Matthew Ryan (@matthewryan02)
(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. The complete list of schools previewed can be found here.)
Coming off of three straight Class 4A state playoff appearances to start the Francis Bowe era, Archbishop Carroll once again enters the season with high expectations. But this will be a new-look team for the Patriots, who only return one starter from last season’s 9-7 squad.
Anquan Hill (17.4 ppg/Fairleigh Dickinson), Caleb Carter (12.7) and Tyler Seward (10.3) all graduated, and Chase Coleman (4.6) transferred to Coatesville. Those four players accounted for 71% of Carroll’s points a year ago and leave a lot of shots on the table for a relatively young team. However, the Patriots have the talent to replace that production, or at least come close.
Moses Hipps (above) is back to lead Carroll after a standout freshman year. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
“We were concerned going into the Philly Live period in the summertime,” Bowe said. “I told my staff, I said after the Philly Live period, I said, ‘guys, I think (we’ve) got something special here.’”
Carroll will undoubtedly be led by standout sophomore Moses Hipps, who returns after a stellar campaign last year that saw him average 13.4 points, 2.3 rebounds and two assists. The 6-foot-4 guard can find the open man and is an elite scorer, with the ability to put the ball in the basket at all three levels, although his jumper is his most impressive attribute. Hipps continues to hear from high-level schools and already holds offers from La Salle, Temple, Fordham and VCU.
In last season’s 55-51 postseason loss to the eventual 4A state champions Allentown Central Catholic, Carroll led by double digits at the half but couldn’t hold on. It’s a game that left a sour taste in Hipps’ mouth, but now with a year of varsity play under his belt, he feels ready to take that next step for the Patriots this season.
“That game motivates me because I don’t want our team to ever feel that feeling ever again,” he said. “I feel like this year I have the skillset and I’m prepared to step up in those moments when my team needs me to get a stop or get a crucial bucket when the other team’s going on a run like Allentown Central Catholic did last year. I feel like I’m mature enough to step up in those moments.”
Hipps is one of three captains this season, joining senior Sal Monastero and junior Dean Coleman-Newsome. All three players have stepped up leadership-wise on a squad that certainly doesn’t lack chemistry.
Freshman guard Jake West (above) will be a key on-ball presence for the Patriots. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
“For some reason, you just luck out as a coach when chemistry (is just) right,” Bowe said. “There’s something really special about this group because they all are really closely-knit.
“The synergy of this team is just at the highest level, and that’s pretty cool to have in the beginning of November,” Bowe added later.
“Everyone loves each other on this team,” Hipps said.
Bowe mentioned that Coleman-Newsome has been the most vocal player for the Patriots so far, and his return to the hardwood will give Carroll a big boost. Surgery on both knees forced the 6-3 guard to miss all of last season, but as a freshman, he played a significant role, averaging 9.4 points in PCL play.
“He’s going to get to his spot, physically impose his will, and the ball’s getting up at the rim, if it goes in, it’s an and-one, if it’s not, he’s getting two free throws,” Bowe said. “It’s a nice luxury to have.”
Coming from Bishop McDevitt, which closed after last school year, senior Shawnn Smith will be a prominent player this season for the Patriots. Smith was a starter last season for the Lancers, averaging 8.3 points in 14 appearances, and the 6-2 point guard is a good passer who can get to the basket and create his own shot.
“I mean, he’s changed the program because we have some youth, we’ve got some juniors, we’ve got some sophomores, we’ve got guys returning to injury,” Bowe said. “You plug in a senior that just really knows how to play, and he does a lot for your program. Sometimes he’s kind of like that hero in disguise.”
Another player who wasn’t on the floor for Carroll a year ago but will be a key piece this season is freshman guard Jake West. West reclassified after last school year and recently picked up his first Division I offer from St. Francis (N.Y.). The 5-9 guard is a talented ball-handler who can shoot the three as well as score inside.
The graduation of Anquan Hill (above) leaves a big hole in the Patriots' frontcourt. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
The most significant loss from last year’s team is clearly the 6-9 Hill, who took home First Team All-State honors. His departure leaves an evident lack of size in this season’s frontcourt, which will be mostly comprised of 6-4 Blake Deegan and 6-6 Harold Ivery. Deegan was a junior varsity player last season, and Ivery played in a limited role a year ago, averaging 1.9 rebounds per contest. Monastero, a do-it-all player, will also play a significant role this year, and at 6-4, will play some minutes as a forward.
Wings Su’Meer Alleyne and Shamus Rogers, and guard Khair Dixon will round out the rotation for Bowe and Co. In terms of a starting lineup, Bowe mentioned that there won’t be a set starting five, rather multiple different looks depending on the situation.
With some new pieces in place, this Carroll squad will look different from years past where it had steller play in the frontcourt. Although there are some changes, the goals for the Patriots remain the same — to compete with the likes of Roman, Neumann-Goretti and Archbishop Wood for the top prizes in the Keystone State.
“Our expectations this season are definitely to make it to the Palestra and hopefully win the PCL, and then get back to states and win it this time,” Hipps said.