Tyler Sandora (@tyler_sandora)
Even if Jalil Myers didn’t commit to Rosemont College out of high school, that didn’t stop head coach Robert “Barney” Hughes from recruiting him.
When Myers graduated from Imhotep Charter in 2014, he chose D-II West Chester University over D-III Rosemont, and other local small college programs.
After a redshirt year at WCU, Myers broke his ankle, fibula, tibula, and tore ligaments in his left leg during his sophomore year, leading to another redshirt year. Once he got back on the court, Myers said things “weren’t the same,” so he decided he would transfer.
Once again Hughes recruited Myers, and once again he lost. This time, it was to D-II Chestnut Hill. At Chestnut Hill, Myers admitted things didn’t play out as expected, so he decided he would once again transfer.
This time, Hughes won.
Myers announced in the spring that he would be exercising his last two years of NCAA eligibility at D-III Rosemont College.
“He is a real loyal coach,” Myers said of Hughes. “You can see his dedication to get a player. He’s been keeping in touch, checking up on me after seasons to see how things are going and telling me to be positive after my injury at West Chester, and a dumb mistake at Chestnut Hill.”
“You make a connection with guys, and basketball is one of those things you hear through the grapevine that guys might be available or switching schools,” Hughes said about Myers. “We’ve always had a good connection, and had a good relationship...when he became available at the end of the year last year, it was an easy phone call to make.”
Because Hughes had been watching Myers play since he and his Imhotep teams were tearing up the public league, the fifth-year coach noticed a lot about Myers’ game. Hughes had always known how talented the 6-6 wing was, but he didn’t quite realize how good of a leader Myers was going to be.
“I think it’s an emotional maturity that has changed,” said Hughes, who picked up his nickname from Phil Martelli during his days as a St. Joe’s manager. “The guy I recruited out of high school, he was a very different person [than the one] I am coaching now. You never know what to expect from a transfer. For him to come in and try to be a leader, and really turn into a leader for us has been a huge plus for our program.”
According to Hughes, Myers has been the voice this young and inexperienced Rosemont team needed. He’s been the most vocal guy in practice, the locker room, and has been pushing teammates to get better ever since he stepped foot on campus.
“It’s a big adjustment,” Myers said. “Coming here and having the opportunity to play for a team and be a leader, it brings out a lot in my game. It’s a blessing because it’s going to make me better not only on the court, but off the court as well.
“[Coach Hughes] always talks to me after practice, before today’s game, telling me to “do whatever it takes for us to win.” He looks at me as a leader. Everybody on this team is pretty much new, so since I’ve played at a high level and I know what it takes to win he wants me to bring that to everyone here.”
Myers made his long-awaited debut in a Raven’s uniform Wednesday night in front of a Rosemont-heavy crowd, scoring 18 points, hitting one 3, and grabbing seven rebounds in a 78-70 loss to DeSales University. Senior Mekhi Clemons added 14 points for Rosemont.
For DeSales, Kweku Dawson-Amoah and Connor Jones both scored 15. Archbishop Wood product Luke Connaghan provided 11 points, and played a crucial role on the defensive end for the Bulldogs, led by Scott Coval in his 25th season.
Myers is a long, lanky wing who can shoot the ball from deep. On Wednesday night he was rebounding the ball well, reaching higher than everyone to corral the loose ball. Myers played at the top of the 1-2-2 zone, and caused lots of havoc for the opponents.
Off the basketball court, Rosemont made sense for Myers. He was searching for a dual program which allows him to graduate in two years with a bachelors and masters in business management, all while playing basketball.
Out of middle school, Myers was not very serious about playing basketball. He settled on attending West Catholic, but didn’t have expectations to play basketball right away. Once he got there, he started to play more, and before long he was the only freshman on the varsity roster.
The following summer, he continued to improve on the court, and made the decision to attend Prep Charter. After a coaching change at Prep Charter, Myers chose to transfer to Imhotep for his junior and senior year.
“I didn’t really want to go to Imhotep,” Myers said. “They were Prep Charter’s rival, so I wanted to beat Imhotep, but I trusted my gut and went, and ended up winning a state championship.”
Myers brings athleticism and length to a Rosemont team that has only been around since 2009, when the college went co-ed. Myers is the most “versatile” player on this Raven’s team, and Hughes couldn’t be happier to have him.
“It brings a different element,” Hughes said. “We haven’t had that type of length and athleticism in the past. He can do some things that you can’t teach or coach. Guys like him change the way other teams play. It gives you the opportunity to do some things and coach some things you can’t do on a normal basis.”
Hughes is clearly happy to say that Myers is a part of his program, even if he has to wait three years to do it.