They Are Who We Thought They Were…

“Now if you want to crown them, then crown their ass! But they are who we thought they were!”

Dennis Green, Cardinals Head Coach 2006

With 43 points and 14 rebounds in the Gonzaga DC Championship Game Abington’s Senior Superstar, Eric Dixon (WeRone Hoops), officially put the PIAA on notice! Playing against a tough, deep and talented St. Frances Academy squad that is perennially ranked in the top 25 nationally, Dixon put on a performance for the ages. He scored in every way imaginable… jump hooks, fade aways, up and unders, turn around jumpers, face up 3s, etc. Eric was really digging deep into his bag… The DC crowd was in awe of his skill level. He was named tournament MVP despite losing to the Panthers in the title game. Dixon (Villanova commit) is now the all-time leading scorer in the history of Abington HS basketball with over 1700 points. He will likely end up in the 2400-2500 range when it’s all said and done.

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Eric Dixon, named MVP after scoring 43 points and pulling down 14 rebounds

Plymouth-Whitemarsh’s Senior All-American candidate, Naheem McLeod (PYO Hoops) kicked in the door for his senior season. Before a full house in a new gymnasium McLeod exploded for 41 points and 14 rebounds to lead P-W to close win over Norristown. The 7’3″ McLeod (Florida State commit) displayed a wide range of skills in this contest. He advanced the ball in transition, he pulled up and made jumpshots beyond 3 point range, there were a few no look passes and of course about a gazillion dunks! As a senior, McLeod clearly understands that this year’s team will only go as far as he can carry them. He appears more than ready to carry the load.

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McLeod in action against Norristown. (Photo Credit: Raw Sports)

Cheltenham’s Division 1 prospect, Zahree Harrison ’20, jump started the Cheltenham campaign with two outstanding performances. Harrison was named the MVP of the Tip Off Classic after filling the stat sheet with12 points, 6 assists, 4 rebounds and 4 steals in the first contest and piling up 23 points, 5 assists, 4 rebounds and 4 steals in the second game. He continues to garner interest from mid-major programs along the eastern seaboard.

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Harrison (center, holding MVP trophy) after title game

Constitution’s “Big 2” Keshaun “Champ” Hammonds and Jabari Merritt scored 21 and 17 points, respectively, as the Generals defeated Miguel Boc’s young and fiesty West Catholic Prep squad. Looking for extremely big things from Hammonds and Merritt this season. Both are being closely monitored by several mid-major programs.

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Keshaun “Champ” Hammonds, Division 1 combo guard prospect

La Salle’s Senior point guard Allen Powell is off to great start. He had 17 points and 7 assists in the first game of the season. The next game he put up 19 points and again dished 7 assists while earning the MVP in the Scholastic Play-by-Play Tip Off Classic! Led by Powell, La Salle is a real threat to make it to the Palestra this year. Several low to mid-major programs have been inquiring about this sharpshooting point guard.

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Allen Powell, La Salle Senior Point Guard

Neumann-Goretti sophomore Chris Evans, came out letting it fly! Lil’ Money connected on 6 out of 7 three point field goal attempts and earned an MVP award in the Scholastic Play-by-Play Tip Off Classic. His range and the green light Carl Arrigale and the Saints have given him will pose problems for opponents all season.

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Jeremy Treatman and Chris Evans, Neumann-Goretti sophomore

Yes… It’s early…

But, they are who we thought they were!

This week, Overbrook, led by the dynamic Division 1 PG prospect, Naim Walker ’21 and the prolific scorer Khalif Washington ’19, travels to O’Hara where they will face first year coach Ryan Nemetz’s squad. They will also host arch rival West Philadelphia on Thursday.

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Khalif Washington, center

Donta Scott (Maryland commit), Dahmir Bishop (Xavier commit), Chereef Knox (Undecided), Jamil Riggins (Binghamton commit) and Fatayn Wesley (undecided) lead nationally ranked Imhotep as they host Hammonds, Merritt and Constitution on Tuesday. On Saturday, Imhotep faces Delaware powerhouse Samford in the Diane Mosco Tournament at Archbishop Wood.

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Donta Scott, Imhotep Senior

Then on Sunday…

Roman Catholic attempts to hand Imhotep it’s first loss in Philly in three years. Scott, Bishop, Knox, Riggins and Wesley were freshmen the last time they tasted defeat in a local matchup. Seth Lundy (Penn State commit), Hakim Hart (St. Joseph’s commit), Louis Wild (undecided), Lynn Greer (ESPN top 100), Jalen Duren (ESPN top 5) and Justice Williams (ESPN top 100), more than any other local team in recent memory, possess the talent and athleticism to matchup with mighty Imhotep. The game could very well come down to a chess match between the Imhotep Head Coach and Roman’s Matt Griffin.

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Roman Catholic Star, Seth Lundy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Eric Dixon Previews Wissahickon’s Boys Basketball Season

By Eric Dixon 12/03/2018

The Wissahickon High School boys basketball team is  greater than the sum of its parts. “We don’t have any stars,” says boys head coach Kyle Wilson (below, left). They haven’t needed any to be considered a good team as they have for the most of the 15 years Wilson has been at the helm. “We play together for each other.”

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Head Coach Kyle Wilson and his son Chase Wilson

Observing a recent practice, one clearly see the patient way Wilson and his staff work to instill concepts and principles central to the Trojans’ selfless brand of basketball. Wilson and the Trojans posted a 20-7 mark last season. Wissahickon basketball is consistently competitive in the ever changing landscape that is high school basketball.

The student athletes are attentive and attempt to take in every word of instruction, giving only nods in response. The focused and respectful manner they receive coaching caught first year assistant, Andrew Trella, off guard.

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Wissahickon Trojans

“We have great kids,” Trella explained. “I didn’t expect them to just listen to me right away.” He went on to say how much he appreciates working with the kids and how their attitudes and respectfulness has made coaching them easy. While Trella is new to the staff, Michael Scheier, long time assistant and head of the JV team is well versed in coaching and brings a wealth of knowledge to the program.

“(Scheier) always brings a different perspective,” Wilson said while explaining how the decade and half together allowed them to build a symbiotic relationship based on trust and mutual respect. The two often ask each other hard questions and are comfortable being very candid in how they answer those questions.

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Michael Scheier, Assistant Coach

Some of those hard questions involve how to deal with parents and players who may have an issue with the staff over the decade and a half the pair have coached together. Both are sensitive to the parental perspective as both have experienced the ups and downs of watching their own sons come through the Wissahickon program as players, albeit from the coach’s seat. According to Scheier, “would I expect that from my kid?” was a question they would ask and answer with compassion as they continue to help other kids develop and grow under their stewardship.

Coach Wilson is enjoying an additional bit of assistance this fall as his son, Chase Wilson, has come back to the area and is helping him get the team ready for the season. The younger Wilson, is a former Wissahickon standout, was continuing his basketball career at Hillsborough Community College in Tampa, Florida before an injury prematurely ended his season. This unfortunate happenstance has become a boon for the Trojans as Chase Wilson has been able to provide additional guidance to a team that will have to help a number of players learn new and bigger roles this upcoming season. “We will ask them to trust in what we are doing and the framework we have in place,” Trella responded when asked how the staff would help the players adjust to new responsibilities and expectations.

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One such player is Carmen Ostroski, a talented 6-5 wing forward who was a role player last year. The athletic, National Honor Society student-athlete will be called on to be much more this season. In preparation for the transition he took advantage of Coach Wilson’s generosity with time in the gym this summer. He added that he “worked a lot on my shot creation and shooting.” Ostroski, a junior co-captain, also has bought into the coaching staff idea regarding the team concept adding that ““Execution is going to be huge for us. We have to get our execution down.”

Another key player for the Trojans this season will be senior c-captain Eddie Fortescue, the four year varsity member who was named second team All American Conference last year. Wissahickon had three all league performers in 2017-18, including Max Rapoport (1st team) and Zach Reiner (2nd-team), however the hardworking scoring guard is the only one of the trio who returned. He will lead his younger teammates and remind them to “be in the game and stay focused.”

Coach Wilson will is hoping he can also find a couple of “D.O.R.K(s)” to contribute. They are players who “Defend, are Offensively apathetic, Rebound and Know their role.” This isn’t surprising at all coming from the head coach of a team well-known for their cerebral style of basketball.

 

Penn vs Miami: ALS Awareness Game

Marco Morcos, Dreamchasers Community Services, CEO is a man on a mission. Inspired by his dear friend, Dr. Michael Honrychs, Morcos is dedicated to aggressively raising research funds and increasing awareness about ALS.

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Marco Morcos, Full Court Press on ALS

In a recent interview, Morcos passionately explained that “increased awareness is more important than ever, progress is being made… In fact, five genes have been identified since the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge a few years ago. Identifying ALS genes that contribute to ALS disease allows scientists to target them for therapy, essentially increasingly the likelihood that a treatment will be found.” Morcos desperately wants to keep the momentum going.

“My dear friend Dr. Honrychs was diagnosed with ALS. That’s when I learned the particularly devastating part of the disease; unlike cancer, with the possibility of remission, ALS is always fatal. This disease is horribly destructive with a progressive weakening and paralysis of all muscles.”

Inspired, Morcos has spearheaded the Full Court Press on ALS program. In just two short years, it has emerged as a nationwide collaboration between the Full Court Press and dedicated college Basketball Coaches. This initiative leverages the personal experiences, community leadership, and professional excellence of coaches across the country to increase ALS awareness and support for fundraising activities, and advocacy programs.

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(L-R) Morcos, Steve Donahue (Penn), Michael Honrychs and Fran Dunphy (Temple)

Full Court Press on ALS
Established in 2015, Full Court Press on ALS is a national non-profit organization dedicated to providing funding assistance to major medical organizations and raising awareness about the Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

In collaboration with the Ivy League, Full Court Press on ALS has united coaches, alums and basketball fans nationwide to help fight a crippling disease. With assistance of coaches, players, fans and volunteers, Full Court Press on ALS works to increase awareness of raise funds and sponsor educational initiatives.

A Full Court Press on ALS is sponsoring an ALS Awareness Game between the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Miami. The game is scheduled for Tuesday, December 4,  at 7:00. The venue is the Palestra, often called the Cathedral of College Basketball.

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The fight is underway, and we need you on our team.

Through collegiate basketball games, Full Court Press on ALS raises funds that will help to find a cure for the horrible disease. Full Court Press seeks to build hope and enhance quality of life for ALS patients. Please donate and make arrangements to volunteer at ALS Awareness Games.

Help us leverage Full Court Press’ nationwide network of college coaches and ALS research centers to provide much needed support to the ALS community.

https://www.fullcourtpressonals.com/donate.html

Full Court Press on ALS
9 Woodstone Drive
Vorhees, New Jersey 08043

+1 (929) 499–7999

egoodwin@fullcourtpressonals.com

Eric Dixon Previews West Catholic Prep’s Boys Basketball Season

By Eric Dixon 11/26/2018

“Take a breath. Relax. Now Reset.”

Coach Miguel Boc and his staff are engineering a cultural and organizational “reset” at West Catholic Prep that they believe will eventually bring the program the respect and accolades that come with winning. But for now its “One day at a time,” the first year head coach explains.

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Coach Miguel Boc leads a practice at West Catholic Prep

Watching them go about their work at a recent practice, you get the feeling that the fresh air the program has so desperately needed is finally flowing into the Burrs gym at 46th and Chestnut. Coach Boc can be seen going back and forth from one end of the court to the other as assistants, Kyle Finklea, Jonathan Michaels and Jermaine Washington oversee drills. As he steps in to add a detail or point you can see the energy and passion he brings as he exudes a seriousness that belies his years. At 28, he’s the youngest on the staff. Still, there is no mistaking who is in charge.

“It’s his program,” says Michaels, who at 51 is the sage of the group, as he speaks whimsically of how the other staff members are young enough to be his sons. “I was done, then Boc called me and asked me to give him whatever I could. Now I’m here all the time.” Michaels, like Boc, has a love of the game and the students. He says the youth of the the staff has “energized” him.

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Assistant Coach Jon Michels and Miguel Boc

For Coach Boc being the 3rd coach in four years at West Catholic Prep has it’s challenges, but far more rewards. He is grateful for his young charges who he believes were looking to embrace a new direction after the uncertainty of the past few years. He comes in as a disciple of one the best coaches in our area, Andre Noble of Imhotep Charter School. The most influential thing he takes away from his time with the perennial area powerhouse isn’t directly related to basketball.

“I want my kids to know I care. I want them to know I have their backs”, says Coach Boc. The biggest thing he saw in Noble was “his heart”. He wants to show his staff and players the same thing. He wants them to know that he genuinely cares for them as people and players. He wants to focus on their lives beyond high school and find a college situation for all his players. These are lofty aspirations, however Coach Boc believes he can reach them if he can master the next most important thing he took from Noble: “his attention to detail”.

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The recently refurbished floor in the West Catholic Prep Gymnasium

It’s no surprise, assistant Coach Michaels, a 30 year coaching veteran, shares this respect for the details. “The importance of the little things”, as he puts it, could be seen in how diligently Michaels explained the nuances of post defense and offense to junior Naadhir Wood, a talented 6-7 forward. Wood and his teammates were receptive to the repeated tutelage. Michaels explains that he can be stern with them and hold them accountable because they know “what I’m all about.” They know he cares for them. He regards them like one of his own children. “They’re mine.”

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D1 prospect Samier Kinsler ’19

Coach Boc will rely on Wood’s deft post touch and the leadership and perimeter scoring of Samier Kinsler (6-0) and Imere Harris (5-11), an experienced backcourt tandem, to keep the team afloat as they learn to navigate the deep, rough waters of the Philadelphia Catholic League. Although half of the 12-man roster are seniors, the group still has to learn and grow together as the season goes along. Four juniors and just two freshman round out the varsity squad that wants to “get to the Palestra and go to States” according to Boc’s coach on the floor (COF), Kinsler.

But first they will “Take a breath. Relax. Reset.”

 

Assessing The Roman Empire

Will the sun set on the Roman Empire in 2019?

Nope…

Roman Catholic has long stood among the greatest scholastic basketball programs in Philadelphia and along the Eastern Seaboard. Mike Bantom, John Griffin, Zane Major, Dallas Comegys, Tarone Thorton, and Bernard Jones are some of names that come to mind when thinking of the Roman program in the late 60s, 70s, and 80s. The late great Eddie Griffin ushered in the new millennium at Broad and Vine. For decades, when one thought of the Catholic League, one thought of the Cahillites.

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Roman Catholic’s Eddie Griffin in the McDonald’s All-American Game

Oh every once in a while, someone like Rodney Blake would appear at Bonner and disrupt the established order. Comegys and Thorton just couldn’t get past Big Rod. But it always seemed that Roman could make an adjustment, find a player, do whatever it took to get back on top.

Til he appeared… He invaded from the south…

Sir Carl Arrigale of St. John Neumann appeared on the scene for the 1998-99 season. It took him just 36 months to win his first Catholic League title. He then proceeded to win 10 titles over the next 14 seasons.

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Neumann- Goretti Coach Carl Arrigale

For a decade and a half, the Roman Empire was sacked… Long live Sir Arrigale and the Saints…

The Cahillites grew increasingly frustrated… One could hear the whispers… They were circumspect about General Chris McNesby. While always in the mix, for years, he failed to capture the crown.

That is… Until he did!

Then he did it again and rode off on his stallion into the sunset… Just like John Elway, McNesby left as a two-time champion…

The Roman Empire was regaining it’s footing, back to back titles, and BOOM General McNesby retires…

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Former Roman Head Coach, Chris McNesby

The fuck?

In an instant, one of the most prestigious scholastic coaching jobs in America was available… Who?

Who would take the reigns?

Roman decided on a bright, young, energetic yet unproven assistant coach.

Matt Griffin… son a coach… brother of a coach… Was named Head Coach.

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Roman Catholic Coach, Matt Griffin

 

Immediately, the questions emerged… Is he ready? Can he manage a game? Can he recruit? Can he relate to the players?

His first year, a phalanx of Vikings arose from Warminster and scorched the landscape. Led by the brilliant Commander Gillespie and General Mosco, they crushed the competition while taking no prisoners.

But just as they did in earlier decades, the Roman Empire regrouped a year later. In a classic battle that came down to the final play, the Cahillites captured the Crown for the 3rd time in 4 years.

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Penn State commit, Seth Lundy ’19

Visiting the cramped Roman gymnasium today, one finds a battalion that appears ready to defend and perhaps expand the Roman Empire. The current roster features at least 5, maybe 6, Division 1 scholarship players. Penn State commit Seth Lundy ’19 is a top 100 talent at the SF/PF spot. St. Joseph’s commit Hakim Hart ’19 has a feathery soft jump shot with range out the NBA 3 point line at the SG/SF position. Lynn Greer ’20 is another top 100 level talent playing in the backcourt. Also in the backcourt is Justice Williams ‘22, a mercurial 6’3” freshman combo that plays with USA basketball. Manning the middle is 6’9” Jalen Duren ’22 a top 5 level talent in his class. Sheeeeeesh…..

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St. Joseph’s University commit, Hakim Hart

 

Combo guard Louis Wild ’19 is a scholarship level player, perhaps low D1 or high D2. Lightning quick Michael Anderson ’21 will catch the eye of scouts with his scoring and playmaking abilities. Athletic wing Gabe Perez ’19 will also play college basketball.

The Cahillites are loaded! Roman is LONG!. Roman is ATHLETIC! Roman has shooters. Roman has an elite rim protector.

In just under 2 weeks, they venture down to the nation’s capital where they will face two exceptionally strong and proud programs. The battles with Archbishop Carroll and DeMatha Catholic will give us an early read… Are the youngins ready for prime time?

Then on December 16, the Cahillites face Public Power, the nationally ranked Imhotep Panthers. This has the makings of the Philly high school Game of the Year.

Shit ‘bout to get real around here! Hoop Headz… Take Terrell Owens advice and “get your popcorn ready!”

Black Cager Sports looks forward to covering these exciting matchups!

Eric Dixon Previews Pennsbury’s Boys Basketball Season

By Eric Dixon 11/23/2018

The definition of winning for Coach Bill Coleman and his staff  has become fluid over the past 8 seasons at Pennsbury High School. The coach noted that although he has always appreciated the importance of his impact on the lives of his players, he realized some time ago that he needed to shift his focus from winning not just on the scoreboard to winning more in other areas of coaching as well.

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Coach Bill Coleman and Pennsbury Basketball Team

Player development and leadership training has worked its way to the forefront of the Bucks County program which is a perennial top 3 finisher in the Suburban One League (SOL) National Conference the last few years. Last year they finished 3rd with a 14-9 record before bowing to Bensalem in the first round of the District playoffs in disappointing fashion, coming up just 3 points shy against their inter-county rivals.

This flexibility in the understanding of winning is shared by long time assistant coach Gary Jones, also entering his ninth season at the school. “We want to win in every situation. We want to win on lose balls, we want to win” in how the team prepares, said Coach Jones. They also want to win in how they develop kids “Development is 100%” added the former LaSalle Explorer.

“We will not be outworked,” declared Coach Coleman, who is praised by his staff for his work ethic and commitment. “Outwork Everyone” is one of the coach’s primary tenets. As a staff, which also includes Pennsbury alum Adam Doan, who guides the JV team, they hope that they can impart to the team how important it is to work hard to succeed. That message seems to have reached senior team leader Gary Francis, a do-it-all 6-4 forward.

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Gary Francis

“I am taking things way more seriously, watching more film, talking to Coach more,” said Francis, adding that he’s been working hard to improve his ball-handling and shot creation as he prepares to take on a “way bigger role” for the Falcons. The well-built wing has lofty team goals that include bringing a National Conference title to the program in his final varsity campaign. The conference has been realigned, moving last year’s champion Abington out and William Tenent in.

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Collin Connor

In addition to Francis, Coleman will also lean on juniors Collin Connor and Kyrie Miller to provide leadership to his young team, which boasts just 2 seniors. Along with Connor, the staff is hoping 6-2 junior guard Cooper Arnold can provide floor spacing and create lanes for Francis and the mercurial Miller, a 5-10 speedster. Junior forward Charlie Nuschke, a lacrosse player, will be called upon to control the paint for the squad.

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Kyrie Miller

Luke Dellagratte, a heady 6-4 forward, is the only other senior on the team and will be looked upon to provide important rebounding and defense on a team that is challenged with an overall lack of size. However, what they lack in size they will make up for in effort and intensity, according to Coleman. “We will be defensive and disruptive,” he said. The team will also be “tough” says Coach Jones. “Resiliency is very important. It’s a common trait among great layers at all levels of the sport.”

“Devine” Intervention: Khalil Turner’s Philadelphia Story

Written by Khalil Turner

Family is supposed to protect you. The safest place in the world is with your family…

Isn’t it?

That is what I was always taught… In fact, I internalized and deeply believed that message.

Then real life intervened!

What happens when your family becomes a threat to your safety and well-being? I was truly unprepared for the moment I had to really face that situation head on.
Never had I felt that my safety and well-being were at risk… Never, ever… My older siblings, however, have not always agreed.

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Khalil Turner and his extended family

About three years ago, I was just starting my freshman year at Sankofa Freedom Academy Charter School. Finally, I was a “big boy.” I was a High School student filled with anticipation and eager to begin my academic and athletic journey, when a report was filed with the Sankofa counselor. This report stated that my sister and I were being “mistreated” at home.

More specifically, my siblings felt so strongly that our health and general well-being were at-risk that they decided to formally intervene. It was that bad. Looking back, I realize I lacked a frame of reference, I thought it was normal. I thought everyone struggled like we did… But my older siblings knew better and they came to the conclusion that my family was unable to adequately provide for and protect us.

A call was made…

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Khalil Turner and his older siblings during his LOI signing ceremony

Philadelphia’s Department of Human Services (DHS) is the county child welfare and juvenile justice agency. Their mission is to provide and promote safety, permanency, and well-being for children and youth at risk of abuse, neglect, and delinquency. Unbeknownst to me, our living situation definitely fell under their purview.

So… One day they just appeared… DHS was at my front door…

I had no comprehension of the concept, so I never imagined that I was “at-risk.”
I remember the DHS case workers making detailed observations of our living conditions… They literally looked in every crack and crevice of our family home. Everything was closely examined. Then, they conducted exhaustive interviews of my family members and came to a conclusion that would alter the trajectory of my life.

DHS concluded that our needs were not being adequately met. We had to be removed from the only home we ever knew.

What?!?! Foster care… Huh?

Now I knew my mother was struggling with some dependence and related mental health issues, but I never for a moment felt abused or neglected. I was just living day to day… But DHS determined otherwise. Citing a lack of structure and a paucity of resources in the household, they decided we had to leave our family home, for our own good.

Real life crept up on me real quick… My friends are worried about homework and playing Madden or NBA 2K on PlayStation… I’m just beginning my freshman year in high school and suddenly dealing with change and adversity of a magnitude I never imagine.

Honestly, at times, it was too much for me to bear…

Angry and frustrated, I had an immensely strained relationship with the family that DHS wanted me to move in with. It just wasn’t going to work. This I knew almost immediately.

I wanted to be with family… I wanted to be with people I love… I wanted to be with people I trust… DHS wanted me to live with total strangers.

I was scared… Then God intervened.

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Kobe Devine (foreground), Dayna Devine and Khalil Turner

He made it possible for me to live with my friend Kobe Devine and his parents Dayna and Barry Devine. Actually, there was no real plan. It kind of just happened. I would stay with the Devines when he had AAU basketball tournaments. Kobe’s Dad was my AAU coach and, logistically, it was just easier to be there than to have them worrying about picking me up and dropping me off. Eventually, I just decided to stay and not return to the “foster home” where the relations were strained.

Again… I thank God!

The Devine family members were angels sent from above in my time of need. This I am sure of. Nonetheless, it was initially awkward, while I loved the Devines they were not my “real” family. I was a young, insecure and scared boy. But this family was beyond patient and understanding with me. After a few months, the love and support overwhelmed me, Kobe became my “blood” brother and his parents became my parents as well. They made sure I felt welcomed. They were always asking me if I needed anything.

Before I knew it, I felt safe… Again. Now… It should be noted that this process wasn’t easy!

After moving into the Devine home, my life changed in so many ways. For the first time, I experienced unwavering family structure. There were limits, there were boundaries, there were rules… And, they were rigidly enforced. For the first time, I had to consistently deal with consequences of my actions and decisions.

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Khalil Turner and Dayna Devine

The first few months were rough because I had never really been subjected to discipline and structure. Immature and ignorant, I tried to balk and disagree when Kobe’s mom, Dayna, imposed the family structure on me. I didn’t want to hear it… I didn’t like being held accountable. I didn’t want to suffer the logical consequences of my actions. I would attempt to argue with her.

I was immature and unable to fully comprehend the blessing I was receiving.

Now, I fully understand how wrong and misguided I was.

Over time, I became increasingly respectful and considerate toward others because Kobe’s Mom and Dad were respectful and considerate toward me. I realized that they were preparing me to enter the world on my own.

Dayna Devine was my mentor, my teacher and my surrogate mother. The lessons and encouragement were non-stop. Several times a day, she would talk to me about the importance of respect, obedience and discipline. Within a few months, I began to internalize these values. She really led me through the process of becoming a more mature, responsible and accountable young man.

Every night, I would think to myself: how can I become a better man? How can I avoid the negative paths that so many of my neighbors, friends and family members have embarked upon? Every night, I would think about making my Mom and Kobe’s mom proud… I wanted to make sure they didn’t have to stress about paying for me to go to college.

After everything my family has endured, I still wanted to look out for my mother because I believe that family is still first. With the Devines in my life I am blessed to have an extended family added to the equation.

Since I began living with Kobe and the Devines, I had no choice other than to go hard in pursuit of my dreams and everything I love. I was determined to make my mother happy. I wanted to bring a smile to Dayna Devine’s face. I wanted an opportunity to continue my education and play college basketball at the Division 1 level.

Basketball is my love and I recognized that I could leverage my athletic ability to access college. As I progressed through high school, with the guidance of the Devines, I was able to see a light at the end of the tunnel.

I have tried to include Kobe every step of the way because he did not have to invite me into his family and his home. He is my brother and I love him. I thank him for helping me pursue my dreams and I will always stand with him as he pursues his dreams.

God had been incredibly good to me… Although I didn’t have a stable father in my life, I kept meeting men that were a positive and strong influence on me. Many men in the Philadelphia basketball community embraced me and helped cultivate my talent.

Then it happened…

I picked up my first Division 1 basketball scholarship offer from Hartford University. With this offer, it became tangible… It became real…

I could use basketball to attend college for free. There would be another offer… and another offer… and another offer…

No Sankofa student had ever received a Division 1 scholarship. This was huge for my school, my family, my friends and for me. More than anything else, it inspired me to work even harder. Receiving that first scholarship offer made me think that’s anything is possible. It also made me think about the support and protection I would need once I graduate from Sankofa. I chose Rider University because I know the Kevin Baggett (Head Coach), Dino Presley (Assistant Coach) and the other coaches will be there for me for the rest of my life.

As months and years went by, the drama of the DHS ordeal began to recede from the forefront of my thoughts. I began to truly believe that I was going to be something special in life. I was experiencing a great deal of success in the classroom and on the basketball court.

But, beneath the surface, the pain still lingers…

 

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Between his two mothers, Turner signs a Letter of Intent to attend Rider University

I recently signed a Letter of Intent to attend and play at Rider. After graduation from Sankofa, I will spend four years living, learning and playing on campus in Lawrenceville, NJ. But today I am still not living with my mother. Regrettably, she has not addressed or resolved her mental health and dependence issues to the satisfaction of DHS.

I love my mother, but I can’t focus on that right now I just have to keep working hard. I know she loves me and I pray she gets better soon. However, I am intensely focused on making both my biological and my extended families proud. These past few years have changed me. It was very hard at the beginning and has become a little easier everyday. I am happy that I have my good friend and brother, Kobe, in my life. I truly do not know where I would be at this moment if Kobe and the Devines did not accept me into their family. I know I wouldn’t have the protection and love that a family is supposed to provide.

I know I would not feel safe.