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When Black folk say they’re “doing it for the culture,” let’s be very clear, they mean Black culture. The phrase is a linguistic representation of an internalized Black self-defense mechanism. Black folk are always trying to preserve a culture that has been constantly co-opted by the same people who have historically oppressed us. Throughout American history, Blackness, and by extension, Black culture, has constantly been under siege. From the moment, more than 2 centuries ago, when they forbade Blacks from learning to read and write… White America, for the most part, has not wanted Black culture to exist.
Doing it for the culture is a way in which Black folk ensure they have something to pass on to future generations. Even if it’s something as simple as a basketball game. That game proves that we exist, that we existed.
Three years ago, Roman Catholic and Camden did it for the culture. This highly anticipated game was played at Cherry Hill East HS. It was a game for the ages. Camden was led by 6’9” Lance Ware and 6’8” TaQuan Woodley, both of whom committed to SEC programs upon leaving the Castle of the Hill. Also on this team was, 6’7” Jerome Brewer, another Division 1 prospect who ended up at Texas A&M Commerce. But, by far the most recognizable and intriguing player on that star-studded Camden roster was a precocious 6’3’ freshman named D.J. Wagner. Wagner is a 3rd generation high school All-American destined to play in the McDonald’s All-American game just like his Pop, Dajuan Wagner and Grandpop, Milt Wagner.
It should be noted that Coach Matt Griffin and Roman Catholic came across the bridge loaded for bear. On the block stood 6’9” man-child Jalen Duren who become an NBA lottery pick after leaving high school early and making a brief pit stop in Memphis to play 30 or so games for Penny Hardaway. On the wing, the Cahillites featured a 6’4” future SEC commit, Justice Williams. Two future St. Joseph’s Hawks made up the backcourt, 6’2” Lynn Greer III and 6’1” Xzayvier Brown.
This was a tremendous scholastic basketball game. Roman eked out a hard fought come from behind victory over a Camden squad that would not lose another game over the next two years.
It’s difficult to convey the tremendous thirst for this game at the time. The building was beyond sold-out… The overflowing crowd obliterated the Fire Marshall’s stated building capacity. Once they stopped admitting patrons through the front gate, they continued to pour in through broken windows, back doors, side doors, A/C ducts, sewer drains, etc…
I swear I saw a few dudes just appear out of thin air…
No bull shit… one dude that reeked of the strongest ganja known to mankind had some type of Star Trek transportation machine in his pocket. One after the other, he was converting Camden fans into an energy pattern, then somehow beaming them court side. I’m not making this up, the transporter device conveyed scores of Camden supporters from long lines extending deep into the parking lot to court side seats without the need for time-consuming stints in the elongated cue.
That’s my story… And, I’m sticking with it…
Muthafuckas were NOT going to be denied an opportunity to witness this game.
Camden and Roman Catholic did it for the culture!
Raw Sports’ exceptionally well-done YouTube video of the game (see above) has garnered over 102,000 views. The sheer number of views for this video demonstrates the immense interest in highly competitive basketball in the Greater Philadelphia/Camden region.
Hoopheads across the region, myself included, were deeply appreciative of the fact that these two Nationally prominent programs, located about 4 miles apart, found a way to make this game happen.
It had to happen… They had to do it for the culture…
Well… today, there’s an even bigger matchup on the horizon. Three years later, Camden remains an unquestioned regional powerhouse. However, another highly qualified challenger has, once again, forced it’s way onto the national scene.
Imhotep Charter School is in the midst of a historic run through the vaunted Philadelphia Public League. Whereas Camden re-emerged on the National scene three years ago with the arrival of young Wagner and Rick Brunson as the Head Coach, Imhotep is on an epic 15 year run of excellence.
Imhotep Head Coach, Andre Noble has more Public League Championships under his belt than the legendary Gratz coach Bill Elerbee. Think about this for a second… Noble has more Public League Championships than Joey Goldenberg (West Philadelphia) and Ken Hamilton (Ben Franklin) combined. For the past decade and a half, the Philadelphia Public League has essentially consisted of Imhotep and everyone else.
Noble and Imhotep definitely understand the importance of culture. Noble is a graduate of, The Lincoln University, the first degree granting Black College in the United States. Moreover, Imhotep is named after an Egyptian chancellor to the Pharaoh Djoser. Egyptologists credit Imhotep with the design and construction of the Pyramid of Djoser built in the 3rd Dynasty.
Basketball historians will credit Noble with the design and construction of, perhaps, the greatest dynasty in the history of the Philadelphia Public League.
While Wagner has spent the past few years firmly entrenched as the number 1 prospect in the class of 2023 national rankings, Imhotep’s magnificent 6’7” wing Justin Edwards has steadily climbed to the number 2 spot according to ESPN. A supremely gifted offensive talent, Edwards has already committed to John Calipari and the Kentucky Wildcats. Playing alongside Edwards, is 6’2” Ahmad Nowell a quintessential Philly point guard who is currently ranked #31 in the class of 2024 according to ESPN. Lightning quick 6’0” guard Rahmir Barno rounds out the big 3 for Imhotep. Barno recently committed to play for Florida Gulf Coast University and Head Coach Pat Chambers.
This game needs to happen… Camden and Imhotep have to do it for the culture!
Just a few weeks ago, it was leaked that an informal agreement to play had been reached… I lost my mind. I was ecstatic… Truth be told, Black Cager Sports has a strained relationship with both programs… Some within the respective programs would probably describe the relationship as acrimonious…
So what… Doesn’t matter… I ran out and bought some new clothes just for this game… Gotta be fresh…
My love for the game supersedes whatever personal animosity continues to linger. There are things that are way more important than childish “basketball beefs”. I want to see the kids in these program flourish… I want to see the programs continue to win state championships… I want to see the kids go on to play in college and beyond…
But… First and foremost, I want to see Camden and Imhotep settle the debates once and for all on the court.
It seems, however, that the aforementioned informal agreement to play is hanging on by the thinnest of threads…
As always, the devil is in the details…
Who gets what, where, when and how?
Apparently, there was some misinformation complicating the process. Some involved in the negotiations were under the impression that the game could not be held on the campus of an NCAA Division 1 program. That is simply not the case. In recent years, I have personally attended and watched a SOLD OUT game between St. Frances (MD) and Baltimore Poly (MD) on the campus of Morgan State University and another SOLD OUT game between St. Frances (MD) and Oak Hill (VA) on the campus of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC).
I sought guidance on this matter from Jill Bodensteiner, Vice President and Director of Athletics at Saint Joseph’s University. Ms. Bodenstiner provided the “Faculty Usage Chart” listed below. As you can see, It is permissible to host scholastic basketball events on campus at Division 1 institutions during the Academic year. It is NOT permissible to host scholastic camps/clinics on D1 campuses during the academic year.
This opens up the possibility of playing a Camden/Imhotep game at the Palestra on the campus the University of Pennsylvania, the Liacouras Center on the campus of Temple University or the Finneran Pavilion on the campus of Villanova University. With seating capacities ranging from 6,500 to 10,000, these facilities will alleviate the need for Camden fans to bring their transportation machines to gain entry. They can just purchase a ticket and stroll through the front door.
Some other venues that may make sense include Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City which has a seating capacity of 10,500, the PPL Center in Allentown (8,500 seats) and Cure Arena in Trenton (8,600).
Each of these venues would jump at the opportunity to host a slate of competitive high school games with Camden/Imhotep as the headliners.
Finding an appropriate venue isn’t a real barrier.
Perhaps, the REAL issue is the “purse split”…
What is an appropriate split for a Camden/Imhotep matchup?
Black Cager Sports reached out to six (6) knowledgeable high school basketball guys and asked that very question. No one thought a 50/50 split was in order.
While they all expressed nothing but the highest level of respect for the Imhotep program and their ability to compete at the highest level, they noted that Imhotep just doesn’t draw well and they don’t travel well.
They attribute the lack of drawing power to the fact that Imhotep is still a very young school and they don’t have generations of alums to draw upon. Moreover, Imhotep is a charter school and as such it does not really represent a specific neighborhood or geographic region.
Camden, on the other hand, has fielded a highly competitive basketball program for more than seven (7) decades. Camden can sell 2,000 tickets to games where they are favored by forty (40) or more. As tough as Edwards is, Wagner and Aaron Bradshaw are bigger draws.
The suggested splits ranged from 80/20 to 60/40. They all felt 60/40 would be generous on Camden’s behalf.
Would Imhotep be willing to accept anything less than a 50/50 split? I don’t know…
I do know Ali got $3,000,000 and Frazier got $1,500,000 for the “Thrilla in Manilla”…
Camden = Ali and Imhotep = Frazier.
If the game was played at the Liacouras Center and properly marketed, I am convinced it would sell out.
10,000 tickets @ $15 each = $150,000
I understand that the kids want to play on ESPN, but that would be tantamount to signing a record deal. Camden and Imhotep could stream the game on pay-per-view. Properly marketed, especially in the state of Kentucky, such a PPV event should draw at least 8,000 viewers.
8,000 views @ $10 each – $80,000
Let’s conservatively set game day expenses at $50,000… Set aside $10,000 for streaming expenses…
$230,000 – $60,000 = $170,000
25% of $170,000 = $42,500
Anything in that ball park would be a nice payday for any Philadelphia Public League HS program, especially with no real travel, hotel, meal costs involved.
The “problem” is the other guys would see around $127,500… Joe Frazier didn’t mind… He did it for the culture… (and $1.5 million)
A less feasible alternative put forth by a reliable source close to the Camden program is to play the game for free. Identify sponsors to cover venue costs and let fans in for free. Neither program makes any money.
Play for strictly for pride and the name on the front of the jersey.
Would Imhotep be willing to play if neither program makes any money? I don’t know…
The road to the college basketball in the mid-Atlantic region goes through Black Cager. In addition to counseling and advising top players like Zack Hicks (Temple) and Anquan Hill (St. Bonaventure). A substantial number of the mid-Atlantic region’s players participating in NCAA Division 1 and Division 2 basketball have taken part in at least one Black Cager Fall Classic, a premier showcase for elite high school basketball talent held this year in Allentown, Pennsylvania.
Current NBA rookies Jalen Duren (Pistons), Jordan Hall (Spurs), Collin Gillespie (Nuggets) and Izaiah Brockington (Pelicans) are Fall Classic alums. College Stars Ace Baldwin (VCU), Jamir Watkins (VCU), Donta Scott (Maryland), Hakim Hart (Maryland), Eric Dixon (Villanova), Nnanna Njoku (Villanova), Taquan Woodley (UMass), Rahsool Diggins (UMass), Hysier Miller (Temple), Jay Heath (Arizona State), Ricky Lindo (George Washington), Justin Moore (Drexel), Lucas Monroe (Penn), Aaron Lemon-Warren (Delaware State), Christian Tomasco (Hofstra), Lynn Greer III (St. Joseph’s), Naheem McLeod (Florida State), Jermiah Bembry (Florida State), Dahmir Bishop (FGCU), Blaise Vespe (FGCU), Jaylen Stinson (Merrimack) and Jalen Carey (Rhode Island) are just a few of the scholarship recipients the tournament has produced.
With advent of Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) legislation and policy changes, student-athletes are in position to earn levels of compensation their predecessors could only dream about. Black Cager Sports recognizes the need to help high school participants better understand the NIL marketplace. Black Cager Sports wants to help high school athletes navigate “the new normal”.
Toward that end, EVERY one of the more than 700 student-athletes participating in the 2022 Fall Classic will be eligible to participate in the Black Cager NIL Cyber-Symposium on Thursday, October 13, 2022 at 7:00 pm.
This panel will discuss the current state of name, image and likeness (NIL) a year into the “new normal.” This panel will examine the challenges faced by athletes, athletic departments and conferences as they navigate the continually changing landscape. The panel will discuss financial opportunities, legal and regulatory landscape of NIL, and the changes that have occurred since the NIL marketplace opened last year.
Additonally, EVERY one of the more than 700 student-athletes participating in the 2022 Fall Classic will be eligible to participate in the eight (8) week Black Cager Fall Classic First Generation Investors (FGI) Program.
Through the FGI Program student-athletes will learn about finance & investing. Topics include: a. Personal finance (banking, credit, etc.) b. The stock market c. Portfolio management d. The Power of Compounding
Black Cager participants completing the 8 week program will make investments using real funds ($100) provided by generous FGI donors.
The Black Cager Fall Classic, in addition to being a premier scholastic basketball event, has evolved into an immersive multi-week educational, professional development experience and gathering place for college bound high school athletes and some of college sports’ most important stakeholders to share cutting-edge ideas, discover new interests, and learn how to maximize NIL opportunities to build their brands and amplify their voices.
Whether it’s hearing from the some of the foremost college athlete endorsers, being inspired by their favorite pro-athlete turned business mogul, or having the opportunity to collaborate with like-minded professionals who want to shape the future of college athletics, high school student-athletes participating in all aspects of the Fall Classic will be equipped with the knowledge and relationships necessary to leverage their influence to create a better future for themselves and their communities.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org Tuesday, August 30th, 2022
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
School starts next week and Scott is anxious rejoin his teammates and prepare for the upcoming season with new coach Kevin Willard.
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.
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 wasBlumberg’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…
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…