Temple Alumni launch The TUFF Fund, a charitably-focused organization to promote and support Owl student-athletes

PHILADELPHIA – A group of passionate Temple University alumni and donors have announced the formation of The TUFF Fund, a 501(c)(3) charitable fund intent on deepening the connection between Temple student-athletes and the Greater Philadelphia community using Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) opportunities. Prioritizing community-focused initiatives and partnerships in the Greater Philadelphia area, the TUFF Fund will maximize NIL opportunities for Temple student-athletes.

In accordance with NCAA guidelines, the Fund is not affiliated with Temple University.

The TUFF Fund will enhance Temple University as a nationally premier atmosphere of growth for student-athletes on the playing field, in the classroom, and throughout the community. With the Fund established, it will allow any and all Temple alumni, fans, and supporters to donate to a centralized fund to be dispersed directly to student-athletes in exchange for their involvement in charitable activities utilizing NIL agreements.

“Positioned in the 4th largest media market in the United States, with over 350,000 loyal and passionate alumni and a sprawling network of strategic corporate partners and philanthropic leaders, we felt it was necessary to spearhead an effort that will maximize the Temple student-athlete’s brand and marketing opportunities,” explained Andy Carl, a two-time graduate of Temple’s School of Sport, Tourism, and Hospitality Management (STHM) and executive director of The TUFF Fund. “As Philadelphia’s flagship university, Temple’s DNA is woven throughout this great sports region and we’re excited to harness those relationships.”

Rounding out the Fund’s executive leadership are Seth Goldblum, a 1993 graduate of Temple’s Fox School of Business and Chris Squeri, a 1996 STHM graduate. “I’m excited to be a part of something as truly transformational as the TUFF Fund can be for Temple. With the ever-changing college sports landscape, I feel it’s vitally important to be aggressive and progressive in the NIL space,” said Goldblum, senior managing director at CBIZ Private Equity Advisory.

Squeri, who was a student manager under legendary coach John Chaney notes, “This isn’t your grandparents’ Temple. We have a vibrant student and alumni population in the heart of a world-class city. It’s time to act boldly and be dynamic in our actions as a fan base and university. We’ve already seen significant private interest in The TUFF Fund and expect a tremendous impact moving forward.”

The Fund will identify and partner with Temple student-athletes, utilizing their expertise and passions to maximize the charitable impact their involvement will have in the North Philadelphia and surrounding communities. The TUFF Fund expects to activate community service initiatives in excess of 1,000 hours from the Fund’s NIL partnerships. To achieve these goals, the TUFF Fund will not only leverage relationships with regional and national brands, but will also enlist the help of passionate alumni and fans through fiscal support of the fund.Donors to the fund will have the opportunity to attend exclusive events, including in-person and virtual meet-and-greets with student-athletes, watch parties, camps, clinics, and other community initiatives.

The TUFF Fund was created under the legal guidance of Blank Rome LLP, a leading Am Law 100 law firm founded in Philadelphia that provides comprehensive sports law legal counsel on NIL legislature matters, to ensure compliance with all state, federal, and NCAA guidelines.

“Blank Rome is excited to work with the TUFF Fund on its mission to connect student-athletes to our Philadelphia community through the use of compliant NIL deals,” said Cody Wilcoxson, an attorney in Blank Rome’s sports law group. “Andy and his team are going to make a difference for the local community and provide unique opportunities to Temple student athletes.”

For more information on The TUFF Fund or to make an immediate impact as a founding member, please visit http://www.TUFF-Fund.com.

Contact: Andy Carl
Phone: 610-334-5428
Email: info@tuff-fund.com
Tuesday, August 30th, 2022

The Black Cager Fall Classic: A Small College Recruiting Paradise!

What about the little guys?

In 2019, the NCAA took care of the BIG BOYS… Division I coaching staffs fly across the lower 48 states attending their choice of NCAA-certified high school and travel team events. The BIG BOYS have made these NCAA ‘live periods’ a significant part of their annual recruiting cycle. 

When the NCAA added two June weekends exclusively for high school competition. They fundamentally altered the recruiting cycle. During those weekends, hundreds of high schools participate in massive events throughout the country and college coaches evaluate prospects playing with their high school teammates.

When John Calipari, Jay Wright, Tom Izzo, Bill Self enter a gym, they suck all of the air out of the room. High school players, parents and coaches become instantly enthralled. Six-foot four inch high school power forwards and centers begin to harbor irrational hopes of landing a scholarship and suiting up for Kentucky or Kansas.

It is next to impossible for D2, D3 and NAIA coaches to capture the attention of young men that will certainly land at their level, if they are to play college basketball.

Small colleges need their own elite scholastic events where they are the BIG BOYS in the room. That event is the Black Cager Fall Classic. The prestigious Black Cager Fall Classic will take place October 8th and 9th at two gymnasiums in Allentown, Pennsylvania. The previous five Fall Classic events (2017-2021) were held at facilities located in the the Greater Philadelphia region. The event has attracted some of today’s top collegiate basketball players during their high school years, including Donta Scott (Maryland), Jay Heath (Georgetown), Ace Baldwin (VCU), Jalen Carey (Rhode Island), Hakim Hart (Maryland), Seth Lundy (Penn State), Eric Dixon (Villanova) and Rahsool Diggins (UMass).

This year, 72 teams will play 72 games. While there will certainly be plenty of high major, top 100, prospects, the field will also feature hundreds of D2, D3 and NAIA prospects. Small College coaches are invited to attend and bring their entire staffs to evaluate some of the finest talent on the eastern seaboard.

Teams are traveling from Canada, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. They are coming because Black Cager Sports will work diligently to help small college coaches connect with the parents and coaches of prospects they identify as suitable for their programs.

Black Cager Sports understands the fiscal constraints that small college programs work under, thus we have priced admission and the coaches packet at a reasonable thirty dollars ($30.00) for the entire weekend. We want small college coaches to attend and recruit participating players.

Coach… You gotta come out… We got dudes!

Maryland’s Donta Scott Returns to Chester Biddy League

Eleven years ago, University of Maryland’s star forward Donta Scott was introduced to organized competitive basketball in through the Chester, PA “Biddy” League. Biddy Basketball was started more than 70 years ago, in 1951, by Jay Archer, Executive Director of the Youth Center in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Archer created Biddy Basketball to teach boys and girls the skills and fundamentals of basketball.

Maryland Star Donta Scott and Chester Biddy League participants

The Chester Biddy Basketball League is the most prestigious and longest running youth basketball league in Delaware County, PA. Chester Biddy players have gone on to compete at the high school, college, and even NBA levels. In addition to Scott, notable Chester Biddy alumni include 2020 NBA Slam Dunk Champion Derrick Jones Jr, Jameer Nelson, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Michigan State point guard A.J. Hoggard and former Penn State 3 point sniper Shep Garner.

When Scott began playing Biddy basketball as a gangly 10 year old 5th grader he was incapable making a layup. His youth coach, Howard Hudson, said “some of the kids and opposing coaches used to tease and laugh at Donta because he was so raw.” What they did not and could not possibly understand was how determined Donta was to become a good basketball player.

Donta Scott, rear center, and his National Champion Biddy Team

Two years later, as a 12 year old 7th grader, Donta was the finest Biddy player in the nation and named “Mr. Biddy” as he led his team to the National Biddy Championship. He would go on to have a legendary schoolboy career with Imhotep Charter High School in the Philadelphia Public League and become a 4 year starter for the Maryland Terrapins.

On Sunday, August 28, Scott returned to talk to some of the current participants in the Chester Biddy League. He gave the kids copies of his book Wired Differently: My School Journey and provided practical advice regarding personal decision-making. The youth were attentive and engaged as Donta talked about his time in the Biddy League and his educational experiences.

Chester Biddy player reads Scott’s book

Also in attendance were Tanner Rouse, First Asst. DA at Delaware County District Attorney’s Office, and his children. Rouse and Melissa Muroff, Assistand District Attorney, were there in support of the Chester Partnership for Safe Neighborhoods (CPSN). They were pleased to see Scott, a former Chester Biggy player, come back and deliver a positive message to the current players.

Donta Scott and Tanner Rouse, First Assistant District Attorney

Scott has given away books on six separate occasions to elementary and middle school age students in Maryland and Pennsylvania. However, he was emotional about the time he spent with the Chester Biddy League players. “I’m really thankful that the Turtle Athletic Foundation made the donation to make this possible. The Chester Biddy League was my introduction to real basketball.”

“People like Ralph Dorsey and Rayleen Pierce have given so much to me. To see them still serving youth inspires me to do my part. I remember how I felt when I spent time with (NBA players) Jameer Nelson and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. Of course, I want to win another Big 10 title and a National Championship, but representing the University of Maryland like this is really important to me.”

Scott autographs a copy of his book for Ms. Rayleen Pierce

School starts next week and Scott is anxious rejoin his teammates and prepare for the upcoming season with new coach Kevin Willard.

Kam Roundtree: A Fresh Start in Texas

Kam Roundtree was an Imhotep Panther. He was a backup forward on the historic 2018-19 team that featured no fewer than 5 Division 1 players. Donta Scott (Maryland), Jamil Riggins (Quinnipiac), Chereef Knox (St. Joseph’s/Coppin St./Langston), Dahmir Bishop (Xavier/St. Joseph’s/FGCU) and Elijah Taylor (Notre Dame/Quinnipiac) were the headliners. Roundtree and Fatayn Wesley (Harcum/Rosemont) were very good role players on that dominant nationally ranked team. The following year, Roundtree, Taylor and Sam Wylie were the senior headliners on another strong Panther squad.

Roundtree is a 6’6″ jumping jack… He runs the floor extremely well… He rebounds at a high clip… He can defend 2-5 at the college level when motivated. His offensive game lacks polish, but he is very capable of attacking the rim over or through defenders. In short, he is a definite low to mid major D1 prospect.

Not pleased with his offers upon graduating from Imhotep, Roundtree decided to enroll in Harcum Junior College on the Main Line, located on the outskirts of West Philadelphia. His freshman year (2020-2021) was the COVID year and he did not appear in any games. The following year (2021-2022) Roundtree decided to take some time away from the game for personal reasons and withdrew from school.

Everyone’s path is different…

This summer while working he decided that he wanted to return to school and get back on the court. The problem was he hadn’t really played competitive basketball in two years. He had no film… He had no stats…

The schools that were willing to give him an opportunity were Division 2 and NAIA schools. I pressed him to consider those opportunities.

“I am a Division 1 player Del… I know I can play D1…”

I also believe he can play D1… But I also knew that I couldn’t convince a D1 coach to give a precious scholarship to kid that hadn’t played in two years. Definitely not in the portal era…

We were stuck… Then Roundtree told me he was willing to go to another JUCO to prove he was a D1 player. That opened up some options and I knew just who to call… Scott Monarch.

Scott Monarch, Head Coach Grayson JUCO

Monarch has a long history of giving kids, especially Philly kids, an opportunity to prove they can play at the collegiate level. His best player the past 2 seasons has been Tyrone Williams a 6’5″ shooting guard who played for Jason Lawson at Olney High School. Williams, a relatively unheralded player coming out of Olney has been dominant at Grayson. He averaged 27.7 points per game this season while shooting 50.9 percent from the field. 36.4 percent on threes, and he made 61.7 percent of his free throws. This year Williams had 13 games where he scored 30 or more points, including two games where he scored 41 and 40 points. Williams made a three-pointer in 22 of the 23 games played while also averaging 7.5 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game. On defense, Williams also averaged 2.0 steals per game. William was named the NTJCAC All-Conference Player for the 2021-22 season.

Williams is headed to Oregon on a full basketball scholarship.

Williams’ running mate at Grayson last season was Blumberg’s Samier Kinsler. Kinsler is a 6’2″ North Philly point guard out of West Catholic. He averaged 10.3 ppg while shooting an exceptional 46.8% from behind the 3-point line. He accepted a full scholarship to West Virginia State. Another Philly kid, Aseem Lucky, played one year for Monarch before accepting a full scholarship to D1 Tarleton State where he will play for Billy Gillespie.

Sight unseen… Monarch said, “Del… If he can get eligible, I’ll give him a full scholarship and he can keep his Pell Grant ($6,000).”

“Appreciate you Scott…”

Roundtree needed to earn 4 credits to be eligible.

I made it clear to Roundtree, “Kam if you get the 4 credits, I’ll help you get to Texas and Scott will give you a scholarship. But you have to do the work and earn the credits.”

Kam would call repeatedly offering updates, “I turned in….”

“Kam… I don’t wanna hear that shit… Call me when you have the 4 credits… fuck all that other shit…”

We would repeat this dance several times a week for about a month… Each and every time I would offer the same response…

“Kam… I don’t wanna hear that shit… Call me when you have the 4 credits… fuck all that other shit…”

Then he finally called and said “I got a B.”

Now, I needed to get him a flight and get him to Texas. I leaned on folk that I know care about kids like Kam. I hit up the Philly Pride guys… Howard Hudson, Mike Scott and Amauro Austin… Without hesitation they helped round up enough to get Kam on a plane to Dallas. No Spirit… No Frontier… Out of respect for his “B” we put him on American Airlines.

He landed safely… He’s back in school… On a full scholarship… A fresh start with a clean slate…

Don’t give up… Don’t ever give up.

Everyone’s path is different.

Maryland’s Donta Scott Donates Copies of his book to Free Library of Philadelphia

Donta Scott enters his senior season at the University of Maryland with some huge goals. Since he was a little boy Scott wanted to accomplish two big things. One, he wanted to graduate from a good college… Two, he wanted to play in the NBA. Both goals are well within reach for Scott who will be the unquestioned leader of this year’s Terrapin squad under the direction of first year coach Kevin Willard. A three-year starter, Scott will be called upon to provide senior leadership and toughness for Maryland as they seek another Big 10 title and a deep run in the NCAA tournament.

Scott is deeply appreciative of the opportunities that Maryland has given him. Many never expected Scott to emerge as the leader of a nationally prominent college basketball team. Diagnosed with a learning disability as a youngster, Scott struggled academically in elementary and middle school. He attributes his introduction to basketball with providing him with the structure and focus that has helped him matriculate through Imhotep Charter High School in Philadelphia and, subsequently, the University of Maryland.

More specifically, Scott met AAU coach, Howard Hudson, as a ten year-old and has never looked back. A former college football player, Hudson constantly challenged Scott to get better on and off the court. Hudson’s tough love approach has yielded great results. Last year, after constant urging from the publisher at Black Cager Press, Scott put pen to paper and told the story of his path from struggling middle school student to Big 10 basketball star. His book, WIRED DIFFERENTLY: My School Journey has been well received by educators, parents and young student-athletes.

Today, Scott donated copies of his book to Free Library of Philadelphia. Scott said, “I’ve given talks and donated books to kids at St. Frances Academy (MD), Thomas & Woods Foundation Youth Basketball Camp, Sean Colson and Tasheed Carr Basketball Skills Camp, Lewis Leonard Basketball Camp and the C.O.F.A. Bible Basketball Camp. But in the back of my mind, I kept thinking I want to make the book accessible to every kid in Philly. By donating copies to the Free Library of Philadelphia, the book will be available to kids across the city for a long time.”

Christina Patton, Asst. to the President and Director, Free Library of Philadelphia

While he has been busy getting his message out to young people, Scott has not neglected his own immediate academic and basketball related goals. He’s been getting stronger and has recently set some personal records in the weight room. He also helped lead the Darren McClinton All-Stars to a Championship in the highly competitive Kenner League in Washington, D.C. Focused on maintaining his conditioning and improving his outside shooting, Scott has been working out everyday with teammates as well as some of the local NBA players home for the summer.

Donta and Howard Hudson after the Kenner League Championship

As we get closer to the start of the school year, Scott has begun to focus on gaining a better understanding of what Coach Willard and his staff want from him. “I want to win another Big 10 Championship and I want to win a National Championship. I love Maryland and I want to make Maryland fans proud of our team.”

Scott understands that accomplishing those lofty goals will require that he and his running mate Hakim Hart emerge as two of the top players in the Big 10. Those two Philly kids are working diligently to do just that… They plan on being two of the best players in the conference and in the nation.

Camden Mayor Vic Carstarphen Delivers State of the City Address

On Thursday August 18, 2022, Camden Mayor Victor G. Carstarphen invited a few hundred of his closest friends and supporters to witness the “2022 State of the City Address” in the beautiful state of the art auditorium on the Camden High School Campus. As one would expect, Mayor Carstarphen spelled out in painstaking detail the manner in which his administration has addressed the primary challenges associated with the physical and fiscal infrastructure of Camden City. In the wake of decades of diminished federal and state resources and scarce local revenue, Carstarphen emphasized the extent to which he and his formidable “Team Camden” wake up every day and address Camden’s fiscal shortfalls, improve it’s economic growth, and revamp aging infrastructure.

Mayor Carstarphen delivers the “2022 State of the City Address”

Providing clear empirical evidence of progress toward his policy priorities over the past year, Carstarphen focused primarily on economic development, quality of life concerns, and Camden’s infrastructure. The progress was well-documented and presented in a deft yet accessible manner. The issues Carstarphen views as Camden’s’ biggest keys to growth and vitality—economic development and infrastructure—were a central focus of his address. But, Carstarphen also placed a high degree of emphasis on quality of life concerns, including public safety, urban planning, and improved sustainability.

Camden Superintendent Katrina T. McCombs address the audience

One is tempted to focus on the expansive details he shared with his constituents… The drastic reduction in crime, the investment grade A- bond rating, the on-time city budget with a surplus, the expansion of businesses, the brand new Hilton Garden Inn on the Camden waterfront, the 8,700 repaired potholes and the list goes on and on…

However, the aim here is to provide readers with a sense of what it was like to be in the room. On the surface, the State of the City Address was an opportunity for Carstarphen to update City Council, School Board members, business leaders, political supporters and other stakeholders on the substantial process his administration has made over the course of their first year a the helm.

In reality what we witnessed was a masterful performance by a former student-athlete, educator, coach and accountant who is quickly evolving into a charismatic political orator. Carstarphen is developing a speaking style that is agentive. From the moment he appeared in the room, he was actively and creatively mixing and matching sociolinguistic resources. Carstarphen was able to skillfully constitute and portray multiple types of personae, identities and various understandings of self. He was, simultaneously, Camden “homie”, businessman, son, neighbor, advocate, coach, Mayor and, dare I say it… Pastor. Carstarphen seamlessly shifted personae over the course of his inaugural State of the City Address, depending on his goals and the audience reception at different moments of the speech.

Of course, one of the main goals of the speech was to convey the significant progress his administration has made toward policy objectives. Nonetheless, I would argue that an equally important goal was the accumulation of political capital.

Political capital can be understood as a form of symbolic capital. It is a way of conceptualizing the accumulation of resources and power built through relationships, trust, goodwill, and influence between politicians or parties and other stakeholders, such as constituents. It looks like, Carstarphen’s coffers are overflowing with political capital. He clearly understands that political capital can be understood as a type of currency used to mobilize voters, achieve policy reform, or accomplish other political goals.
So… How do we measure political capital? Some political theorists consider things like the number of votes, the amount of people present at a meeting, size of crowds at marches, or total amounts of money donated to political campaigns, public opinion polling results, and other and measurable variables. It’s only year one… Give me sometime we’ll flesh out our barometer… We’ll come up with a way of gauging increases (or, heaven forbid, decreases) in Carstarphen’s political capital.

Today though, the point I want to make is that Carstarphen is evolving into a very skillful and purposeful political orator. He has clearly recognized that his personality is a very important tool in the necessary task of accumulating political capital. He did an admirable job spelling out the early accomplishments of administration and the level of constituent service his administration is providing. Of course, the political minutia is very important and must be spelled out for those keeping political score.

Former New Jersey Governor Jim Florio

However, of equal importance was the way Carstarphen delivered his message. We are witnessing the emergence of a highly skilled politician. Carstarphen understands that his personality and speaking style are an important means of accumulating of political capital. Tonight, at various points Carstarphen’s speech style was characterized by what one could call a ‘speaking in earnest’ dimension. He is a Camden native, a highly educated and articulate son of this proud city. By delivering a virtuoso Camden speech, Mayor Carstarphen banked a lot of political capital this evening.

The question becomes: What will he do with it?

I’m sure Carstaphen anticipates tough battles around many of the pressing issues he highlighted, and plans to expend some of his political capital to further realize his policy goals.

Nonetheless, should he set his sights on higher office one day, he will most certainly have enough political capital to make a run for Congress, Senate or the Governor’s mansion. While he has a masterful command of Camden City politics, I see no reason why Carstarphen couldn’t take his show on the road.

Heck… He’s almost as popular and influential as young DJ Wagner…

Pat Chambers Brings Philly to The Florida Gulf Coast

Two years ago, I penned an opinion piece titled, “Pat Chambers FUCKED UP! Now What…” In that piece, I wrote:

“A middle-aged white man, working under a multi-million dollar contract at one of the most highly regarded public research Universities in the nation, said “I want to loosen the noose that’s around your neck” to a young 19 year old Black man under his direct supervision. It’s an inexcusable comment… There is no other way to assess it… That’s really, really fucked up… Unbeknownst to him, Chambers built a huge problem for himself right as the word “noose” passed through his mouth… There are no ifs, ands or buts needed… It was a very bad and very bigoted moment… I have made this clear to Pat Chambers.”

There was universal agreement that Chambers made a huge mistake. There was serious disagreement regarding the appropriate consequences. I made my position very clear:

“This time Chambers FUCKED UP. There are some calling for his dismissal, there is a loud crowd gathering on the courthouse steps… They want the Penn State administration to remove Chambers from his position as Head Coach of the Men’s Basketball program. I get that… I understand those yearning to see his head roll… So far, the administration hasn’t given any indication that they are preparing to throw him to the angry mob. Hopefully, Chambers’ behaviors will treated as he has treated others. Of course, Penn State must address his bigoted comment, but they shouldn’t throw away the man.”

Little did I know that my stance would lead to the immediate destruction of what I thought were friendships. Because I felt that Chambers should be allowed to continue coaching, I was vilified by some Black men in Philadelphia. I was labelled a sell-out by a kid I had mentored for years. Another Black man publicly alleged that Chambers “must be paying” me to take such a position.

Da fuck?

Pat Chambers, FGCU Head Coach

What these critics failed to consider was Chambers’ formidable track record. Chambers, from the moment he arrived in Happy Valley gave a lot of young men from the Greater Philadelphia region an opportunity to play Big 10 basketball. More importantly, he knowingly took chances on kids from less than ideal backgrounds and family situations and he stood by them throughout their, sometimes turbulent, time at Penn State.

It is no secret that some Philly kids, especially some of the Black kids, go off to college carrying significant “baggage.” Indeed, some of the most talented Philly schoolboys of the past quarter century have allowed their baggage to destroy seemingly surefire NBA careers.

Unlike many other college coaches, Chambers stood by his guys when they “fucked up” on campus. He addressed the behaviors, he dealt with the PSU administrators, he punished the offenders… What he didn’t do was cast aside the young men. He continued to guide and embrace the young men while admonishing them for their fucked up behaviors.

He did this behind closed doors… He didn’t make suspensions public… He never castigated them in front of outsiders… The players remained part of his program while serving private penance.

The discreet manner in which he dealt with wayward players in his program left casual observers completely in the dark. However, those close to the players and the program knew just how hard Chambers worked to help the young men transition to adulthood off the court. They knew how hard he worked to keep young Black players in school and on track to graduate.

Mike Watkins, Penn State Graduate

A relentless recruiter, he established something akin to an underground railroad from the Greater Philadelphia region to Happy Valley during Chambers tenure.

Chambers gave Philly kids an opportunity to attend a world class university, compete at the highest level and he stood by them through all types of adversity.

The good far outweighed the bad… Clearly, the President and AD at Florida Gulf Coast University agreed with that assessment.

On March 15, 2022, FGCU officially introduced Chambers as the new FGCU men’s basketball head coach on Tuesday, March 15 in a special press conference from the Hillmyer-Tremont Suite in Alico Arena. Chambers became the fifth head coach in program history.

He’s back… Chambers is STILL my guy… He’s my friend… Before his appointment was made public, I had an opportunity to congratulate him and ask what his initial priorities were. In typical Chambers fashion, his response was short and very direct…

Dahmir Bishop, FGCU

Dahmir Bishop… I want Dahmir Bishop!”

Dahmir Bishop is a special kid to me. Before he was an Imhotep Panther, before he was a St. Joseph’s Hawk… Dah was a Darby Township Eagle. He played youth football for my lifelong friend Stacey Dandridge. He was, once again, in the transfer portal. I watched him grow increasingly frustrated over the past 2 seasons as his minutes fluctuated on HawkHill.

I hung up and called Dahmir and his father Rudy immediately. “Pat Chambers wants Dah to play at FGCU.” The conversation lasted about 10 minutes. After talking to Dah and Rudy… I texted Chambers… “You got Dahmir!”

“Send me his number…” Shit was done… I was very happy for Dah…

Blaise Vespe, FGCU freshman

Few weeks later, I receive a call from Julian Dunkley. “Your man Pat Chambers is headed to IMG to see a kid, can you get him to take a hard look at Blaise Vespe?”

“Sure… I’ll do it right now.”

Ring… Ring… “What up Pat?”

“I’m headed to IMG to see a kid.”

“I know… While you’re there, I need you to take a long look at Blaise Vespe. Really athletic white kid that played for Carl at Neumann-Goretti. Runs and jumps extremely well, I hear he’s developed some perimeter skills down there at IMG.”

“You got it…”

A week or two goes by and Julian calls to tell me “Blaise committed to FGCU.”


“Yo man, he committed to Pat. Blaise and his Dad really like him.”

I hang up and call Chambers… “Yo… I didn’t know you offered Vespe.”

“Del… You told me to look at him, he’s your guy… I liked him… I offered him a scholarship.”

This is Pat Chambers…

Xavier Pina, FCGU commit

Next up, Xavier Pina, from Deptford. “What’s up Pat? You gonna offer X?”

“I’m gonna go to the JUCO in Texas, evaluate him and take it from there.”

Shortly thereafter, Xavier posts “I’m blessed to receive an offer from FGCU.”

I call Xavier and his father… “Take that shit! I’m telling y’all… Take that shit!”

Chambers also stalked and nabbed Memphis transfer big Sam Onu from the Phelps School.

Rahmir Barno, FGCU commit

Today, Rahmir Barno, a consensus top 150 player from Imhotep Charter School committed to FGCU. Barno is fresh off a fantastic summer on the EYBL where he played for Team Final.

The region is well represented on the FGCU coaching staff as well. People that actually know Chambers really fuck with Chambers. For example, he re-recruited Chester’s Shep Garner and gave him an opportunity to begin his college coaching career at the D1 level. Kyle Griffin, who worked with Chambers at La Salle last year is also on his staff. To round out his staff, Chambers hired another one of his former players, ex-Roman Catholic head coach, Matt Griffin as an assistant.

FGCU will have 5 players and 4 coaches from the Greater Philadelphia region next year. The Eagles are now unofficial members of the Philadelphia City 7. The underground railroad is running in the other direction these days.

There are still a few guys that haven’t spoken to me since I publicly supported Chambers two years ago. Thing is… those guys don’t know Chambers and I guess I never really knew them.

The Chosen League: A Philly Summer Tradition Like No Other

PHILADELPHIA, PA — Soooo… I turn off City Avenue onto the bucolic campus of Friends’ Central High School. It’s about 7:30 pm on a Monday and the parking lot is packed. There is not a single available spot… Hundreds of cars packed like sardines… So many that it is obvious that the yellow lines are considered mere suggestions. Cars have ventured onto the manicured lawn.

I say to myself, maybe there’s some kind of orientation or something. They must welcoming new parents and students for the upcoming school year… This a LOT of people. After carefully perusing the lot three times, finally, I see a spot. It’s open… But there’s a sign that written in an Asian script. Chinese, Japanese, Korean? I’m not sure.

I have absolutely no idea what the sign says. It could say your car will be immediately towed for all I know. But, after scouring the lot for for more than 10 minutes, I’m anxious to get inside and so, I decide to take a chance.

I park and pray…

Ahmad Nowell ’24 (Imhotep/Team Final)

I take the brief stroll through the beautiful campus and finally reach the gym. I am warmly greeted at the door. After securing admission, I walk down the hall and there is Ahmad Nowell ’24 (Imhotep/Team Final), Robert Wright III ’24 (Neumann-Goretti/Team Final), Justin Edwards ’23 (Imhotep/Team Final) and Nasir Washington ’23 (West Philly). They are all wearing the same jersey.

Goooood Damn… Da fuck is goin’ on… that team is loaded…

Robert Wright, III ’24 (Neumann-Goretti/Team Final)

Welcome to the Chosen League!

I ease into the gym… excuse me… excuse me… excuse me…

It’s packed… I am no longer wondering why all the cars were in the parking lot.

All these people knew what I knew… It was time for Chosen League basketball… Rahim Thompson is at it again…

Thompson has once again demonstrated his keen understanding of the nuances of summer basketball. Every year he masterfully schedules Chosen League events during periods when the kids are available and anxious to play a highly entertaining brand of basketball. Better than anyone else, Thompson deftly manages to avoid the never ending tug-of-wars over players that take place every summer.

Rahim Thompson, Chosen League Founder/Commissioner

Will the skill of masterful politicians like Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, Thompson consistently avoids the pot holes and pulls off the the most exciting and action packed summer basketball events.

Tonight was no exception… Some of the VERY BEST scholastic players in the region, were on the floor. Edwards, who recently committed to Kentucky, is pushing for the top spot in the national rankings. Nowell and Wright are consensus top 40 in the nation. Zion Stanford ’23 (West Catholic/K-Low) is being hotly pursued by Temple, St. Joseph’s and Boston College among others. His Burr teammate Adam “Budd” Clark is a consummate Philly PG that has attracted the attention of several D1programs. Washington and former Imhotep Panther, Naji Reed, are also legitimate D1 prospects.

Maaaaan listen… Rahim got the dudes in the house!

Hannah Hidalgo ’23 (Paul VI/Philly Rise)

But wait… There’s more…

He also has THE DUDETTE! The TOP girl baller in the region, Hannah Hidalgo ’23 (Paul VI/Philly Rise) could easily play in the Boys division of the Chosen League. Truth be told, she would do a lot more than hold her own… She’s that good. So much so, that it’s somewhat difficult to assess her when she compete against female high school competition. Hidalgo, a key member of the 2022 USA Basketball Women’s U17 National Team, is an elite national and international talent.

The best girls… The best boys… In one gym, side by side.

Chosen League is where it’s at… The camaraderie and respect that were on display are unmatched locally. The Chosen League long ago ascended to the top of the summer basketball food chain in Philadelphia. The combination of magnificent basketball talent and a family friendly game atmosphere is irresistible to true Philly hoop heads.

For those of us of a certain age, you could close your eyes and think it was 1982 and you were on Broad Street in McGonigle Hall… But it’s the summer of 2022 and this is the new tradition. It’s the biggest and best game in town this time of year. I’m telling you… Make your way to Friends’ Central. But you’re probably gonna have to park on the Philly side of City Avenue.

City Councilman Isaiah Thomas coaches in the Chosen League

If you have a problem on the Philly side, you can lodge a complaint with City Councilman Isaiah Thomas. He’ll be on the sideline trying to figure out a way to slow down teams with 7 or 8 Division 1 players. Good luck with than Councilman.