On a Tuesday night in early April 2018, Harcum College men’s basketball coach Drew Kelly sat inside a gymnasium in Conshohocken.
He was surrounded by several other college basketball coaches, many of them from NCAA Division I or DII programs.
All of them were there for the same reason: to scout high school players.
On the court were two teams squaring off in the second round of the annual Albert C. Donofrio Classic, which brings together teams featuring some of the top prep basketball players from the surrounding regions.
It’s there where 6-foot combo guard Dom London did what he normally does. Bring the ball up the floor. Run the offense at point guard. Knock down long-range 3-pointers. Drive the lane, push through contact and finish. Encourage his teammates throughout. London, then nearing the end of his senior year at Octorara High School, dropped 26 points by the end.
“It was an impressive performance,” Kelly recalled. “I was sitting there with some other coaches and scouting service guys, and I’m like, ‘I like this kid.’ And they’re like, ‘He’s a DIII player. You don’t want him.’ I’m like, ‘You guys are crazy.’”
Kelly approached London after the game.
“Where are you going to college?” Kelly asked.
“I’m looking at Gwynedd Mercy or Alvernia,” London replied.
Over the course of the coming weeks, Kelly convinced London to instead play at Harcum, a high-level junior college program just outside Philadelphia.
Fifteen months later, London is considered to be among the top junior college players in the country. He has scholarship offers from about a dozen NCAA Division I programs. And more keep coming in.
Octorara School District is made up of nine separate townships or boroughs. Two are in Lancaster County. One of them is Sadsbury Township, where London lives with his mom. And his dad lives in Lampeter.
But London, a 2018 Octorara grad, never played in the Lancaster-Lebanon League with Octorara, which joined the L-L in the 2018-19 school year.
“Can you imagine the coverage he would’ve gotten from LNP if he would’ve played in the L-L League?” longtime Octorara coach Gene Lambert said. “He averaged 29 points as a senior. He had three or four games over 40 points.”
A full-time starter in his junior and senior year, London finished as Octorara’s second all-time leading scorer with 1,244 career points. Most of them came in the highly competitive Ches-Mont League in District One. However, college coaches were apparently scared away from London by two things. One is London’s stature.
“The biggest knock on him is that he’s small,” Kelly said. “Some people never opted to evaluate him based on his height.”
The other was London’s 2.1 grade-point average at Octorara.
“I wasn’t motivated,” London said of his classroom struggles.
Prepping for college
Kelly has been the Harcum head coach for 14 seasons. In that time, he estimates the program has sent 34 players to NCAA Division I programs. Among them is Charles Okwandu, the 7-foot center on UConn's 2011 national championship team.
That's the level of talent London had to compete against at Harcum in order to see playing time as a freshman last season.
London proceeded to score double-digits in four of his first six games off the bench. By the seventh game, he was a starter.
“He wasn’t a guy we were counting on,” Kelly said. “As the season went on, he became more important to the team. By the end of the season, he was our best player.”
London averaged 14.8 points, 2.6 rebounds and 1.8 assists to lead Harcum to a 24-8 record. He drilled 89 3-pointers, the third-highest single-season output in program history. Six times he put up 20-plus points, including a career-high 32.
The output was enough to earn an invite to last week’s JA45 event in Florida, which brings together the top 45 junior college players to compete over a two-day period. London scored 27 in the first of two games, then followed up with 15 points, five assists and three rebounds in the second game.
“You’re sitting in that gym and there’s 150 DI schools there to see you play,” Kelly said. “Dom didn’t rise to the occasion. He was the best player of the 45 who were there.”
The next step
The performance put London on the radar of several DI programs, many of them mid-majors. This time they didn’t care about his stature. And his grades checked out. London said he has a 3.72 GPA at Harcum, where he’s currently taking two summer courses.
“Once I came to Harcum, I knew I had the potential,” he said. “I’ve never missed a day of class. Never missed an assignment.”
By last week, London said he had received offers from Florida Gulf Coast, Bryant, Robert Morris, Akron, Cal-State Bakersfield, Chicago State, Maryland Eastern Shore, Central Connecticut State, San Jose State, Central Michigan and Valparaiso.
He has plenty of time to figure out where he’s going next because London is a Class of 2020 recruit.
“NCAA rules are you have to graduate from your JUCO before transferring to your next school,” Kelly said.
So London will play for Harcum in 2019-20, then will have two years of athletic eligibility left at his next college program.
The journey is far from over. But it’s already been an incredible one.
“Just believe in yourself,” London said when asked what he hopes others will learn from his story. “And work hard at everything you do.”