Dead Men Ballin’: Class of 2016

”I think it’s sort of ironic when they began to integrate the South athletes were the ones used to pave the way, and they were used under the pious assertion that ‘we’re helping these poor kids… Now, apparently someone has said, ‘Enough,’ so they don’t need the kids anymore. They’re using the same rationale they used to get them in to begin to keep them out. I guess it’s a situation where we’re like shoes and clothes. We’re not in style anymore.”
John Thompson, Former Georgetown Coach, 1989

“Let the white man say it: There’s no question in my mind that [the NCAA] is racially motivated, subconsciously or consciously, only because this is the only sport, and these the only people that have such stringent rules put on them. No other sport and no other group of individuals have ever been under the microscope like these people.”
Sonny Vaccaro, Nike, 2002

“The NCAA is a racist organization of the highest order… On this day, it instituted a new punishment on black kids who have already been punished because they are poor. Any time the NCAA, which is 90 percent white, considers the youngsters in Division I basketball and football, it discriminates, because 89 percent of the kids are black. I wonder what message they are sending. It’s another hardship for black kids made by white folk.”
John Chaney, Former Temple Coach, 1989

“That dream could be taken away after six semesters in high school… So for someone that’s a late bloomer, someone that the light bulb doesn’t go on until later, now it’s too late. And just the disproportionate number of minorities that’s going to affect, the number of people in general that’s going to affect, is not good.”
John Thompson, III, Georgetown Coach 2015

“This is not about reducing standards. This is about, this isn’t fair. Why are you telling a kid after his junior year of high school that you are less desirable to get a college scholarship? Or, if the light comes on late, why can’t I go to prep school?”
Paul Hewitt, Former George Mason Coach 2015

Shit ‘bout to get very real… It’s gonna be a bloodbath…

On the first day of school in September, thousands of talented and ambitious Black scholastic student-athletes across America will become ineligible for athletic scholarships to attend NCAA Division 1 colleges and universities.

On that first day of school, the moment the bell rings for homeroom on the initial day of their senior year, they will officially be done… toast…

Dead Men Ballin!!

We’ve been here before… The relationship between Blacks and the NCAA has been adversarial and contentious for more than a century. History never repeats itself exactly, so it would foolish to view the period of Black inclusion from the late 1960s to the present strictly through the prism of the past. Nevertheless, no real understanding of the shit the NCAA is currently pulling is possible without an appreciation of the long-standing struggle that followed the dismantling of rigidly racist/white-supremacist structures that prevailed from 1906 to around 1970.

In a manner very similar to South Africa, the United States developed from it’s inception a unique racist white-supremacist socio-economic structure and political apparatus. As a matter of fact, the NCAA was established on March 31, 1906, exactly ten years after American Apartheid was formally sanctioned with the landmark Plessy v. Ferguson ruling by the US Supreme Court. In the Plessy case State laws requiring racial segregation in public facilities were ruled constitutional under the doctrine of “separate but equal”. Jim Crow Apartheid reigned supreme within much of the United States and in NCAA for the better part of seven decades.


All-White Duke Men’s Basketball Team, 1967

Following the Civil Rights era, the 1970s witnessed the rapid influx of Black male student-athletes in colleges and universities across the country. By the early 1980s, Black males were a majority in football and basketball. After a decade of unfettered Black participation in America’s great collegiate sports programs like Alabama football and North Carolina basketball, the NCAA decided to pump the brakes.

They ran, and continue to run, a play that has proven very successful time after time. The basic scheme was outlined by the legendary Republican political campaign consultant, Lee Atwater, in a 1981 interview. Atwater, architect of President Reagan’s electoral landslides, explained how Republicans win the vote of racists without sounding racist themselves:

You start out in 1954 by saying, “Nigger, nigger, nigger.” By 1968 you can’t say “nigger”—that hurts you, backfires. So you say stuff like, uh, forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff, and you’re getting so abstract. Now, you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites.… “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, uh, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “Nigger, nigger.”

Within the context of a historically racist/white supremacist American culture, this was a brilliant and highly effective strategy. Evil? Yes… But highly effective… It’s still being run by politicians emphasizing things like Voter ID laws and crime… The Atwater strategy is an American as apple pie.


Poster for Boogie Man, a documentary focused on Lee Atwater’s Role in GOP politics

So much so, the NCAA took it an ran their version of the play.

By the 1980’s the NCAA couldn’t say “Nigger, nigger, nigger”… So they started talking about academic standards, initial eligibility rules, SAT requirements, core course requirements and all that stuff. All the things they talked about were totally “academic” and a byproduct of them was, Blacks get hurt worse than whites… “We want to establish eligibility standards,” is a hell of a lot more abstract than “Nigger, nigger.”

George Raveling, John Chaney, John Thompson and Nolan Richardson immediately caught on to the Atwater strategy. They used their platforms as highly respected college basketball coaches to call out the racist consequences of the initiatives. Chaney breathed fire… he referred to the NCAA as “that RACIST organization” in response to the rule changes. John Thompson actually walked off the court before a game with Boston College in 1989 in protest of what he considered racist NCAA rule changes.


Hall of Fame Temple Coach, John Chaney

Jim O’Brien the opposing coach that night said, ”He’s making a statement that a lot of other coaches feel very strongly about.. ‘He is one person who is in a position to make a little noise about this. We’re talking about one of the most highly visible coaches in the country: the Olympic coach, coaching a team that’s in the top five, one of the best programs in the country. So when he does a lot of people sit up and take notice.”

Thompson and Chaney had the unwavering support of their bosses. ”John Thompson is hired as an educator, first and foremost,” said Frank Rienzo, Georgetown’s athletic director. ”One of his responsibilities is to coach, in this particular instance, the education that he is giving to the students who are entrusted to him has to do with things that are much more important than basketball, it has to do with social justice. ‘This Is a Bad Rule.’”

John Thompson

Hall of Fame Georgetown Coach, John Thompson

Fast forward a quarter century… A new organization of minority coaches last week sharply criticized NCAA eligibility standards set to take effect next year for incoming freshmen, saying they will deny too many athletes the opportunity to to go to college.
The National Association for Coaching Equity and Development, a group led by Texas Tech coach Tubby Smith, Georgetown coach John Thompson III, Texas coach Shaka Smart and former Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt, issued a statement to The Associated Press said the standards disproportionately target minority and less affluent students in “an unintended consequence beyond acceptability.” They are less straightforward and raw than their predecessors, but their aim is exactly the same: Calling attention to the racist consequences of NCAA eligibility rule changes.


Texas Men’s Basketball coach, Shaka Smart

Let me take a few minutes and explain why these coaches are voicing such serious concerns. Why are so many in the Class of 2016, Dead Men Ballin….

Let me show you how the latest manifestation of the Atwater strategy is playing out within the NCAA…

If You Enroll AFTER August 1, 2016, to be eligible to practice, compete and receive athletics scholarships in your first full-time year at a Division I school, you must graduate high school and meet ALL the following requirements:

1. Complete 16 NCAA core courses:
• Four years of English;
• Three years of math (Algebra 1 or higher);
• Two years of natural/physical science (including one year of lab science if your high school offers it);
• Two years of social science;
• One additional year of English, math or natural/physical science; and
• Four additional years of English, math, natural/physical science, social science, foreign language, comparative religion or philosophy.

These requirements have been in place for several years. High school coaches, AAU program directors and guidance counselors have a solid understanding of these requirements.

2. Complete 10 core courses, including seven in English, math or natural/physical science, before the start of your seventh semester. Once you begin your seventh semester, you may not repeat or replace any of those 10 courses for GPA improvement.

Here comes the bullshit… This is where things get very tricky… The “new rules” say “Once you begin your seventh semester” (senior year) you “may not repeat or replace” core grades from freshman through junior years.

Simply stated… First day of senior year you could be done!! Dead Man Ballin’….

The NCAA reviews tens of thousands of transcripts annually through it’s Eligibility Center.

The NCAA knows full well that many Black boys struggle in 9th grade. In cities like Philadelphia and New York the graduation rate for Black males has been as low as 28% in recent years. Most struggle with the transition to high school. They fuck up in 9th grade when they are 14 or 15 years old. However, many realize that their athletic abilities can lift them out of dire situations by the time they are 17 or 18. Many have matured late and began to take education seriously as a junior or senior in high school. Many of the finest football and basketball student-athletes in the country have had to replace or repeat courses they failed or received Ds in as seniors or in Prep School. The NCAA is eliminating this opportunity.

Nigger, nigger, nigger…

3. Earn at least a 2.3 GPA in your core courses.

Last year, the average graduation rate for black players on the 68 men’s teams in the Division 1 tournament was a record 65 percent. To understand what a leap that is, that percentage represents a sharp rise up from 51 percent in 2008 and 35 percent in 2003. Black males are doing better than ever. Indeed, they are doing better than US college students overall. The 2012 graduation rate for all first-time, full-time undergraduate students who began their pursuit of a bachelor’s degree at a 4-year degree-granting institution in fall 2006 was 59 percent. All of these Black male student-athletes that are graduating entered NCAA institutions with a 2.0 minimum requirement in place. Why raise the minimum to 2.3?

Nigger, nigger, nigger…

4. Earn an SAT combined score or ACT sum score that matches your core-course GPA on the Division I sliding scale for students enrolling on or after August 1, 2016.

If student-athlete has a 2.3 GPA he will have to score 900 on the combined Math/Verbal portions of the SAT to meet NCAA eligibility requirements. What are the chances that threshold can be met? As you can see, 39 of 58 (67.2%) Philadelphia public schools have average M/V SAT Scores below 800. Ten Schools (17.2%) have scores between 800 and 899. So… 85% of Philadelphia’s public high schools have average M/V SAT scores below 900. But… an athlete with a 2.3 GPA (C average) is gonna break 900?

Philly Public School SAT Scores

The Charter Schools are not doing much better… As you can see, Philadelphia’s charter schools are struggling to produce adequate SAT scores. Only 1 charter school has an average score that meet NCAA minimum of 900 for a student with a 2.3 GPA. Some charter schools with nationally recognized athletic programs have scores well-below the NCAA minimum score.

Philly Charter Schools SAT scores

Nigger, nigger, nigger…

Programs like Drexel, Villanova and LaSalle have graduated every 4 year player that has come through the program. Why tinker with success?

The Atwater strategy is in full effect… He told us the play they like to run… Will the class of 2016 make the necessary adjustments?

Or, are they Dead Men Ballin?

Great Philly Summer Hoops: Team Final vs Philly Pride

The Black Cager went to a very good Philly summer hoops game today. It brought back fond memories and raised some serious concerns… If this was 1995, the game would have been held at McGonigle Hall under the auspices of the Sonny Hill Community Involvement League. Most spectators would have traveled to Temple’s campus via the Broad St. subway. The fans would have strolled by the legendary Overbrook HS player and Frankford HS coach Vince Miller. Coach Miller would have been choppin’ it up with Claude Gross and Tee Shields. He would have delicious fried chicken sandwiches and some of the best cakes available to those in need of nourishment. The fans would have entered McGonigle and walked directly to the stands. At no point would they have encountered anyone selling tickets. Summer basketball in Philly was always free. Times have changed…

Sonny Hill HOF

Sonny Hill, Induction to Basketball Hall of Fame

But it’s not 1995. It’s 2015 and things are different… Much different… But, I don’t know if things are better…

Like I said, I went to a very good Philly summer hoops game today. However, the game was held at the Chichester Recreation Center in Aston, Delaware County. The game was sponsored by Big Shots, a national exposure events organizer. Last year, 2,650 teams and 30,975 players participated in Big Shots events. There was no community involvement component. No Sonny, no Vince, no Claude, no Tee… There was no fried chicken, no cakes… They had hot dogs…

Corporate interests and big money have changed summer hoops across the country. Philly is no exception. Whereas their fathers, uncles and grandfathers played for South Philly, North Philly or Germantown, today’s players play for Nike, Under Armour and Adidas. The Sonny Hill League was a Philadelphia institution. The organizers and coaches saved lives and made men out of boys. Even those that couldn’t play all that well. Big Shots is a corporation, it makes money showcasing the very best players.


The elite kids have gained better uniforms, bags and shoes. The rest of the kids no longer play against the best kids in the summer. The Philly hoops heads don’t get to see the best players going head-to-head on a regular basis. We no longer get to engage Claude, Tee, Fred Douglas and Mr. Hill everyday. We have lost a lot…

The game though…. it was damn good!

box score-page-0

Philly hoops, even in the summer is something to behold. Playing on different shoe company circuits, Team Final (Nike) and Philly Pride (Under Armour) rarely meet. But today they clashed for the Championship of a Big Shots Tournament in Chichester. Led by Co-MVPs DeAndre Hunter (Temple, Miami, Oklahoma St., North Carolina St., Penn St., Arkansas offers) and Charles Brown, Jr. (St. Joseph’s commit) Philly Pride defeated a very strong Team Final 17u squad 87-72.

Phill Pride Big Shots

2015 Big Shots Champion, Philly Pride 17u

Philly Pride led the game beginning to end as Charles Brown, Jr. scored 11 of the team’s first 14 points. Brown would finish the game with 24 points, missing just one field goal and one free throw. Brown shot 5 for 5 from 3 point range and 9 for 10 from the field overall. With a very quick release and seemingly endless range, Brown is in the midst of a magnificent summer. Over the past couple of months, he has gone from a Division 2 recruit to over 15 Division 1 scholarship offers. Watching him finish in transition and shoot with incredible accuracy from deep it’s easy to understand why he has emerged as one of the hottest recruits in the region. St. Joseph’s has landed the best shooter in the area.

Philly Pride was without standout point guard Stevie Jordan (Richmond, Towson, Rider and Quinnipiac offers). As a result, 6’7” DeAndre Hunter spent much of the game initiating the offense. Exhibiting very solid ball handling and play making skills, Hunter and Jaekwon Carlyle made very good decisions in transition and got Philly Pride into their sets in the half court. Hunter is a multifaceted wing with a high basketball IQ. His potential is unlimited and as a result he is being pursued by several HIGH major programs.

Philly Pride boys

Charles Brown, Jr., Sean Colson, Jaekwon Carlyle and DeAndre Hunter

Team Final was led by Nazeer Bostick (Penn State commit) and Tony Carr (Temple, Miami, DePaul, Xavier, Indiana, Georgetown, Florida St., Iowa, Pittsburgh, Virginia Tech, VCU, Providence, Stanford, SMU, Illinois, Arizona St., Wichita St., St. John’s, Maryland, Rhode Island, Penn State, LaSalle and Cincinnati offers). Carr scored 18 points and Bostick dropped 17 while putting in his normal yeoman job on the boards.

Bostick father and son

Team Final’s Nazeer Bostick (PSU commit) and his father Shareef

Josh Sharkey had three steals at the end of the first half to cut the lead to single digits. He would finish with 12 points. Tremendously athletic sophomore Lonnie Walker (Villanova, Indiana and Holy Cross offers) struggled from the field but managed to score 10 points. Lamar Stevens (Temple, Maryland, Xavier, Georgia Tech, Iowa, Florida St., Pittsburgh, Virginia Tech, Marquette, Rhode Island, Villanova, Penn St., St., Joseph’s, Indiana and LaSalle offers) struggled from the field while playing very tough defense.

A few hundred spectators made out to see this exciting game featuring many of the very best scholastic players in the Greater Philadelphia region. These AAU programs have each produced scores of high major college players. More importantly, Rob Brown (Team Final) and Kamal Yard (Philly Pride) have produced some fine young men.

But damn… This game should’ve been on Broad St.

Let’s make it happen…