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Prepping for Preps '21-22: Academy Park (Boys)

11/10/2021, 12:45pm EST
By Josh Verlin

Jerome Taylor (@ThatGuy_Rome)

(Ed. Note: This story is the latest in CoBL’s “Prepping for Preps” series, which will take a look at many of the top high school programs in the region as part of our 2021-22 season preview coverage. As we publish more, the complete list of schools previewed will be found here.)


Todd Hryn (above) takes over an Academy Park program that didn't play a single game in 2020-21. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

A lot has changed since the last time an Academy Park player was on the court in a Knights uniform, and this year’s Knights team will have to adjust to a new coach, new faces and getting back to competition after an extended hiatus.  

Todd Hryn will be roaming the Academy Park sidelines for the first time this year. Hryn was most recently the JV coach at Strath Haven, and he’ll be taking over for Kevin Stewart, who coached his alma mater for two years after taking over for Frank Wolf. Hryn’s first task will be getting a team that hasn’t played together in over 20 months reacclimated to the Delaware Valley league. 

The almost two-year basketball break due to the COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t just resulted in rust. This team joins the likes of a few area high schools and a number of college teams facing a steep learning curve due to a season cancellation. The last time The Knights’ seniors were on the court, they were sophomores, so their varsity experience is minimal at best. 

“This group has only been together for about ten workouts at this point,” Hryn said after his team played in the Penncrest Shootout on Oct. 23. “A lot of these other schools have summer and previous years. We just have to keep working, and I know we will. We have some great leadership.”

Senior Zahamir Mobley has been providing the leadership for the Knights early on, and he’s been leading the charge for getting the team back in basketball shape. 

“[The hiatus] really affected us,” Mobley said. “Over quarantine, I gained at least 20 pounds, so I’m trying to get back in shape. It’s been cardio every day, working out every day.”

The team is still getting back into shape, but Hryn has already been impressed with their pace. 

I think that right now we can really run. We can get up and down the floor. There's a lot of young guards that are going to help us for years to come.” Hryn said.  “You can tell just from watching us play there are bright spots there.” 

Sophomore guard Jamir Anderson (above) has impressed his coach in preseason workouts and events. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

One of those bright spots is sophomore guard Jamir Anderson. The 5-9 speedster has been running the offense for the Knights so far during the summer. He’s an aggressive player who knows who does a great job of penetrating against opposing defenses. 

Considering other schools haven’t seen him play yet, his coach thinks he’ll make a name for himself this season and sees him as an integral part of the Knight’s future. 

We're hoping he's just going to be a floor general for the next three years,” Hryn said. “We're really excited about him.”

Anderson knows that people will see his size as a weakness, but he’s used the summer to become more ambidextrous and added a pull-up jumper to his game that will complement his slashing play style. 

“Of course, I'm undersized, but I'm still young, so hopefully, I still grow,” Anderson said. “But against bigger guys, I got to get the ball over the head, and the pull-up jumper is a great shot to have in college basketball, and I’m trying to get to the next level.”

Academy Park has several upperclassmen returning who are significant contributors for the Knights, including senior forwards Bryse Mickens and Asir Hudson and junior Darrell Fields. Also, junior Troy Wilkins and seniors Zamir Duncan and Kahlil Greenwood will be returning to the Knights’ backcourt. Senior Ibrahim Sanogo may also be rejoining Academy Park’s basketball team, but the 6-2, 210-lb Division I football prospect hasn’t finalized his decision yet. 

Hryn has put together a competitive non-conference schedule to see where his team is, with games against PCL teams Archbishop Carroll and Cardinal O’Hara. The Knights will also be playing in the Jameer Nelson Classic to get the team ready for Delaware Valley play, and Hryn hopes beyond that as well, in the District 1 5A tournament.

“We want to be really competitive in the Delaware Valley League, that's important to us, and we want to be in the District 1 tournament,” Hryn said. “We have some big-time opponents early, so our job right now is to get ready for that so we can be playing our best ball in March.”

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