Posted by Jeff Borzello
Coming out of high school, Isaiah Philmore was a coveted recruit with offers and interest from a long list of high-major schools.
Philmore ended up choosing Towson, and it worked out well for him and the Tigers. The 6-foot-7 forward averaged 15.3 points and 7.0 rebounds, despite Towson losing its final 19 games of the season. He was living up to the hype, but a team coming off a 4-26 record with a new head coach in Pat Skerry was not in Philmore’s plans. He decided he was transferring in mid-April, but is on the verge of a decision.
Philmore and former AAU coach Duane Coverdale visited four schools: Dayton, Missouri, Xavier and Delaware State.
“The plan is to have a decision by Memorial Day,” said Coverdale, who coached Philmore on the Delaware Sharpshooters. “It’s not set in stone, but that’s the plan.”
Coverdale said Philmore had trimmed the list to three schools; Missouri did not make the cut.
“It was a mutual situation,” he said. “The biggest thing was he didn’t commit while he was out there.”
With Dayton, the fanfare and support surrounding the school were very attractive to Philmore and Coverdale. New head coach Archie Miller picked up Georgetown transfer Vee Sanford on Wednesday, but Philmore is still interested.
“It’s a really, really strong basketball environment,” Coverdale said. “Everyone there knows about the Dayton Flyers, their fans knew Isaiah was visiting. Coach Miller did a great job with him.”
Atlantic-10 rival Xavier is also in the mix. The biggest basketball power left on the list, the Musketeers’ success in recent years essentially spoke for itself.
“Xavier is Xavier,” Coverdale said. “They won the A-10, and they showed us that while we were there. What surprised me was that it was such a small school, but coach [Chris] Mack did a great job.”
A productive player in the CAA is sure to garner interest from some of the best teams around, so it makes sense that Dayton and Xavier are on the list. It made sense that they took a visit to Missouri, and it made sense that Oklahoma State was pursuing Philmore at one point.
But Delaware State? The small MEAC school?
“Some people are surprised that he’s considering them,” Coverdale said. “But they did a great job, showed that there’s a lot of minutes for him. It’s a lower-level program, but they’ve been in the top two of the league in nine of the last 10 years.”
Coverdale also mentioned that two of Philmore’s former AAU teammates are on the roster, and the idea of being on the team with familiar players is an attractive option.
There’s a clear drop off between the level of Xavier and Dayton, and the level of Delaware State. But, as with Philmore’s decision coming out of high school, the bigger program might not be the choice for him.
“He’s a pretty level-headed guy, he’s not going to get caught up in that,” Coverdale said.
Where will Philmore end up? Obviously Delaware State could use him the most, as a player of Philmore’s caliber doesn’t fall into the Hornets’ lap very often.
One quote from Coverdale might have given a clue as to Philmore’s destination, though.
“He’s got some things to figure out, but playing time, his role on the team and team success,” he said when asked what factors would go into Philmore’s decision. “Which school gives him the best chance of getting to the NCAA tournament?”
Philmore is a very good inside-outside combo forward. He can score around the rim but also possesses a nice stroke on his jump shot, with range extending to the arc. Philmore has shown the ability to beat defenders off the dribble and is also faster than most players at his position.
Philmore would be able to hold his own in the Atlantic 10.
“He’s definitely talented enough to play in the A-10,” Coverdale said. “He showed that he can play at that level. It’s not a talent issue, he’s not going to be intimidated.”
Photo: Baltimore Sun