William Penn’s Kelvin Parker is rare breed at the high school level. Or any other level for that matter.
Enough size to play down low (he’s 6-foot-4). Enough range to play the wing or shooting guard. Enough handle to create offense off the dribble.
“He can play every position for us,” Bearcats coach Troy Sowers said. “Sometimes we’ll isolate him up top, and then other times we’ll post him up. With his defense, he gets some stuff in transition as well.”
In his junior season, Parker has stepped into a leadership role for William Penn (4-1), helping to replace the intangibles and scoring production of graduated big men Malik Generett and Malachi Leonard. Those two helped led the Bearcats to a 32-2 season last year and a run to the PIAA Class AAAA title game.
Parker was a secondary option on that team, but he’s taken on a much greater role this year. Parker is ow averaging 19 ppg and is second on the team with 6.8 rebounds per game. He also leads the team in steals (19).
“I thought I was going to have to do more to help the team out,” Parker said after his 27-point performance against Kennard-Dale on Tuesday. “Now I’m just trying to do all I can to get us back to where we were last year.”
Not that he’s the only scoring threat for William Penn (three others average in double figures for the Bearcats). But Tuesday night, Parker showed just how versatile a scoring threat he can be. Hit 3-pointers (three, to be exact), deposited put-backs, scored in transition, and even tipped in a circus alley-oop in the second quarter.
Parker has worked hard to improve his jumper, Sowers said. Prior to Tuesday, Parker was only 4-of-15 on 3-point shots. He was 3-of-6 against the Rams.
“He’s really been working on his shooting form, and I thought his form was great tonight,” Sowers said. “He finished up high on every release and hit three 3′s. So I think all those shots in practice this week really paid off.”
So has the fact he’s fully recovered from a shoulder injury that cut short Parker’s football season. He said Tuesday night he was “100 percent.”
William Penn wore down the Rams Tuesday, outscoring them 39-1 in the final 11 minutes, 47 seconds of the game.
Kennard-Dale wasn’t the first team the Bearcats have done that to. Sowers’ deep bench — combined with a emphasis in practice on conditioning — ensures William Penn stays fresh late into games.
The Bearcats continued their breakneck pace into the fourth quarter, outscoring the Rams 26-7 in that frame.
“I run these guys to death,” Sowers said. “They think they’re in track.”
The primary concern for William Penn coming into the season was replacing its two big men, Generett and Leonard, who together were the teams two leading scorers and rebounders last year.
Sowers said he’s pleased with the progress of his big men so far. Malcolm Murray had 11 rebounds in a Tuesday’s win against Kennard-Dale, and is averaging 6.8 rebounds per game this year. Fellow starter Tyvon Efferson is averaging 6.2.
Murray also had five blocks Tuesday night.
“I look back at the Reading game. They had more experienced bigs, and we’ve been saying we want to improve from that game on,” Sowers said. “We weren’t as good as Reading was inside, game two of the season. But I think we can get there by the end.”