Imhotep basketball needs Elijah Taylor to reach his potential this season.
The 6-foot-8 forward is the prominent leader on a team that is currently putting together a rotation after losing five seniors, four of whom went on to join Division I teams.
At Philly Live, a basketball showcase event at Thomas Jefferson University in which schools compete in front of college coaches, Taylor impressed those coaches with his growth as a player and a leader.
Taylor picked up offers from Virginia Tech, Georgia, Florida, Penn State, Pittsburgh, and Dayton.
“Offensively, he’s gotten way more aggressive,” Imhotep coach Andre Noble said. “He’s getting better. Just being a leader, he was always a good leader, but he’s trying to talk to younger kids more and more. I see growth in him. I’m proud of where he is.
“We’re challenging him him to be the best player in the area, because we need him to be that in order for us to be what we expect to be.”
Imhotep lost Donta Scott (Maryland), Dahmir Bishop (Xavier), Chereef Knox (St. Joseph’s), and Jamil Riggins (Binghamton) from last season. That group led Imhotep to three straight Public League championships and three consecutive PIAA Class 4A state titles.
Imhotep played three freshmen Saturday against a Rutgers Prep team led by ESPN four-star recruit Trey Patterson and lost, 75-44. Noble said he scheduled his team with the same expectations he’s had the last few years. The game remained within reach until Taylor got into foul trouble at the beginning of the second half.
“We’ve got a lot of young guys coming up. I just have to figure out my personnel and see what makes them tick,” Taylor said after the loss. “Right now, it’s a process, and we’re growing and maturing.”
Taylor has developed his offensive game to be more self-sufficient, now that the ball will be in his hands more often. He said he’s working on creating shots for himself. He’s also working on guarding out on the perimeter and becoming more explosive.
Against Rutgers Prep, he lived at the free throw line and showed a promising shooting form, hitting a turnaround jump shot in the first half. Guarding sufficiently on the perimeter and creating his own shot would allow Taylor to play both forward spots in college.
But right now, he’s mostly focused on getting his team playing to last season’s standards.