Pitts ‘excited about the possibilities’ in basketball for QEA

Pitts ‘excited about the possibilities’ in basketball for QEA
November 05
00:00 2015




Isaac Pitts isn’t making any guarantees about Quality Education Academy winning a national championship. Yet, there’s an undeniable tone of eager anticipation in the coach’s voice as he discusses the upcoming basketball season.

The Pharaohs open shop against Moravian Prep on their home court on Friday night (Nov. 6, 7 o’clock tip-off).

“We’ve worked hard (in the pre-season) and I’m very pleased with what I see,” said Pitts, who begins his eighth season at QEA. “All the pieces are in place, and I’m excited about the possibilities. It’s not a stretch to say that for this group, the sky is the limit.”

Pitts bases his assessment on a comparison with his teams that won three straight National Christian Schools Athletic Association championships in 2009, 2010 and 2011. “They can be just as good,” he said. “We have 10 players on this year’s team who are viewed as high-level, major-college prospects.”

DeShawn Corprew, a four-star college recruit, is the headliner among a trio of returning seniors. Corprew, a 6-foot-5 shooting guard, dramatically increased his stock over the summer. He delivered sterling performances while playing for the Boo Williams AAU team and impressed onlookers at the NBPA Top 100 Camp, which annually attracts the best high school players in the country.

The scouting report on Corprew: Powerful wing player and versatile perimeter defender who’s difficult to guard off the dribble. Vastly-improved outside shooter has the skills to develop into a standout combo guard. Corprew (12 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals per game last season), verbally committed to Arkansas-Little Rock in early September.

Of the three returnees, Pape Ndiaye is the most intriguing – partly because he’s somewhat of an unknown commodity after missing all of last season with a torn ACL. He didn’t play on the AAU circuit this past summer. Instead, he focused solely on further enhancing his strength and conditioning for the upcoming season.

Ndiaye, a 6-foot-9 power forward who averaged 10 points, 6 rebounds and 2 blocks two seasons ago, has the ability to play with his back to the basket. And he’s a crafty enough ball handler to drive past defenders off the dribble. Not only is he an above-average outside shooter, but he’s a skilled rebounder and shot blocker.

Prior to his injury, which happened a week before last year’s season opener, Ndiaye was getting serious looks from over 20 colleges, which included Mississippi State, Oklahoma, Washington State and UNC Charlotte.

“It was hard for me to sit and watch [last season],” Ndiaye admitted. “I felt like I let my teammates down. But now, I’m doing very well. Coach [Pitts] did a great job in helping me to keep my mind right. All during rehab he kept telling me, ‘don’t give up, don’t give up.’ I’m ready to show everybody that I’m 100 percent all the way back.”

With Ndiaye sidelined for the season, Marsellis Purvis (averaged 8 points and 10 rebounds per game) emerged as the Pharaohs’ top post player. Purvis, a 6-feet-8 power forward, more than held his own in the paint against bigger opponents.

Purvis’ presence will keep teams from focusing all their efforts on stopping Ndiaye down low. Last summer, Purvis continued to sharpen his skills while playing with Team Loaded, one of the nation’s highly-regarded AAU programs.

Andre’ Toure leads a talented class of newcomers who are expected to provide immediate help in the Pharaohs’ quest to finish among the nation’s Top 25. In Pitts’ view, Toure, a 6-feet-8 sophomore small forward, compares favorably to former QEA standout Quincy Miller, who played with the Detroit Pistons last year and is now playing in Europe.

“Andre’ is one of the elites at his position,” said Pitts. “I believe he’s among the Top 10 in the country. Even now, he’s as good as Quincy [Miller] was as a 10th-grader.”

Ranathan Ono Embo, a rangy 6-feet-5 junior point guard, has the requisite skill-set to thrive as Corprew’s backcourt partner. Ono Embo gets to the basketball at will, and he’s an exceptional perimeter defender. Malik Prevard provides depth and athleticism at power forward. The 6-feet-9 senior is an above-the-rim finisher who blocks shots and plays tenacious defense.

Pitts added a pair of outside shooters to the roster, which will enhance QEA’s offensive diversity. Jaylan McGill and Keith Stagg are pure shooters who routinely torch defenses from 3-point range.

“We have some new faces, but our team DNA is still the same,” said Pitts. “We rely on defensive pressure to create more offensive opportunities. And with every [offensive] possession, we push the tempo. That’s how we put our opponents on their heels at both ends of the floor.”

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