Kevin Callahan (@CP_KCallahan)
Before Khalil Farmer chose to attend Hofstra University, the Roman Catholic guard took a deep dive into the program’s past.
He knew that Jay Wright coached the Pride before taking the Villanova job.
He knew former La Salle assistant and player Joe Mihalich coached Hofstra.
He knew current Pride coach Speedy Claxton played for Wright while at the New York school.
Khalil Farmer (above) committed to play at Hofstra University last month. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
“I made sure I know my Hofstra history,” said Farmer recently. “Sometimes I’d talk to some guys and they’re not too familiar with the history of their school, just like the recent history.”
Next year, the 6-foot-3 Farmer hopes to make his own name and history at Hofstra.
“Yeah. I feel pretty relieved,” said Farmer, who signed a National Letter of Intent in Mid-November. “So, it's definitely a good thing. I was able to get it out the way.”
The senior from Southwest Philadelphia was also offered by Drexel as well as Saint Peter’s and NJIT across the Delaware River, so he could’ve stayed closer to home. But, he noted the drive to Hofstra from his home is only about three hours.
“I'm so happy too that it's close, my parents can make it to the games,” said Farmer about Sharon and Gary.
An offer by Albany felt close to home to Farmer, since his former Roman Catholic coach Matt Griffin is in his first year as an assistant to Great Danes head coach Dwayne Killings, a former Temple assistant.
“Albany recruited the heck out of me,” said Farmer, who also entertained offers from Boston University, Marist, Robert Morris, Towson, Wagner, Fairfield, Niagara and Binghamton.
He called Griffin a “great guy and coach” and said, “yeah, for sure, for sure it was,” in having to tell his former Roman coach that he wouldn’t attend Albany.
Instead, Farmer chose Hofstra and it’s new coach.
“It was great,” said Farmer about the visit to Hempstead. “The campus was great. A great coach. This is his first year. I'll be a part of his first recruiting class. It is just something that I felt like it would help me. I think those guys will push me too because he knows what it takes.”
Not surprisingly, Farmer also knew Claxton was a first-round draft pick by the 76ers after a sensational career at Hofstra.
"Khalil is a dynamic guard who will be a great addition to our program," commented Claxton. "He is skilled at multiple levels and his work ethic is second to none. We are thrilled to have him part of the Hofstra family and know our fans will enjoy watching him play."
Claxton, who had been an assistant the previous eight seasons under Mihalich, was named head coach in April. The Pride won 144 games over the last seven seasons and averaged more than 20 wins a season during that time.
When introduced, Claxton thanked Mihalich, who took a medical leave of absence last season and is now a special advisor to the Hofstra Director of Athletics, and said, “I know the incredible history of the Hofstra men's basketball program. I have lived it. I have experienced it. I have coached it.”
Claxton, who starred at Hofstra from 1996 to 2000, graduated as one of six players in school history to score 2,000 career points (2,015) and as the program's all-time leader in both assists (660) and steals (288).
The two-time Associated Press Honorable Mention All-American averaged at least 13.3 points per game in each of his four seasons, including 22.8 points as a senior when he was named the Player of the Year in the America East Conference for the second time.
Claxton, who had his number 10 jersey retired and was inducted into the Hofstra Athletics Hall of Fame in 2010, was the 20th overall pick in 2000 of the 76ers.
Hofstra (1-4) played its second nationally-ranked opponent of the season last week when it lost 69-67 to No. 20 Maryland in College Park. The Pride lost their opener 83-75 to No. 15 Houston also on the road.
“In our first game against Houston, who were in the Final Four last year, we took them into overtime,” said Farmer. “I thought that It'd be a great opportunity for me. I thought it was a great, a great fit.”
Farmer will join former Catholic Leaguer Christian Tomasco, a 6-9 freshman who played at Archbishop Ryan as a senior, as well as West Chester Rustin grad Griffin Barrouk, a 6-5 freshman, on the Hofstra roster.
Farmer (above) and Roman Catholic are one of the favorites in the Catholic League this winter. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
First, though, he looks forward to playing for new Roman coach Chris McNesby, who is actually Roman’s old coach.
McNesby returns to the famed program after five seasons under Matt Griffin, who like McNesby won a pair of Catholic League crowns.
For Farmer, though, he finished as the Catholic League runner-up the last two seasons against Neumann-Goretti and Archbishop Wood, respectively.
“It's all or nothing, all or nothing this year,” said Farmer with emphasis. “We came up short last year under coach Matt and he's a great guy as well. And so we are close. I think we're going to be even better this year. We got all our guys returning and we’re ready to go.”
Farmer, who hit back-to-back threes to give the Cahillites a 17-16 lead after eight minutes in the championship game last year. led Roman with a game-high 22 points in losing to undefeated Wood 68-59.
“We came up short to a good Wood team,” he said.
Last season, Farmer averaged 18.9 points and 5.9 rebounds in helping the Cahillites finish 10-3.
This season, Farmer is joined on the loaded Roman roster with classmate Daniel Skillings Jr., a forward who averaged 19.7 points and 8.1 rebounds last season and has committed to Cincinnati.
Also, junior point guard Xzayvier Brown, who averaged 10.1 points and a team-high 6.9 assists and 2.8 steals last year, has drawn multiple Division I offers, including from Saint Joseph’s, Marquette, Fordham and Virginia Commonwealth.
Farmer has been working tirelessly on his ball-handling.
“To be interchangeable between those two positions will be very important for me,” explained Farmer, who averaged 18.2 points and 7.7 rebounds a game as a sophomore. “I’m not super tall, so it's good to be able to be able to switch over to shooting guard. So that's something I'm working on and will continue to work on it.”
The insightful Farmer plans to put in the work off the court, too, at Hofstra.
“I'll probably get into a little bit of economics and finance,” said Farmer. “I think that's what I'm decided on right now, but you never know, man. I might take a minor in Communications.”
Farmer might want to minor in history as well since he already knows the importance of understanding the past while planning for the future.