In two years with the Towson men's basketball team, Isaiah Philmore lived through 47 losses and just 14 wins. So when the John Carroll graduate decided to transfer after his sophomore season, playing for a winner was priority No. 1 for him in selecting a new program.
"He's won everywhere he's been. He won in high school, he won at the AAU level, he won at camps," said Delaware Team Takeover president Duane Coverdale, Philmore's AAU coach. "That's not taking anything away from Towson. He had a lot of individual success at Towson. Towson made a strong commitment to him, but at the end of the day, that was his first taste of losing."
Philmore earlier this month narrowed his list of schools to Dayton, Delaware State and Xavier. On Wednesday night, the 6-foot-7, 230-pound forward committed to the Musketeers – participants in nine of the past 10 NCAA tournaments.
"It's the most successful of the three [programs], playing high-major basketball in a mid-major conference," Coverdale said. "They've been in the Top 25, Top 15 in the country before. They get to the NCAA tournament on a regular basis, and they not only get there, but they go pretty deep. It's the kind of winning tradition he wants to be around."A Baltimore Sun second-team All-Metro selection in 2009, Philmore flourished in his second season with the Tigers, averaging better than 15 points and seven rebounds. After briefly considering sticking around for the beginning of the Pat Skerry era at Towson, Philmore announced his intention to transfer last month. He quickly became a highly sought recruit, with Coverdale fielding inquiries from a variety of high- and mid-major programs.
From the start, Xavier appeared to be in a good spot with Philmore, who had a relationship with Musketeers assistant coach Rasheen Davis dating back to a Hoop Group camp he attended in high school.
"They made a very strong … commitment to putting in the time to make him a better player, especially during his sit-out year," Coverdale said. "Xavier's a team that's … probably the best year-in, year-out program in the Atlantic 10, and [he] can still have an opportunity of being a major contributor at that program."
Philmore -- who's finishing up the semester at Towson and will move to Cincinnati this summer -- is expected to play a combo forward role for Xavier after his redshirt year. Coverdale said the Musketeers have a definite need for someone like Philmore.
"Xavier doesn't have anybody who can play two positions like that, can still go down low and step out on the wing and be a big wing, which is what Isaiah aspires to do," Coverdale said. "He is definitely a need for them. It depends on how productive Isaiah is when he gets his opportunity. That will dictate his minutes and his success in the program. It's an opportunity for him to get a lot of minutes and be very successful."
Baltimore Sun photo of Isaiah Philmore by Kenneth K. Lam / Nov. 16, 2010