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Geoghegan: Bryant is the engine that powers Coatesville

CHAMBERSBURG – He’s not the superstar. That would be his step brother and backcourt mate, Jhamir Brickus.

And he’s nowhere near 6-feet tall. More like 5-8. But Dapree Bryant is a big-time reason the Coatesville boys’ basketball team is 28-2 overall and advancing to the PIAA 6A Quarterfinals.

“Dapree gets lost a lot in (Jhamir’s) shadow,” said Raiders’ head coach Fred Thompson. “But he’s the engine that gets us going.

“You see how hard he plays all the time. He doesn’t get a lot of the credit, but he is the engine for this team.”

Coatesville cruised past Butler, 77-72, on Wednesday, and Bryant came tantalizingly close to his first career triple-double. The junior point guard finished with 17 points, nine assists, nine rebounds and three steals.

“I’m not surprised because he’s probably our second best rebounder,” Thompson said matter of factly.

“From football to basketball, his athleticism is very high,” added Brickus, who poured in 31 points. “Dapree can do it all. He can score at any point and he always has great energy.”

Already regarded as a top-10 football recruit for 2020, Bryant is now becoming recognized as one of the best two-way standouts in the state. A first team All-State pick, he’s almost assuredly going to be a Division I wide receiver. But during the Red Raiders’ run to the Ches-Mont league title, a runner-up finish in District 1 and an Elite Eight basketball appearance this winter, Bryant is showing the world that he may be good enough to get a Division I scholarship in hoops as well.

“He looks natural out there playing basketball to me,” said Thompson, who coached at Millersville for 18 seasons.

The point is that big-time college recruits in both football and basketball are quite rare. But Bryant is truly unique. He packs 181 pounds of muscle onto a compact frame, and is unparalleled as a pure athlete. Quickness, straight ahead speed, lateral movement, jumping ability? He’s got it all.    

“I wouldn’t say I’m good in all sports because I haven’t played them all,” Bryant said, with a grin.

And Bryant is fearless, whether it’s going over the middle on a crossing route, or driving to the hoop against defenders that tower over him. All over social media, he touts #heartoverheight. One of his Facebook posts simply said: ‘Ima prove everyone wrong … watch me.’

“A lot of people say I’m too small, so I use that for motivation,” Bryant explained.

But he’s actually not small — he’s just not tall. He’s a three-star football recruit, and has received at least six Division I offers already, but they are from mid-majors like Toledo. Air Force, William & Mary and Forham. If he has another season like the last (53 catches, 1,022 yards, 15 TDs), it’s a safe bet that the big boys will then come calling.

“I said to him the other day, ‘what if a school from the SEC come calling to play football and basketball?’ Thompson said. “‘What would you do?’ He looked at me and said: ‘I don’t know.’”

On Wednesday, Bryant’s initial defensive assignment: Butler standout Ethan Morton. Thompson has so much confidence in his defensive ability, he put his shortest starter on a 6-foot-6 shooting guard — a Division I prospect – who has 10 inches on him.

And he is an iron man, who regularly plays all 32 minutes, like he did against Butler.

When asked what makes him so good, Thompson said: “He’s fast as (bleep), I know that. He can get from one end of the court to the other in about two seconds. He’s brought that to us all season.”

When asked how he compares to his step brother as an athlete, there was a consensus.

“Well, Jhamir is a one sport athlete and I’m a three-sport athlete because I also am a sprinter in track,” Bryant said.

“He is an all-around better athlete than me,” Brickus agreed. “He’s got it all.

“His athleticism and the way he goes up and gets rebounds and finishes, he surprises me all the time.”

Opposing coaches, from Lower Merion hoop mentor Gregg Downer to Avon Grove football’s Harry O’Neill have raved about Bryant’s athleticism since last fall. And even though he could probably pursue basketball, Bryant is pretty clear about his future.

“I’m really a football player playing basketball,” he said.

“Football is his sport and you have to respect that,” Thompson added. “You don’t want to push him in another direction, you just want to make sure he’s doing what he loves.”

 

 

 

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