The Traci Carter Show

I love Traci Carter… So should you!

He is a quintessential Philly point guard. Yet, Philly has only had fleeting glances of his game… That is about to change in a MAJOR way.

Why has he rarely appeared on the Philly stage? Well is a long story…

Like hundreds of great, very good and even some not so good South Philadelphia ballers that came before him, Carter studied under the “Guru.” That is where I met him in the summer of 2010. He was on the court with about a dozen or so other kids being “coached” by the legendary Philadelphia Black Basketball Hall of Famer, Claude Gross.

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Claude Gross, Philadelphia Black Basketball Hall of Famer

At the behest of Claude and 2-time Big 5 MVP, Rashid Bey, I stopped by the Marian Anderson Recreation Center to watch the South Philly contingent in the Sonny Hill Future League practice. Both were convinced they had a “special” player on that squad.

For the uninitiated, let me explain what a Claude Gross practice entailed… Claude would talk and talk and talk and then talk some more. Every so often, he would run a drill or let the players scrimmage and then he would see an error or a miscalculation… The ball would STOP and Claude would talk some more… Now agitated, his vocabulary became forceful and profanity laden to put it mildly.

For those determined to learn… For those desiring to improve… the fussing and cussing was just the price of admission – tuition, if you will – to get to the inevitable lesson. Mo Howard, Andre McCarter, Geoffrey Arnold, Nate Blackwell, Lionel Simmons and Donnie Carr are just a few of the ballers that matriculated through Basketball 101 taught by the Guru.

Traci Carter was one of the last really good players to take the class while Claude was still roaming the sidelines.

Physically, he did not stand out… In fact, while they were patiently listening to Claude’s lecture, I could not tell which one was Traci. He was skinny and very nondescript.

Then Claude let ‘em play a lil’ bit… One time up the court and it was clear which one I was supposed to be watching. His floor game was advanced. Even as a middle schooler, Carter was a dynamic and tough lead guard. He was all business… He took the game very seriously. While very slight, he already possessed the tools to be a factor on both ends of the floor. Actually, he reminded me of Bey at St. Joseph’s. His handle was VERY tight, he made good decisions and he was capable of making open threes and pull-ups alike. Perhaps, most impressive was his lightning quick first step is quick and his ability to change pace with the ball.

That day, Claude and Rashid told Traci “this is Del, he’s gonna make sure you are ok academically… Do what he tells you.”

Traci’s been my youngin from that very moment.

I eagerly awaited his high school debut. Traci enrolled at Prep Charter and I was sure he would set the Pub on fire… Then it happened… Fucking knee injury and subsequent surgery.

Shit!

He missed his entire freshman year. Given an assignment by Claude, I dared not perform my assigned duties. I kept in touch with Traci. I was impressed with his maturity and the way he was able to handle a serious injury at such a young age. He spirits remained high and he kept his grades together.

He decided to transfer to Roman Catholic for his sophomore year. Running the point on a team that featured Shep Garner, Rashann London and Manny Taylor, Traci helped Cahillites go 13-1 in the Catholic League before bowing out to Steve Vasturia, Mile Overton and St. Joseph’s Prep in the Catholic League semi-finals.

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Traci Carter at Roman Catholic

Making 3rd team All-Catholic as a sophomore, the future seemed exceedingly bright for Carter and the Cahillites.

Then he stumbled… This time off the court… A few too many youthful indiscretions resulted in another transfer.

This time, Traci relied on Donnie Carr to help guide his decision-making. I suggested that they consider Life Center Academy in Burlington.

Donnie, Traci and I met with Pastor Dave Boudwin and explained he was a good kid in need of a change of scenery and the support of the church. Pervis Ellison agreed to take on the role of coach/mentor for Traci.

Life Center Academy embraced Traci. He flourished in small class settings, regularly attended all religious gatherings, went on missions overseas and matured a great deal.

Like everyone else that fell under direction of Claude Gross, Traci followed orders. Every time he would receive his report card, he would text a picture and ask me to calculate where he stood. He took no chances.

Truth be told, Traci was a pain in the ass! Donnie Carr wasn’t a walk in the park either.

I found myself on several occasions, driving to Burlington to walk Traci through his core course GPA calculations. There was no way we would allow Traci to fall through the cracks.

On the court, he flourished. Traci earned the 90th spot in the national rankings for the class of 2015 by rivals.com. He was Rated as the 18th best point guard in the class by FOXSports.com. He averaged 16.0 points, 7.0 assists, 5.0 rebounds and 4.0 steals per game in 2014-15 and was tabbed first team all-independent. He was also a McDonald’s All-American Game nominee and was named Life Center’s most valuable player. Traci led Life Center Academy to over 40 victories in his two seasons and the team claimed the top ranking among independent teams within the state of New Jersey. He concluded his prep career with over 1,000 points and was tabbed the top player in the Hoop Hall Classic.

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Traci Carter at Life Center Academy

But all of this took place in Burlington, New Jersey. Philly didn’t get to see his rise to scholastic prominence. He was off the radar screen.

College recruiters knew where to find him though… Xavier, Boston College, Pittsburgh, UConn, Creighton and a host of other high major programs were hot on his heels throughout his senior year. Traci eventually chose Marquette.

As a freshman, he did very well. Traci appeared in all 33 games and started 19. A true Philly point guard he averaged 4.6 assists and 1.4 steals per game while scoring 5.4 points in a very tough Big East Conference.

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Traci Carter at Marquette

At the start of his sophomore campaign, he began to express a little but of frustration. Nonetheless, he started 4 of the first 8 games. He was still averaging nearly 4 assists per game.

But there was pensiveness and sense of unease in our conversations that had not been there before. I encouraged him to tough it out… “Make it to the end of the school year,” I said…

Within a few days, it was all over the internet… “Carter leaves Marquette…”

John Giannini was there with open arms… He welcomed Traci… Then he also took Donnie Carr…

God is good! Thank you La Salle University!

With two years of eligibility remaining, Philly will finally get to see what I saw 8 years ago in that sweltering Marion Anderson gym. An authentic Philly point guard running a Philly team.

Local Hoopheads have been blessed… We have an overabundance of tough Philly point guards suiting up this year… Collin Gillespie is playing for Jay Wright, Stevie Jordan and Kimar Williams are at Rider, Shizz Alston sets the table at Temple, Fresh Kimble is Martelli’s coach on the floor…

But you’ve seen all these guys recently…

Physically mature and hungry to establish himself as the premier point guard in the Big 5 and the A10, my youngin is about to bring you sumthin’ a lil’ different…

The show debuts Tuesday evening at 7:30 pm at the Liacouras Center, 1776 North Broad Street.

Don’t be late… The Guru is watching…

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Black Cager Catching Up…

 

As we transition into Spring… Let’s take a quick stroll through the Philly Hoops landscape… Mid-April 2018…

Live Period begins in 5 days… There’s been some coaching changes… the 2019 class in Philly is loaded… Who will stay home?

The Sixers

The Sixers are on the verge of GREATNESS… Ben Simmons is the ROY… Joel Embid is a legitimate MVP candidate… The Sixers will, at least, make it to the Eastern Conference Finals… They should win an NBA title in the next 36 months if Brett Brown is truly a good coach. Admittedly, I fuckin’ hated “the process”… the losing intentionally was excruciating. I was NOT an admirer of Sam Hinkie… I did NOT trust that shit…

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Ben Simmons, Rookie of the Year Candidate

I was wrong!

Tanking was clearly in the long-term interest of the Sixers ball club. Still hated it though. Sam Hinkie was correct.

It seems like they haven’t lost a game since the Obama presidency… Had to briefly touch on the Sixers. But, that is the most I have ever written or said about the NBA… Black Cager’s focus is on collegiate, scholastic, AAU/Grassroots and youth basketball.

Amateur basketball in Philadelphia is the subject we have a LOT to cover…

Jay Wright, Best Coach in Big 5 History

For the second time in thirty-six months, Jay Wright has led Villanova to an NCAA National Championship. It should be acknowledged that Wright is among the top 2-3 coaches in college basketball. He is definitely on a par with or ahead of guys like Izzo, Boeheim, Self, Roy, Huggins and Calipari.

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Jay Wright, 2 time NCAA Champion

Jay is the best Big 5 coach ever and pushing up on Coach K nationally…

Conceivably, one could still make a case for John Chaney.  Indeed, many still consider Coach Chaney the finest coach in the history of the Big 5. When pressed, however, with 2 national titles, I would concede that Wright has inched ahead of the legendary Temple coach.

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Temple HCIW Aaron McKie and Hall of Fame Temple Coach John Chaney

While Jay rules the basketball universe Philly’s other D1 programs are undergoing significant changes in leadership.

Dunph to Coach One More Season

It has been announced that Fran Dunphy will coach his final season at Temple this year.

By all reasonable measures, Dunphy has been a very good college basketball coach. In the last 12 seasons, Temple has made nine postseason appearances, including seven NCAA Tournaments.

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Fran Dunphy, Winningest Coach in Big 5 History

Good Stuff…

Dunph is the all-time winningest coach in Big 5 history with 557 victories, Dunphy’s teams went 310-163 in 17 seasons at the University of Pennsylvania. The Quakers played in nine NCAA Tournaments. He is the all-time winningest coach at Penn and ranks third on Temple’s all-time coaching win list with a 247-152 record.

More good stuff…

Ultimately, it came down to the fact that Temple fans/alums expect deep NCAA tournament runs. Dunphy never made a deep run. That matters at Temple.

Make no mistake, Dunphy is a very good basketball coach. More importantly, Dunph is my friend… my Ol’ Head. I am rooting for Dunph to make a deep run as he transitions away from Temple basketball.

Aaron McKie, Head Coach In-Waiting

Every day we inch closer to the moment when the hopes, dreams and expectations of the Temple faithful are placed on Aaron McKie’s broad shoulders.

Sometime in April 2019, Aaron McKie will assume the reigns of the Temple program. How will he do? What type basketball will McKie’s Owls play? We will have to wait a year for answers to those questions. We can observe and assess McKie’e effectiveness on the recruiting trail. Black Cager will closely watch his efforts to assemble the 2019-2020 Temple Owls.

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Temple Head Coach in Waiting, Aaron McKie

Will Temple return to fielding teams composed of top local players such as Donta Scott, Dahmir Bishop, Isaiah Wong, Mikeal Jones and Seth Lundy?

Can Aaron get the top guys to stick around?

Gonna be interesting to watch… I like his chances…

Phil Martelli, The Dean of Local Coaches

Bruiser? Gone… Dr. John Giannini? Gone… Jerome Allen? Gone… Dunphy? Taking a final lap…

Meanwhile, over on City Ave… Phil Martelli prepares for season number 23 running the St. Joseph’s program. Yet again… He’s positioned for a run at an A10 Championship with a talented group of young Philadelphia players…Charlie Brown (George Washington/Philly Pride), Chris Clover (St. Joseph/Philly Pride), Fresh Kimble (Neumann-Goretti/Team Final) and Ryan Daly (Archbishop Carroll/Jersey Shore Warriors) demonstrate that Martelli and his staff recruit Philly very well.

Martelli is a significant figure in Philly Basketball and has been for more than two decades… He rumbled Speedy… He had epic confrontations with Chaney… He played a home and home with Bruiser every year… Now he will be facing Ashley Howard on the court and competing with Aaron McKie in living rooms.

Martelli is an OG…

While things have changed across the city, they’ve stayed the same on Hawk Hill…

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St. Joseph’s 2016 A10 Tournament Champions

Martelli’s Hawks won the Atlantic 10 Tournament and went to the NCAA tournament in both 2014 and 2016. Additionally, Phil has three former players in the NBA. Jameer Nelson ’04 (Pistons), Langston Galloway ’14 (Pistons) and DeAndre Bembry ’16 (Hawks) are established league players. Guard and wing prospects have taken note of Phil’s success placing guards on All-League Teams and in the NBA and top European leagues.

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SJU Head Coach, Phil Martelli

Some believe Phil has another serious NBA prospect on his current roster… 6-7 SF/SG Charlie Brown has caught the attention of NBA scouts.

Freshman forward, Taylor Funk has demonstrated that he is a great shooter. He’s very accurate with exceptional range extending to the NBA 3 pt line. Brown and Junior Point Guard Kimble return to action after medical redshirt seasons.

Most recently, Phil landed Daly who is transferring from the University of Delaware. Daly will sit a year and have two years of eligibility remaining.

La Salle Hires Nova Assistant Ashley Howard

They put my youngin’ on at La Salle. For those steeped in the history of the Big 5, Howard’s hiring has special significance. Howard is the first Black Men’s Basketball Coach in the history of La Salle University.

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La Salle Coach Ashley Howard and his father Mo Hoaward

This was an extremely popular choice among those in the Philadelphia basketball community. Will their elation translate into support for the Explorer program? Will top local prospects want to play for the Explorers? How will Howard do on the recruiting trail?

There’s a lot of BUZZ surrounding La Salle’s recruiting and his staff… Which recruits will he target? Who’s will he be hiring?

Ashley Howard and Donnie Carr are formidable recruiters and the 2019 class in Philadelphia has several HIGH MAJOR prospects. Look for La Salle to go after the best Philly has to offer.

Zack Spiker and The Dragons

Zack Spiker was hired as head coach of Drexel on March 25, 2016. Spiker replaced former head coach Bruiser Flint (Episcopal Academy/St. Joseph’s). He has the Drexel program headed in the right direction. Last season, Spiker led Drexel to four more victories over the total for the previous year. Then on February 22, 2018, Spiker led Drexel to an incredible 34-point comeback win over Delaware, the largest comeback win in Division 1 history.

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Drexel Head Coach, Zack Spiker

On the recruiting trail, Spiker seems to be zeroing in on Lucas Monroe (Abington HS/Team Final).

Black Cager College Coach of the Year, Kevin Baggett

Kevin Bagget’s Rider squad was 22-10 and regular season champions last season. Baggett and his top Assistant, Dino Presley do an OUTSTANDING job recruiting the Philadelphia region.

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Rider Head Coach Kevin Baggett with sophomore SF Dimencio Vaughn

The Rider roster is filled with area players like Ahmad Gilbert (Constitution HS) and Kimar Williams (Constitution HS) join Stevie Jordan (Conwell-Egan/API), Tyere Marshall (Martin L. King, HS), Anthony Durham (Abington, HS), Jordan Allen (Dover HS) and Dimencio Vaughn (Calloway HS).

Baggett will continue to recruit Philadelphia with vigor.

Ivy League Champion Penn Quakers

Steve Donahue has the Quakers back at the top of the Ivy League. The Quakers went 24-9 last season and made the NCAA Tournament.

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Jacob “The Voice” Schwartz and Penn Head Coach Steve Donahue

Jake Silpe (Cherry Hill East HS), Camden’s Darnell Foreman (Pitman), Devon Goodman (Germantown Academy), Ryan Betley (Downingtown West) have helped restored the program.

Lucas Monroe and Chris Arcidiacono project as Ivy League qualifiers. Roy Somerville (Shipley/Philly Pride), Chris Ings (Neumann-Goretti HS/K-Low Elite) and Allen Powell (La Salle University) are also very strong students.

Doug Overton has Lincoln on the Right Track

Doug Overton landed Jordan Camper ’17 (Chester HS) last year. This year he picked up Tamir Green (Constitution HS/Philly Pride).

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Lincoln University Head Coach, Doug Overton

Overton has made inroads in Delaware County and Philadelphia. This helps as he competes in the highly competitive CIAA.

RC Kehoe is Landing D1 prospects at Holy Family

Holy Family’s RC Kehoe (Roman Catholic) is punching above his weight class on the recruiting trail. He got a commitment from Dahmir Montague (Neumann-Goretti HS/Hoopdreamz). Lefty sniper Eric Esposito (Conwell-Egan/Philly Pride) is also on board.

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Holy Family Head Coach, RC Kehoe

West Chester’s Damien Blair is Building a D2 Powerhouse

Damien Blair led West Chester to final record of 22-7. Coach Blair reaches the 20-plus win marker for the forth time in his10 seasons at the helm. Blair’s Golden Rams won their first-ever NCAA Tournament game and managed to tie a program record with 12-straight wins to start the year. West Chester was ranked as high as No.17 in the country throughout the season.

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West Chester Head Coach, Damien Blair

Blair recruits the region very well. Colin Daly (Archbishop Carrol HS), Jawan Collins (Academy Park), Matt Penecale (Abington HS), Steve Smith (Fairfield HS), Tyrell Long (Bishop McDevitt), Terrence Moore (Audenreid) are notable locals on Blair’s roster.

Arcadia’s Justin Scott

Justin Scott has did very well recruiting last season. He brought in Da’kquan Davis (Roman Catholic HS). Davis was MAC Commonwealth Rookie of the Year… He played in 26 games during the season, starting 25… Averaged 14.2 points and 4.3 rebounds per game while shooting 47.6% from field goal range and 75.4% from the free throw line…

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Arcadia Head Coach, Justin Scott

Philadelphia Area College Free Agents (Uncommitted Transfers)

Ryan Daly (Delaware) – Committed to St. Joseph’s
Zane Martin (Towson) –
Anthony Durham (Rider) – Re-committed to Rider
David Beatty (South Carolina) –
Nazeer Bostic (Penn State) –

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Towson All-League Sophomore Zane Martin has asked for a release

Area Shoe Company Circuit Rosters are LOADED with D1 prospects

All of the shoe company circuit teams and the top independent clubs have talented players. You can find D1 talent on many rosters.

Philly Pride 17U

Philly Pride 17U has Donta Scott ’19, 6-7, PG/SF, (Imhotep). Donta holds offers from St. Joseph’s, La Salle, Temple, South Carolina, Georgetown and Penn State. Donta will take unofficial visit to Georgetown in late April. He has visited South Carolina and Maryland. Chris Arcidiacono Post-Grad, 6-4, PG/SG, (Neshaminy) holds offers from Delaware, Quinnipiac, Eastern Kentucky and Mt. St. Mary’s. Ray Somerville ’19 6-9 C/PF (Shipley) has been offered by Stonybrook. Hartford, NJIT, High Point and La Salle. Hakim Hart ’19, 6-6, SG (Roman Catholic) holds offers from Bowling Green, NJIT, Temple and La Salle. Jamil Riggins ’19 6-7 PF/SF (Imhotep) has Coppin State, Central Connecticut State and Rider offering full rides. Jamir Reed ’19 PG/SG (Mastery North HS) holds an offer from Kent State. Reggie James ’19, SG (Trenton Catholic) has an offer from NJIT.

WeRone 17U features Eric Dixon ’19, 6-8 PF (Abington) has narrowed his choices down to Louisville, Virginia, Villanova and Seton Hall. Qudus Wahab ’19, 6-11 PF/C (Flint Hill School) holds offers from Syracuse, Clemson, Virginia Tech, Colgate Rutgers, Umps, Pittsburgh, VCU, Seton Hall, St. John’s, St. Joseph’s and Old Dominion. Isaiah Wong ’19, 6-3 PG/SG (Bonner-Prendie) holds offers from La Salle, Rutgers, Saint Joseph’s, Monmouth, Seton Hall, Pitt, TCU, UConn, Tulane, Temple, Memphis, Miami and Villanova. Alexander Rice ’19, 6-3 PG/SG has Illinois State and Pitt among others. Hofstra and Rider have offered Chereef Knox ’19, 6-6 PF/SF (Imhotep).

Team Final 17U has Jon Bol Ajak ’19 6-10 C (The Church Farm) who holds offers from Georgetown, UConn, Pitt, Rutgers, Saint Louis, Seton Hall, Syracuse, Wake Forest and Villanova. Seth Lundy ’19 6-6, SF (Roman Catholic) has been offered by Bowling Green, Penn State, Temple, UConn, VCU, La Salle Oregon. Mikeal Jones ’20 6-8, PF (Girard College) hold offers from Penn State and Villanova. Khalif Battle ’19 6-4, SG (Trenton Catholic) holds offers from UConn, Iona, Rutgers, St. Joseph’s Syracuse, Washington, Miami and VCU. AJ Hoggard ’20 6-3, PG (Archbishop Carroll) has offers from Seton Hall, Rutgers and UConn. Lynn Greer, III 6-3 PG holds offers from St. Joseph’s, Oregon, Penn State and Temple.

K-Low Elite 17U features Seth Pinkney Post Grad 7-0 C (Archbishop Wood). He holds offers from UMass, Towson and Coppin. Christian Ray ’19 6-5 SF (Haverford School) has offers from Bowling Green, Central Connecticut State, St. Francis, PA, NJIT and Stonybrook. Chris Ings ’19 6-2 PG (Neumann-Goretti) has been offered by Stonybrook, Mt. Saint Mary’s and La Salle. Dahmir Bishop ’19 6-5 SG (Imhotep) Bowling Green, La Salle, NJIT, Penn State, Hofstra, Saint Joseph’s, Rutgers, Seton Hall, VCU, Temple. Karam Cummings ’19, 6-4 SG (Imhotep) has an offer from St. Francis, PA.

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Naheem McLeod (PYO Basketball/Plymouth-Whitemarsh)

PYO Hoops’ Naheem McLeod ’19, 7-2 PF/C (Plymouth-Whitemarsh) has offers from La Salle, Temple and Villanova. He will once again be running with Ahmin Williams ’18 6-1 PG (Plymouth-Whitemarsh) and Ahmad Williams ’18 6-3 SG (Plymouth-Whitemarsh.

Meet you at the gym…

 

 

Shit Black Coaches Deal With!

Imagine… You spend your life trying to do things the right way… You come up through the Philadelphia ranks…You have the quintessential Philadelphia basketball career…

You played for Bill Ellerbee in High School…

You trained with John Hardnett in the summer…

You played for John Chaney in college…

You played for Larry Brown in the NBA…

You played with Allen Iverson in the NBA Finals…

You decide to transition into coaching… From September 2008 through 2013, you were a member of the Sixers coaching staff…

You decide to return to your college home and join the Temple coaching staff… Everyone is excited, including Head Coach, Fran Dunphy.

“Aaron McKie is not only Temple Basketball, but he is Philadelphia Basketball,” said Dunphy. “His name still resonates in the city, as he played his high school, college and professional ball in Philly.  He is a tremendous representative of Temple University and possesses an astute basketball mind which will serve to help the program in so many ways.”

So… earlier this week it was announced that you would become Head Coach of the Owls beginning with the 2019-2020 season.

A logical choice…

However, within minutes CBS Sports Basketball commentator, Doug Gottlieb puts out tweet claiming that “[Temple Basketball] has been toxic last two years w/McKie working for this to happen…”

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Huh?

What the FUCK is he talking about?

Why… Why within minutes of being named Head Coach in waiting should McKie have to deal with this? Gottlieb attempts to label McKie as a “Judas” from the very moment his Head coaching career gets underway.

The coaching profession is heavily dependent upon relationships… Coaches are extremely protective of their reputations… They are very reluctant to shit on one another publicly…

Full disclosure: Aaron McKie is a friend of mine. We do communicate on a fairly regular basis about all things related to college basketball.

For some reason, McKie’s ascent to the Head Coaching position at Temple bothers Gottlieb. Unfortunately, CBS Sports provides Gottlieb with a platform from which he can spew all sorts of ill-informed and patently false BULLSHIT.

Unfortunately, This is the type of shit Black Coaches have to deal with!

After careful consideration, here is the official Black Cager response to Gottlieb’s attempt to smear a shining star of Philadelphia’s Basketball community:

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