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2024 Philly Live II: High School Notebook (Pt. 3)

07/03/2024, 11:15am EDT
By Josh Verlin + Rich Flanagan

By Josh Verlin (@jmverlin) &
Rich Flanagan (@RichFlanagan33)

The second session of Philly Live 2024 brought over 220 boys teams to the City of Brotherly Love from all over the region — Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware were well-represented, but teams from all over the Eastern seaboard came up to play in front of hundreds of college coaches.

CoBL’s writers spent the weekend at both Jefferson University and the Philadelphia Youth Basketball ‘6th Man’ Center catching up with local teams and prospects of note. Here’s a notebook featuring team updates on several local squads:


(Ed. Note: Links to all of our 2024 Philly Live I content can be found at the bottom of this article)


Moore hoping for more balanced Constitution in 2024-25

More than a handful of stars have rolled through Rob Moore’s Constitution program over the years. From Ahmad Gilbert and Kimar Williams through Jacob Beccles, Kyree Latimer, Amir Speights and more, Moore’s had plenty of high-level talents who could put up big numbers on a regular basis. 

Khair White-Blaylock (above) and Constitution are aiming for more balance. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

That makes his 2024-25 squad a different one, as the Generals don’t have a singular star. With bucket-getters Latimer, Speights and Perry Fields graduating from last year’s squad, Moore’s looking at a group that he’s thinking will be much more balanced this winter. 

“The last couple years, we had two or three guys that scored a bunch of our points,” Moore said, “and this year, I was telling my assistant Ron [McGee] that I really believe we’re going to have a bunch of guys averaging between 12 and 15 points per game. And we’re going to get different contributions each day.”

Alantay Dawson had the hot hand on Saturday in a win over Pennsauken (N.J.), the 6-foot-1 senior scoring 21 points; fellow seniors Khaleek Johnson (11 points) and Khair White-Blaylock (10) joined him in double figures. 

White-Blaylock and Johnson are both rotation returners from a year ago. Dawson comes over from the now-closed Math Civics & Sciences for his senior year; Moore said about 30 MCS students in total came to Constitution after its closure, including 2027 guard Rahleem Brown, who came off the bench on Saturday.

“(Dawson) brings me a lot of energy, and he can score but he can also facilitate, he does a lot of everything,” Moore said. “And he defends. I was telling our graduating guys, because they’ve been coming to open gyms, this group I think defends better than the last group.”

Along with his three seniors, Moore started 2026s Ibrahim Mahmoud and Chaz Hannah against Pennsauken, bringing Brown, 2025 Isaiah Cooke and 2026s Nick Young and Calray Suber off the bench. Eight in total found the scoring column as Constitution jumped out to a big early lead before a Pennsauken comeback, then ran away late in a 16-point victory.

Moore, whose Generals first and last won a Public League title in 2012, have been one of the top programs in a league that’s been more and more dominated by Imhotep Charter over the last decade-plus. But with MCS’ closure, there’s going to be a fight to be No. 2 in the city, with Constitution, Lincoln, Audenried, Dobbins and others all hoping to take advantage. 

“I think I’ve got a good group of kids,” Moore said. “Excited for the next couple of years.” — Josh Verlin


West Philly offense runs through Hopkins now

Two years ago, Adrian Burke and the Speedboys were led by Keyishon Miller, slated to begin his career at Sacred Heart this season. Last season, it was Abdurahman Coulibaly, who holds an offer from Rider and will do a prep year at Avon Old Farms (Conn.).

While he has host of talented backcourt players starting with 2025 6-4 Brandon Williams, 2026 5-11 guard Xavier Howard and 2026 5-11 Khabir Washington, Burke will facilitate his offensive from inside out with 2026 6-6 forward Jalyn Hopkins, who has long arms and smooth array of moves to score over smaller defenders. He can expand out to the baseline and is finding ways to get into the middle of the lane on a more regular basis.

Compared to years past, Burke wants everything to start with Hopkins.

He has to touch the ball,” Burke said. “He’s just a beast. He’s relentless. He never lets his intensity come down.”

Makel Butts chose to transfer to Camden (N.J.), so there will be more opportunity with two starters gone from last season and Washington, a returning starter, could reap the benefits of those scoring chances. “He was pass-first last year. He’s been in the gym working out and putting that work in. He has the green light to do what he wants,” according to Burke. Washington can get downhill and score in a hurry. Williams is a rangy guard who avg. 12.0 ppg, 4 rpg, 2 apg while shooting 48.2% from the field and making 48 three-pointers. Howard gets into the lane and hits the open man when double teams come at him.

West Philadelphia finished 11-13 overall last year with six of those wins coming in the Philadelphia Public League ‘A’ Division and a trip to both the Public League quarterfinals and PIAA Class 5A Tournament. There is real optimism that Hopkins’s development combined with the versatility of the backcourt should push the Speedboys even further this season.

“These guards have been with me since they were freshmen,” Burke said. “They’re starting to come along.” — Rich Flanagan


Tait happy to be back on the sidelines at Conwell-Egan

Sean Tait’s still very much in the early stages of his rebuild at Conwell-Egan.

Antwone George (above) and Conwell-Egan are under new direction in Sean Tait. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

That’s obvious enough from the fact that he was wearing a DelVal University shirt while coaching his Eagles this past weekend, the former Father Judge head coach having been at DVU the last three seasons as Muhamadou Kaba’s top assistant. 

It’s only been a couple of months since Tait got back into the Catholic League, giving him only some offseason workouts and a few spring league games to get his squad ready for Philly Live. The Eagles certainly showed some potential in their games the last two weekends, but there’s still a lot of work to be done, evidenced by a 26-point loss to Middle Twp. (N.J.) at the end of the day Sunday.

“It’s good, it’s good, it’s good,” Tait said about his first eight weeks as Conwell-Egan’s head coach. “It’s just tough playing in these things when I’m a big preparation guy and you can’t be really prepared because we haven’t really talked any concepts defensively — offensively, a little bit — and you play a team like Middle who’s a nice team and they make you do things fast.”

Tait has some pieces to work with as he hopes to get the Eagles back to the form they last had a decade ago, when Frank Sciolla’s group won the PIAA Class AA state championship. Sciolla left to take the Pennsbury girls job not long after, and a series of coaches since — most recently Tyrone Lewis — weren’t able to get them out of the bottom of the PCL. 

Senior wing Antwone George is the team’s no-doubt leader, coming back as its leading scorer (14.5 ppg) and rebounder (7.8 rpg) as a junior. The athletic 6-1 wing has size around him in 6-7 2026 Justin Bobb, going into his second year at Egan after starting at ANC, and 6-6 2026 Tristan Gangs. New to the program are a pair of 2027s, 6-1 Cole Zalewski (Academy New Church) and 6-3 Brayden Martin (Upper Moreland), a starter on the Golden Bears squad that made it to the District 1 5A playoffs. 

They won’t be the only group feeling their way through a new era in the Catholic League; Lansdale Catholic is also starting fresh, with promising youth of its own, and Cardinal O’Hara is under new direction as well. La Salle is in its second year under Ryan Ansel; all four are hoping to follow in the footsteps of Father Judge, Devon Prep and others who have gone from out of the PCL playoffs to into its semifinals in a short period of time.

But after going through similar processes with Judge and Wood, Tait knows the road ahead won’t be a quick stroll around the block.

“Just getting these guys to know what it takes to compete at the level of the Catholic League,” Tait said. “They have no idea. They have no idea.”

But, he added, “I think it’s going in the right direction — and the summer’s not out, either.”


Bensalem set to deploy deep rotation once again

The Owls were one of the deeper teams in southeastern Pa. last season, using a transitional rotation to keep their players fresh and their opponent off-balance. In finishing atop the Suburban One League Patriot Division with 14 wins, a 19-9 overall record and a PIAA Class 6A Tournament appearance, head coach Ron Morris mixed and matched lineups based upon mismatches he hoped to exploit, and the result was quite successful.

A senior class of his sons Antonio (Mercer County Community College) and Noah (Bucks County Community College), Nate Cooper, Micah White, Idris Savadogo, Angelo Semon gelled with Jaidyn Moffitt, Amir Drummond, and Jahmir Chatman to interchangeable lineups that kept players rested and ready to substitute back in to find success. Morris is applying that same principle again this season as he has a team he believes can duplicate last year’s ideology.

“It’s a lot of building relationships and having continuous communication with the players, letting them know where they stand now,” Morris said. “Roles change, goals don’t. Everyone feels a part of it and everyone’s role is important. Guys bought in to have the success that we did.”

Things start with Moffitt, the 2025 6-2 forward who is a former offensive lineman with quick feet and terrific lateral quickness. He averaged 18.2 ppg and 6 rpg as a junior and “is a mismatch problem. He has such good footwork, and he can shoot the ball. It will be a different role for him this year and he’s a mismatch problem as he does a little bit of everything,” according to Morris.

Drummond, the 2025 5-9 lefty floor general is “the security blanket for me on the floor because he takes care of the ball. He’s super fast and starting to see the floor really well. His shot has improved a lot since the end of last season. His jump shot is really good now and his speed is unbelievable.”

Morris noted that “those two are our foundation and we have some other rising seniors who have been waiting for their turn putting in a lot of time.” However, they will have help and 2025 5-10 guard Christian Lee, who “can really shoot the basketball,” as Morris notes, will have an expanded role after only appearing in six games. Chris Kelly, a 2025 6-foot guard, “can do a little bit of everything.” Then there’s 2025 6-1 guard Jahmir Chatman, who played in 11 games and should be a viable third option on the offensive end to Moffitt and Drummond.

Morris is very high on Chatman and what he brings to the lineup.

“We expect a lot from Jah. He came in last year as a utility guy and this year we’re going to need him to be an all-around player. Last year it was more about defense and now it will be more about offense and defense. He’s a rebounding machine and one of the toughest kids I’ve ever coached.”

The entire rotation will be made up of seniors and juniors, which provides experience and stability, and the excitement will be around which players Morris finds to help perfect his expanded rotation moving forward. — Rich Flanagan


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