Open Gym: Imhotep Institute Charter HS (Philly Public League) –
Walking into Imhotep’s gym for the first of the four open gyms they’ll conduct this fall you saw Head coaches from Penn State, Xavier, Seton Hall, Quinnipiac, Drexel, Rider, Hofstra and Monmouth and assistants from U Conn, Penn, GW, Temple, Maryland, Princeton and Marist. Penn St. and Xavier were four deep for Donta Scott and Dahmir Bishop respectfully and of course there was plenty of high level talent in the gym for them to evaluate. I spent a lot of time checking out their frosh class which looks pretty good by the way. This team should be the Pub favorites and no doubt the PIAA 4A district 12 and state title pick as well since they are deep in offensive weapons and defensive intensity. Head coach Andre Noble has again loaded up their schedule with tough non league opponents with appearances in City of Palms and the CRC event in Wheeling, WV. Plus this year the Pub has gone back to even divisions which means the six team A division now consists of eleven teams as you play each team once in the league. With a team that goes two deep at every position this has a chance to be a truly special year for the Panthers.
The big backcourt piece will be 6’4” ’19 Dahmir Bishop an explosive scorer with an ever improving perimeter game and quickness to get by defenders on forays to the cup. With a couple of the frontcourt players able to stretch the floor and knock down shots as well Bishop will have nights where he defers to his teammates but opponents should never lose track of him during games cause he will burn them. Another possible starter this year is 5’9” ’19 Fatayn Wesley whom I’ve called the best on ball defender in the Philly region who can lockdown the opponents best ball handler in his sleep. He has an impressive tight handle and with excellent speed he can create offense for his self with slashing drives or pull up jumpers but also feed the rock to his teammates in scoring positions. You can add in another two sub 6’0” guards to this mix as ’20 Sami Wylie and ’21 Themere Simmons can both defend and handle and will be good contributors to this team.
This unit has been major factors for the last two years and is only getting better it seems with time. 6’7” ’19 Donta Scott is a multi dimensional prospect that will take on more of the leadership role that Coach Noble expects his seniors to embrace. He can handle the ball like a point guard and he can play inside or out depending on the situation as he can finish at the rim with explosive hops then step out and drain a 20 foot jumper the next time down the floor. Plus like his mates he plays lockdown defense all over the court. 6’6” ’19 Chereef Knox was primarily a rebounder and garbage point getter in the past but that is changing as he has been shooting the ball quite well of late and last night was knocking down three balls with renewed confidence and I think somebody will be getting a steal if they can land this young man as he looks to expand his role with the Panthers this season. People may still forget about 6’6” ‘19 Jamil Riggins who was nursing two bad fingers last evening and did not participate in the scrimmages but this big lefty can score the ball inside or out and takes advantage of his opportunities whenever they present themselves. Anchoring the middle will be 6’8” ’20 Elijah Taylor who has gotten stronger with a weight training program to help inside on the boards but also to power up on layups and put back attempts not to mention blocking shots and defending the interior with that Imhotep toughness. Just in case you thought they needed more offense in the frontcourt they filled that spot with 6’6” ’20 Kam Roundtree a transfer from Academy Park HS who is a bouncy wing with an emerging skillset that will get tested everyday in practice let alone the games.
As I stated in the opening remarks the Freshman class looks really good and three guys I want to mention were guys that Coach Noble pointed out that could in a pinch help out this year. Call these three names for the future as all will be in their 1st year with the Panthers. 6’4” ’22 MaQuil Simmons already has a big body even if he has to mold it a bit and there are the guards Ronnie Raphael and Kaleem Moultrie whom I suspect we’ll be hearing from in the next year or two.
On the surface I would say winning the Pub title would be a realistic goal because on paper they clearly have the best team and the most talent. Unfortunately I would not expect any of the Public league teams to lie down and concede the chip to them but I believe they will triumph in the Pub finals then go on to win the PIAA District 12 and PIAA state championship in 4A to close out their season. The added challenge for Imhotep will be trying to win the City of Palms chip which to my knowledge would be a first for a Philly area team. The closest was my alma mater Chester HS losing to St. Benedict’s from Jersey in the 2007 final. With showcase games in other top notch events the Panthers will be striving to earn some wins as one of the top public school teams in the country and to justify there place in the different national polls they’ll appear in throughout the 2018-19 scholastic season. This should be a tough but rewarding year for Imhotep but with their plethora of offensive weapons and the stifling defense they play I foresee good things for this crew including some signature wins to place on their resume.