school basketball at Westtown in West Chester, PA. The junior guard is a key role player off the bench for Florida Atlantic, but has gotten 23 starts this season, too. Gaffney played 20 minutes in wins over Memphis and Fairleigh Dickinson. While at Westtown, Gaffney was a McDonald’s All-American.

Jarace Walker is from New Freedom, PA, and played for Susquehannock High School in York County as an eighth grader. He transferred to IMG Academy in Florida and is now a star freshman on Houston. Walker averages 11.1 points and 6.7 rebounds per game in his first year and is a potential NBA lottery pick next season.

Walker is a 6-foot-8, 240-pound force and a huge presence for the Cougars.

Here’s the March Madness schedule for Alabama, Florida Atlantic and Houston:

  • Alabama vs. San Diego State, Friday, 6:30 p.m.
  • Florida Atlantic vs. Tennessee, Thursday, 9 p.m.
  • Houston vs. Miami, Friday, 7:15 p.m.
Photo by Hans Pennink / AP
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Corey Sharp

Corey Sharp is the Lead Writer at PlayPennsylvania bringing you comprehensive coverage of sports betting and gambling in Pennsylvania. Corey is a 4-for-4 Philly sports fan and previously worked as a writer and editor for the Philadelphia Inquirer and NBC Sports Philadelphia.

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