Imani Christian appeared to be loaded to make a run at a second consecutive PIAA basketball title next season, but that task has become a lot harder now that not one, but both of its all-state players have transferred to out-of-state schools.
Less than a week after classmate Dame Givner confirmed to the Pittsburgh Union Progress that he is now at a prep school in New York, fellow junior Alier Maluk posted on social media Sunday that he will attend Long Island Lutheran in New York. The school finished the 2022-23 season ranked in the top five nationally by MaxPreps and ESPN.
“It’s better competition and better everything overall,” Maluk said of his transfer, which had long been rumored.
It’s a giant loss, literally, for Imani Christian and the WPIAL, as Maluk is a 6-foot-11 center who is considered one of the top juniors in the country. Rivals ranks him the No. 21 player in the nation and his offers include Pitt, Penn State and Auburn. Maluk was named first-team all-state last season after averaging 15.1 points, 8.5 rebounds and 3.1 blocks per game while helping Imani win WPIAL and PIAA Class 1A titles.
Last Tuesday, Givner relayed news of his move to Putnam Science Academy, which is located in Connecticut and has won national prep school championships four of the last six seasons. Givner is a 6-1 guard with a Division I offer from Fordham who pumped in 15.8 points a game last season on his way to second-team all-state honors.
“It was just a great opportunity to get prepared for the next level because these coaches have been there a million times over,” said Givner, who played at Obama Academy his freshman season. “They’re consistently sending kids to D1’s and high majors, so it’s just a great opportunity.”
Maluk and Givner join former North Hills star Royce Parham as talented WPIAL players to transfer out of the area this offseason. Parham, a Marquette recruit and a first-team all-state pick in Class 5A as a junior last season, is attending Western Reserve Academy in Ohio.
The Imani transfers come not long after Omar Foster, who guided the Saints to their first PIAA title last season, was not retained as the school’s coach. Foster was replaced by one of his former assistants, Khayree Wilson. Wilson is the former coach at First Love Christian.
Givner said that while the decision to leave Imani was difficult, the coaching change had little to do with his choice.
“It was a very tough decision because we were WPIAL and PIAA champions,” Givner said, “but I talked it over with my coaches and family, and it just really made sense for me to come up here to get ready for the college level and develop my skills.”
Added Maluk, “Coach Foster getting fired did not influence my decision.”