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One of Philly basketball’s best kept secrets is no longer just that.

Boys’ Latin point guard Maurice Watson, who had Penn at the top of his list in late March, made the summer AAU circuit his personal showcase and now has offers from a whopping 18 schools.

“We’re really excited and overwhelmed with joy,” Watson’s father and high school coach, Maurice Sr., said. “[This summer] I felt like I was watching a kid I’ve never seen before.”

The Watson family was initially expecting three to five offers by the end of the summer, but after a highly impressive July, the scholarships kept rolling in, resulting in a dramatic change.

The undersized — listed at 5’10 — yet explosive guard has not ruled out joining the Quakers in 2012, but Penn is no longer among the schools he’s most seriously considering.

But that’s not just because of the other opportunities on the table, which include offers from high-major Texas Tech and Philly’s own, La Salle.

Two other factors include the recent verbal commitment to Penn of fellow point guard Jamal Lewis and the academic requirements Watson would need to meet in order to gain admission.

Lewis — a 6-foot, Class of 2012 point guard from Washington, D.C. — is regarded as a steal for Penn by’s Evan Daniels and in the case that Watson chooses to join the Red and Blue, the two would likely share minutes in the backcourt.

Additionally, the academic standards Watson would have to meet to gain admission — as a member of the basketball team — increased, according to Watson’s father. Last school year, his son was told he needed a 100-point boost from his PSAT score on the SAT to be within range for admission. However, that minimum score has recently increased, now up to an 1820.

The younger Watson says he spoke to Penn coach Jerome Allen about the commitment of Lewis as well as the increased standards, and the point guard doesn’t think he’ll be suiting up for the Quakers in 2012.

Still, the Watsons will continue to consult with Allen — a family friend and mentor — during this process.

“For [coach Allen] to be the kind of person that he is … he really knows what he’s doing and he knows what he’s talking about,” Watson Jr. said. “And [he] has my best interests at heart. So to have him in that position to help me out with things is a blessing.”

Watson will be looking to trim his list down to about five schools by week’s end and will make a decision as early as mid-September.

This article has been edited from its print version to clarify that the 1820 score reported is not meant to reflect a school-wide figure, just the reported minimum a potential student was told he needed to gain admission.

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