City's title team stocked with prospects
The City boys basketball team began the 2008-09 season without its biggest name.
Junior small forward C.J. Fair, the No. 45 player in the country according to Rivals.com, tore his ACL last spring. The injury relegated the Syracuse-bound forward to the sideline for his entire junior year.
While Fair’s absence was missed, the Knights managed just fine. City registered a 55-42 victory over Frederick Douglass of Prince George’s County on Saturday in the Class 2A state title game at Comcast Center, giving the Knights their first state championship in 40 years.
“[C.J.] was always there giving us support,” City coach Mike Daniel said. “He only missed maybe a couple games [because he was at rehab for his knee]. He was on the bench and he was like one of my assistant coaches. He has an unbelievable knowledge of the game. ... He didn’t bellyache about his injury. He knew that he had to build things back up to get his knee back [to normal]. So he’ll be fine.”
City’s other highly-touted junior, center Jordan Latham, shined on the defensive end for the Knights. Daniel said Latham averaged about 10 points, nine rebounds and five blocks per game. The 6-foot-8, 220-pounder committed to Xavier in November.
“They expect him to come in and be an impact player,” Daniel said. “I think he has the talent to come in and be an impact player. He’s a tremendous shotblocker. He turned into the anchor to our defense this year, which I think ... enabled us to have a successful season.”
Small forward Adam Johnson shouldered much of City’s scoring load in Fair’s absence. The 6-foot-6 senior averaged 16 points per game. Johnson is committed to St. Francis, a Div. I program located in Loretto, Pa.
“They love that he’s a very versatile kid,” said City assistant Tony Biggers. “He just does a lot of things. He can rebound, he can shoot it, he [plays hard] on the defensive end. He pretty much has the whole package. They like his energy, and more importantly, they really like his leadership.”
The Knights also received senior leadership from point guard Nardi Bogues, a transfer from Centennial. Muggsy Bogues’ nephew is fielding inquiries from several Div. II and III schools, including Barry University in Miami, Belmont Abbey (N.C.), Fayetteville (N.C.) State, Pfeiffer University in Charlotte and Goucher College. The 5-foot-10 prospect’s stock is on the rise thanks to a strong senior campaign.
“He comes from good stock and he showed that as he was going down the wire,” Daniel said. “He definitely showed a lot of what Muggsy did at the time. He really pulled things together for us. He [averaged about] 12 points per game. His scoring really picked up. ... He was the final piece I thought we needed to be successful this year.”
Biggers is constantly working the phones on behalf of City’s other seniors. Quinton Goodwin is hearing from Davis & Elkins (W.Va.), Pikesville (Ky.) and Georgetown (Ky.), among others. According to Biggers, Malik Pack will attend Neumann College, a Div. III school near Philadelphia, while Tore Turner has received from interest from Neumann and Wesley College in Dover, Del.
With Fair and Latham among City’s returners next season, the Knights are well-positioned to make another run to Comcast Center.
“We have some pieces coming back,” Daniel said. “I would say I’m pretty happy about that. I’ve got some young kids who will step up and give us a hand.”