Philmore headlines Towson's '09 class
Throughout most of his recruitment, John Carroll forward Isaiah Philmore thought he’d end up committing to a high-major Division I school.
Philmore, 6 feet 7, was offered -- at one time or another -- scholarships from Oklahoma State, Kansas State, Providence, Virginia Tech, South Florida, Michigan and Marquette, among others. He also weighed offers from George Washington, St. Joseph’s, Temple, UMass and Central Florida.
“I definitely wanted to go big-time,” said Philmore, who seriously considered committing to Oklahoma State earlier this fall.
But when the time came to sign his letter of intent last week, Philmore, a three-star prospect according to Scout.com, chose Towson.
“Towson actually came my sophomore year, but I kind of put them on the backburner because that’s when I just started blowing up a little bit,” Philmore said. “They agreed with that, but they were always in there. They would call me up, see how it was going. They were there from the get-go; it’s not like they just jumped in. ... I think [the coaches] were very surprised, actually, when I committed.”
Philmore is the headliner of Towson’s 2009 recruiting class. The Tigers also landed commitments from Imhotep Charter (Pa.) shooting guard Will Adams, Montverde (Fla.) Academy power forward Nick Diatta and Caravel Academy (Del.) center Erique Gumbs, giving the Tigers one of the more highly-regarded mid-major classes on the East Coast.
Philmore and Gumbs have been good friends and teammates on the Delaware Sharpshooters AAU team for the past four years. Gumbs had offers from Providence, St. Joseph’s, Temple, George Mason and Penn State, according to Sharpshooters director and coach Duane Coverdale. But Coverdale wasn’t surprised that Philmore and Gumbs both shunned offers from other “big-time programs” to go to Towson.
“All of our kids in our program are pretty familiar with each other, and we’ve had some kids that go to high-major schools,” Coverdale said. “Andre Collins played for our program. He’s playing professionally overseas now, but that would’ve never happened had he stayed at Maryland [and not transferred to Loyola]. If he set his sights a little lower than Maryland in the beginning, who knows what would’ve happened because he was finally able to show people what he could do. ... So lots of our guys talk to each other and talk to the younger guys. Some of that [advice] was relatable to both [Philmore and Gumbs].”
One former Delaware Sharpshooter that proved helpful in Philmore’s decision-making process was Josh Thornton, a junior guard at Towson. Thornton signed with Georgetown out of high school before transferring to Towson for his sophomore season. He led the Tigers with 13 points per game last year.
“I really just wanted to go to a program where I could get 25-plus minutes my freshman year. I just wanted to play,” Philmore said. “[Thornton] didn’t tell me to come to Towson -- not at all. He said if you feel it in your heart, go with it, but don’t get caught up in the hype of the school.”
Scout.com national basketball recruiting analyst Dave Telep said Towson’s class ranks in the top third of the Colonial Athletic Association. Telep said the signings of Gumbs and Philmore make the class stand out.
“Erique Gumbs is a big kid that just needs some time to develop some offensive consistency. He’s going to be one of the bigger human beings in the CAA,” Telep said. “I think Isaiah Philmore could really be a terror in the league. What he’s really good at is being an energy player. He’s got a big motor and he’s going to work his tail off.
“I think he’s a guy that made a decision to go where he can really max out his college career. ... The best thing you can say about Isaiah Philmore is whatever setting he’s played in, high school or AAU, he’s been a producer. ... You’re looking at a guy who, through sheer hard work, has a chance to be an all-league player.”
Telep said Towson’s recent success on the recruiting trail can be attributed, in part, to a well-connected, veteran staff.
“They have really good relationships,” Telep said. “The guys on their staff are great recruiters. This is a relationship-built business. They have a head coach (Pat Kennedy) with a big name and staffers who’ve been around the block a bit.”
Philmore said there’s a feeling in local basketball circles that it’s only a matter of time before Towson’s recent recruiting success becomes apparent on the court.
“There’s a big buzz going around now because the Towson team has gotten good recruits like [ex-Mount Carmel point guard and Towson freshman] Troy Franklin and Josh Thornton,” Philmore said. “So there’s a lot of buzz [about Towson] being one of, if not the best school in the CAA. We’ll see how it works out.”