High school notebook: Latrobe basketball player Anna Rafferty gets D-I offer

Sunday, June 14, 2020 | 3:07 PM

With the NCAA “dead” period — the time when college coaches cannot have contact with potential recruits — extended to July 31, basketball players who usually wade in the AAU recruiting waters at this time of year have been left to their own devices.

AAU season has yet to begin, so past highlights and word of mouth must suffice to forward a player’s path to Division I basketball.

Anna Rafferty is among those affected as a recruit by the wrath of covid-19 restrictions. But one thing is clear about the 6-foot-1 rising junior forward from Latrobe, and it’s a big plus: Colleges already know about her.

Rafferty picked up her first Division I scholarship offer, from Kennesaw State (Ga.), which is led by former Pitt coach Agnus Berenato.

A member of the Western PA Bruins AAU program, Rafferty averaged a double-double as a sophomore with 12.6 points and 10.0 rebounds.

“If things were regular, in a normal scenario, and Anna would be playing in tournaments in April and May, she’d probably have five or six offers by now,” said John Tate, the executive director of the Western PA Bruins. “Agnus likes true post players. Anna fits that mold. One we get going again in August and September, I expect her to get more offers.”

Latrobe coach Mark Burkhardt labeled Rafferty a Division I prospect when she was a freshman.

“Anna’s tremendous work ethic on the court, in the weight room and, more importantly, in the classroom, have made her a Division I prospect,” Burkhardt said. “She has greatly improved her strength, shooting and footwork the past two years. She is a dominant post player who has the ability to run the floor like a guard.”

The Bruins have quite a pipeline going to Kennesaw State.

Berenato recruited former East Allegheny star Amani Johnson, who has become a household name in just less than two seasons, as well as a few others from the WPIAL. Among them on the Owls roster are rising senior Brenna Hoover (Blackhawk) and rising sophomores Gabi Legister (Chartiers Valley) and Gillian Piccolino (Keystone Oaks).

“The thing with this year, specifically, is about relationships (with coaches),” Tate said. “We have that track record and that helps the girls.”

A memorable game for Rafferty came last last season against Penn-Trafford when she had 25 of her team’s 40 points — and 12 rebounds — in a 44-40 section loss.

AAU showcase

AAU basketball has yet to return after extensive delays caused by the coronavirus, but a local organization plans to give coaches, families and fans a look at its talent pool.

The Wildcats Select, founded by co-directors Nate Perry and Tom Droney and part of the national adidas Gauntlet circuit, is having a “Training Day” event from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday at Cool Springs Sports Complex in Bethel Park.

Here’s the unique part: The event will be livestreamed via Vimeo, YouTube and Facebook.

“It’s all about the kids receiving the most exposure possible during these hard times,” said Perry, a former Hempfield standout. “It’s going to feel great to see our guys again.”

The livestreaming is a way around the NCAA’s dead period, which forbids contact between college coaches and prospective recruits until July 31.

“We want these kids to gain exposure, so any way we can connect them with college coaches and scouts, we will do that,” said Droney, a Sewickley Academy alum who played at Davidson. “Livestreaming the event is not the ideal circumstance, but it gives college coaches a chance to see kids that they haven’t seen yet and also monitor other kids that they already knew about or have been recruiting for some time.”

One of the better players coming up the ranks with Wildcats Select is Laurel Highlands phenom Rodney Gallagher, who will be a sophomore in the fall. The point guard led the Mustangs to a WPIAL Class 5A title this season and has offers from Pitt and Penn State.

The event is closed to the public.

Latrobe cracks top 50 list

Latrobe is considered one of the top 50 high schools for sports in Pennsylvania, this according to Niche.com, a Pittsburgh-based site that gathered analytic information and personal reviews from people in school districts and weighed things such as number of sports and championships won to hatch a list of the top 50 schools for athletes in the state.

Latrobe came in at No. 43.

Eight schools from the WPIAL made the list, including No. 1 North Allegheny, with its 37 sports and decades of winning in many of them, and Central Catholic cracked the top five with the No. 4 spot.

Others from District 7 recognized include Shady Side Academy (14), Seton La Salle (15), Oakland Catholic (19), Pine-Richland (25), and South Fayette (37).

Mastroianni hired

Meghan Mastroianni, who played for Seton Hill from 2011-15, had the interim tag removed from her title and is the head girls basketball coach at Moon.

Mastroianni is the daughter of longtime Quaker Valley coach Mike Mastroianni. She was an assistant when she took over for Jody Powell, who was fired over an undisclosed issue during last season.


Norwin rising senior football lineman Anthony Giansante now has 10 offers to play Division I football after adding Brown to his list. Giansante is a 6-foot-4, 290-pound offensive tackle and a two-year starter for the Knights.

P-T coach

Penn-Trafford is expected to hire Doug Kelly as its boys basketball coach at Monday’s school board meeting.

Kelly, the recommended candidate to replace Jim Rocco, is a former Warriors assistant — boys and girls — and also served as coach at Franklin Regional for eight years.

Rocco resigned last month after five seasons.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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