Papa Kante’s High School Coach Breaks Down Pitt Commit’s Game: ‘He’s a Genetic Freak’
On Monday, Pitt basketball earned a huge commitment as four-star forward Papa Kante announced his pledge to Pitt after recently de-committing from Michigan.
Kante, a 6-foot-10 forward, will join the Panthers ahead of this upcoming season after he finished his high-school career at South Kent School (CT) earlier this spring. At South Kent, Kante received elite coaching from a staff full of well-known coaches. His head coach, Raphael Chillious, touts an impressive resume that includes collegiate coaching gigs at Washington, Villanova, UConn, East Carolina, and others. He has coached NBA players such as Isaiah Thomas, Dion Waiters, Dorell Wright, and others at South Kent, and has prepared Kante to be next in line along with that elite group of former SKS studs.
“He’s such a student of the game, a sponge,” Chillious told Pittsburgh Sports Now about Kante. “He’s an unbelievable worker. As most coaches know, bigs don’t typically live in the gym, guards do. He lives in the gym. He’s an absolute worker. And the other thing, for someone who hasn’t played basketball very long, he has a great basketball IQ, so he will pick up things fast. Because of the way we run stuff here, he’s been coached by a college coach, and he knows what to expect. Some terminology may be different, but he’s going to know a lot already and that will put him ahead.”
Kante is listed as a center on most recruiting sites, but his coach emphasized that he is a forward with numerous strengths that will help him make an impact for the Panthers. With Pitt’s current five-spot filled by returning starter Federiko Federiko, Kante will likely back up the Finnish big man and learn from the Panthers’ rim runner throughout his freshman season.
“He’s a forward,” Chillious said about Kante’s game. “He’s just a forward. He can play in the post and he can play on the perimeter. Like I say all the time, he’s a good spot-up three-point shooter. He shot 38% from the three this year as a 6-10 forward. He can shoot the three, when he shoots the right threes, he makes them. He’s going to be a guy who you don’t have to run plays for him to produce. He’s going to play so hard, he’s going to run the court, he’s going to finish, you can throw drop-offs to him, he’s going to be around the rim and rebound. And then again, he’s going to trail and make open threes.”
Kante ran with NY Renaissance last season on the Nike EYBL circuit, scoring 9.4 points per game in less than 25 minutes per contest, per The Season Ticket.
Best two-way performance we’ve viewed from 2023 Papa Kante |@papaamadoukante| of NY Rens @NYRhoops in a win vs All Ohio.
6’10 big looked strong as a perimeter shotmaker with flashes of back-to-the-back scoring to compliment disruptive defense on the other end of the court. pic.twitter.com/351u5y9APB
— Endless Motor Sports (@endless_motor) July 7, 2022
“Just his ability to never get tired,” Chillious said when asked what caught his eye first about Kante. “He’s a genetic freak. Most people can’t play as hard as they can for longer than a three-and-a-half, four-minute stretch, period. But he’s a guy, he just doesn’t get tired. That’s his separator, he just doesn’t get tired.”
In addition to Chillious, South Kent is also home to former Pitt wing John DeGroat, who was a member of the Panthers from 2004-06. DeGroat is now an assistant coach for Chillious’ Prep team and is also the Developmental Team Head Coach. At South Kent, DeGroat had a front-row seat throughout Kante’s high-school career, watching him grow into a future Panther.
“Absolutely one of the hardest working young men to be around,” DeGroat told PSN about Kante. “Plays with heart, big energy, and passion! Leaves it on the floor every possession. Has great leadership qualities for how young he is. On top of that, the kid’s personality is infectious. The Zoo Crew will absolutely love his desire to win.”
Nice get, Coach!