The HS Hoops Experience: Philly vs Baltimore

There is a huge demand for high quality basketball… Hoopheads want to watch talented players in tightly contested games… On one hand, elite high school programs throughout the mid-Atlantic region are delivering… On the other hand, College programs? Not so much…

In recent weeks, Black Cager Sports has covered some of the finest scholastic basketball America has to offer. We were courtside for Camden vs Roman Catholic, Neumann-Goretti vs Roman Catholic, Reading vs Wilson West Lawn, Archbishop Wood vs Roman Catholic, Neumann-Goretti vs Archbishop Wood, Camden vs Roselle Catholic and Poly (MD) vs St. Frances (MD).

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Rahsool Diggins defended by Hysier Miller. Photo Credit: Mark Jordan, Raw Sports

These were wonderful games featuring highly ranked players. Nearly every contest featured a few HIGH major Division 1 prospects and, in some cases, as many as 10 or 11 low to mid-major D1 prospects were on the floor at the same time.

The strong thirst for high level basketball is evidenced by the insatiable demand for tickets to these games. There was, literally speaking, not any empty seat available for any of these contests. The Camden/Roman game, Reading/Wilson game and Philadelphia Catholic League games were sold out within hours of the tickets being made available.

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Hakim Bryd defended by Jaylen Stinson. Photo Credit: Mark Jordan, Raw Sports

The fact that tickets were NOT available only served as a slight deterrent to dedicated and determined Philadelphia area hoopheads. It merely added an element of creativity to the mission… They showed up anyway looking for a side door, a window, a heating duct… Any possible means of ingress. When all else fails, some deploy a high powered ‘blitz’ that hasn’t been seen round these parts since the departure of legendary Eagles coach Buddy Ryan.

Shit is that serious… Tickets to elite HS school basketball tickets move like Popeye’s chicken sandwiches when they first return to the menu.

I absolutely love packed gyms, highly ranked teams, intense rivalries and good players. This is basketball as it was meant to be played. The high schools have it in abundance.

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Anthony Hoggard seated courtside for Camden vs Roselle Catholic at Neumann University

Philadelphia area colleges, for the most part, are not delivering a product of similar quality. The Big 5 has become almost an afterthought to all but the most dedicated alums. There is one exception of course, Villanova exists on a separate planet. The Wildcats have watched their blood change from red to blue over the last ten years or so. Thier ascent has been accompanied by an ever expanding cadre of front runners joinging the Main Line movement.

The rest are struggling mightily… After a solid start, Temple is 10-9 (2-5) and sit in 10th place in American Athletic Conference. La Salle also had a decent non-conference run and came back to earth once league play began. The Explorers are also 10-9 (1-6) and currently in 13th place in the A10. Last year’s Big 5 champion Penn Quakers are floundering at 8-7 (0-2 in the Ivy League). After seven league games, St. Joseph’s finds itself 7 games out of first place in the A10. The Hawks are 4-16 (0-7) on the season.

Outside of Villanova, the college basketball landscape in Philly barren…

Predictably, fans have been avoiding the Liacouris, Gola and Hagan arenas in droves. Even the fabled Palestra is more than half empty most nights. Meanwhile, true hoopheads have been climbing on top of one another for an opportunity to watch the finest high school teams in the area. As I noted earlier, people really want to see good competitive basketball game between strong and familiar teams featuring good players.

While high school basketball is very popular throughout the mid-Atlantic region, there are some significant and noticeable regional differences worth mentioning. It’s all good, but there are some decidedly different flavors…

Here, I’ll touch on a few variations that exist between elite high school basketball in Baltimore, Maryland and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

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Rodney Veney, Philly Pride Co-Director at Wood vs Neumann-Goretti

First up, the venues… In Philadelphia, games featuring 10-12 D1 prospects are often played in HS gyms with a maximum capacity of 600-800 spectators. To their credit, school administrators usually turn a blind eyes to those maximum capacity certificates hanging on the walls. As much as humanly possible, they try to accommodate the hungry and thirsty fanbase. They sell tickets til it just not possible to fit more human beings into the gyms. As a result, in most games, there is not a single free square foot of space in the gym that is NOT dedicated to the actual game.

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Neumann-Goretti fans along the baseline during the Roman Catholic game

Referees are constantly tasked with gently reminding overzealous and passionate throngs to give the kids just a lil’ space so they can inbounds the ball along the baseline. Fully engaged fans can be found breathing down the necks of the players who can literally discern what fans had for lunch or whether they smoked ‘loud’ or ‘Reggie’ in the parking lot.

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Lynn Greer, III along baseline during warmups at Archbishop Wood

It’s an intense atmosphere for sure… For a lil’ over two hours on game days, Roman, Wood and Neumann-Goretti gyms are packed tighter than slave ships traversing the Atlantic in the early 1800’s. The sheer number of excited, energetic and highly emotional humans easily overwhelms the climate control systems in these decades old facilities.

They get HOT as shit. By the 4th quarter, they feel like an oven set on ”HELL!”

Loyal fans happily endure the momentary discomfort… What are they gonna do? Where are the alternatives? Are they gonna go watch college games featuring losing teams with players from countries, counties and towns they can’t pronounce?

Naaaaah… Philly hoopheads wanna see Philly Ballers!

In Baltimore, big HS games are played in Division 1 facilities. Last year, big games were played in Towson’s SECU Arena which seats 5,200. Yesterday, I attended the St. Frances v Poly game at the 4,000 seat Talmadge L. Hill Field House on the campus of Morgan State University

 

 

 

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St. Frances Academy supporters

They have it figured out…

In Philadelphia, one constantly hears that you cannot play high school games in Division 1 facilities. In Baltimore, One can constantly attend high school games played in Division 1 facilities.

What gives? We’ll try to clear up the discrepancy and report back to you…

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St Frances Coach, Nick Myles, paces the sideline in front of overflowing capacity crowd

Every single seat was filled well before tip-off at the Hill Field House yesterday. Indeed, there were still hundreds in a line to purchase tickets that wrapped around the arena 15 minutes before tip-off. Just like in Philadelphia, the authorities didn’t pay close attention to that pesky maximum capacity certificate hanging in plain view.

Get this… The price of admission was $20 for a boys and girls doubleheader. Using “old” math skills I learned in the early 1970s, 4,000 times $20 equals a gate of about $80,000. In contrast, Camden High School home games cost $3. If Camden attract 1,000 fans to Woodrow Wilson HS the game will generate $3,000.

Maybe that why high schools in Maryland are able to afford shot clocks…

That’s another major difference between the brand of basketball played in Baltimore and that played in Philadelphia.

The presence of the 30 second shot clock changes the game.

Coaches are forced to really coach down the stretch.

Good defense is immediately rewarded.

Perhaps, most importantly, players learn to play under conditions they will face for the rest of their playing careers.

Indeed, I haven’t seen a persuasive argument AGAINST shot clocks in basketball… Ever…

There’s one more difference between HS hoops in the Philly and Baltimore that’s worthy of discussion. The cultural feel varies considerably…

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Neumann-Goretti Senior Star PG Hakim Byrd. Photo Credit: Mark Jordan, Raw Sports

The very best Philadelphia High School games have an old-school Big 5 feel to them. The hard-core hoophead alums of Roman, Wood and Neumann-Goretti for the most part are middle-aged white males. These guys are fervent supporters of the young men  currently playing for their alma maters. It’s a wonderful thing to see diverse crowds coming together to share a scholastic basketball experience.

High quality Catholic League basketball games are, arguably, the most diverse regularly scheduled gatherings in Philadelphia.

It’s a beautiful thing and it portends well for the role that sports can have in building and maintaining a semblance of unity in a city of racially stratified neighborhoods. Catholic League basketball in Philadelphia is truly a multicultural and multiracial phenomena.

The very best high school basketball in Baltimore is much different…

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A section of fans at the Poly vs St, Frances game on Saturday

Games featuring the top teams and players have a decidedly HBCU homecoming feel to them. The alums, are Black, the fans are Black, the cheerleaders are Black, the ticket takers are Black, the security guards are Black, the athletic Directors are Black, the coaches are Black, the vendors are Black… Yesterday, there were well over 4,000 people in the Hill Field House and I might have seen a total of 10-12 white people.

 

It’s a wonderful thing to see Black people coming together to share a scholastic basketball experience. The manner in which people greet one another… The chants… The cheers… The food at concession stands… Everything is different when it’s done by Blacks for Blacks.

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Angel Reese, St Frances Academy (MD), 2020 McDonald’s All-American

Every so often, I would sneak glance at the door… I was waiting for Avon, Slim Charles, Bodie Broadus and Wee Bey... How would they get past the metal detectors? Then I remembered Wee Bey is still upstate with Chris Partlow’s homicidal ass and Bodie is dead. So, I just watched a helluva high school basketball game.

St. Frances, led by their outstanding senior point guard, Ace Baldwin (VCU commit) 13 points, 8 assists and 5 steals, defeated No. 1 and nationally ranked Poly, 57-53.  Senior forward Jamal West (South Alabama commit) contributed 15 points and 11 rebounds in the victory over Poly, which was led by Marquette commit Justin Lewis (18 points) and Brandon Murray (15 points).

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St. Frances Coach Nick Myles and Team Melo Director Julian Brown in Hill Field House

As usual, the hospitality shown to Black Cager Sports was beyond reproach. Team Melo Directors Bay Frazier, Julian Brown (pictured, above right) and St. Frances Academy Head Coach, Nick Myles always make sure Black Cager Sports feels right at home in the Charm City. The Baltimore HS basketball experience is not necessarily better than that of Philadelphia, but it certainly is different, very different.

Man… If we can get these colleges back on track…

 

Hysier Miller Leads Neumann-Goretti to Win Over Wood!

“I’m gonna bust his ass ALL night!”

“Bum ass nigga!”

That was the chatter on the court in the first quarter of the matchup between the two BEST teams in the BEST scholastic high school league in America.

Lots of disrespectful shit was said… Especially among the guards… I LOVE it!

Philly ain’t for everybody… I had to park damn near at the navy Yard… the gym was on broil… seats were unavailable… the ONLY way to get tickets was to see my man and ’em outside in the parking lot and pay well above face value…

I keep saying it… I don’t know if people are truly appreciating what we have here… This is the Golden Age… In ten years, we will be talking about the games being played this year.

Tonight’s game between the visiting Archbishop Wood Vikings and Neumann-Goretti Saints featured 10 starting players that will ALL receive Division 1 basketball scholarships. It was, in effect, a D1 game in that overcrowded HOT ass lil’ gym on 10th street. The quality of play was exceedingly high. Especially among the Philly guards…

It’s no secret, the Philadelphia Catholic League features some of the finest backcourt players in America. The coaches face a unique challenge every game. Last week, for example, Neumann-Goretti faced Roman Catholic and Head Coach Carl Arrigale had to devise a plan for dealing with one such HIGH major prospect, namely, Lynn Greer, III.

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Lynn Greer, III, Roman Catholic PG

Some coaches spend countless hours reviewing film, scheming, planning, plotting and designing special contingencies for containing high major players like Greer.  Arrigale takes a decidedly different approach. Greer came into the game with a heavy rep… He has played exclusively on the EYBL… He participated in USA Basketball… He has been offered scholarships by Nebraska (Big 10), Georgia (SEC), Wake Forest (ACC), Miami (ACC), Iowa (Big 10), Marquette (Big East), UNLV (Mountain West), Florida (SEC) St. Joseph’s (A10), Penn State (Big 10) and Temple (AAC) among others.

A very capable offensive player, Greer is capable of dropping 30 or even 40 on a given night. He is able to score from all three levels. He gets to the rim, he pulls up for mid-range jumpers and he knocks down threes… So what was Arrigale’s strategy? How would Neumann-Goretti deal with Greer?

“Fabe… you got him.”

That’s good fucking coaching right there! No double teams… No traps… No zones…

“Fabe… you got him.”

It worked as Miller (16 points) more than held his own against Greer (17 points) and Neumann-Goretti escaped with a 77-69 win in double overtime.

Tonight Neumann-Goretti faced yet another high major guard… Rahsool Diggins is the MAN right now. In a city known for producing high quality point guards, Diggins has assumed the throne. In a game against Roman Catholic last weekend, Matt Griffin exhibited a tremendous amount of respect for Diggins. Whenever, he crossed half court with his dribble still alive, Roman ran a second defender at him. Indeed, they double teamed Diggins throughout much of the game.

Deploying this strategy, Roman ‘held’ Diggins to 28 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists in a one point, 94-93 loss to Wood.

Diggins is a bona fide HIGH MAJOR prospect. An EYBL stalwart, he holds offers from Seton Hall (Big East), Miami (ACC), UConn (Big East), Wake Forest (ACC), St. Louis (A10), Florida (SEC), UMass (A10), Xavier (A10), Virginia Tech (ACC) and La Salle (A10) are just some of his suitors. Earlier this season, he lit up Duke’s 5 star PG commit Jeremy Roach for 26 in a 7 OT loss.

Lil’ Sool is a fuckin’ problem… He gives opponents fits… He’s exceptional in clear out situations where he creates space with wicked crossovers and in and out moves… He’s perhaps the best in the city at running pick and rolls… He often finds Daeshon Shepard and/or Muneer Newton for easy alley oop scoring opportunities… He’s deadly from three, especially in crunch time… So what was Arrigale’s strategy? How would Neumann-Goretti deal with Lil’ Sool?

“Fabe… you got him.”

That’s good fucking coaching right there! No double teams… No traps… No zones…

“Fabe… you got him.”

So… Who is Fabe? Standing a chiseled 6’2” Hysier “Fabe” Miller is a defensive specialist with a strong and varied offensive repertoire. He transferred from Martin L. King, Jr. Neumann-Goretti this past summer. He has spent the first month and half of the current season firmly establishing himself as one of the premier guards in the Catholic League and the Greater Philadelphia region.

It should, however, be noted that Fabe’s not new to this… for the past few years, Miller has honed his skills playing for Harold Mackey Boswell and WER1 in the summer and Sean Colson and Martin L. King, Jr. HS in the Public League. He put in work far away from glaring spotlight. While Greer and Diggins were entrenching themselves as HIGH MAJOR prospects on the EYBL and in Catholic League, Miller toiled away on the UAA and in the PUB.

Every night, he trudged back home to Wilson Park.

A highly productive guard for Colson, Miller was not on the radar screen of Division 1 coaches until very recently. Since the onset of the new year, Rider University (MAAC) and Wagner College (NEC) have offered him scholarships. These are his first two Division 1 offers. It’s safe to assume that he will garner much more attention going forward. After his performance tonight, one of the Big 5 programs made it clear that they would love to have him.

Rather than spoil the moment for Miller, we won’t reveal the school until they are able to tell him in person.

The coach said he needs to get ‘tougher guards’ and Miller fits the bill.

That’s good fucking coaching… Fabe from Wilson Park is ‘tough’ and highly skilled!

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Hysier Miller speaks with Michael Starling, Raw Sports after win over Wood

Tonight, he played the very best point guard in the city head up and held him to 15 while scoring 24. As the clock ran out and the final buzzer sounded, Miller forcefully pounded to the ball into the ground sending it bouncing high into the rafters, signaling satisfaction with both his performance and the important Catholic League win.

That was his understated way of talkin’ shit! I heard it loud and clear… I LOVE it!

The HIGH major boys haven’t discovered the kid from Wilson Park yet… But, Big 5 programs have started to take notice.

Miller has squarely situated himself in any discussion of the best guards in the area. To their credit, Mackey Boswell and Sean Colson have been saying for more than a year now.

Stinson, Diggins & Mosco: My Homies!

Upon arriving at the Archbishop Wood gym for the highly anticipated Vikings matchup with Roman Catholic, I warmly greeted Marvin Stinson and Rahsool Diggins, Sr. seated, as usual, front row center court. You know… The usual dap, half hug that brothers do… These guys are my homies… Most people know that I rock with these guys and ride hard for their sons. I haven’t written much about them because of these relationships. When I write about their boys, I want it to be on the heels of something major! I don’t want it to feel forced. I didn’t want anyone to comment that he only wrote that because they are his guys… I told Marv and Big Sool I wanted to write about their boys… I asked them to “give me a storyline.”

Maaaaan listen…

There are times when journalistic objectivity is important. Sports ‘journalists’ strive to avoid overt partiality. It matters… Objectivity in sports journalism allows the audience make up their own mind about a story. True journalists provide the facts alone and then let readers interpret those on their own. To maintain objectivity, sports writers should present the facts whether or not they like or agree with those facts. Objective sports reporting portrays issues and events in a neutral and unbiased manner, regardless of the writers opinion or personal beliefs.

This is NOT one of those times… That’s NOT what this piece is… FUCK that!

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John Huggins, Wood Assistant Coach

I can’t pretend to be objective… I’m not neutral… I damn sure ain’t unbiased!

I like Archbishop Wood’s Basketball Program… A LOT!

Full disclosure… I like Tommy Funk… I like Matt Cerruti… I like Collin Gillespie… I like Tyree Pickron… I like Seth Pinkney… I like Karrington Wallace… I like Andrew Funk… I like Daeshon Shepard… I like Muneer Newton… I like Rob Jackson… I like Marcus Randolph… I like Chris Roantree… I like John Huggins

But, the reason I cannot even make an attempt to be objective here is because I LOVE Jaylen Stinson, Rahsool Diggins and John Mosco… These are my guys…

I was watching high school basketball games with Jaylen Stinson waaaaay back in 2009-2010. His first cousin, Carrington ‘Murc’ Ward is one of my all-time favorite Philly guards. Jaylen’s mother, Melissa Ward and Carrington’s Dad, Vince Ward are brother and sister. These are my people… I watched Carrington grow to be one of the best guards of his era. He finished his high school career, playing for James ‘Flame’ Lewis, at Philadelphia Electrical & Technology Charter High School in 2011 after spending his first two high school seasons at Communications Tech. Lewis, Ward, Devonte Chance and Hakeem Baxter led PET to 26 wins his senior year, to the District 12 AAA final and to the second round of the AAA state playoffs. They were damn good.

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Jaylen Stinson & Melissa Ward (mother) circa 2009

I went to most games. Each and every time I entered the gym, I would see a 7 or 8 year old boy intently focused on the action. Jaylen was serious… Very serious about his hoops… I would always ask ” you working on your game”? He would always respond in the affirmative. I would ALWAYS make sure to tell him, “I can’t wait to see you play Varsity High School basketball.”

His father, my homie Marvin, is a highly respected Philadelphia basketball guy. A very, very good player at Dobbins Tech and subsequently Norfolk State, he is best known these days at the founder/director of the Bottom Ballers Basketball Club and Head Coach of the Boy’s Basketball team at Audenreid HS.

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Marvin Stinson, Audenried Head Coach

The Bottom Ballers is renowned for producing Philly guards that are fearless, aggressive, unselfish and extremely competitive. Yazid Powell, Sam Sessoms, Booty Butler, Hakim Byrd and Jaylen Stinson are just a few of the prominent Philly guards that have come through this cauldron while in middle school. They work out of the James L. Wright Recreation Center at 3320 Haverford… They work out of the “Bottom.”

Pick any weekend in the summer… Make sure the temperature is at least 90 degrees and you can be sure to find Marvin and the Bottom Ballers in the Wright Center on a hardwood floor in need of refinishing, playing HARD as shit… I would always visit and see 11, 12 and 13 year old Jaylen playing against much bigger guards and leading with his chin and his chest! For the longest time, he was undersized… Jaylen was just a little guy… But his character and his heart allowed him to play up and compete… Like every guard that comes through the Bottom Ballers, Jay plays the point guard position the right way… Push the ball… Make the extra pass… Don’t turn it over… Most importantly, play some FUCKIN’ defense!

I love the Bottom Ballers… I have referred family members to the program. It was evident early on that some of the Bottom Ballers would be Division 1 basketball players. Indeed, as far as I was concerned, some were ‘can’t miss’. Before Sam Sessoms was ‘Sam Sessoms’ and while Jaylen was just finishing the 6th grade, I took them on their first unofficial visit in the Spring of 2014 to see Phil Martelli and Geoff Arnold at St. Joseph’s University.

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Bottom Ballers alum Sam Sessoms, Binghamton University

Both of these Bottom Ballers are highly intelligent scholar-athletes. Sam went on to become ‘Sam Sessoms’ and dominate scholastic basketball in the region while attending highly regarded Shipley High School. Since then, he’s become the best player in the America East Conference at Binghamton University. Jaylen likewise enrolled at a prestigious academic high school (Haverford School) and played for Bernie Rogers before transferring to Archbishop Wood to play for John Mosco in the vaunted Philadelphia Catholic League.

Upon learning that he was transferring to Wood, I called John Mosco bursting with excitement. I knew things were about to get crazy. I knew what Jaylen could do and I watched Collin Gillespie become the consensus best point guard in Philadelphia under Mosco’s tutelage. Teaming Stinson with Rahsool Diggins, Jr. in a high school backcourt is borderline unfair. While Stinson is a potent offensive player with a tight handle and strong mid-range game, he may be the best on ball defender we’ve seen in the area since Josh Sharkey terrorized opposing point guards at Carroll. Partnering him with Rahsool Diggins made perfect sense.

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Rahsool Diggins, the best HS point guard in Philadelphia

Diggins is an offensive virtuoso. His vision is unparalleled… Like Gillespie before him, he sees everything. His mind is always a couple steps ahead of everyone else on the court. Like Stinson, Diggins was slight when he left middle school and entered high school. Those days are long gone… Lil’  Sool is a 6’3” inch athletic point guard with a feathery soft jump shot. He is able to get absolutely anywhere he wants to go on the court. He simply leads the defender where wants and viciously changes direction. At all times, his eyes are focused on the pieces moving around on the chess board. Some shit is just obvious…

Rahsool Diggins, Jr. is the BEST HS point guard in Philadelphia… He sits on the throne!

More than any player currently playing in Philadelphia, Lil’ Sool has his finger on the pulse of his team. When they need a play… When he feels it slipping away… When it’s absolutely go time… He delivers. In one crucial moment tonight (pictured below), Diggins went right at the imposing Jalen Duren, absorbed the contact and finished with a soft left handed kiss off the glass… Sweet and a HUGE fuckin’ bucket for the team.

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Diggins attacking the basket and Jalen Duren. Photo Credit: Kathy Leister Photography

Just like Stinson’s Dad… Rahsool’s Dad is MY homie… Over the past year, I have had the pleasure of calling Big ‘Sool at least 15 times to tell him a college basketball coach wanted to offer his son a scholarship. Big East, A10, ACC, Big 10, SEC… they all want to know what’s going on with Lil’ Sool… So, I tell them…

“Get with his Pop! Good dude..”

That’s the way things should take place…

The fact that these TWO Division 1 point guards are playing EXTREMELY WELL for John Mosco and Archbishop Wood should be enough for college recruiters. That fact alone should make them highly desired by A10, Big East, CAA, even ACC programs. Mosco knows how to prepare guards for the next level.

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Tommy Funk, Army, All-Patriot League

Have we forgotten that Mosco gave college basketball Tommy Funk and Collin Gillespie? With half a season remaining in his college career, Funk has 1,267 points and 626 assists. He will go down as one of the finest point guards in Army history. Gillespie has racked up 770 points and 207 assists while assuming the reigns of one of the top 4 college basketball programs in the nation.

It’s safe to say the John Mosco has a strong track record of producing college ready point guards. Mosco’s guards are super-aggressive while also playing the right way. He relies heavily on his guards to make the correct decisions. His temperament is perfect for high school basketball. He’s demanding, yet not overbearing. He gives his guys tremendous levels of responsibility, but only after fully preparing them for their assignments.

It’s a joy to watch… Wood is a Boys Basketball power… Let that sink in… They are Ballin’ in Warminster! John Mosco is getting it done. Didn’t see that coming a decade ago…

In today’s victory, Stinson and Diggins made big play after big play to defeat visiting Roman in an instant classic matchup. Wood was in control throughout most of the game, then the uber-talented Roman youngins imposed themselves on Wood in the fourth quarter to close the gap and take the lead. Specifically, Jalen Duren (34 points) made some wonderful plays in transition. On consecutive possessions, he dribbled the ball up court, drew the defenders and make perfect passes to teammate in position to finish at the basket.

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Roman Catholic Super Sophomore Power Forward Jalen Duren

It’s truly hard to wrap your mind around the fact that he is a high school sophomore. He will dunk on 99.9999999% of grown men walking the face of the earth and then need a ride home before it gets too late… Make no mistake… This youngin’s ability to attack and defend the rim is GROWN as shit! One could envision him watching SpongeBob Sqarepants and then putting on his Nikes and dunking over the top of Al Horford or Javale McGee.

I’m 55 years old, I have him as the most powerful dunker I have seen play in Philadelphia since the late great Darryl Dawkins and Sir Charles Barkley. The scary part is that he is showing a little more versatility every time he laces ’em up. Tonight he showed that he can dribble and pass under extreme duress… Yup!

Justice Williams (32 points) is also growing by leaps and bounds. He was OUTSTANDING in pressure situations. He made exceptional decisions. He finished at the rim. He took care of the ball. He made EVERY big free throw with the game on the line. High, high major prospect for sure!

Duren and Williams are among the finest high school players in America. If Roman Catholic is going to contend for another Catholic League and State title, the youngins will have to lead the way. Those guys are better than good. Much better… They are very much deserving of their National Rankings. Their time to take the reigns is now.

But tonight… Stinson, Diggins, Daeshon Shepard and Wood got that ass! Just when many thought Wood was letting it slip away in the first overtime, Stinson received the inbounds pass, bounced it once, stepped slightly to the side and let it fly from deep in the corner… SPLASH!

Shit ain’t over!

I told him in 2010, that I would be there to watch him play varsity basketball. Tonight, I stood about 20 feet away from him as the ball left his hand. Like I said, I can’t pretend to be objective. I was there when he received his first Division 1 scholarship offer. I’ll be there whenever he announces his destination. That’s my people…

Recently, Howard Hudson and I rode 6 hours each way with Big Sool and Lil’ Sool as they visited Virginia Tech. During the trip, I conceded that Lil’ Sool is finally taller than I am. I also told him I looked forward to big things from him this year. My expectations have been exceeded and we only about halfway through this thing.

I remember being astonished to learn that Collin Gillespie only had an offer from Albany while he was literally mopping the floor with some of the best guards in the state and the nation. After a little public relations campaign, his recruitment finally reached a tipping point… Rider, Drexel, Delaware, St. Joseph’s and host of others jumped in within days of each other. Eventually, Big Daddy Jay Wright from the mainline came in an shut shit down… It worked out well for everyone.

Villanova and Temple haven’t deemed Rahsool Diggins worthy of a scholarship offer yet. Both of those schools plus St. Joseph’s, La Salle and Drexel have yet to be convinced that Jaylen Stinson is scholarship worthy. I find myself astonished yet again.

Next Friday, they travel to the Southside of the city to face some other overlooked Philly guards. Neumann-Goretti’s Hak Byrd, Hysier Miller and Chris Evans have yet to garner scholarship offers commensurate with their basketball abilities.

Me… I’d bet the house that John Mosco’s guards and the Neumann-Goretti kids can play and play well for those programs. And… I suspect they would sell a few tickets to 2,000-3,000 of my closest friends as a bonus… I’m just sayin’.

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Jaylen Stinson addresses the media after big win.  Photo Credit: The Miller Report

Marv and Big Sool… Thanks for the storyline!

Boo Farmer… Mayo, ketchup, fried onions and hot peppers… American Cheese, NONE of that cheese wiz bullshit!

Kev Sanchez… See you Friday Bro!