Jaekwon Carlyle (above) and Imhotep are CoBL's preseason pick in the Public League's 'A' Division. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
CoBL Staff (@hooplove215)
(Ed. Note: This article is part of CoBL's "Prepping for Preps," our series of articles previewing area high school teams for the 2015-16 season. For the complete list of schools previewed so far, click here)
The Public League’s ‘A’ Division is in its third year as a "Super Six," while the other four tiers all have more than 10 teams apiece. This has made for plenty of familiarity between these programs at the top, though as there is every year there's been a slight shuffling of the cards.
Gone is Philadelphia Electric, whose athletics programs were shut down indefinitely. Replacing the Chargers are the Eagles of George Washington, who would have turned the division into a top seven before PE&T's decision.
Preseason All-Public League 'A'
Antwuan Butler (Soph./G)--Del-Val Charter
Jaekwon Carlyle (Sr./G)--Imhotep Charter
Jabri McCall (Sr./G)--Martin Luther King
Daron Russell (Jr./G)--Imhotep Charter
Anthony Satchell (Sr./G)--Constitution
And here’s how CoBL sees the Public League’s top division playing out:
1. Imhotep Charter
Head Coach: Andre Noble, 10th season
Last Year: 22-10 (6-4 Public League), won Public League championship (Constitution, 77-75), lost District 12 championship (Neumann-Goretti, 77-74), lost PIAA Class AAA semifinals (Neumann-Goretti, 75-67)
Name(s) to know: Jaekwon Carlyle (Sr./G), Nysir Marshburn (Sr./SF) Daron Russell (Jr./G)
Breakdown: The Panthers graduated a talented, experienced class of four seniors following the program’s second Public League title in three years, but they might come off easy compared to what their fellow division mates have to replace. There’s plenty of optimism around Noble’s group thanks to a strong junior class: Russell, a 5-10 combo guard, had an explosive summer with Team Final, reeling in offers from Temple, La Salle, VCU, East Carolina and more, and he should be one of the city’s top scorers the next two years after averaging 16.4 ppg as a sophomore. Koby Thomas, a 6-5 wing and transfer from Mastery Charter North, is an above-the-rim athlete who’s becoming a better perimeter scorer, while muscular 6-4 wing JaQuan Arrington is pulling in D-I offers as he gains confidence in his abilities. Add in Carlyle, a 6-0 guard committed to Hampton, and this team does not lack for scoring option; seniors wing forward Nysir Marshburn, a D-II recruit, adds toughness and rebounding ability inside.
2. Martin Luther King
Head Coach: Sean Colson, 4th season
Last Year: 23-9 (8-2 Pub ‘A’), lost Public League semifinals (Imhotep, 61-56), lost District 12 championship (Roman Catholic, 58-57) lost PIAA Class AAAA final (Roman, 62-45)
Name(s) to know: Nasir Bell (Sr./G), Jabri McCall (Sr./G), Rasool Samir (Sr./F)
Breakdown: Similar to Imhotep, King is also replacing a well-rounded group of seniors--six of them, in fact, which represented about 70 percent of the team’s scoring output. One player who is back is McCall, a 6-0 point guard who averaged 13.2 ppg a year ago and considered a transfer to Academy New Church before returning to King for his final year. He and classmate Bell, who averaged 4.6 ppg a year ago in a key reserve role, will be the team’s primary ball-handlers this year, as will Bishop McDevitt transfer Qadir Burgess. Up front, Colson and the Cougars will rely on 6-7 Samir, a lanky athletic forward, plus transfers Nahim Lee (West Catholic) and Jakwon McQueen (Philly Electric). There’s certainly talent on the roster, but it will likely take Colson some time to work all these new parts together and get them playing the way he demands.
Head Coach: Rob Moore, 8th season
Last Year: 24-8 (9-1 Pub ‘A’), lost Public League championship (Imhotep, 77-75), won PIAA Class A championship (Farrell, 85-53)
Name(s) to know: Nasir Randolph (Sr./G), Anthony Satchell (Sr./G), Maurice Waters (Jr./F)
Breakdown: This is where the Pub really becomes up for grabs. Over the last three years, the Generals’ program has been centered around Ahmad Gilbert, Kimar Williams and company, and now they’re all gone: Gilbert to Minnesota, Williams to FIU, plus Chad Andrews-Fulton (Baltimore City College), Akeem King, Haneef Vaughn. The cupboard isn’t entirely bare, to be sure: Satchell, a 6-2 bulldog of a guard, is ready to be the dominant scorer after averaging just under six points per game last year, while Randolph and Diabate got varsity time as well. They got some major help inside with the addition of Waters, a 6-6 transfer from Bartram, plus 6-8 Khalif Kroma looks ready to contribute as a senior. Moore has built an impressive winning resume in his years with the program, from Savon Goodman (UNLV/Arizona State) and Daiquan Walker (Central Florida) handing off to the 2015 grads, but now he’ll need to find his next group to build around.
Talented 2018 PG Antwuan "Booty" Butler is now at Del-Val after playing his freshman season at Strawberry Mansion. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
4. Delaware Valley Charter
Head Coach: Jason Harrigan, 7th season
Last Year: 17-9 (3-7 Pub ‘A’), lost in Public League quarterfinals (Imhotep, 62-52), lost in District 12 play-backs (Audenreid, 67-64)
Name(s) to know: Antwuan Butler (Soph./PG), Makhi Morris (Jr./SF), Semaj Motley (Sr./G)
Breakdown: After winning the 'B' Division in 2013-14, the Warriors moved up to the Super Six last year and held their ground, with three of their losses in league play coming by single digits. Gone are 6-4 DaShon Giddings (16.5 ppg) and 6-5 Karl Lewis (7.7 ppg), though the team's second-leading scorer, the 5-10 Motley (8.5 ppg); over the last five games of the Pub schedule and the playoffs, he averaged 14.4 ppg. One transfer that should certainly provide a big boost is Butler, a talented 5-11 scoring point guard with a strong body and ability to play either on or off the ball; he and Motley, plus the 6-3 Morris (5.7 ppg) should carry the scoring load for Del-Val.
5. George Washington
Head Coach: Kyle Sample, 1st season
Last Year: 19-7 (12-0 Pub ‘B’), lost in Public League quarterfinals (King, 59-46), lost in District 12 play-back (La Salle, 73-44)
Name(s) to know: Quadere Allen (Sr./SF), Shaheed Fagan-Haynes (Jr./SG), Elijah Kiah-El (Jr./PF)
Breakdown: This is going to be quite a transition year for George Washington: gone are the top four scorers, including St. Joe’s-bound wing Charlie Brown (16.1 ppg), currently taking a post grad year at St. Thomas More (Conn.). Gone is head coach John Creighton, now the athletic director at Cheltenham; Sample spent last year as an assistant at Constitution and has plenty of coaching experience from his years as one of the directors of Team Philly’s AAU program. He should have the Eagles playing hard right away, though there’s no doubt it’s going to take him some time to build the program up; he’ll have the 6-7 Kiah-El, a transfer from Mastery South, as a force in the middle alongside scoring wings Allen and Fagan-Haynes.
6. Math, Civics & Sciences
Head Coach: Dan Jackson, 10th season
Last Year: 14-14 (2-8 Pub ‘A’), lost in Public League quarterfinals (Constitution, 66-59), lost in PIAA Class A semifinals (Constitution, 87-46)
Name(s) to know: Darrin Manning (Sr./G), Saheed Peoples (Jr./G)
Breakdown: Just a few years ago, MCS was at the top of the Public League, with Division I recruits Jeremiah Worthem and others on the roster. The Mighty Elephants weren’t able to live up to their reputation last year, during a tumultuous season that saw Jackson take a leave of absence in January which would last the remainder of the season. Jackson is back on the sidelines now, but gone are Samir Doughty (24.5 ppg) and five other seniors; the program had other issues this offseason with finding a gym, causing a few others to transfer out, though they learned this week their games will be at Martin Luther King Recreation Center at 22nd and Cecil B. Moore. That leaves Jackson and his staff faced with a major rebuild at a program that won the 2011 PIAA Class A title.