Positioning Delaware State University Basketball: An Open Letter to President Tony Allen

April 4, 2021

Dr. Tony Allen, President

Delaware State University

Dear Dr. Allen:

Just a few thoughts on Delaware State University and where it fits in today’s version of Division 1 college basketball. These are truly some challenging times. I have paid close attention to college basketball and college basketball coaching hires for more than 30 years. My focus has been primarily on the mid-Atlantic region. I am convinced that Delaware State can make good decisions and compete for MEAC championships in a relatively short period of time.

Dr. Tony Allen

The Shifting College Basketball Landscape
The mid-Atlantic region’s rich college basketball tradition has experienced a massive and consequential paradigm shift. Things are very different than they were just a few years ago.

A mere cursory glance reveals that college basketball recruiting has been radically transformed. President Allen you face a serious challenge. You have to identify a coach whose values align with those you are instilling within your administration and all across campus. You also need a coach with skill sets and deep relationships that will translate to a significantly upgraded roster in a relatively short period of time. You want a winner. You want to bring pride and passion back to the storied Hornet Hoops program.

I got you…

I know a guy…

You find yourself asking: Exactly where does the Delaware State Basketball program fit in this vexing and fast changing NCAA Division 1 context? And, who would be the best leader of the program going forward?

The recent history has been rather bleak. The last 2 Delaware State Coaches have combined record of 58-163.

Let’s win some games… Let’s win some championships…

Rider Assistant Geoff Arnold is, by far, the most qualified and battle tested candidate to improve that record and lead the Delaware State program into battle against the BIG BOYS and highly competitive MEAC foes.

Rider Assistant Coach, Geoffrey Arnold

Where DSU Basketball Stands: Encircled by the BIG BOYS
The present discussion will center around Delaware State Basketball, but the logic is applicable to Division 1 college basketball in general. Let’s focus on the strategy of encirclement deployed by Big 10 Commissioner Jim Delany and it’s deleterious impact on the recruiting of mid-Atlantic mid-major basketball programs such as Temple, Saint Joseph’s, La Salle, Drexel and the regions only Division 1 HBCU, Delaware State.

The Big 10 is in the midst of a well-funded and sustained basketball invasion of the mid-Atlantic region. They have effectively encircled Delaware State and the region’s other mid-majors: Rutgers to the north, Penn State to the West and Maryland to the South.

Former Big 10 Commissioner, Jim Delany

Big 10 programs are attracting top HS recruits that would otherwise serve as reinforcements for Delaware State and other mid-majors. At first glance, one might view that as problematic. However, in the current context, it represents tremendous opportunity. Those same top prospects and recruits are now widely available in the transfer portal… Just gotta get ’em… Every program in America is monitoring and recruiting the transfer portal.

Things are very different now. Delaware State, with the right coach in place, can compete with every mid major program in the mid-Atlantic region for the top prospects.

We are feeling the effects of decisions made a while ago. So… how did we get here?

In what can aptly be described as as stroke of genius, Delany added Penn State to the Big 10 in 1990, twenty-four years later he added Maryland and Rutgers. With the latter two additions, encirclement was firmly in place. Delany has publicly stated how significant the mid-Atlantic presence is to the Big 10’s long-term plans. “I don’t think people should evaluate this in the short term. But in a 25-year or 50-year period, I think they’re going to be very competitive. They are added value. And if the Big Ten had stayed at 10 and not taken on any of the risk associated with expansion, we probably would be tied for the fourth-largest conference.

Delany further added, “Rutgers is a fabulous institution, as is Maryland. And the corridor they occupy with Penn State might be the most important in the Western world — great students, political institutions, financial institutions. So we’re not only recruiting students to play basketball but students overall.”
“If you don’t venture out,” Delany said, “you never gain anything. I don’t want to go back and read all the articles about (criticism for) the Big Ten Network or instant replay or expansion. You have to do what you think is right. And if you make mistakes, you course correct or you double down.”

The Big 10 doubled-down and it is now reaping the rewards.

DJ Newbill, John Johnson, Shep Garner, Lamar Stevens, Tony Carr, Nazeer Bostic, John Harrar, Mike Watkins, Izaiah Brockington, Kyle McCloskey and Seth Lundy were Philly area Penn State Nittany Lions that may have found their way to Delaware State or other local mid majors under the old paradigm.

Five of Maryland’s top 6 players played with grassroots clubs based in the Philadelphia region.

Fifteen years ago, coaching staffs spent countless hours in HS gyms evaluating and building meaningful relationships with prospects and their families. Trusting the bond they had formed with these coaches during this process, prospects were far more inclined to commit to HBCUs and other mid major programs. Those days are gone. The shift is real… Coaches haven’t been allowed to evaluate prospects in-person for over a year. Nonetheless, recruiting is more intense than it has ever been.

Zoom-based recruiting is paramount. It is the new normal.

Positioning Delaware State Basketball
Many mid-major athletic programs remain entrenched in the outdated paradigm. They have yet to fully comprehend the extent of the paradigm shift. Plainly stated, they are not up on transfer portal recruiting. They do not have deep and trusting relationships required to successfully integrate transfer portal recruiting into the overall roster management strategy.

Zoom video conferencing is a key aspect of college basketball recruiting going forward. During the pandemic, Arnold formed a Zoom-based professional development group called “12inches Over”. A weekly gathering that brings in guests who share their professional evolution stories with NBA, college and high school coaches. Through storytelling, Arnold has developed a distinct brand of professional development for basketball coaches and enthusiasts. Dawn Staley (South Carolina), Rod Baker (Philadelphia 76ers), Bruiser Flint (Kentucky), Kevin Broadus (Morgan State), Karl Hobbs (Rutgers) and Drew Gladstone (Northern Illinois) are among the 60-80 coaches that tune in weekly.

Arnold and Delaware State are uniquely positioned to take advantage of and leverage massive changes in the college basketball recruiting industry.

These days, you can dramatically reshape your Men’s basketball program in a relatively short period of time.

The recruiting process has been highly compressed. Zoom-based transfer portal recruiting is as important as traditional high school recruiting. For many college programs it has become the primary recruiting vehicle. College basketball recruiting, to a large extent, consists of a zoom or two and a few days of texting/calling. Scholarship offers and commitments are taking place between transfers in the NCAA portal and college coaches at a breakneck pace. You need an experienced and discerning coach to navigate this new highly fluid transfer portal era.

This is the new reality in college basketball.

The challenge you face is to identify a coach that can be aggressive in the market for elite players while maintaining a commitment to the core values of your administration. You need a coach that gonna get it done and represent Delaware State University in a dignified manner at all times.

President Allen… Geoff Arnold is that guy. He will identify talented high school student-athletes and deftly integrate the transfer portal into his roster management strategy.

Hire Geoffrey Arnold… Black Cager Sports enthusiastically and unequivocally endorses Geoff Arnold for the Head Men’s Basketball Coaching position at Delaware State. Arnold ranks among the top 3% of college basketball coaches I have encountered.

As the Founder of the Arline Institute, Black Cager Sports Media and the Philadelphia Black Basketball Hall of Fame, I have developed working relationships with some of the top basketball coaches in America. On a regular basis, I deal extensively with coaching staffs at the following colleges and universities:
Temple
St. Joseph’s
Maryland
Penn State
South Carolina
North Texas
Morgan State
Howard
Maryland, Eastern Shore
Washington
Marquette
Rutgers
Seton Hall
La Salle
Drexel
Delaware
Northern Illinois
Georgia
East Carolina
Syracuse
St. John’s
Fairleigh Dickinson
Yale
Pennsylvania
Mt. St Mary’s

Coach Arnold ranks among the very best in all areas areas when compared to his peers at these institutions. He is an outstanding recruiter, blessed with an extraordinary ability to relate equally well to players, parents and grandparents. He has a solid grasp of all NCAA rules and regulations and scrupulously adheres to the letter and spirit of regulatory guidance.

He teaches the game with a passion that is rare and his players reap the benefits. He has coached several players currently in the National Basketball Association, Langston Galloway (Phoenix Suns), DeAndre Bembry (Toronto Raptors) and Charlie Brown (Minnesota Timberwolves) were recruited and trained by Arnold during his stint with St. Joseph’s.

Nov 29, 2016; Queens, NY, USA; Delaware State Hornets guard Devin Morgan (22) reacts after scoring a three point basket during the second half against the St. John’s Red Storm at Carnesecca Arena. Delaware State Hornets won 79-72. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Leveraging Existing Relationships

College Basketball Recruiting in 2021, especially the increasingly important transfer portal version, is all about who you know and who trusts you. Arnold has established a vast network of deep relationships in the mid-Atlantic region. Black Cager Sports enthusiastically and unequivocally endorses Geoff Arnold for the Head Men’s Basketball Coaching position at Delaware State.

In sum, President Allen, Black Cager Sports pledges to tirelessly assist you, and should you hire him, Coach Arnold and the Delaware State Athletic and Admissions Departments in their efforts to identify, recruit and enroll talented and qualified students and student-athletes.

You will soon hear from scores of Athletic Directors and Coaches extolling the virtues of Coach Arnold… They are right…

Let’s have a Hornet Basketball Renaissance!

James Nelson-Stewart: My Final 5 Thoughts on the Scholastic Season

State Champions, Reading High School

One

READING!!! What can you say about this team that has not already been said? The Underdogs from Berks County shocked the nation by beating the 7th ranked Archbishop Wood 58-57 in the 6A finals. For most fans, observers, scouts and writers (including yours truly) thought that this game was going to be a coronation of one of the great teams of the recent Philadelphia HS basketball era in the 7th ranked undefeated Archbishop Wood Vikings, who normally started 4 players that have scored over 1,000 points and signed Division 1 basketball scholarships. But somebody forgot to tell the Red Knights of Reading and Coach Rick Perez of this coronation party. Let me say the group of players and parents of Reading High were confident and excited for the opportunity to prove the masses wrong and did they ever. For Reading High to even be in this position to play for a State Championship was an incredible journey. From having Coach Perez suspended before the beginning of this season to now having the 25th ranked team in the United States in America shows you what the power of perseverance can overcome. The community rallied behind this team from the very start and had the look of possibly having a special season. But best believe it was not going to come without challenges and their one main challenge was Wilson West Lawn HS, led by their special generational player Stevie Mitchell. Reading, who finished with a record of 27-2, played Wilson four times this year and they split those games. But Reading won the most important game of the four and represented District 3 in the State Playoffs. With the restrictions brought on by COVID, only one team would represent a District in the State Playoffs. Each game brought a “Win-or-Go Home” mentality that Reading thrived in. By defeating the only team that beat them this year to get the playoffs, Reading was confident of their ability to win the title. But to achieve that feat, they had to overcome a team that had not lost all year and played in the undisputed best league in Pennsylvania (Philadelphia Catholic League). But again, after conquering first their own school board and then Stevie Mitchell and Wilson, they had no fear of vanquishing the formidable Wood team, led by future HOF Coach John Mosco. Incredible season for this group led by Coach Rick Perez and Sr. 6-6 F Moro Osumanu (West Chester), who had 21 points and 13 rebounds in the Title Game. But here is the scary part for the rest of the state, Reading High only had 2 Seniors on their roster (Osumanu and Rene Rodriguez), the rest are underclassmen led by 6-4 Jr Wing Daniel Alcantara, 6-0 Jr G Joey Chapman (who had the game sealing steal), 6-1 Jr G Xavier Davis, 6-1 So Amier Burdine (Starting Varsity QB) and 6-1 Star So Ruben Rodriguez Jr. Reading may be around for a while!!!

Philadelphia Catholic League Champions, Archbishop Wood

Two

Can’t talk about Reading without talking about the team that they beat Archbishop Wood and the season they had. While the disappointment over the last game with linger with some, you can’t take away the run the Vikings had in this 2021 Season. Wood, led by 2 Time Back-to-Back PCL MVP & MaxPreps’s PA POY Rahsool Diggins, had a season that most programs would dream of. From being as high as #7 in the nation, to running through the PCL undefeated (14-0), to winning the PCL and District 12 Titles, this team was nearly perfect. This team had 4 1,000-point scorers and 1st Team All- Catholic in All Time Leader Diggins, Daeshon Shepherd, Jaylen Stinson and Marcus Randolph. They boasted a 2nd Team All Catholic 6-6 Sr F Muneer Newton, who could have been the most indispensable player on the team and other players like 6-4 Jr F Mike Knouse, 6-6 Sr C Rob Jackson and 6-2 Jr G Tyson Allen, who stepped up as injuries bit the Vikings late in the season. This group had a very successful 4 year run as they were the 2021 PCL Champions, 2-time PCL Regular Season Champs, 3 Time District 12 Champs and 2 Time State Finalist with a 3rd one probably stymied by COVID in 2020. Salute to those young men and Future HOF Coach John Mosco for an incredible season.

State Champions, Allentown Central Catholic

Three

District 11 has ended its streak of 36 years without a State Title with its incredible win on a last second layup by Jr PG 6-0 Tyson Thomas that lifted Allentown Central Catholic to the 4A State Championship. Led by Coach Dennis Csenstis, Allentown Central Catholic made their historic run to their state title by beating District 1’s PJP, who had a great run itself and District 12’s Archbishop Carroll, out of the PCL. This team is also primed for a run in 2022 with their best players being Guard Tyson Thomas and Jr G-F 6-6 Liam Joyce and some up-and-comers such as Fr F 6-6 David Fridia. This one is very personal as last year I was part of the Team Final Red Organization from Allentown and these 3 players are also part of that organization. Thomas, son of Team Final Red co-founder Marlon Thomas, was also named Co-MVP of his conference this year.

Destiny McPhaul, West Catholic

Four

District 12, while still the most powerful District in the State of Pennsylvania, left the Boys Basketball season with ZERO state titles but did leave the Girls Basketball Season with 3 state titles. The Boys went 0-3 in title games with losses by Constitution, Ryan and Wood. The Girls did just the opposite by going 3-0 in title games with wins by West Catholic, led by Destiny McPhaul, Cardinal O’Hara and Wood led by Ryanne Allen. With the State Tournament held in this format, teams like 6A Roman Catholic, were not able to participate. But it also shows that parity is growing throughout the state on the Boys side.

Five

Lastly, I would be remiss not to mention how much different it could have been if 4A Neumann-Goretti or 5A Undefeated Imhotep were able to participate this year. This is not to take anything away from the Champions of those 2 classes because those schools still had to play very good teams and would have had a chance to beat either team. But for these teams not to have the chance to compete is just not fair. I’m not going into why they were not able to play but they both deserved better.