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Basketball recruiting: Neumann Goretti guard Hakim Byrd bets on himself by reopening recruitment

After committing to Binghamton on Sept. 27, Byrd reconsidered his decision and has been fielding offers from others schools.

Hakim Byrd is reconsidering where he wants to play college basketball.
Hakim Byrd is reconsidering where he wants to play college basketball.Read moreMIGUEL MARTINEZ / Staff Photographer

Neumann Goretti guard Hakim Byrd was committed to Binghamton University for barely more than two weeks before he had seconds thoughts.

It wasn’t a loss of faith in the school he visited during the last weekend of September. It was an affirmation of the faith he had in himself.

“I just felt like betting on myself,” Byrd said in a phone interview Thursday. “I’ve been betting on myself all my life. … So why stop now?”

After telling The Inquirer last weekend that he was reconsidering his decision, Byrd confirmed on social media Tuesday that he had reopened his recruitment.

“I just felt like I wasn’t 100 percent committed,” Byrd said. “It wasn’t anything big that changed.”

Byrd had originally planned to join up with former AAU teammate Sam Sessoms, the all-time leading scorer from the Shipley school, at Binghamton. The two remained friends after playing for West Philadelphia’s Bottom Ballers in middle school.

Byrd said he discussed reopening his recruitment with his family as well as with Sessoms, who expressed his support for whatever Byrd wanted to do.

“At the end of the day, I want what’s best for him,” Sessoms said in a phone interview following Byrd’s original commitment. “I care about him outside of basketball.”

Byrd informed head coach Tommy Dempsey and the Binghamton staff of his decision and said they were understanding, only asking to still stay involved in recruiting him. Byrd didn’t rule out going back to the Bearcats and said he was contacted by the Binghamton staff Thursday morning.

Neumann Goretti assistant coach John Brennan helped Byrd reach out to other coaches and inform them of his decision. Since making his announcement, Byrd has interest from Appalachian State, Monmouth, Quinnipiac, Brown, Holy Cross and St. Peters.

Byrd, who spoke on the phone with Appalachian State on Thursday, plans to take more official visits before the high school season begins in early December. He is aiming to make his decision before the Philadelphia Catholic League season begins but not until after Neumann-Goretti travels to Las Vegas on Dec. 18 to play in the Tarkanian Classic.

“I want to go out there and open up some eyes,” Byrd said. “I just don’t want to play through my whole senior year without picking a school.”

A second-team All Catholic league player, Byrd averaged 12.5 points per game last season, shooting 47 percent from the field and 36 percent from three. He had a two-to-one assist-to-turnover ratio.

Neumann Goretti coaches also boast about his unselfishness as a player. As a sophomore in high school, Byrd started the season on varsity but was asked to move to junior varsity in order to sharpen his game. He did so without complaints and earned extended minutes on varsity by the end of the season.

“He’s a joy to be around,” Neumann Goretti head coach Carl Arrigale said. “He’s very fast and quick. He’s little but he’s always been little so he understands how to play as a small guy. He’s a clutch shooter, he’s a great teammate and he knows what to do to win the game. … His best years are definitely ahead of him.”