Does The PUB Even Give a FUCK?

I’m 57 years old… I’ve seen some shit… Rarely am I truly surprised.

However, over the past couple of days, I’ve been taken aback by the enormous chasm that exists between the way the Philadelphia Public League and the Philadelphia Catholic League treat their respective players, students, families and fans.

Math, Civics & Sciences Coaching Staff

Remember when your Mom would tell you to clean up your room before you go outside? Remember how you would just shove everything under your bed and declare the room spotless… At least, you tried to pretend… Well… The Public League just leaves dirty drawers in the middle of floor… Snickers wrappers on the desk… Half finished bottles of soda on top of the TV…

It’s fair to say, the PUB just doesn’t give a fuck… Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Catholic League consistently provides first class five star service during it’s playoffs.

The game experiences could not possibly be more distinct and different. If I didn’t personally know many of the administrators and coaches in the Philadelphia Public League, I would jump to the sad conclusion that they do not like the kids, students and families that play in and attend Public League games.

Lincoln Coach Jamel Lindsey instructs his players

Judging by the way they are treated, it feels like they damn near hate their constituents.

I’m befuddled because, like the Catholic League, the Public League produces a solid and marketable product once the playoffs come around, especially the Final 4. The brand of basketball played in the Pub is extremely fast, often chaotic, frequently undisciplined and always entertaining. This year, the final four consisted of a double header featuring perennial powers Math, Civics and Sciences (MCS) and Lincoln in the first game. The second game saw upstart West Philadelphia take on Nationally ranked Imhotep Charter School.

MCS and Lincoln both feature long, talented and athletic scholarship level players at every position. Both programs have been among the best in the city for several years. West Philly was the surprise of the Public League this year. Their best player, Deyishon Miller, is a raw but truly gifted 6’5” athlete capable of play all five positions at the high school level. He shoots, he passes, he rebounds, he passes, he defends… He does it all with a distinct Philly swagger that reminds many of Gratz legend Jarrett Kearse. Imhotep has three top 100 high major prospects on the roster. Justin Edwards is ranked as the 8th best player in the class of 2023 by ESPN. Ahmad Nowell is ranked in the top 30 in the class of 2024 by ESPN. Rahmir Barno is a top 100 player according to 247sports and my eyeballs. Mo Abdullah ’22 has committed to play for Rider University. Beyond the aforementioned, Imhotep has another 4 or 5 young D1 prospects in the oven.

In short… The Pub Final 4 is definitely something you wanna see…

Lincoln’s outstanding PG “Nizzy” Locke-Hicks

It’s an event deserving of proper planning, organizing, marketing and media coverage.

So… I arrive at the School of the Future (SOTF) about an hour before the scheduled 4 pm start. The SOTF has a nice but relatively small gym and limited parking. The lot is already overflowing when I arrive. I am forced to “create” a spot next to a dumpster in the rear of the building. After grabbing my camera, I walk around the building and as soon as I turn the corner, I see about 50-60 high school age kids pleading their case to an administrator.

“I’m on Ms. So and so’s list…”
“My brother is playing…”
“I know I’m on the list…”

I walk past the kids and identify myself as media. I am allowed to enter… But only after my pockets are emptied, my body subjected to a metal detector wand, my camera bags thoroughly searched and I am patted down.

MCS big man Deuce Crawley

Now… given the fact that it seems like 10 people are shot every day in Philadelphia, I feel a little better knowing they are making a real effort to keep firearms out of high school gymnasiums.

I walk into the gym and immediately notice that only half of the bleachers are available. There’s seating for maybe 200-250 people… That’s it…

Awwww… Shit… This is gonna be a problem.

Apparently, there’s a process in place. I learn that teams are expected to submit a list and only those on the list are allowed to enter the gymnasium, I didn’t know this… Thankfully, the Pub respects media outlets.

Lucky spectators that were granted entrance to the PUB Final 4

It’s the PUB Final 4, that is not gonna work!

I decide to sit along the far baseline. I wanted to be as far away from the entrance as possible. I thought the exuberant youngsters clamoring to gain entrance might try to “bum rush the show” and I’m too old for that shit.

I posted my chair next to the exit doors. Within minutes, despite the so-called “attendance limitations” the crowd began to swell. It was at capacity before tip off. The available bleachers were filled and folk were standing shoulder to shoulder along both baselines.

There remained a substantial contingent of anxious young people outside… Students of the respective schools, hoopheads eager to watch the games and frustrated family members that weren’t on the list.

Desperate to gain entrance, they started to intensely bang on the doors… BOOM!.. BOOM!… BOOM!

It felt and sounded like the Minneapolis, Minnesota police armed with 37 arrest warrants for unarmed Black men… BOOM!.. BOOM!… BOOM!

Damn… I felt their pain…

They just wanted to see the game… Alas, it was not going to happen.

A couple of Lincoln HS supporters

Then I got a text from a coach that drove from Baltimore, Maryland to see one of the MCS kids play. He was sure his name was on the list… He said they told him they couldn’t allow him in because they were over the capacity limit. This after he drove over an hour and half to evaluate a kid in a playoff game. He was never able to see the kid.

That reminded me of the time I went to with two D1 college coaches to watch Miller and West Philadelphia play at Overbrook. We were met at the door by the athletic director and told we were not allowed to watch the game. After explaining that we were there to evaluate kids for scholarships that would allow them to attend college for free, the Overbrook AD said “I’m not letting you in.”

After voices were raised and several minutes of back and forth bickering, the AD reluctantly relented and allowed the coaches to watch and evaluate the kids. He made sure to tell us NOT to come back because next time we won’t get in.

Is this real? I gotta pay $3.00 for a soda so a disgruntled athletic director can deny kids life changing opportunities?

Seriously, it feels like the people running the Pub hate the kids… Fuck that soda tax!

So… then I had to take a leak… After the first game was completed, I walked across the court toward the bathroom. A security guard told me to turn back around.

I said “My man… I have to piss.”

“That’s not my problem… You can’t go past this door.”

“I’m 57 years old and I have to go to the bathroom.”

“You need to go somewhere else.”

“Well… I’m gonna go outside and piss on school grounds, is that what you want me to do? The bathroom is right there on the other side of that door.”

“Do what you have to do.”

So I did what I had to do… I went outside and took a leak…

I was thirsty… There were no concessions available… No water… No juice… No soda…
I was hungry… No soft pretzels… No hot dogs… No pizza… No chips…

They just don’t give a fuck…

Now I imagine some will rationalize such minimalistic treatment by citing the wanton violence and mayhem gripping our region.

“We don’t want large gatherings of young Black kids, especially males”, they might say.

“These are the kids leaving 20, 30, 40 or even 50 shell casings at crime scenes on a daily basis” one could argue.

They would NOT be wrong… Truth be told… My head is on a swivel each and every time I traverse the city of Philadelphia.

There are young brothers out here fucking it up for everyone.

But, isn’t that also the case in Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Detroit, Houston, Newark and Atlanta?

District administrators in those cities somehow manage to treat players, students, fans and families with a modicum of respect. Grandmom and Grandpop can come watch junior play in those towns.

They aren’t welcome in the Philadelphia Public League. And, if they do decide to venture out and try their luck, they better wear some Depends adult underwear.

When they decide to transfer grandsons to Catholic, Friends or Inter-Ac league schools… I understand.

The PUB has stopped giving a fuck…

Darryl Schofield Beat Da Shit Down Dey Muthafuckin’ Legs

There’s a lineage of unappreciated, underfunded and unrecognized basketball savants in the City of Brotherly Love. As often described by first ballot Philadelphia Black Basketball Hall of Famer, Claude Gross, these guys consistently made “chicken salad out of chicken shit.”

To those truly familiar with Philadelphia’s grassroots basketball, the names are as recognizable as Calipari, Krzyzewski, Calhoun, Hurley and Wooten.

Gross, John Hardnett, Paul Gripper and the recently deceased Darryl Schofield are basketball giants in the Delaware Valley. If you played at the highest level in high school, if you competed in college, if you recruited Philly players for a Division 1 program you knew exactly who these guys were.

Gross along with Sonny Hill, Tee Shields and the rest of the Baker League brain trust ruled Philadelphia summers in the 70s, 80s and 90s. Hardnett formed a basketball laboratory at Gustine Lake Rec Center that was a crucible from which countless high major college and NBA players were forged. Gripper cajoled, motivated and passionately pushed a generation of middle school kids to heights they couldn’t even imagine.

Schofield, armed with little more than grit and determination, took on the establishment and whupped dey muthafuckin’ asses up and down the east coast.

Darryl Schofield, Philly Basketball Legend

In the late ‘90s, Schofield began to gather a group of “no stars” from the Philadelphia Public League and take them on the road to compete in AAU and grassroots basketball events. Many of these kids came from single parents homes, some had no home at all. More than few literally came to Schofield straight from the corner where they had been engaged in hand-to-hand pharmaceutical marketing. Several had open juvenile cases. Posession with intent to sell, assault and battery, robbery… Shit like that…

These were the kids that nobody wanted… Schofield’s gift was his ability to transform these castoffs into high powered, fiercely competitive and dominant prep school teams.

It all started with a program called Philadelphia Christian. Scho was still learning the ropes with this crew. Administrative functions were never his strong suit. There were times when opposing players and coaches would speculate as to whether Philadelphia Christian would show up for their scheduled games. But when the van pulled up, the outcome was predictable. Philadelphia Christian relying on exceptional athleticism and a straight “dog” mentality would just whup dey muthafuckin’ asses.

Eventually, Philadelphia Christian was disbanded. Scho was refining his model. A new and improved program would emerge in its place.

The result was Philadelphia Lutheran… Scho had it figured out… Philadelphia Lutheran and subsequently Lutheran Christian Academy beat the shit down the legs of the established New England Prep Schools on a regular and consistent basis.

Along the way, Scho took on the kids that had been overlooked and forsaken by Division programs 1 up and down the east coast and provided them with an opportunity to prove themselves on the court and and become academically eligible for Division I scholarships.

Plainly stated, Scho was the muthafuckin man!

Over a five year period spanning 2003 to 2007, Schofield sent scores of previously overlooked and academically unqualified student-athletes to mid and high major D1 programs across the country. Scho’s guys landed at places like UTEP, East Carolina, Xavier, Temple, La Salle and Mississippi State. Fresh off breaking Wilt Chamberlain’s high school scoring record, Maureece Rice, played for Scho. Stefon Jackson, left Lutheran and went on to become the second all-time leading scorer in the history of CUSA at UTEP.

Try to wrap your mind around this fact… in 2004–05, twenty-seven kids who played at Lutheran that year alone, spread across A and B teams, moved on to D1 schools. Twenty-seven poor, academically struggling, largely ignored young men from one program went D1.

Legendary shit!

Randy Miller and Darryl Scholfield at Black Cager Fall Classic

Indeed, Scho was TOO good… The New England Blue Bloods grew increasingly tired of scrubbing and washing off the shit that Scho beat down their legs. They were envious of this little broke program attracting 30, 40 or even 50 college coaches to every practice.

They eventually got him… His naysayers and haters organized and supported a New York Times investigation and concurrent NCAA colonoscopy. Determined to isolate and marginalize Scho and Lutheran, they steadfastly clung to a few minor violations and ended the program. After they were done, Scho was left with no program, no players, and a highly prominent role as a scapegoat for a fucked up NCAA eligibility system.

Looking back on his experience with the NCAA, Scho lamented, “That’s how it goes… If you don’t play the political game or do favors for certain people, all of the sudden they’re at your doorstep to shut you down.”

Fuck the NCAA and Fuck those bull shit eligibility rules. Most of which, have since been cast aside anyway. Scho breathed life into basketball careers that were considered dead.

For a decade or so, Scho determined who got a shot at a better life, not the NCAA. For that, he had to be shut down…


I respected School more than just about anyone else I have encountered in 30+ plus years of dealing with scholastic and collegiate basketball… Real shit.

Trenton Catholic vs The George School: I Saw Sumthin’

Trenton Catholic Academy lost a tough game tonight. After being down double figures, they surged to take a seven point lead in the 4th quarter only to watch it dissipate as the George School won a fiercely contested battle. First year Head Coach, Mark Bass, has won a few big games this year. Trenton Catholic defeated The Patrick School and Olympus Prep in back to back games last week. Once they closed the gap and took the lead it appeared another scalp was about to be taken.

But it was not to be… Trenton Catholic Academy lost. Ben Luber’s team showed some real intestinal fortitude.

Coach Bass is one of my very best friends. I met him as incoming St. Joseph’s University freshman in August 1992. I can count on two hands the number of days we have NOT spoken since his freshman year in college. I watched damn near every game he played on Hawk Hill. Then I watched damn near every game in which he served as an assistant coach over a 20 year span. He watched my daughter grow up. I was at his wedding. His Mom is my Ol’ Head. His wife is my sister. His sons are my nephews. Mark Bass is my brother.

Mark Bass and his Trenton Catholic team LOST a basketball game. I write this knowing he will read it, knowing his wife will read it… Shit… His oldest son might read it…

Trenton Catholic lost a game against the George School. Black Cager Sports is reporting that simple straightforward fact. Tomorrow, Black Cager Sports will do a live remote sports talk show from the Bass home. His son’s will be happy to see the “Professor.” I will be happy to see them.

Call me crazy, but I actually think this how the interaction between AAU/Grassroots/high school basketball coaches/directors and media outlets are suppose occur.

I never received the memo explaining that sharing final scores and boxscores were personal attacks. I must’ve been absent from the office that day.

I’m pretty sure some of the guys coaching/directing HS/AAU programs stop speaking to the weatherman when he reports frigid temperature and icy rain. The weatherman doesn’t know he’s only supposed to report 80 degrees and sunny… every fuckin’ day.

I’m truly elated that there are guys like Mark Bass and the George School coach Ben Luber involved in the game. They understand that it rains sometimes.

As for the game itself… Trenton Catholic’s Deuce Jones ‘24 and George School’s Onyekacki Nzeh ’23 scored 32 and 34 points respectively. The manner in which they accumulated the points was far more impressive than the actual totals themselves. These young men demonstrated why they are at or very near the top of their respective recruiting classes.

Onyekacki Nzeh, George School PF/C

Nzeh is a high energy four with great length (7-foot-plus wingspan) and solid all around skill set. His ball-handling and perimeter shooting have improved immensely over the past year. Coach Luber and his staff have done an outstanding job preparing Nzeh for the next level. He has always exhibited tremendous defensive ability, utilizing his huge wingspan and quickness. Nzeh, literally, came to the game of basketball as a world class athlete.

As a 14 year old, he ran a 400 meter race in 51.93 seconds in the AAU Mid Season Invitational Championship. Remember… He is 6’9” tall… Huh… Fuck you gonna do with that?

To say that he is very fast in the open floor is a huge understatement… More importantly he demonstrates a desire and will to outwork his opponent, hustling down the floor on every possession. In addition to being an elite level run jump athlete, Nzeh shows improving lateral speed. He projects as a big that will be very effective guarding both on the perimeter and in the post. With increased experience, he will be able to legitimately stay in front of guards out on the perimeter, which is highly unusaual for a 6-9 forward.

He appears to have great focus and energy on the defensive end and causes havoc for offensive schemes with his great length. Nzeh is a high level rebounder who goes hard for every ball and utilizes his big hands and long arms to secure rebounds in and out of his area at the HS level. Offensive game has shown significant improvement over the past year. He’s comfortable creating shots on the block and has an effective jump hook shot. He also shows the ability to attack the basket and surprisingly good ball handling ability.

He has developed a smooth and repeatable shooting stroke. He made some clutch free throws to secure the win for the George School. He also made several 3-point shots when his team desperately needed offensive production showing that his game is not solely predicated on getting to the rim as is the case with some 4s. Right now, with full 17U schedule with the NY Rens and his senior season at the George School remaining, Nzeh projects as a high major energy four providing immediate defense and rebounding while he continues to polish his offensive skills.

Any serious discussion of the top high school players in the mid-Atlantic region, must include Onyekacki Nzeh and Deuce Jones… Period.