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Imhotep's Rahmir Barno finds his fit in FGCU

08/11/2022, 7:00pm EDT
By Josh Verlin

Josh Verlin (@jmverlin)

Sight unseen, Rahmir Barno knew he’d found his future collegiate home. 

It was during a Zoom meeting with the Florida Gulf Coast staff the first week of August that the Imhotep Charter point guard had that feeling, the one that told him his college recruitment was coming to an end. Out of the double-digit Division I programs that had extended a scholarship his way, he’d found The One.

“Hearing everything that they had to say, how the zoom meeting went, the connection with the coaches, we had that connection already, those guys already being from our area [...] the day after [the call], I was like, ‘I want to do it,’” he said. 

So what if he hadn’t been to the school’s Fort Myers campus yet? Through virtual meetings and visits, he’d seen all he needed to see, anyways.

Rahmir Barno (above) announced his commitment to Florida Gulf Coast on Thursday evening. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

Barno made his decision public on Thursday evening, picking FGCU over a group that included UTEP, Quinnipiac, Fordham, Robert Morris and Monmouth. 

“The coaches, the connection, that’s the biggest thing,” he said, though there were other factors: “[Number] two, those guys just telling me that coming in as a freshman, I’d have an opportunity to play, that’s the biggest thing for me as well.

“And three, just having a visual of the campus already, it’s a very nice campus down there, [the] environment down there is crazy, living out there would be crazy, so just being able to be on Zoom and see that as well was another plus. [But] the biggest thing was the coaching staff.”

Though he’ll head more than a thousand miles away from his Northeast Philadelphia home for college next year — and in September, when he finally visits campus — Barno should still feel plenty of connection to the City of Brotherly Love at his new digs. The Eagles’ first-year coaching staff is full of local ties, from head coach Pat Chambers (Episcopal Academy) to unrelated assistants Matt Griffin (St. Joe’s Prep) and Kyle Griffin (Germantown Academy), as well as video operations assistant Shep Garner (Roman Catholic).

It was a group that identified Barno as one they wanted to target quickly after getting the job, offering him in April after seeing Barno play with Team Final on the Nike EYBL circuit.

“They were just telling me how much they really liked me, they wanted me a lot,” Barno said. “You know how college coaches are, they were telling me how much they like my game and how much they want to build a relationship, they want to keep recruiting me.”

A four-year starter under Andre Noble, Barno is just the latest in a long line of Division I prospects who’ve played under Noble over the last two decades at 21st and Godfrey, wearing the red and black Imhotep jersey that comes with all the built-up pride his predecessors have established. He’s been on Division I radars for some time, with offers from Hofstra, Drexel and Temple coming in right after his sophomore year, George Washington and Virginia Tech as a junior, and more during the 2022 summer, including most of his other finalists.

Barno goes up for a layup during the Philly Live
high school recruiting period event in June. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

The lanky 6-foot-1 point guard with a scorer’s touch has seen his game mature quite a bit in the last calendar year, playing more under control and with a confident lead-guard touch, able to rely on his teammates’ scoring instead of looking for his own shot as often. He put together a strong June with Imhotep and July with Team Final, earning second team All-Peach Jam honors from The Season Ticket.

“He’s always had talent, obviously,” Noble said. “I think he’s grown and matured at being a better defender, understanding how to play the point guard position, because he was really more of a scoring point guard when he first came. He learned how to run his team better, he’s worked hard on being a better leader, being more vocal amongst the teams he’s played on. 

“I think he’s grown a lot — we’re proud of who he is right now.”

Barno joins classmate Justin Edwards (Kentucky) as committed seniors on the defending Public League and PIAA Class 5A state champs, and junior guard Ahmad Nowell will undoubtedly join their ranks a year later.

On the FGCU roster already is redshirt junior guard Dahmir Bishop, another Imhotep grad, who began his college career at Xavier before transferring to Saint Joseph’s, where he played two seasons.

Bishop and Barno, five years apart in school, never shared the court at ‘Tep, but Noble said that didn’t stop Bishop from popping in to help out.

“Dahmir Bishop, it was like they had another assistant on the staff,” Noble said. “He was definitely [engaged], we had a Zoom meeting and all the coaches were there and suddenly Dah pops up…he did a good job of recruiting Rah on his own. You would think the way he was recruiting him, that they did play in high school together.”

Barno’s not the first hooper in his family, as his older brother Fa’Teem Glenn is a former standout at Martin Luther King and at the junior college level.

Growing up the youngest sibling in his family, with three on his mother’s side and seven on his father’s, Barno found no shortage of competition growing up, both on the courts and for attention from the rest of his siblings. 

“It was kind of a mixture of everything: it was fun, it was annoying, it was just kind of everything,” he said. “Being the baby, you get spoiled, but you’re getting pushed around because you’re the youngest. It was a lot, but I enjoyed the experience, growing up with all my siblings around; you get a bond with your family members.”

Barno (above) was named to the second team All-Peach Jam this summer. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

Barno was too young to really be paying attention to college basketball back in 2013, when FGCU’s ‘Dunk City’ moniker became a national name after the program became the first No. 15 seed to advance to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. 

It’s not lost on him that the Eagles made their miracle run in Philadelphia, or that they’ve been back to the tournament twice since, in both 2016 and 2017 under Joe Dooley. Dooley left after a 23-win 2017-18 season to take over at East Carolina, leaving the program in the hands of Michael Fly — who, despite winning 22 games last season (10-6 Atlantic Sun), was removed after four years as head coach.

It’s now in the hands of Chambers, who was at La Salle last season as an assistant coach but was most notably Penn State’s head coach from 2011 until his dismissal in 2020. Chambers has plenty of experience and success working with Philly-area talent, building his Nittany Lions core around the likes of Tony Carr, Lamar Stevens, Mike Watkins and more.

“You can’t argue that Coach Chambers has done good with Philly guys, he really has,” Noble said. “He’s done really good with the area [...] and I have confidence in Rahmir Barno, he’s going to do the things he’s supposed to do.”

Though FGCU is coming off that 22-win season, it has to replace its top two scorers from a year ago, and there are nine players on the 2022-23 roster listed as either seniors, redshirt seniors or graduate students. 

When Barno arrives on campus next summer, there’s a good chance he’ll be joining a team that’s got a lot of building to do, with plenty of playing time up for grabs. Barno hopes all the success he’s found so far with both Imhotep and Team Final will have prepared him to step right in and play a big role. 

“Being at Imhotep, it’s brought the competitiveness out of me,” he said. “Playing hard, the toughness, the grit; those types of things help you win games

“Imhotep made me a better leader, way better leader; coaches have been on me since day one, I’ve been getting way better at that, leading. I’ll be a freshman but ready to come in and lead the team, be a competitive guy, helping the team get better.”

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