Lynn Greer and Hakim Byrd: Philly Guards

The ‘Philly Guard’ is a thing…

Throughout the basketball world, especially at the AAU/Grassroots, scholastic, collegiate and professional levels there is a common understanding about what it means to be a ‘Philly Guard.’ Nasty, tough, persistent and willing do whatever it takes to win a basketball contest.

This ‘Philly Guard’ concept has been around for more than 6 decades. John Chaney (Ben Franklin), Tee Parham (Northeast HS), Guy Rodgers (Northeast HS), Wali Jones (Overbrook HS), Walt Hazzard (Overbrook HS), Andre McCarter (Overbrook HS) and Mo Howard (St. Joseph’s Prep) embodied the concept. Among hard core Philly hoop heads of a certain age, these are some of the names that immediately come to mind when thinking about ‘Philly Guards.’

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Maurice ‘Mo’ Howard (center) at University of Maryland practice

Across the country, Earl Monroe (Bartram), Pooh Richardson (Ben Franklin) were probably the best known ‘Philly Guards’ until Kyle Lowry (Cardinal Dougherty) embarked upon his own Hall of Fame level career.

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Kyle Lowry, Toronto Raptors

The Philly Guard tree is a gift that keeps on giving. On Friday, January 18, 2019 about 1,500 Philly Hoop Heads were treated to phenomenal performances by two of the youngest fruit to fall off the tree.

Lynn Greer, III led his Roman Catholic Cahillites into battle against the Neumann-Goretti Saints, led by Hakim Byrd. As always, this was a BIG FUCKIN’ GAME! These two powerhouse programs have dominated the Catholic League over the past two decades.

Of the two, Greer is the far better known and more highly regarded commodity. He was literally born into it… His grandfather Lynn Greer, played on Edison High’s 1969 city championship team, which featured stars Romie Thomas and Reggie Kitchen. He then went on to play for Virginia State in the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association, the oldest Black college sports conference in the nation. Greer was a four-year starter, the team captain (1971-73), an honorable mention All-State (1972), an all-conference standout (1972 and 1973), and a second-team All-State honoree (1973). He was drafted by the American Basketball Association’s (ABA) Carolina Cougars and by the NBA’s Phoenix Suns.

Greer’s father, Lynn Greer, Jr. was a flat-out superstar performer for Temple from 1997 through 2002. Greer left the Owls as the program’s second all-time leading scorer with 2,099 points.  Greer had one of the finest offensive seasons in Big 5 history as a senior. In 2001-02, he averaged 23.2 points, piling up 719 points, while earning first team all-conference, all-district and Philadelphia Big 5 Most Valuable Player honors.

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Lynn Greer, Jr., Temple and Big 5 Hall of Famer

A Philadelphia Public League product (Engineering and Science HS), like his father before him, Greer also set still-standing school records for single-season three-point accuracy (.472) and career free throw percentage (.852).  He is Temple’s all-time leader in games played (137) and was a member of four NCAA Tournament teams, including two Elite Eight trips (1999, 2001), and one NIT Final Four (2002) in his career.  Upon graduation, he played one season in the NBA and went on to a 12-year professional career overseas.

Lynn Greer III, or LG3 as he is affectionately known, was expected to be very good. It’s in his DNA. He was handed the ball immediately upon arriving at Broad and Vine. He had a rock solid freshman season. He turned in a very memorable performance against another highly regarded Philly Guard when he battled McDonald’s All-American Quade Green head-to-head at Holy Family University. But the ‘man’ among Philly Guards that season, by any reasonable measure was yet another Philly Guard, Archbishop Wood’s Collin Gillespie. The rookie Greer, however, would go on to average 11.4 ppg as a freshman while being named 3rd team All-Catholic.

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Lynn Greer, III, Roman Catholic High School

He made huge strides as a sophomore when he averaged 16.8 mpg and helped lead Roman to Catholic League and PIAA State Championships. Over that stretch, Greer’s name became nationally known. He was ranked in the top 100 by most Scouting Services and named to the USA National team. He briefly transferred to a National Prep powerhouse, Oak Hill Academy, for the start of his senior season.

Like Greer III, Binghamton University’s Samuel Sessoms, Austin Peay University’s Antwuan ‘Booty” Butler, Olympus Prep’s Yazid Powell and Archbishop Wood’s Jalen Stinson, Neuman-Goretti’s Hakim Byrd spent hundreds of hours in the hot, sweaty nondiscript crucible that is the James L. Wright Recreation Center while in the 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th grades. Greer and Byrd were backcourt mates in the Bottom Ballers grassroots program and they teamed up to terrorize middle school programs for the better part of three years.

On Friday, they were opponents, starting point guards in the premier programs in the esteemed Philadelphia Catholic League.  However, one should note that Byrd’s path to gaining control of the point guard position was much rockier than Greer’s. Whereas Greer was named the Roman point guard when the homeroom bell sounded the first day of school freshman year, Byrd had to rumble his way in over 24 months.

So, the Bottom Baller teammates traveled far different routes to their confrontation Friday night. Byrd played JV as a freshman. Coming back from injury as sophomore, he made the decision to split time between JV and varsity.

Seated next to Byrd’s father, Ronald, at one JV game, I asked why was Hakim playing when he was clearly far more skilled than 99.99999% of JV players. His Dad said that he and his son decided that they needed game reps. While he was playing in every varsity game, his minutes were sporadic and he wanted stay sharp especially after missing time with an injury.

Imagine that… No talk of transferring… No sulking… No bitching…

Hakim Byrd and his father wanted to play in games! They were NOT worried about appearances. They didn’t give FUCK what anyone had to say… They were NOT worried about points. They just wanted to stay sharp and get better. That’s the Bottom Baller way! It has paid off handsomely… This year, Byrd has taken control of the reigns for the Saints. He is the Neumann-Goretti point guard deftly running the show.

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Hakim Bryd, Neumann-Goretti point guard

The show came to CCP on Friday evening. There was a palpable buzz in the air surrounding the matchup. After all, Roman has 3 of the last 4 Catholic League Championships and 31 overall. Neumann-Goretti has 20 titles.

But, what many wanted to see was the game within the game. I, for one, eagerly looked forward to the point guard matchup between the two Bottom Baller alums. They did not disappoint. Greer played one of his finest games. His handle was flawless. His jumpshot was locked in. His decision-making was crisp. He put the Cahillites on his back early as they jumped out to a 22-14 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Then Hakim Byrd turned it on, He exploded for 14 points in the second quarter as Neumann-Goretti came back to take a 38-37 halftime lead. Boy… was it fun to watch. Byrd showed everybody why he needs to be considered for the the title as the best point guard in the Philly. He is lightning quick and it’s damn near impossible to stay in front of him. He can consistently get to the rim despite his lack of height. While he doesn’t have an imposing frame, he compensates with BIG FUCKIN’ BALLS, great heart and athleticism. Byrd plays bigger than he is. One of the best passers in the Philly. He is also an outstanding scorer when its needed. He is capable of starting and finishing the break and taking his man one-on-one. Byrd has improved his jump shot dramatically since his freshman season. He forces defenders to respect his three point shot, a key to his development. He is becoming a very consistent catch and shoot guy. But he makes a killing off the dribble. This kid is extremely efficient in general offensively.

Byrd is, unquestionably, a Division 1 point guard prospect.

So we have two real Philly guards. One with a long family legacy and big reputation. The other a scrappy, feisty, fast, determined, very talented and virtually unknown finally taking control of the ball this year.

It’s only right that they both finished with exactly 27 points. Their high level of play made the game extraordinarily enjoyable to watch. It was a very ‘clean’ game. Very few silly mistakes and blown assignments. The guard play was first rate.

If anyone is unclear what it means to be a ‘Philly guard’, send them a link to this game.

These two, trained in those fierce Bottom Baller practices, are carrying the long proud tradition forward.

Lynn Greer is a national prospect. He’s long been considered one of the best point guards in the nation and deservedly so. You knew that…

Hakim Byrd is right on his ass… Now you know that…

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Roman Catholic vs Camden High: Preview

Why Roman Catholic SHOULD win their matchup with Camden High School tonight…

Let’s look at the matchups…

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Lance Ware, Camden’s Junior Power Forward

Lance Ware vs Seth Lundy – Ware is a highly skilled 6’9” PF. He is a very capable rebounder, ball-handler, shot blocker and shooter. Lundy is a 6’6” SF/PF that plays with a great deal of intensity. Lundy is a tenacious rebounder with range that extends well beyond the the high school 3 point line. EVEN

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Seth Lundy, Roman Catholic SF/PF

Taquan Woodley vs Jalen Duren – This is a matchup between the two most talented underclassmen in the region. Both rely heavily upon intimidation and athleticism. Both are excellent rebounders and shot blockers. Duren at 6’9” is a tad longer than Woodley who comes in at 6’7.” Right now, it appears that Woodley may be one of the strongest players in the region regardless of class. The X factor here could be composure. Woodley has demonstrated a tendency to allow his emotions to get the best of him. He has to remain even keeled for Camden to have a real chance. They need Woodley’s presence on the block. EVEN

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Taquan Woodley, Camden High School

Jerome Brewer vs Hakim Hart – Brewer has emerged as one of finest underclassmen in the region. He is a very long sophomore, standing 6’7.” He has a nice jump shot that extends beyond the 3 point line and he is a very capable rebounder. Hart is one of the best player in the area. Along with Isaiah Wong, he is a leading contender for the Catholic League MVP honor. He plays a very nuanced and subtle game. He rebounds, he passes, defends in the post and he SHOOTS. His shot is extremely soft and his range extends beyond the NBA 3 point line. Hart is one of the most cerebral players you will see… He very rarely makes poor decisions. ADVANTAGE HART.

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St. Joseph’s commit Hakim Hart, Roman Catholic

Ethan Tarte, Orlando Hildago and Nasir Lett vs Louis Wild, Lynn Greer and Justice Williams – The Camden backcourt is solid. Tarte is a big-bodied combo guard. He is effective attacking the defense off the bounce and capable of finishing through contact. Hildago is a good ball-handler and a fierce competitor. Let just doesn’t make mistakes. He is like an extension of Coach Vic Carstarphen on the floor. He consistently works to get his teammates involved and makes winning plays. The Roman Catholic backcourt features 2 high major prospects and a warrior. Louis Wild is a jack of all trades for Roman Catholic. He’s a very good shooter, strong rebounder and tough defender 1 through 4. Williams is a supremely gifted freshman combo guard and one of the top 100 players in the nation in his class. Greer is very well-rounded high major point guard prospect and also one of the top 100 players in his class. ADVANTAGE ROMAN.

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Ethan Tarte, Camden’s Senior Combo Guard

In what is sure to be an exciting action-packed contest, Roman Catholic’s advantage in the backcourt should give them a slight edge over a tough but young Camden squad.

 

Eric Dixon on Archbishop Carroll Basketball

01/13/2018

By Eric Dixon

Archbishop Carroll is long. Both literally and figuratively. The 13-man roster has just one player standing under 6’0. They have 6 players measuring in at 6’4” of better. The Patriots are also long on tradition. Coach Francis Bowe, in his first season at the Radnor, PA high school, is leading the program out of the lengthy shadow of his predecessor, Paul Romanczuk.

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Francis Bowe, Archbishop Carroll Head Coach

Coach Romanczuk helmed the program the past 16 seasons after being an assistant for four years. His passionate, detail-oriented leadership spurred the program to 10 consecutive 20 win seasons and 9 berths in the Philadelphia Catholic League final four at the iconic Palestra. In short, Coach Bowe, an 8th grade math teacher, has some long shoes to fill.

“I’ve been talking to Paul and he’s been an open book”, says Coach Bowe, after a recent road win at Cheltenham HS. He went on to describe how Romanczuk has been invaluable in helping him learn the ins and outs of managing the team. He is also grateful for inheriting a “great nucleus of kids.” Coach Bowe adds, “the cupboard wasn’t bare.”

The main contributors so far this season are senior Luke House, junior Tairi Ketner and newcomer, sophomore John Camden. The team also has burgeoning talents sophomore Anquan Hill, a wiry strong interior player, sharpshooting junior Amiri Stewart and guards senior Kiyl Mack and junior Ny’Mire Little.

House’s perimeter abilities were well known to Coach Bowe from day 1, but he was pleasantly surprised by the senior’s leadership skills and has dubbed him his “coach on the floor”. He has also invested time in improving his body. His rebounding and overall strength have improved as one of the more underrated wings in the PCL looks to draw more attention to his game.

House, 6-4, has certainly helped with rebounding (he collected an impressive 13 against Cheltenham) but he isn’t the only Patriot roughing opponents up inside. Junior Tairi Ketner, 6-7, son of the late Lari Ketner, a Philadelphia native and former UMass standout, brings quite a bit of physicality to the team.

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Tairi Ketner defends against Cheltenham star Zahree Harrison

“My job is to bring toughness and get us extra possessions,” says the burly Ketner. He made several nice power post moves against the Panthers. He was also able to wall up and make life difficult for Cheltenham in the paint on the defensive end. Ketner said he is currently being recruited by several D2 programs, most notably Georgian Court University (NJ) and Caldwell University (NJ), who offered Ketner a scholarship following the Cheltenham win.

Anquan Hill, 6-8, is another Patriot that has contributed a strong interior presence. Surprisingly strong given his slight frame, Hill showed a penchant for blocking or altering shots and garnering some tough rebounds.

“I love defense,” says Coach Bowe, who noted that that is what he hung his hat on when he led Valley Forge Military Academy to the best 5 year stretch in the school’s history. His love of defense is being imparted to his Carroll players. That was evident during a 5 minute stretch that spanned the 1st and 2nd qtrs of the game that saw 10 straight Panther possessions end in miss shots or turnovers. The first quarter ended with Carroll having surrendered a mere 3 points to their hosts.

Adding to the talent and length of the team is Westtown transfer, 6-7 John Camden. He is an athletic, talented shooter who is adept at making shots off the catch and bounce. His arsenal also includes an impressive mid range fade.  Camden is currently a 3-star prospect according to 247Sports who holds offers from Miami (Fl), Penn State, Xavier, Temple and Syracuse, amongst others.

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John Camden recently transferred from Westtown to Archbishop Carroll

Camden, who only recently transferred to Carroll last month, has been impressed with the “big school feel” on the Montgomery county campus. That was one of the non-basketball influences on his decision to change schools. As far as basketball, the allure of playing in the vaunted PCL was the biggest reason he’s rapidly become a Patriot.. “It was a quick turn around, like two days,” says the easy-going wing forward.

Coach Bowe’s squad is 6-5 and has used the lessons learned during a challenging non-conference schedule, that included a close loss to Wildwood Catholic and a game versus Boys Latin of Baltimore (MD), to run to a 4-1 record in the PCL.

“We want to look at the record and judge it based on the level of the competition,” according to Coach Bowe. “Who did we play?” Well, they will be playing some tough teams over the next few weeks and we will see how far their length can carry them.

 

Lincoln University BBall Players Victimized!

Over the past 25 years, I’ve had the same conversation with young Black men and women from urban areas like Philadelphia, PA, Camden, NJ, Baltimore, MD, Paterson, NJ Newark, NJ Wilmington, DE, Bronx, NY and Washington, DC. It goes like this… “Do something wrong, they are gonna plaster your picture all over the front page of the newspaper and you’ll be the lead story on the local news.”

Ask Na’im Crenshaw, Jamal Nichols, Malik Hines, Trayvon Reed, Jeremiah King, Delonte West and at least 50 others? I’m sure they got tired of hearing the same shit… The mainstream media will CRUSH you and your reputation!

But it must be repeatedly emphasized and reinforced. It takes just a few seconds to destroy a good name and reputation you spent a lifetime building.

The widely reported situation faced by a group of Lincoln University basketball student-athletes serves as a clear example of this dynamic.

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The local media has plastered pictures of these young men across millions of television screens.

“Arrested”, “Charged”, “Theft”, “Assault”…

These are the words attached to the images. UGLY… Real UGLY shit… Their mothers, grandmothers, girlfriends, teachers, Principals, counselors, etc. all see these images and can’t help but wonder… “What did they do?”

But… then one realizes these same student-athletes played, very well I might add, in a basketball game last night.

Lincoln University ended the Claflin University men’s basketball team three-game winning streak on Wednesday (Dec. 19), defeating the Panthers, 82-74, in a Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) contest.

Lincoln was led by Deaquan Williams with a double-double, 20 points-19 rebounds. Cameron Campbell added 17 points.

After Claflin cut a 13-point (58-45) lead to 60-54 at the 9:28 mark of the second half, Lincoln used a 10-3 run to extend the lead back to 13, 70-57, with 6:14 left in the game.

The six-point deficit would be the closest for the Panthers.

Every single player named in media reports suited up and played for Lincoln in this contest.

Moreover and more importantly, Lincoln University posted bond for the players enabling them to be released.

Wait… What?

Yes… Lincoln University bailed the kids out of the county jail, transported them back to campus, allowed them to suit up and play in an important CIAA contest.

What school does that for students that have been arrested and charged with theft and assault? What gives? There must be much more to the story than the local “mainstream” media is reporting.

Well… Here it is…

Sources close to the families of several students tell very similar stories. According to these sources, there has been a rash of dormitory burglaries on the scenic Lincoln campus.

Last week the rooms of several players on the women’s and men’s basketball team were broken into and ransacked. Items such as Playstations and wallets were stolen. The players contacted Lincoln University’s Department of Public Safety.

According to sources, Lincoln Public Safety took over three hours to respond to the reported burglaries. When they did respond, they confronted the student-athletes and interrogated them as if they were suspects and not victims. This interaction left the student-athletes wary of Public Safety’s commitment to protect them and their belongings.

The thief used a debit card stolen from one of the student-athletes to order food. The student-athlete was able to ascertain information about the transaction from his/her bank. With this information, the student-athletes were able to determine who was in possession of the debit card and very likely the perpetrator of the burglaries.

Sources report that one of the student-athletes saw the “thief” on campus. He/she contacted other victims and they decided to confront the thief to retrieve their belongings. The thief balked and became aggressive toward the student-athletes. A physical confrontation ensued.

The thief was injured during the melee. Apparently, he suffered a broken arm. Hence, assault charges.

The student-athletes retrieved their belongings from the thief’s dormitory room. Supposedly surveillance cameras captured images of the student-athletes taking their belongings from the thief’s room. Hence, theft charges.

Sources have confirmed that the thief was immediately suspended from school and barred from campus.

The student-athletes were bailed out by the University and won their 5th straight basketball game last night.

Should they have beaten the thief? Probably not… Should they be charged with theft? Absolutely not!

Black Cager Sports applauds Lincoln University for it’s handling of the matter after the Department of Public Safety FUCKED UP the initial complaint.

Hopefully, these facts will emerge and be considered when the student-athletes appear before a Chester County judge in January.

Let this be a lesson… “Do something wrong, they are gonna plaster your picture all over the front page of the newspaper and you’ll be the lead story on the local news.”

They were wrong to beat the thief… Maybe, they should have just held him until the Department of Public Safety arrived three (3) hours later… But, their behavior was not criminal.

At least I hope that’s how the judge and the District Attorney sees things.

McDevitt Defeats Archbishop Wood!

Archbishop Wood has a very good boy’s basketball team. For the past few years, they have been one of the elite programs in the vaunted Philadelphia Catholic League. Tommy Funk (Army), Tyree Pickron (Quinnipiac), Collin Gillespie (Villanova), Karrington Wallace (Central Connecticut State), Matt Cerruti (Lock Haven) and Seth Pinkney (Quinnipiac commit) have forged a legacy that is being capably carried forth by Julius Phillips (senior), Daeshon Shepard (Sophomore), Rasool Diggins (sophomore) and Jaylen Stinson (sophomore).

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Collin Gillespie, Wood Alum

Wood remains one of the most respected scholastic basketball programs in the Greater Philadelphia region.

Tonight… They were the second best team in the gym at McDevitt High School.

Named Head Boys Basketball Coach McDevitt in May 2017, Will Chavis has quickly turned the program into a contender for one of the highly coveted spots in the Catholic League Final Four at the Palestra.

Defeating Archbishop Wood before a full house tonight, let’s everyone know: McDevitt is for real…

They have a prolific scorer. Robert Smith, a 6 ft, 180 lbs junior southpaw is on a fast track to a 1,000 points in just 2 seasons. Smith is a crafty player with great vision and offensive skills. For a player just beginning his junior season his skills are advanced. He is smooth. He can shoot, handle and pass. He does an excellent job of breaking down opponents and taking what the defense gives him. He can stroke it from outside as well as get by his man and take it to the rim. He is especially effective going to his left hand.

Tonight, he earned every one of his 18 points. Wood sophomore, Jaylen Stinson was given the task of containing Mr. Smith. For those who have yet to observe Stinson play defense, let me try to adequately describe his approach.

Jaylen’s commitment to man-to-man, on ball, defense is truly spectacular. For much of the game, it appeared that Stinson and Smith were “slow dragging” in a $1.00 basement party. Still, Smith never forced anything and showed great patience throughout the hard fought contest.

Smith’s running mate, junior PG Ahmir Harris played an exceptional floor game. He was very composed and make several big shots when Wood trimmed the lead to an uncomfortable margin.

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Ahmir Harris (center) and Jamil Manigo (right)

But, the player of the game was junior PF Jamil Manigo. A decidedly undersized “big”. Manigo had to contend with Wood’s high flying super athletic front court of Shepard, Phillips and Jackson. Keep in mind… Each of the Wood forwards jumps considerably higher than Manigo. Each of the Wood forwards runs faster than Manigo. But, it wasn’t a track meet… It was a basketball game.

At first glance, one thinks Manigo he should be playing in a 35 and over league. He’s not exactly svelte. I don’t think there was ever a moment when he could have jumped over a copy of Daily News.

But tonight… He seriously out played his Wood counterparts. As noted earlier, he is undersized, but make very effective use of guile and skill to compensate. Manigo is not a great athlete, and could be even more effective if he worked on his conditioning. He has a strong lower body, and shows impressive body control in his midrange and post game. Displays command of several offensive moves in the post. He possesses a very soft touch. He is a very good rebounder on both ends of the floor.

Manigo is ready made for small college basketball… D2s and D3s should be lining up to talk to the kid. He put up 19 points and controlled the boards, while helping to limit Phillips to 7, Shepard to 9 and Jackson to 0. IMPRESSIVE!

Lastly, it should be noted that on 6 consecutive occasions, McDevitt emerged from time outs of the end of quarter stoppages and ran plays that led to relatively easy baskets… Six straight times!

That is a testament to Will Chavis’ ability to make in-game adjustments and his player’s commitment to executing.

Damn good win! Damn good coach! Damn good team!

Notice served!