Upon arriving at the Archbishop Wood gym for the highly anticipated Vikings matchup with Roman Catholic, I warmly greeted Marvin Stinson and Rahsool Diggins, Sr. seated, as usual, front row center court. You know… The usual dap, half hug that brothers do… These guys are my homies… Most people know that I rock with these guys and ride hard for their sons. I haven’t written much about them because of these relationships. When I write about their boys, I want it to be on the heels of something major! I don’t want it to feel forced. I didn’t want anyone to comment that he only wrote that because they are his guys… I told Marv and Big Sool I wanted to write about their boys… I asked them to “give me a storyline.”
There are times when journalistic objectivity is important. Sports ‘journalists’ strive to avoid overt partiality. It matters… Objectivity in sports journalism allows the audience make up their own mind about a story. True journalists provide the facts alone and then let readers interpret those on their own. To maintain objectivity, sports writers should present the facts whether or not they like or agree with those facts. Objective sports reporting portrays issues and events in a neutral and unbiased manner, regardless of the writers opinion or personal beliefs.
This is NOT one of those times… That’s NOT what this piece is… FUCK that!
I can’t pretend to be objective… I’m not neutral… I damn sure ain’t unbiased!
I like Archbishop Wood’s Basketball Program… A LOT!
Full disclosure… I like Tommy Funk… I like Matt Cerruti… I like Collin Gillespie… I like Tyree Pickron… I like Seth Pinkney… I like Karrington Wallace… I like Andrew Funk… I like Daeshon Shepard… I like Muneer Newton… I like Rob Jackson… I like Marcus Randolph… I like Chris Roantree… I like John Huggins…
But, the reason I cannot even make an attempt to be objective here is because I LOVE Jaylen Stinson, Rahsool Diggins and John Mosco… These are my guys…
I was watching high school basketball games with Jaylen Stinson waaaaay back in 2009-2010. His first cousin, Carrington ‘Murc’ Ward is one of my all-time favorite Philly guards. Jaylen’s mother, Melissa Ward and Carrington’s Dad, Vince Ward are brother and sister. These are my people… I watched Carrington grow to be one of the best guards of his era. He finished his high school career, playing for James ‘Flame’ Lewis, at Philadelphia Electrical & Technology Charter High School in 2011 after spending his first two high school seasons at Communications Tech. Lewis, Ward, Devonte Chance and Hakeem Baxter led PET to 26 wins his senior year, to the District 12 AAA final and to the second round of the AAA state playoffs. They were damn good.
I went to most games. Each and every time I entered the gym, I would see a 7 or 8 year old boy intently focused on the action. Jaylen was serious… Very serious about his hoops… I would always ask ” you working on your game”? He would always respond in the affirmative. I would ALWAYS make sure to tell him, “I can’t wait to see you play Varsity High School basketball.”
His father, my homie Marvin, is a highly respected Philadelphia basketball guy. A very, very good player at Dobbins Tech and subsequently Norfolk State, he is best known these days at the founder/director of the Bottom Ballers Basketball Club and Head Coach of the Boy’s Basketball team at Audenreid HS.
The Bottom Ballers is renowned for producing Philly guards that are fearless, aggressive, unselfish and extremely competitive. Yazid Powell, Sam Sessoms, Booty Butler, Hakim Byrd and Jaylen Stinson are just a few of the prominent Philly guards that have come through this cauldron while in middle school. They work out of the James L. Wright Recreation Center at 3320 Haverford… They work out of the “Bottom.”
Pick any weekend in the summer… Make sure the temperature is at least 90 degrees and you can be sure to find Marvin and the Bottom Ballers in the Wright Center on a hardwood floor in need of refinishing, playing HARD as shit… I would always visit and see 11, 12 and 13 year old Jaylen playing against much bigger guards and leading with his chin and his chest! For the longest time, he was undersized… Jaylen was just a little guy… But his character and his heart allowed him to play up and compete… Like every guard that comes through the Bottom Ballers, Jay plays the point guard position the right way… Push the ball… Make the extra pass… Don’t turn it over… Most importantly, play some FUCKIN’ defense!
I love the Bottom Ballers… I have referred family members to the program. It was evident early on that some of the Bottom Ballers would be Division 1 basketball players. Indeed, as far as I was concerned, some were ‘can’t miss’. Before Sam Sessoms was ‘Sam Sessoms’ and while Jaylen was just finishing the 6th grade, I took them on their first unofficial visit in the Spring of 2014 to see Phil Martelli and Geoff Arnold at St. Joseph’s University.
Both of these Bottom Ballers are highly intelligent scholar-athletes. Sam went on to become ‘Sam Sessoms’ and dominate scholastic basketball in the region while attending highly regarded Shipley High School. Since then, he’s become the best player in the America East Conference at Binghamton University. Jaylen likewise enrolled at a prestigious academic high school (Haverford School) and played for Bernie Rogers before transferring to Archbishop Wood to play for John Mosco in the vaunted Philadelphia Catholic League.
Upon learning that he was transferring to Wood, I called John Mosco bursting with excitement. I knew things were about to get crazy. I knew what Jaylen could do and I watched Collin Gillespie become the consensus best point guard in Philadelphia under Mosco’s tutelage. Teaming Stinson with Rahsool Diggins, Jr. in a high school backcourt is borderline unfair. While Stinson is a potent offensive player with a tight handle and strong mid-range game, he may be the best on ball defender we’ve seen in the area since Josh Sharkey terrorized opposing point guards at Carroll. Partnering him with Rahsool Diggins made perfect sense.
Diggins is an offensive virtuoso. His vision is unparalleled… Like Gillespie before him, he sees everything. His mind is always a couple steps ahead of everyone else on the court. Like Stinson, Diggins was slight when he left middle school and entered high school. Those days are long gone… Lil’ Sool is a 6’3” inch athletic point guard with a feathery soft jump shot. He is able to get absolutely anywhere he wants to go on the court. He simply leads the defender where wants and viciously changes direction. At all times, his eyes are focused on the pieces moving around on the chess board. Some shit is just obvious…
Rahsool Diggins, Jr. is the BEST HS point guard in Philadelphia… He sits on the throne!
More than any player currently playing in Philadelphia, Lil’ Sool has his finger on the pulse of his team. When they need a play… When he feels it slipping away… When it’s absolutely go time… He delivers. In one crucial moment tonight (pictured below), Diggins went right at the imposing Jalen Duren, absorbed the contact and finished with a soft left handed kiss off the glass… Sweet and a HUGE fuckin’ bucket for the team.
Just like Stinson’s Dad… Rahsool’s Dad is MY homie… Over the past year, I have had the pleasure of calling Big ‘Sool at least 15 times to tell him a college basketball coach wanted to offer his son a scholarship. Big East, A10, ACC, Big 10, SEC… they all want to know what’s going on with Lil’ Sool… So, I tell them…
“Get with his Pop! Good dude..”
That’s the way things should take place…
The fact that these TWO Division 1 point guards are playing EXTREMELY WELL for John Mosco and Archbishop Wood should be enough for college recruiters. That fact alone should make them highly desired by A10, Big East, CAA, even ACC programs. Mosco knows how to prepare guards for the next level.
Have we forgotten that Mosco gave college basketball Tommy Funk and Collin Gillespie? With half a season remaining in his college career, Funk has 1,267 points and 626 assists. He will go down as one of the finest point guards in Army history. Gillespie has racked up 770 points and 207 assists while assuming the reigns of one of the top 4 college basketball programs in the nation.
It’s safe to say the John Mosco has a strong track record of producing college ready point guards. Mosco’s guards are super-aggressive while also playing the right way. He relies heavily on his guards to make the correct decisions. His temperament is perfect for high school basketball. He’s demanding, yet not overbearing. He gives his guys tremendous levels of responsibility, but only after fully preparing them for their assignments.
It’s a joy to watch… Wood is a Boys Basketball power… Let that sink in… They are Ballin’ in Warminster! John Mosco is getting it done. Didn’t see that coming a decade ago…
In today’s victory, Stinson and Diggins made big play after big play to defeat visiting Roman in an instant classic matchup. Wood was in control throughout most of the game, then the uber-talented Roman youngins imposed themselves on Wood in the fourth quarter to close the gap and take the lead. Specifically, Jalen Duren (34 points) made some wonderful plays in transition. On consecutive possessions, he dribbled the ball up court, drew the defenders and make perfect passes to teammate in position to finish at the basket.
It’s truly hard to wrap your mind around the fact that he is a high school sophomore. He will dunk on 99.9999999% of grown men walking the face of the earth and then need a ride home before it gets too late… Make no mistake… This youngin’s ability to attack and defend the rim is GROWN as shit! One could envision him watching SpongeBob Sqarepants and then putting on his Nikes and dunking over the top of Al Horford or Javale McGee.
I’m 55 years old, I have him as the most powerful dunker I have seen play in Philadelphia since the late great Darryl Dawkins and Sir Charles Barkley. The scary part is that he is showing a little more versatility every time he laces ’em up. Tonight he showed that he can dribble and pass under extreme duress… Yup!
Justice Williams (32 points) is also growing by leaps and bounds. He was OUTSTANDING in pressure situations. He made exceptional decisions. He finished at the rim. He took care of the ball. He made EVERY big free throw with the game on the line. High, high major prospect for sure!
Duren and Williams are among the finest high school players in America. If Roman Catholic is going to contend for another Catholic League and State title, the youngins will have to lead the way. Those guys are better than good. Much better… They are very much deserving of their National Rankings. Their time to take the reigns is now.
But tonight… Stinson, Diggins, Daeshon Shepard and Wood got that ass! Just when many thought Wood was letting it slip away in the first overtime, Stinson received the inbounds pass, bounced it once, stepped slightly to the side and let it fly from deep in the corner… SPLASH!
Shit ain’t over!
I told him in 2010, that I would be there to watch him play varsity basketball. Tonight, I stood about 20 feet away from him as the ball left his hand. Like I said, I can’t pretend to be objective. I was there when he received his first Division 1 scholarship offer. I’ll be there whenever he announces his destination. That’s my people…
Recently, Howard Hudson and I rode 6 hours each way with Big Sool and Lil’ Sool as they visited Virginia Tech. During the trip, I conceded that Lil’ Sool is finally taller than I am. I also told him I looked forward to big things from him this year. My expectations have been exceeded and we only about halfway through this thing.
I remember being astonished to learn that Collin Gillespie only had an offer from Albany while he was literally mopping the floor with some of the best guards in the state and the nation. After a little public relations campaign, his recruitment finally reached a tipping point… Rider, Drexel, Delaware, St. Joseph’s and host of others jumped in within days of each other. Eventually, Big Daddy Jay Wright from the mainline came in an shut shit down… It worked out well for everyone.
Villanova and Temple haven’t deemed Rahsool Diggins worthy of a scholarship offer yet. Both of those schools plus St. Joseph’s, La Salle and Drexel have yet to be convinced that Jaylen Stinson is scholarship worthy. I find myself astonished yet again.
Next Friday, they travel to the Southside of the city to face some other overlooked Philly guards. Neumann-Goretti’s Hak Byrd, Hysier Miller and Chris Evans have yet to garner scholarship offers commensurate with their basketball abilities.
Me… I’d bet the house that John Mosco’s guards and the Neumann-Goretti kids can play and play well for those programs. And… I suspect they would sell a few tickets to 2,000-3,000 of my closest friends as a bonus… I’m just sayin’.
Marv and Big Sool… Thanks for the storyline!
Boo Farmer… Mayo, ketchup, fried onions and hot peppers… American Cheese, NONE of that cheese wiz bullshit!
Kev Sanchez… See you Friday Bro!