Brandon Austin has always played on championship teams at Imhotep Charter. Austin helped Imhotep Charter win the Public League, city and state championships last year. The 6-foot-6, 175-pound junior, will take his winning ways to Penn State, where he has given an oral commitment to play for the Nittany Lions.
“I want to help them win basketball games,” Austin said. “I’ve won a lot of games here. We’ve won championships. I feel like I can really help their program. I like the coaches at Penn State. Coach (Pat) Chambers (Penn State) is a good coach. I have a good relationship with him as well as the other coaches (Eugene Burroughs, Brian Daly, Keith Urgo). They have a good program. Penn State is in a good conference. They play some good basketball in the Big Ten.”
The Nittany Lions have a lot of coaches from the Philadelphia area. Penn State also has D.J. Newbill, former Strawberry Mansion star, who will be playing for the Nittany Lions next season. Newbill transferred to Penn State from Southern Mississippi. Newbill was one of the top players in the city two years ago.
“I know D.J. very well,” Austin said. “I played against him in high school. He’s a great player. He’ll be able to really help them out. I’m looking forward to playing with him. I think we’ll be a good one-two punch.”
Austin chose Penn State over some real good basketball programs such as Syracuse, Georgetown, Temple and Rutgers. His early commitment means his decision is out of the way. He can now focus on defending the league championship.
“I had some great schools interested in me,” Austin said. “It wasn’t an easy decision. They all have good programs. I just really liked Penn State. I feel it’s a good place for me.”
Austin is averaging 10.6 points a game. He has played point guard, shooting guard and small forward for Imhotep Charter. Austin has a beautiful touch from the outside and can take the ball to the basket. He’s one of those players who does everything very smoothly on the court.
Andre Noble, Imhotep Charter head coach, believes Austin should do quite well at Penn State with his all-around skills as a player.
“I’m very happy for Brandon,” Noble said. “He had some good schools recruiting him. He’s going to play for Penn State. Brandon is one of the best juniors in the city. I think Brandon can play point guard in college. Actually, he can play either spot point guard or shooting guard. He does a good job of moving the ball. He enjoys making a good pass. He has good size. Brandon has won a lot of games here. He’ll be playing for Coach Chambers and coach Urgo and the rest of the staff. They’ve done a nice job up there.”
Austin should have a bright future at the next level.
This is a big week for high school basketball in the Philadelphia area. The District 12 PIAA semifinals will be held on Tuesday, March 20 and Wednesday, March 21 for five of the city’s best teams. There will be a semifinal doubleheader at Southern High on Tuesday night.
In the first game, Constitution High (21-9) will battle Math, Civics & Sciences (19-9) at 6 p.m. Constitution has been playing great basketball. The Generals walked away with the Public League championship. Savon Goodman and Daiquan Walker are the key players for Constitution. Goodman, a 6-foot-7 senior, averages 27.5 points a game. He’s one of the most explosive players in the city. Walker is also a big time player. He averages 19.3 points a game. The 6-foot-2 senior averages 19.3 points a game. He was named MVP of the league championship game.
MC&S is the defending Class A state championship. Danny Jackson, MC&S head coach, has an impressive team, which features 6-foot-6 forward Jeremiah Worthem and 6-foot-4 guard Malik Starkes. Worthem is the team’s leading scorer. He averages 18.7 points a game. Starkes is capable of putting the ball in the basket. He averages 14.1 points a game.
In the second game, Neumann-Goretti (26-3) will battle Boys’ Latin (25-6). The tip-off will be at 7:30 p.m. Neumann-Goretti won its fourth consecutive Catholic League championship a month ago. The Saints edged St. Joseph’s Prep, 59-57, in an overtime thriller at the Palestra. After that game, N-G defeated Boys’ Latin, 66-57 for the Class AAA city title. A year ago, the Saints won the state championship.
They have some great players such as 6-foot-2 Ja’Quan Newton, 6-foot-4 John Davis and 6-foot-5 Derrick Stewart. Davis and Stewart have given N-G some dominate play around the basket. Newton is an exciting player in the open court. He averages 15.4 points a game. Davis tallies 13.6 points a game.
Maurice Watson, a 5-foot-9 senior, is Boys’ Latin’s leading scorer. Watson is the No. 2 scorer in city history with 2,338 career points. He recently moved past basketball legend Wilt Chamberlain on the all-time scoring list. Watson averages 22.2 points a game. He will be playing his college basketball at Boston University next season. Yahmir Greenlee plays in the backcourt with Watson. Greenlee, a 5-foot-9 standout, averages 13.6 points a game. Up front, Boys’ Latin has 6-foot-4 Carlos Taylor to provide some scoring inside and from the perimeter. Boys’ Latin lost to Constitution for the league title.
On Wednesday, Imhotep Charter will play Holy Cross at Bethlehem Liberty. The game begins at 7 p.m. Imhotep Charter is the defending PIAA Class AA champion. Andre Noble, Imhotep Charter head coach, has two outstanding players in 6-foot-2 senior Khyree Wooten and 6-foot-6 junior Brandon Austin. Wooten leads the team in scoring. He averages 15.6 points a game. Austin averages 10.6 points a game. Both players were solid contributors to last year’s state title team. Imhotep Charter is coming off a big 65-54 win over Bishop McDevitt. Austin had 24 points and 11 rebounds in that contest.
In a couple days, the state championship games should be set for this weekend.
There are a number of talented high school athletes in the city. There’s no question about that. However, there aren’t many who have accomplished as much as Shakur Nesmith, Imhotep Charter’s all-around athlete.
Nesmith, a 6-foot-4, 186-pound senior, played wide receiver on the school’s football team. He has received a scholarship to play football at Temple in the fall. He was one of the Public League’s top players.
Nesmith used his height and quickness to help Imhotep Charter captured back-to-back PIAA Class AA state championships. He played with standouts Brandon Austin and Khyree Wooten.
In addition, he led the Public over the Non-Public, 29-22, in the Philadelphia Eagles City All-Star Football Classic two weeks ago at Lincoln Financial Field. But that’s not all.
A week ago, he won the 100 meter dash with a time of 11.08 at the District 12 Championship Meet at Northeast High School’s Charles Martin Memorial Stadium. He also led Imhotep’s 4x100 meter relay team to a first place finish in a time of 43.50. Nesmith will wrap up his scholastic career on Friday, May 25 and Saturday, May 26 at the PIAA state championship meet at Shippensburg University.
“It’s been a great year,” Nesmith said. “I actually didn’t realize it. Then, I was talking to Coach Andre (Noble, head basketball coach) about all the accomplishments. I didn’t notice it until he started pointing out all the stuff.
“With basketball, we won the state title. In football, I became the first football player to sign a Division I letter of intent. In track, I won the 100 and the 4x100. He was going over all the things I had done this year.”
The list is impressive. Nesmith has moved from one sport to the other. That takes a lot of time and commitment.
“I’ve been working really hard,” Nesmith said. “I’ve been playing sports and going to school all my life. After football, I played basketball and ran track. I already had my scholarship. But this is my last year. I just wanted to go for it.”
That’s exactly what Nesmith will be doing this weekend at the state championship meet. He will be competing in two events against some of top sprinters in the state.
“I’m really excited about going up there,” he said. “I know a couple guys going up there from different schools that will be running in the states. I’ll be running against some great local athletes.”
Nesmith feels track and field should help him in football this season. The sprinting should allow him to explode off the line of scrimmage.
“This is going to help me a lot,” Nesmith said. “It should help me with my conditioning. I should be able to get my speed up to par. I’ve been working on my (pass) routes. That was one of the things I needed to work on.”
Nesmith will finish the track and field season and continue to work hard down the road. Needless to say, it’s been a big year for him.
Every team needs a leader. Andre Noble, Imhotep Charter head coach, has a good one in Khyree Wooten, a quiet leader. Wooten, a 6-foot-2 senior guard, just goes out and plays extremely hard every game. Imhotep Charter has a lot of young players on this year’s team. Wooten is one of the key players who helped Imhotep win the Public League and the PIAA Class AA state championship last season.
“He’s naturally a quiet kid,” Noble said. “So, he has to be a little more vocal for us. He’s a great leader for our young kids. Actually, Khyree and Brandon Austin (Imhotep Charter teammate) are the experienced players. They know what the youngsters need to do in order to be successful. They’re learning each day from them.”
Austin is a terrific player too. The 6-foot-6 guard/forward is a junior. He can handle the ball, play defense, pass and shoot from the outside. Austin and Wooten give Imhotep two players who can put the ball in the basket.
“I feel good about our team,” Wooten said. “We just have a group of young guys. We have to pick them up a little bit, but they can play. We’ll be all right. We just have to continue to work hard and stay together.”
Wooten has put in a lot of time on the court. His efforts have really paid off. He’s averaging 17.3 points a game. He was named one of the Most Valuable Players in the Philly vs. New York Classic game at Ben Franklin two weeks ago. He’s also getting close to breaking the 1,000-point mark. Right now, he has 880 career points.
“I’ve been working in the gym to get better,” Wooten said. “I just love being in the gym. I like to work hard. That’s where I am every day. I’m working on my jump shot and ballhanding. It feels good to have a chance to score 1,000 points. It means a lot. I’m in a league with other great Philadelphia basketball players.”
Wooten would like to play college basketball next season. He doesn’t know where he’s going to school. He still has time to make his decision.
“I would like to play Division I basketball,” he said. “I’ve gotten some looks. I just have to wait and see what happens.”
Noble feels Wooten has a great deal of potential on and off the court. He has watched him develop his basketball skills from last year to this year.
“Khyree has played some good basketball for us,” Noble said. “He does a lot of things for us on the court. He plays great defense. He can score and drive to the basket. He’s just a great kid. He’s a wonderful person. I’ve had a lot of kids here, but Khyree is one of my best. He’s done very well.”
Brandon Austin has played some big time basketball in his scholastic career at Imhotep Charter. Austin, a 6-foot-6, 180-pound senior, had to play some great basketball in order to hold off Roberts Vaux and its outstanding player Rysheed Jordan to post a 67-66 victory to help Imhotep Charter capture the Public League championship.
Austin had 23 points, seven rebounds and six assists. He was named the game’s Most Valuable Player for his efforts. He needed a game like this especially with Jordan scorching the Panthers for a game high 45 points. Austin needed some help from his teammates as well because he fouled out with 45 seconds remaining in the game.
“I believe in my team,” Austin said. “My team was there. We had each other coming down the stretch. So, this is a blessing from God. I was pretty nervous because Vaux is a very good team in closing games out. He’s (Rysheed Jordan) a very good player. We’re good friends. It was just a good game out there. It feels good to be back out there on top as a champion.”
Jordan was nothing short of spectacular. He knocked down 21-for-23 shots from the free throw line. But it seemed like whenever the game was on the line, Jordan delivered with a clutch shot, including a 26 foot three point shot down the stretch. Jordan, a 6-foot-3 senior, will make his college decision in the spring. His final three choices are UCLA, Temple and St. John’s.
Austin will be playing Division I basketball at Providence. He’s certainly one of the best players in the Philadelphia area. His teammates aren’t too shabby either. Abraham Massaley, a 5-foot-10, 160-pound point guard, scored the winning basket. Massaley had seven points including some crucial foul shots. Deryl Bagwell was the team’s second leading scorer with 15 points. Basil Thompson had nine points and nine rebounds.
“Everybody contributed (to the championship),” Austin said. “I trusted my team. Now, we got the ball back and the championship. That’s all it is. It’s the team.”
Andre Noble, Imhotep Charter head coach, has watched Austin develop over his scholastic career. Of course, Austin had one of the biggest shots of the game. He made a 23-foot three-pointer that banked in off the glass. It was one of many big shots by the Panthers.
“He’s made a lot of big shots obviously in his career,” Noble said. “But he got a lot of help from his teammates. I’m really proud of them.”