Whites, Blacks and Jews: Recent Examples of Tribalism in Sports

The U.S. Constitution was written as a tribal document. Indeed, based upon a careful reading of the document in 1857, the United States Supreme Court in a majority opinion written by Chief Justice Roger B Taney, ruled that no African-American, free or enslaved, had ever enjoyed the rights of a citizen under the Constitution. Taney argued that, since the time of the ratification of the Constitution, blacks had been “regarded as beings of an inferior order, altogether unfit to associate with the white race … and so far inferior, that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect.”

Roger Taney statue removed from Maryland State House

The Constitution was designed to protect the rights and interests of the white American tribe. Those arguing otherwise have absolutely no respect for the intellect of non-whites.

It took a civil war and the deaths of 750,000 Americans to (temporarily) establish that Black Americans warranted protection under its Bill of Rights. That protection lasted a brief period spanning twelve years from 1865 to 1877. The white tribe rigidly implemented and enforced a white supremacist Apartheid/Jim Crow social order from 1877 to the mid 1960’s. The struggle to have the rights and interests of Blacks, Latinos, Native Americans and other people of color fully recognized and protected continues today.

Reconstruction Era Black Congressmen

But focusing on the Constitution’s shortcomings and flaws can result in an under appreciation and overshadow what it actually accomplished. Its core mission was to forge, out of a diverse population, a new national identity, uniting Americans of European descent into a white America tribe. To a remarkable extent, it succeeded.

Throughout the colonial and revolutionary eras, Americans were a multiracial, multi-ethnic conglomeration… A diverse mix of English, Dutch, Scots, Irish, French, Swedes, Italians, Germans, Greeks, enslaved Africans and terrorized Native Americans.

The Founding Fathers deftly united the people of varying European backgrounds into a white American tribe. The Constitution was a key tool deployed to overcome profound divisions among people of European descent. The Founders guaranteed members of the white tribe religious freedom. The Constitution also declared that the United States would have no national church and no religious tests for national office. These foundational guarantees helped America avoid the religious wars that for centuries had torn apart the nations of Europe.

The Founders also utilized the idea of white supremacy to establish the “others” once they granted American citizenship status to members of the white American tribe. The Black tribe was relegated to “chattel” status. The Native American tribe was deemed “savage” and marked for removal or eradication.

Tribalism lies at the heart of the American experiment.

Today, we are witnessing tribal allegiances return once again to the foreground. The white tribe is alarmed. The United States is experiencing rapid demographic shifts that are resulting in the inevitable tanning of America. The nation is well on its way to becoming a predominantly Black and Brown country.

Formed explicitly to further white American tribal interests, these shifts are resulting in considerable angst and tension for all Americans. The angst is observable in many aspects of contemporary American life, including sports. Riley Cooper, Colin Kaepernick, Lebron James, Drew Brees, Kylin Hill, Pat Chambers, DeSean Jackson, Stephen Jackson and Bubba Wallace are just a few prominent sports figures that have found themselves at the center of racial tempests in recent years.

Colin Kaepernick

It makes sense that racial strife permeating American life in general is spilling over onto the playing fields and courts as well as into the locker rooms. Sports have played a pivotal role in American communities since the dawn of the 20th century. Today, athletic contests pushing physical limits are more popular than ever before. Sports is a booming industry at the youth, high school, college and professional levels.

As long as local governments, schools, universities and major corporations continue to see sporting events as sound investments, sports will play a vital role in society for the foreseeable future. This means sports will continue to provides one of the most visible platforms for racial wrangling.

At no other time in American history have sports played such a dominant role in daily life. Their absence due to the coronavirus pandemic only serves to heighten their importance. While we have had no games, yet we have had plenty of tribal warfare taking place in the world of sports.

The white tribe, for the most part, until the George Floyd murder at the hands of the Minneapolis police remained steadfast in their opposition to Colin Kaepernick’s peaceful protesting of police brutality and murder during the national anthem. It should be noted that there were some whites that defected and supported Kaeperneck prior to Floyd’s life being extinguished on camera. Indeed, Nike launched a massively successful marketing campaign focused on Kaeperneck’s peaceful protest campaign. However, the tribe’s resistance front remained strong.

The unquestioned leader of the white tribe, President Donald Trump, loudly and relentlessly beat the racial drums on this issue. He engaged in a sustained attack on NFL players who kneeled in protest of the national anthem. Trump’s line of attack reached a crescendo in September 2017 when he openly challenged NFL owners to release anyone who engages in the movement started last year by Kaepernick.

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired. He’s fired!’” the president said at a campaign rally for an Alabama candidate for the U.S. senate seat vacated by Jeff Sessions.

The white American tribe loved Trump’s antics.

Adequately describing social developments prevailing in contemporary America requires a word as primal as “tribe” to place adequate focus on the mindless allegiances and deeply held partisan affiliations. Tribes have formed everywhere. In many ways they are similar to gangs, sans the violence. Like gangs, tribes demand loyalty, and in return they confer the security of belonging to insecure people longing to belong. They’re badges of identity, not of thought. Indeed, they are hostile to intellectual pursuits and sophisticated analyses. Tribes make thinking unnecessary, because they do it for you. This point is important… Tribes will attempt to punish you if you try to think for yourself. According to their imbecilic logic, to get along without a tribe makes you a fool. Moreover, to give an inch to the other tribe makes you a sucker.

This conceptualization is applicable to hard-core Trump supporters. Their blind allegiance to the president is unlike anything in recent history. Those red baseball caps give them a sense of belonging to the white nationalist tribe. These people not only reject intellectual pursuits, they frequently abandon science altogether. Those that accept science-based Center for Disease Control guidance are considered suckers.

Fuck a mask… Fuck social distancing… Fuck your health… The white tribe is “giving up its freedoms.”

The Black tribe is similarly engaged in reflexive and regressive behaviors. Recent revelations that Penn State Head Basketball coach Pat Chambers used the word “noose’ while talking to then freshman point guard Rasir Bolton has riled up the Black tribe. Eighteen months ago, on the heels of a poor performance against Wisconsin, Chambers said, “I want to be a stress reliever for you. You can talk to me about anything. I need to get some of this pressure off you.

“I want to loosen the noose that’s around your neck.”

With these words, unknowingly Chambers initiated a tribal skirmish that wouldn’t see a retaliatory strike for 18 months. But when it came, it came hard and heavy.

Pat Chambers

With Chambers at the helm, Penn State has made deep inroads into the Philadelphia basketball community. He’s recruited several prominent players from Philadelphia’s Public and Catholic Leagues. DJ Newbill, Shep Garner, Lamar Stevens, Seth Lundy, Izaiah Brockington and Mike Watkins are a few of the more prominent Philly kids that have donned the Nittany Lion uniform. Philadelphia has been good to Chambers and Penn State.

So when it was revealed that he uttered the word “noose” to a Black player, the Black tribe within that community was triggered. Members of this tribe quickly gathered around the fire (social media) and declared their commitment to seeing Chambers terminated. The speed with which partisan lines were drawn was spectacular. Like a gang, the Black Philadelphia basketball tribe demands undying loyalty, and in return they confer the security of belonging to the larger group.

The significance of the sense of belonging cannot be overstated. These are a group of frustrated middle-aged men that could not play in high school and college… They do not coach… They wield zero influence beyond the tribe itself… Basically, it’s a bunch of bitter irrelevant “never was” dudes that were MAYBE honorable mention all-milkcrate. With the Black basketball tribe and the advent of social media, they have created a basketball home for themselves. They have created a self-contained place where their thoughts, opinions and arguments related to basketball matter.

Membership in this tribe is a badge of identity, not of thought. For the most part, they reject anything but the most simplistic instinctual responses. “Chambers is a racist, Penn State must fire him immediately.”
Individual tribal members do not have to think, because tribe thinks for them. In the case of Chambers, there’s no need to examine his actual track record with his Black players. There’s no need to even talk to the Black players from Philadelphia.

The Tribe demonstrated that they will attempt to disparage and punish anyone with a propensity to think for themselves. For them, to spend ven a moment assessing the actual situation as it has existed within the Penn State basketball program over the past decade makes you a fool. Moreover, to condemn Chambers actions, to call for suspension, suggest cultural competency training and NOT demand that he be dismissed makes you an Uncle Tom.

This strain of behavior is spreading almost as fast as the coronavirus…

Then less than 24 hours after the Chambers headlines grabbed the nation’s attention, the Jewish tribe gathered around the fire (social media). Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson ignited controversy by sharing anti-Semitic comments on social media this week.

DeSean Jackson

Jackson posted a quote on his Instagram Story on Monday which was attributed to Adolf Hitler, stating in part “the Jews will blackmail America, they will extort America, their plan for World Domination won’t work if the Negroes know who they were.” The Jewish tribal response was predictable and swift…

Notably, former Eagles president Joe Banner, who is Jewish, forcefully declared, “If a white player said anything about (Black people) as outrageous as what DeSean Jackson said about Jews tonight there would at least be a serious conversation about cutting him and a need for a team meeting to discuss… Which would be totally appropriate. Absolutely indefensible.”

Here we go again…

Tribes, as I have noted, eschew sophisticated analyses. Banner demonstrated the reflexive and instinctual nature of the tribal response. Tribes don’t think things through. They just want casualties… They are interested in the body count… Careful consideration of Banner’s reaction validates this assertion.

There’s an obvious and appropriate Eagles case study that serves as a useful comparison for the Jackson incident. It’s worth a quick review… During a Kenny Chesney country music concert in June 2013, Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper was caught on video calling Black people “niggers.”

Riley Cooper

Despite Banners claim to the contrary, the Eagles did not cut Cooper after he called Black people niggers. One could argue they actually embraced him. Exactly, what were the consequences applied in the Cooper case?

In August 2013, the Eagles announced that, “Riley Cooper will be seeking counseling and we have excused him from all team activities. This is all new territory and we are going to evaluate this timetable every step of the way. He will meet with professionals provided by the Eagles during this period of time to better help him understand how his words have hurt so many, including his teammates.”

Then on February 27, 2014, the Eagles announced that they signed Cooper to a new contract. According to reports, the terms of the deal include $25 million over 5 years.

So… What the fuck is Joe Banner talking about?

Banner is bright man that has manned the helm for two NFL franchises. He most certainly was very much aware of the Riley Cooper “nigger” episode. Yet, he made the patently false claim that if a white player said anything about Black people as outrageous as what Jackson said the team would consider cutting him.

That’s simply not true. The team in question, the Philadelphia Eagles, not only didn’t cut Riley. They signed him to a next 5 year $25 million dollar deal just months after he called Black people niggers on a video that went viral.

It’s tribalism that prevents Banner from making the obvious comparison and conducting a sober analysis. He feels, perhaps rightly so, that his tribe is under attack. His response, nonetheless, does nothing to move the dialogue forward in a constructive manner.

Joe Banner

How do we begin to limit the impact of tribalism? From whence does it come?

The causes of America’s resurgent tribalism are many. One obvious explanatory factor is seismic demographic shift underway. Whites have ruled this continent since the colonial era. They have enslaved, subjugated and oppressed people of color for centuries. They are well aware that they will lose their majority status within a few decades. On some level, whites have to wonder if people of color will do unto white as whites have done unto them. Tribalism is spreading like penicillin in a petri dish under these conditions.

Another factor is perceived declining social mobility and a growing class divide. Over 33 million Americans have filed for unemployment is recent months. People are scared. Rent and mortgages are due and they don;t have jobs. The global pandemic is only intensifying despite the quixotic proclamations of President Trump. This seems to be contributing to widespread retreat into tribes.

Finally, social media has evolved in a manner that rewards expressions of outrage. Any dunderhead with a cell phone can “go live” and rally up a tribe predisposed to feeling under attack and pitted against another tribes. Tribal idiots have stages and platforms to spread ill-formed ideas and half-baked arguments among other frustrated tribal members.

Unfortunately, the past three years have witnessed further entrenchment of tribalism. Hence, social interactions, even in the world of sports, are devolving into mindless zero-sum competitions, one in which tribes measures success by the extent to which they can stroke their member fears and appealing to their ugliest us-versus-them instincts.

Count me out… I refuse to stop thinking for myself…

Club Transfer is Poppin’! Why?

by

Eric Dixon

Philadelphia, PA:  There are over 800 players in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Transfer Portal (https://247sports.com/Season/2020-Basketball/TransferPortal/). As one local scout likes to say, “Club Transfer” is indeed “Jumpin’”. But why?

Delusion? Accountability? Dishonesty? All of the above according to several coaches, scouts, AAU directors and parents contacted for this article.

The college basketball landscape is changing. For the good and the bad. There have been rule changes that have affected the limitations on when and who can talk to players. Also, the number of people involved with the player has ballooned with trainers, various AAU coaches and runners joining the fray. This provides players with a wealth of resources to go to when making decisions regarding their collegiate career. However it also, according to one coach, “puts a lot of people in a kid’s ear that don’t know what they’re talking about.”

terps20_Ricky-Lindo-Jr

Maryland’s Ricky Lindo has transferred to George Washington

The growth of social media has also influenced the issue. Many young people live on the adulation and sometimes criticism that comes from having thousands of followers. These followers may hold weight if they are stroking the child’s ego and making him feel as thought he’s arrived. This is particularly dangerous when these followers may be adults seeking to profit in some way from the child’s immediate and/or future success.

This puts kids in a precarious position as they try to navigate through a world they are misinformed or misled about. This misinformation isn’t always intentional from the contributors, but is often a product of coddling a player in an effort to ensure staying in his/her sphere of influence. “They don’t really have hard conversations with kids about where they are because they don’t want to lose a kid,” he intimated.

9712071

Rider’s Dimencio Vaughn has transferred to Mississippi

It is the opinion of many of the people polled that many parents, AAU, high school and now even college coaches are guilty of not holding players accountable for fear of the child cutting them off or leaving the team. “These (players) are being set up for failure from middle school,” said one local coach.

Another coach said it makes it difficult to be honest in recruiting. “You can’t tell a kid it’s going to be a year or two before you get meaningful minutes or you might have to redshirt” because it will take you out of the mix. The truth of the matter is that most freshmen have a long way to go before they can be impactful on a team. Adjusting to the speed of the game, figuring out your role and being physically ready for the college grind all make it difficult for freshman to play a lot. Still, according to a local coach, “we try to get them on the floor to keep them happy”. Many times that effort is made early on during the sometimes less grueling non-conference schedule when the stakes aren’t as high and there is time to recover if freshman mistakes lead to a loss. However, especially for a team making a playoff push, it’s more difficult to do later in the season when rotations are tightened. “Freshmen wear down, experience helps older players push through the grind”, he added.

Estrada_031120_

St. Peter’s Aaron Estrada has transferred to Oregon

“Man, guys aren’t going to f—ing lose to satisfy their ego,” said one local scout. “But they also ain’t gonna just have a guy sit if they think they can help them either.” It’s really about winning with college coaches. Over the last few years I’ve had the chance to meet some pretty stand up guys in coaching and I realize they have a lot riding on their wins and losses. It’s not just their families they have to worry about. They have assistants and trainers and players that will be impacted if they get canned. So they have a very fine line to walk in recruiting and playing the right guys.

So then it comes down to managing expectations. Most college players, no matter the level D1 or D3 were good high school players used to playing all the minutes they can. That is not realistic as they move up. According to a sample of local kids from the class of 2019 that was pretty highly regarded by the locals, it is apparent that expectations need to be tempered. According to the data, on average, freshmen generally sit out nearly a third of the season, playing in just 23 of a possible 31 games. And when they do step on the court, it usually isn’t for long. On average they log only 15 of a possible 40 game minutes. One saw as little as 18 minutes all season, appearing in just one game!

DSC_0842

St. Joseph’s Chereef Knox has entered the transfer portal

Of  course there were exceptions, like Donta Scott who appeared in all of Maryland’s games, starting 21 of them. However, he had to make significant changes in his approach and his game to see the floor. Also, according to sources, he earned his 21.6 minutes per contest with his “toughness and attitude, and just running dudes outta there”. Scott played with the ball in his hands the last two years of his high school career, playing point guard at 6-7. At Maryland, it’s not been the case so far. He played the majority of his minutes at the “4” this season. “He’s always been a team first player, he’s never been a guy who cared about stats,” said Howard Hudson, his mentor and AAU coach.

According to another local coach, that kind of attitude and approach is not common among scholarship level athletes. “It used to be all about the name on the front, now it’s all about the name on the back”, he lamented.

Hali_Helfgott_12

Temple’s Josh Pierre-Louis has transferred to California Santa-Barbara

Scott’s scenario also points to another reason why freshmen often struggle and become disillusioned as they adjust to the college level. Role changes are common and student-athletes are often asked to play differently than they did in high school. They are asked to be patient and “wait” their turn to play the main role. Whereas, according to Hudson, Scott took a “whatever you need coach” kind of approach, many young players fight it, insisting that they shouldn’t have to wait.

Another question is whether it’s worth it. Is the allure of Club Transfer Portal just fool’s gold or can a player significantly change his trajectory by changing schools? The data would suggest “No”. According to one A-10 who has done extensive research on transfers, “You are who you are whether you transfer or not”. The numbers bear this out. When a player moves from Mid Major to High Major over the remaining years of his career he sees a drop across the board in points, assists and rebounds. And when a player moves within the same level, the change in production is negligible, no matter if it was D1 to D1 or D3 to D3. Predictably, those moving from low major to high major saw the biggest decrease in production.

LaSMBB_Villanova19_0902

La Salle’s Ed Croswell has transferred to Providence College

So if it really makes little difference whether you stay or go, why are so many kids jumping ship? Are they leaving to flee competition? Or were they simply told by the staff that they weren’t going to play so they might as well pack up? Or are they just not happy living at the school and the reason is not basketball related? One parent of a transfer said 75% of the reason his son decided to transfer was unrelated to actual basketball.

There are a myriad of reasons why players transfer and each situation is different. Still, one set of initials kept resurfacing as the conversations about this topic went on: the NBA. One coach mentioned Matt Haarms, a 7-3 center transferring from Purdue to “go someplace to showcase his NBA skillset”. We all know that chasing the NBA dream, while inspiring and admirable at times, is not the most attainable goal. According to the NCAA, 1.2% (52 of 4181) of draft eligible basketball players go on to play in major pro sports leagues. Now graduation rates are much higher: 86% in D1, 71% in D2 and 87% in D3. You choose which one should be your primary plan.

Bottom line: everyone involved needs to take stock of the truth revealed in the numbers. Everyone needs to assess their level of culpability and change accordingly. 98.8% of the time, lil Johnny is NOT going to the NBA even if he is fortunate enough to be one of the 6% of high school players who garners a D1 college scholarship. We need to stop being fans of kids and start being coaches, mentors, parents and guardians. The truth is most will not play a significant role at the college level the first one or two years. We need to prepare them for that even if they have 15K followers telling them they are “League-bound” everyday. College coaches need to grow a set and realize that if you lie to a kid just to get him in the door it’s going to work for one year and that it isn’t worth the risk to their livelihood. Club Transfer is “jumpin” and the music won’t stop until it’s too late for many student-athletes deluded into thinking accountability isn’t part of the responsibility that comes with accepting a scholarship.

 

The Big 10’s (Successful) Attack on Philly Mid-Majors!

It is ironic that most fans of college basketball are completely unaware of one of the most influential books of the 20th century. Published in 1962 by the University of Chicago Press, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, authored by Thomas Kuhn introduced term “paradigm shift” to contemporary discussions of organizational change and intellectual progress. Fans of Philadelphia’s rich college basketball tradition have, perhaps unknowingly, experienced a massive and consequential paradigm shift.

Thomas Kuhn can help us understand what has taken place over the past quarter century. Kuhn’s work is important because he singlehandedly changed the way we think about mankind’s most organized attempt to understand the world: science. Kuhn focused his considerable analytical acumen on our view of science and scientific progress. However, the power of his analytical approach for lay persons lies in it’s ability to shed considerable light on organizational change in general.

85098385_1292109524310273_7495469078350397440_n

Wednesdays at 4:00 pm on 610 ESPN Philadelphia

Prior to Kuhn, the standard account saw steady, cumulative “progress” in organizational development. Kuhn, trashed that traditional mode of thinking… Instead, he saw “paradigm shifts” or abrupt discontinuities – a set of alternating “normal” and “revolutionary” phases in which communities of specialists in particular fields are plunged into periods of turmoil, uncertainty and angst. These revolutionary phases – for example the transition from Newtonian mechanics to quantum physics – correspond to great conceptual breakthroughs and lay the basis for a succeeding phase of business as usual.

The fact that Kuhn’s version seems unremarkable now is, in a way, the greatest measure of his success. But in 1962, almost everything about it was controversial because of the challenge it posed to powerful, entrenched philosophical assumptions about how organizational change and intellectual progress did – and should – work.

I strongly anticipate that many will find this application of his framework to subject of Philadelphia college basketball controversial. This essay will directly challenge some powerful entrenched assumptions about Philly’s mid-major hoops programs.

Here, I assert that the world of college basketball has been in an extended period of turmoil, uncertainty and angst for the past decade or so. This revolutionary phase – the transition from a high/mid/low major model to a far more narrowly circumscribed high/low major model – corresponds to aggressive Power 5 Conference geographic expansion and serves the basis for a new succeeding phase of business as usual. In this new phase, the mid-major category or classification will become extinct.

Increasingly, we are left with the BIG BOYS and the rest of us… Ain’t no more middle ground…

6WZBE6LPXNGWHOEYFPRWKSBRYQ

Jim Delany, Former (1990-2020) Big 10 Commissioner  

The present discussion will center around very specific cases in the mid-Atlantic region, but I would argue the logic is applicable to Division 1 college basketball in general.  Let’s focus on the strategy of encirclement deftly deployed by Big 10 Commissioner Jim Delany and it’s deleterious impact on Philly mid-major basketball programs, namely: Temple; Saint Joseph’s; La Salle, and; Drexel.

IMG_7748

Quinton Rose, Temple University

Encirclement is a military term for the situation when a force or target is isolated and surrounded by enemy forces. Delany and the Big 10 have effectively encircled the Philly mid-majors: Rutgers to the north, Penn State to the West and Maryland to the South. This situation is highly dangerous for the Philly mid-majors: at the strategic level, because the Big 10 programs are attracting top recruits that would otherwise serve as reinforcements, and on the tactical level, because the Philly mid-majors are being subjected to an attack from several sides. Lastly, since the Philly mid-majors cannot retreat, they must either fight to the death or surrender.

Surrender does not appear to be imminent. These programs are gonna fight to the death…

In what can aptly be described as as stroke of genius, Delany added Penn State to the Big 10 in 1990, twenty-four years later he added Maryland and Rutgers. With the latter two additions, encirclement was firmly in place. Delany has publicly stated how significant the mid-Atlantic presence is to the Big 10’s long-term plans. “I don’t think people should evaluate this in the short term. But in a 25-year or 50-year period, I think they’re going to be very competitive. They are added value. And if the Big Ten had stayed at 10 and not taken on any of the risk associated with expansion, we probably would be tied for the fourth-largest conference.

88429759_3077592605593228_632691997445980160_o

Philly guys, Donta Scott, Hakim Hart, Sr, & Hakim Hart, Jr.

Delany further adds, “Rutgers is a fabulous institution, as is Maryland. And the corridor they occupy with Penn State might be the most important in the Western world — great students, political institutions, financial institutions. So we’re not only recruiting students to play basketball but students overall.”

“If you don’t venture out,” Delany said, “you never gain anything. I don’t want to go back and read all the articles about (criticism for) the Big Ten Network or instant replay or expansion. You have to do what you think is right. And if you make mistakes, you course correct or you double down.”

The Big 10 doubled-down and it is now reaping the rewards.

Screen Shot 2020-03-13 at 8.47.52 PM

Lamar Stevens, Penn State

 

DJ Newbill, John Johnson, Shep Garner, Lamar Stevens, Tony Carr, Nazeer Bostic, John Harrar, Mike Watkins, Izaiah Brockington, Kyle McCloskey and Seth Lundy were Penn State Nittany Lions that may have found their way to Philly mid-major programs under the old paradigm. Eric Ayala, Hakim Hart and Donta Scott are plying their trade in College Park, Maryland instead of the Wynnefield or Olney sections of Philadelphia.

Shit is real… The paradigm has shifted… But not everyone is convinced…

The alums, season ticket holders and athletic directors of the Philly mid-majors remain entrenched in the outdated paradigm. They have yet to fully comprehend the extent of the paradigm shift. Hence, they are striving maintain a “mid-major” status when the existence of the category itself is tenuous at best.

Collectively, they have pinned their hopes on a “Messiah Model” of intervention.

From their perspective of the “Messiah Model”, status as competitive mid-major program hinges on finding the right head coach. Operating within this model, the competitive struggles of the Philly mid-major programs on the court and on the recruiting trails are attributable to the “poor performance” of head coaches. Hence, Billy Lange replaces Phil Martelli… Ashley Howard replaces John Gianinni, Aaron McKie replaces Fran Dunphy and Zach Spiker replaces Bruiser Flint…

Just gotta get the right guy in there and we’ll be alright… So they think…

In this way, the Philly basketball community has developed a collective messiah complex. There has emerged a state of mind in which the alums, fans and athletic directors hold a belief that the “new coaches” – Lange, Howard, McKie and Spiker – are destined to become a program savior today or in the near future.

They seemingly lack an appreciation of the much more complex and insurmountable sets of problems and issues facing these programs.

Eric Hunter Jr., Montez Mathis

Montez Mathis, Rutgers

For those that understand a paradigm shift that has taken place, it’s just not that simple. For those that have recently ventured into the athletic facilities at Big 10 programs, it becomes immediately apparent that the Philly mid-majors are deficient and at a serious disadvantage. There’s one notable exception… Temple has been able to build and renovate it’s facilities in a manner that renders them on par with Penn State, Rutgers and Maryland.

Saint Joseph’s, La Salle and Drexel are simply not on the same planet. The gap is humongous and ever-expanding.

Then there are the significant differences in travel accommodations and living arrangements. Simply stated, money matters and Delany has delivered ungodly amounts of cash. For the fiscal year 2019, Big 10 athletic departments each received $52,100,000 before they sold a single $88 ticket, $1,000 seat license, $5 hot dog, $20 parking pass or $125 hoodie. The student-athletes travel and live differently in Big 10 programs. Kids and their parents have become savvy comparison shoppers. Private Jet travel, 5 star hotels, luxury apartments are de rigueur in the Big 10 Conference.

Philly mid-majors ain’t playing in that ballpark. People, even 18-19 year old prospects, like nice things…

big-ten-kevin-warren-btn

Big 10 Commissioner, Kevin Warren

Then there’s the subtle but tremendously important leadership question…The Big 10 has a long history of progressive policies and righteous behaviors in the area of race relations. That means, in addition to tremendous advantages in athletic facilities, travel accommodations and living arrangements, the Big 10 has people in charge that look like many of the top high school basketball student-athletes in America. Jim Delany’s successor as Big 10 Commissioner is Kevin Warren (pictured above). Warren is the only Black commissioner among the Power 5 Conferences.

NEWS_160129797_AR_-1_KHZWDAGJJGTK

Michigan Athletic Director, Warde Manuel

 

Warde Manuel is the 12th athletic director in the 118 years that the University of Michigan has had a formal title for the job. And he’s the second African-American man in that office. Tradition-rich Michigan has a consistently given Black men an opportunity to serve in leadership positions. Michigan has 31 teams and more than 950 student-athletes. The self-supporting department has an annual budget of $197 million and a staff of 400.

IMG_0702-179db6t

Ohio State Athletic Director, Gene Smith

Gene Smith  currently serves as Vice President and Athletic Director for the Ohio State University. He was named the university’s eighth athletic director on March 5, 2005. The Ohio State athletic department sponsors 36 fully-funded varsity sports with more than 1.000 student-athletes competing for Big Ten Conference and NCAA championships. Smith has additional oversight responsibility for the Business Advancement division of Ohio State which includes: Schottenstein Center, Nationwide Arena, Blackwell Hotel, Drake Union, Fawcett Center, and Trademark & Licensing.

San Diego Padres v Washington Nationals

Maryland Athletic Director, Damon Evans

Damon Evans was named the Director of Athletics for the University of Maryland on June 25, 2018. He oversees a department with 20 varsity sports and 500 student-athletes, a full-time staff of over 200, and an annual budget of $95 million. Evans joined the Terrapins in December of 2014 and served as Executive Athletic Director and Chief Financial Officer. He had overseen all day-to-day operations for the athletic department since October of 2017 prior to his appointment as Director of Athletics.

The Philly mid-major programs have widely varying track records in this area. One has a long and strong legacy of diversity and inclusion. Another has made significant progress over the past few years. The others lag considerably behind in this regard.

012513kevin_reimold01-web-678x381-1

Temple University COO, Kevin Clark

Temple has a long-standing track record of identifying and appointing Black males to leadership positions. Temple currently has a Black male COO, Kevin Clark (pictured above). Temple has a Black male basketball head coach and a Black female women’s basketball head coach. Historically, Temple has had a Black male athletic director, Black male football head coach, 3 Black female women’s basketball head coaches and two Black male basketball head coaches. Without question, Temple University has long valued Black participation above and beyond the playing field.

Screen Shot 2020-03-13 at 7.41.43 PM

La Salle Athletic Director, Brian Baptiste

La Salle University currently has a Black male athletic director, Brian Baptiste (pictured above) and a Black male basketball coach. La Salle has also had a Black male women’s basketball coach. La Salle demonstrates a commitment to diversity and inclusion at the leadership level.

Drexel has had one Black male basketball coach.

Saint Joseph’s has never had a Black male basketball coach. Saint Joseph’s has never had a Black female basketball coach. Saint Joseph’s has never had a Black athletic Director. Currently, Saint Joseph’s has zero Blacks in leadership positions in the Athletic Department.

As my Grandpop used to say, “everything ain’t for everybody…”

Taken together, one could easily surmise that these factors do not bode well for coaches of Philly mid-major programs competing with Power 5 programs for elite basketball recruits. In addition to talent drained off to Penn State and Maryland, Miami (ACC) has successfully recruited Davon Reed, JaQuan Newton, Lonnie Walker and Isaiah Wong from the Greater Philadelphia region. Virginia snatched DeAndre Hunter. Kentucky landed Quade Green and Lance Ware.

Surprise… Surprise… Kids like really nice new things…

And, who would’ve thought? Kids and parents respond to people that look like them in leadership positions.

Alums, fans and the ADs of the Philly mid-majors have convinced themselves that they can overcome these hurdles by simply identifying the “messiah.” Lange, Howard, McKie and Spiker are expected to deliver these programs from the depths of mediocrity they currently inhabit.

Through the sheer force of their personalities, by exercising their exceptional “X & O” knowledge and just working VERY HARD they will compete…

So what the BIG BOYS have NBA arenas on campus… So what the BIG BOYS travel exclusively on private jets… So what the BIG BOY players live in luxury apartments…

Who needs a garbage disposal and washer and dryer in their apartment anyway?

Unfortunately, once one realizes and accepts that the paradigm shift has occurred it becomes apparent that alums, fans and ADs of Philly mid-majors have somewhat grandiose self-images that veer towards the delusional.

Shit has changed! And… It ain’t changing back…

By the standards of a present-day high major/low major rubric, alums, fans and ADs of Philly mid-major basketball programs look misinformed and naive at best. And yet we know they aren’t. They are fervent and passionate supporters of programs with wonderful basketball traditions.

They have no idea they are well behind Towson, Monmouth, Quinnipiac, UMBC, Fairfield and Coppin State in the facilities arms race… They just don’t know…

Kuhn’s blinding insight into the problem at hand comes from the sudden realization that if one is to understand these alums, fans and ADs, one must know about the intellectual tradition (outdated paradigm) within which they are operating. One must understand, for example, that for them the term “mid-major” means a program outside the Power 5 that was truly capable of challenging the BIG BOYS year in and year out on the recruiting trail and on the court.

Those days, I fear, are a thing of the past.

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!

83426153_200264824476263_1480111434611294208_n

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.

1914012_1205516548719_3491341_n

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.

Screen Shot 2020-01-19 at 10.59.49 PM

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.

MBB-Rose-Coschignano-Web-1024x683-1

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.

2018-19 PIAA Boys 5A, Moon vs. Archbishop Wood

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.

82439565_2229839940654913_8023634001447092224_n-1

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.

Funk_DI8Q9079

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.

82816582_2259250777705456_8211604456337309696_n

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’.

82462695_226538355016533_5746028297670623232_n

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!

 

It’s Miller Time! Neumann Knocks Off Roman!

Hysier “Fabe” Miller has been one of the best guards in Philadelphia for three years… For the first two, he was a key cog for Martin L. King Jr. coach Sean Colson in the Public League. A great PUB and college guard that fought his way to the NBA, Colson has developed a well-earned reputation as one of the premier basketball trainers in the nation. When he’s not coaching MLK or Philly Pride, he can be found at the Steph Curry’s camp, the Under Armour Top 100 camp or in the gym with NBA players like Atlanta Hawk teammates DeAndre Hunter and Charlie Brown. Miller is the latest high level player to refine and polish his skills under the guidance of Colson. But that’s just part of his lineage… The boy is from the Southside…

Nate Blackwell, Jeff Myers, Lou Myers, Rashid Bey, Donnie Carr, Scoop Jardine, Lamin Fulton, Biggie Minnis and Hysier Miller…

He is the latest in a long line of super competitive, no-nonsense South Philly guards.

After rising early in the morning to travel from the southern end of the the city to the far Northwest to attend Martin L. King, Jr. HS for two years, Miller has found a basketball home in his beloved South Philly. He has joined a loaded Neumann-Goretti squad picked by many, including, the Black Cager as the #1 team in the region before the season started. Some wondered how Miller would adapt to his new role after being the ‘man’ for MLK last year. Would he be able to adjust to playing off the ball? How would he handle not being the man? All those questions have been cast aside.

A quiet, confident and highly intelligent young man, Miller has embraced the opportunity to play in front of capacity crowds against some of the best teams in the nation. Grateful for the opportunity to play in the Catholic League for the legendary Carl Arrigale, he has gladly come off the bench and he has served as a starter while the Saints have navigated an extremely tough early portion of their schedule. Miller has added considerable value to Neumann-Goretti. In a matchup with Westtown in December, Miller exhibited exceptional lateral movement and a willingness to play ‘chest first’ on-ball defense against the best opposing guards. He frustrated the highly regarded Jalen Warley and forced him commit several turnovers in the middle of the court as  Neumann-Goretti ran away with the game.

82410064_492934334962928_4427547980035260416_n

Boo Farmer & Kev Sanchez, Front Row/Center Court

Tonight he was matched up with another highly regarded high major prospect, Lynn Greer, III. Greer is an established star in the Catholic League. He is capable of scoring in bunches. Greer doesn’t need screens or much help at all. He’s able to create space off the bounce utilizing excellent crossover and hesitation moves. In most games, Greer is a problem.

Tonight, Arrigale was able to leave Miller on Greer for extended periods by himself with no help. It was a great guard matchup… Greer played an excellent floor game. He played within himself, made very few mistakes and did not force the issue.

Overall, Miller and Greer were a push. They essentially cancelled each other out. For those who haven’t followed Martin L. King. Jr. over the past couple of seasons, that may come as a surprise. Throughout much of his High School career, Greer has been a top 100 player… He has participated in USA basketball and played on the EYBL circuit with Team Final and Team Takeover.

Miller, on the other hand, is just a hard nosed, hard playing tough kid from the Wilson Park projects. He’s hungry… He NEEDS a scholarship! There’s no college without a scholarship. He’s earning his keep the hard way… Game by Game… The folk that matter are noticing, as soon as he emerged from the locker room after the win tonight, Wagner Head Coach Bashir Mason offered him a scholarship.

83276023_2964124713606685_2004110905150799872_o

Hysier Miller moments after Wagner Head Coach Bashir Mason (r) offered him a scholarship

A great culmination to a great evening of high school basketball for Miller.

He helped Neumann-Goretti withstand a barrage of breath-taking, gravity-defying, FUCK yo Momma’s Momma, NBA quality dunks from Jalen Duren. It’s simply ridiculous to think Duren is just a sophomore. He is beyond physically dominant in one of toughest high school basketball leagues in the United States of America and he’s not even half way through his high school career.

I don’t know how to adequately describe the manner in which he attacks the rim. Duren dunks on your ancestors… HARD as shit! Big Momma and Pop Pop are begging their grandsons to do something… anything… make it stop!

82499673_172807993819675_7753980973758283776_n

Jalen Duren, Roman Catholic at the free thrown line

But… when forced to make basketball plays away from the rim, he’s just ok. He’s not an adequate shooter and he has yet to develop reliable go to moves and counter moves. Moreover, going to him down the stretch is a questionable strategy because he’s yet to prove himself a capable free throw shooter.

Fouling Duren in one and one or bonus situations can be equivalent to forcing a turnover. He missed 3 out of 4 crucial free throws down the stretch. For the game he was a 1 out of 5 from the free throw line. Greer was 3 for 7.

In a game that close, between two evenly matched teams, the margin for error is razor thin… Neumann-Goretti capitalized…

I’m just gonna put out there… If you don’t like Jordan Hall and Hak Byrd, you don’t like basketball!

Hall is simply a magnificent high school basketball player. On a team with two kids that will be Division 1 point guards, Hall is the unquestioned primary ball-handler. At 6’8” he towers over opposing guards and wings. Until he shoots, one would think that he is a southpaw or ambidextrous. The ball is on a string… He teases opponents by dangling it out in front of them only to yank it back and explode by them when they reach time and time again.

Hall plays downhill, attacking the defense aggressively while keeping his head on a swivel. He’s constantly looking for the help defense, he’s forcing the double team and whenever it comes the ball is abruptly delivered to the player left open for a clean look at the basket. Neumann-Goretti plays good, solid basketball. Carl Arrigale has these super talented kids playing unselfishly at the high school level. He has almost too many weapons at his disposal.

82570106_260335988277395_2560787195547877376_n

Hakim Byrd, Neumann-Goretti

Teams have problems dealing with Hakim Byrd’s combination of speed and skill. In the open court, it’s almost unfair. In most instances, Byrd is gonna lay it up… One way or another… If not, he’s gonna pull up for a three or a mid-range jumper that’s damn near as reliable as a layup. The most aggressive scorer on this year’s version of the Saints, Byrd is playing at an extremely high level. He spells Hall from time to time as a playmaker, but for the most part Byrd is looking to get buckets… And… He does his job exceedingly well!

Fabe

Hysier Miller, Neumann-Goretti. Photo Credit: Flawless Focus

Rahsool Diggins (Archbishop Wood), Stevie Mitchell (Wilson West Lawn), Jhamir Brickus (Coatesville), Lynn Greer, III, Jaylen Stinson (Archbishop Wood), DJ Wagner (Camden), Tazir Cantey (Lindenwold), Hakim Byrd and Hysier Miller… There’s a plethora of talented and tenacious guards playing in the region right now. This, my friends, is the Golden Era…

Y’all just not recognizing!

 

Explaining College Recruitment or the Lack Thereof…

I am a trained political scientist. I try to structure my thoughts on social behavior using analytical frameworks borrowed from social science. One of the most powerful, and therefore most useful, is rational choice theory.  Rational choice is a framework for understanding and often formally modeling social and economic behavior.

Here we apply the basic premises of rational choice theory to the conundrum that is local college basketball recruiting. Basically, I’m trying develop an explanatory model make sense of shit that makes no sense at all…

Let me give a quick and dirty explanation of how I apply rational choice theory in this instance. I assume that aggregate social behavior (who gets and does not get D1 offers) results from the behavior of individual D1 coaches, each of whom is making their individual decisions. Rational choice theory then assumes that D1 coaches have preferences among the available high school/JUCO and transfer prospects that allow them to state which option they prefer. These preferences are assumed to be complete (the D1 coach can always say which of two prospects they consider preferable or that neither is preferred to the other) and transitive (if player A is preferred over player B and player B is preferred over player C, then A is preferred over C). In my rational choice model, D1 coaches are assumed to take account of available information, probabilities of events, and potential costs and benefits in determining preferences, and to act consistently in choosing the self-determined best choice of action.

Basically, a rational choice model assumes D1 coaches get out and actually watch the prospects first hand, have an understanding of the options each kid has, realize what the prospect can add to his program and work in good faith to win games and improve his program.

The challenge then becomes explaining recruiting outcomes that don’t make no muthafuckin sense.

In the Philadelphia region, there have been some truly befuddling recruiting outcomes in recent years. Sam Sessoms, Ryan Daly and Jhamir Brickus are examples that force me to call the explanatory power of rational choice theory into question.

sessoms1

Sam Sessoms, Binghamton University

Sessoms was one of the best guards to come out of Philadelphia’s fiercely competitive schoolboy scene in recent years. Academics was not an issue for Sesssoms. He attended and did well at one of the elite private Main Line high schools. Moreover, he played on the prestigious Nike EYBL summer circuit. He played for the Team Final program that has consistently produced NBA players. During the winter, Sessoms absolutely scorched opponents during a dominant senior season that saw him easily eclipse the 2,000 point mark. Yet, he had exactly one (1) D1 scholarship offer from Binghamton University which plays in the low-major America East Conference.

DSC_5643

Ryan Daly, St. Joseph’s University

Ryan Daly was named the MVP in the Philadelphia Catholic League as a senior. Daly was the MOST VALUABLE PLAYER in one of the top 3-4 HS leagues in the nation. He is a fearless and fierce competitor capable of scoring in bunches from all three levels and rebounding like a power forward. Like Sessoms, his academic profile was beyond reproach. Indeed, he would have been accepted at Ivy or Patriot League schools. Then there is his DNA… his father and grandfather were Philadelphia Catholic League stalwarts and played college ball for St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia’s vaunted Big 5. Yet, very late into his senior season, he was struggling find an adequate suitor for his considerable skills. Fortunately, Delaware’s Martin Inglesby swooped minutes after being given his first head coaching opportunity and gave Daly an opportunity to play in the mid-major Colonial Athletic Conference.

31232811

Jhamir Brickus, Coatesville High School

Fast forward to today… Jhamir Brickus has just exceeded the 2,000 point mark with about 20 or so games left in his scholastic career. He has Rip Hamilton in his rear view mirror and will soon lap John Allen to become Coatesville’s all-time leading scorer. He regularly gives highly respected opponents 40 or even 50 points in big games. See for example, the 52 piece family pack… with biscuits and extra gravy he dropped off on Chester in the PIAA playoffs last year. Brickus consistently dominates games from the backcourt with exceptional ball-handling and an uncanny knack for finishing at the rim through contact. Possessing exceptional vision, he is an elite passer. He has played a couple summers on the highly competitive Under Armour UAA circuit where he averaged double figures in points, 5 assists and less than 1 turnover per game… Please note… He averaged LESS than one turnover per game against some of the best competition available. Simply stated, Brickus is a bad, bad man… Yet, his has yet to reel in D1 offers commensurate with his exceptional abilities.

What da fuck? How do we make sense of these outcomes? In my search for answers, I’m leaning hard on the my understanding of rational choice theory… Truth be told… I’m really struggling to make this shit make sense…

The premise of rational choice theory is that the aggregate behavior (the total sum of D1 offers) reflects the sum of the choices made by individual D1 coaches. Each D1 coach, in turn, makes their choice based on their own preferences and the constraints (or choice set) they face.

The logic of the model holds that D1 coaches choose the action (or outcome) they most prefer. In the case where offers (or recruiting outcomes) can be evaluated in terms of costs and benefits, a rational coach chooses the prospect (or recruiting outcome) that provides the maximum net benefit, i.e., the maximum benefit minus cost.

The local D1 coaches (New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Washington, D.C. and Virginia) would experience very little costs recruiting these kids. Some gas, a few tolls and a couple Popeye’s chicken sandwiches on top of letters, phone calls, texts and DMs. Viewed in the context of their respective recruiting budgets, pursuing these guys costs nada, zilch, nothing…

The potential rewards? Daly exceeded 1000 points in two years and Sessoms may exceed 1,200 by the end of his sophomore campaign. Beyond that, these guys are Philly guards… They bring a level of toughness to programs that add a value that can’t be quantified. It’s apparent and easy to see now.

Indeed, if Sessoms or Daly were to enter the transfer portal today, each would likely receive 40-50 scholarship offers within a week. Think about that shit… The same D1 coaches that passed on them as high school seniors would relentlessly call, text, DM and visit them begging for their services today.

This begs the obvious question: How did they miss? Why couldn’t they see this 24-36 months ago?

We have to continue to assume that D1 coaches want to win… We must assume they want to add very good players. Indeed, the fact Zane Martin (New Mexico) receive offers from coaches at high major programs like Clemson, Seton Hall, Gonzaga and New Mexico 24 months after they were completely ignored by the same guys means something is seriously askew.

These fuckin’ coaches ain’t behaving rationally… The model doesn’t explain this shit…

Some really smart social scientists have introduced the useful concept of bounded rationality to account for situations precisely like this. Bounded rationality is the idea that rationality is limited, when individuals make decisions, by the tractability of the decision problem, the cognitive limitations of the mind, and the time available to make the decision. Decision-makers, in this view, act as satisficers, seeking a satisfactory solution rather than an optimal one.

In other words, coaches are limited by factors beyond their control. Plainly stated, some just are not that smart. In the words of my good friend, Amauro Austin, “some D1 coaches just don’t know what the hell they are looking at.” This was clearly the case in the recruitment of Ryan Daly. Coach after coach lamented that he was not an “explosive athlete.” They openly cited his lack of foot speed and the fact that he played “below the rim” as factors explaining their lack of a scholarship offer.

I would openly question if I had contacted the right office. I had to remind these guys, I was not trying to reach the track coach. I was not arguing that Ryan should run the 100 or 200 meter dash… Nor, was I suggesting that he be recruited as a high jumper…

“Sorry, coach… my bad… I thought you were looking for good fuckin’ BASKETBALL players.”

Same with Sessoms… He was too small… Incredibly, some even wondered if he could play at the D1 level at all. This as he was punishing opponent after opponent, it seemed like they were all reading from the same script. He can’t really shoot from distance… He’s not a true point guard… blah… blah… blah…

Huh?

Well… We seem to be headed down the same road with Brickus.

Here’s script on Jig… He doesn’t really play hard… He’s more of a small shooting guard… He doesn’t like to play defense… He’s too cool… He doesn’t play against anyone…

Once again, I find myself dealing with the “cognitive limitations” of a lot of D1 coaches.

I just want these guys to be actual rational actors… Unfortunately, more often than we care to admit, Amauro Austin’s assessment is dead on…

“Some D1 coaches just don’t know what the hell they are looking at.”

Doughty is CLEARLY the Best? That’s a Big Fuckin’ Thumb on the Scale!

Inevitably, in any conversation worth having about basketball you end up making comparisons. What I find extremely interesting is size and weight of the “thumb” that is invariably put on the scale. It’s one of those things that’s always there but it rarely made explicit.

79143246_2866353103383847_543543985507926016_o

In a recent social media “debate” with my good friend Charles Jones from Born Leader Family, he asserts that Samir Doughty (Auburn/R-Senior) is “easily best college guard [from] our area offensively & defensively.”

7722596

Samir Doughty, Auburn/R-Senior

That’s a STRONG fuckin’ statement… Indeed, Jones refuses to consider alternative assessments. While I love the energy and analytical rigor he brings to the discussion, I am not ready to concede that his conclusion is accurate.

Jones did make me realize this topic warrants a more serious evaluation. We need to make some things VERY EXPLICIT so we won’t continue the long-standing Philadelphia tradition of talking right past one another.

Toward that end, I want to perform a comparative analysis of some current Philly guards playing NCAA Division 1 basketball. The Below chart is a listing some Philly guards and their “per game” statistics in Division 1 competition.

Screen Shot 2019-12-08 at 9.05.34 PM

We chose per game averages instead of career totals for a reason. While interesting and in some ways informative, total stats are really not useful in the present comparative analysis because of the extreme variation in the number of games played. Some have only played as few as 41 and 51 games while others have played in as many as 102 and 107. This wide variation renders a comparison of totals almost meaningless. The per game averages, however, shed some useful light.

SLP_0164

Ryan Daly, St. Joseph’s/R-Junior

An objective comparison of the actual NCAA Division 1 game performance is fairly straightforward. More points, rebounds, assists and steals per game is better than fewer. As far as scoring is concerned, Sam Sessoms is the most prolific scorer over the course of his career which is also the shortest at 43 games.

But… We all know the game is much more than simply scoring points. Other important factors have to be taken into consideration. Keep in mind the objective here is not to identify the “perfect” way of framing the argument and measuring performance. Rather. the goal is to identify “better” ways of framing the argument. We are trying to lay the foundation for future debates and discussions. Most importantly, we want to help the hundreds of new consumers of Black Cager content understand what is often left unsaid.

sessoms2

Sam Sessoms, Binghamton/Sophomore

We take it seriously and do it a little differently at Black Cager Sports Media.

My man Jones leaves very little unsaid… It was a heated dialogue with him that prompted this essay.  He rather forcefully put forth the following assertion, “In meaningless basketball (knowing you gonna lose going into games makes it a lot easier to play. No real pressure). As a ranked team coming off a final 4 you getting teams best punch. Big differentiating factor when u expected to win at the highest level and your expected to lose at a Lower level.”

Fair points… Jones has pushed the argument forward on an analytical level. You cannot just look at D1 stats and compare across the board.

jordan_stevie1_sienamaac19

Stevie Jordan, Rider/Senior

At it’s core, his essential point is that when comparing player performance across conferences to determine which is “better” you have to put the “thumb” on the scale…

SEC points > American East points
SEC rebounds > American East rebounds
SEC assists > American East assists
SEC steals > American East steals

Again, fair points…

After establishing this point, Jones can argue that Doughty with NCAA Division 1 performance stats significantly lower than those of Samuel Sessoms, Ryan Daly, Stevie Jordan (Rider) and several other Philly guards is the “BEST” player. In a very straightforward manner, Jones is arguing that 18.4 ppg in the America East is not equal to nor is it a reasonable predictor for scoring in the Big East, ACC, Big 12, PAC 12, Big 10 or SEC.

Basically… He making it very clear that it’s levels to this shit!

mgx26388

Josh Sharkey, Samford/Senior

And… If you don’t put your “thumb” on the scale for the Big East/ACC/Big 12/PAC 12, Big 10/SEC player… The comparison is unfair to the high major players and more or less useless.

Jones is right..

With aforementioned data one can compare and contrast any two guards. If we limit ourselves to a “simple” compare-and-contrast analysis, in which the data is weighed equally, we make a HUGE assumption that needs to be made explicit.

_RGL4030

Tommy Funk, Army/Senior

We assume that all D1 games are equal. That is simply not the case. In this regard, I agree with Jones.

However, the far more interesting and difficult question becomes: Exactly, how heavy should the thumb be?

Let’s walk through two examples. For illustrative purposes, we can conceptualize and measure “impact” per game by simply add the average number of points, rebound, assists and steals per game. This will result is a score for each player we call the Division 1 game “impact” number.

Screen Shot 2019-12-08 at 9.49.48 PM

The results are different than our earlier comparison of scoring averages alone. If one compares the resulting impact numbers, Ryan Daley overtakes Sam Sessoms as the leader and Josh Sharkey (Samford) overtakes Tommy Funk (Army). Taking overall performance into account, Daly’s ability to rebound at a significantly higher rate than the others explains his jump in the rankings. Same thing with Sharkey’s ability to steal the ball. Stevie Jordan’s strong overall performance across categories throughout his career at Rider keeps him near the top of the list.

With this data one can compare and contrast any two guards in terms of their performance in NCAA Division 1 games. However, as noted earlier,  if we limit ourselves to such a “simple” compare-and-contrast analysis, in which you weigh the data equally, we make a HUGE assumption that needs to be made explicit.

Armed Forces Classic - Washington v Baylor

Quade Green, Washington/Junior

We assume that all D1 games are equal. I agree with Jones, that is simply not the case.As a result, the rankings of Doughty, Quade Green (Kentucky/Washington) and Collin Gillespie (Villanova) suffer.

This brings us back to the question at hand: Exactly, how heavy should the thumb be?

Here we make explicit exactly how much the “thumb” weighs in two different examples. Varying weights assigned to the “thumb” result in significant variations in the rankings. In the first example, we use following multipliers to account for the effect of playing in more competitive leagues/conferences:

We multiply the Impact score times 1 for Low Division 1 leagues.
We multiply the impact score times 1.25 for Mid-major Division 1 leagues.
We multiple the impact score times 1.50 for High-Major Division 1 leagues.

https---images.saymedia-content.com-.image-MTY4MjM4NTE3NDgxMTIxNjY1-img_8075

Fresh Kimble, Louisville/Graduate Student

In this way we recognize that it is tougher to be a productive player in the A10 Conference than in the America East Conference. This way of accounting for “League Competitiveness” also recognizes that the SEC Conference is tougher than the A10.

Screen Shot 2019-12-08 at 10.09.04 PM

When the strength of the conferences is taken into account in this assessment, Doughty makes the biggest jump in the rankings. He goes from 8th to 3rd. Fatts Russell (Rhode Island) moves from 6th to 4th.

NCAA Basketball: Providence at Rhode Island

Fatts Russell, Rhode Island/Junior

But, this still would be insufficient for some observers. Consider this argument Jones unflinchingly adheres to, “no matter what context you put it in [Doughty] is a better player as a role player and as a primary. More efficient, better defender, better athlete, and is a center piece of winning. I been said the context matters. Meaningful basketball is different. You put it into stats I told u… That [Doughty] is better. You talked about situations and I still told u why. And if you was starting a team and u took any of them players before him you’d prolly [sic] get fired.”

But how does one convincingly substantiate the position that Doughty “no matter what context you put it in [Doughty] is a better player”? You simply cannot discard performance in games.

Beatty

Dave Beatty, La Salle Junior

You have to assume that Doughty has a harder row to hoe…

Statistically, what you have to do is assigned double the weight to every high major point, rebound, assist and steal while holding low to mid-major stats steady. If your rubric assumes that “high major” leagues are twice as difficult as low and mid major leagues, Doughty becomes the clear cut “best” player. See the chart below with such revised Weighted Impact scores.

High major conference impact #s have multiplier of 2. All others have a multiplier of 1. Even when such disparate weight is applied, Daly remains second in the ranking. Passed only by Doughty. Quade Green and Collin Gillespie also surpass all of the low to mid major players on the list.

Screen Shot 2019-12-08 at 10.26.11 PM

I’ll be the first to admit that the Big East, ACC, Big 12, Big 10, PAC 12 and SEC conferences are tougher that the low to mid-major conferences. But I’m not willing to assign a weight to the high majors that is twice that assigned to the A10, Mountain West and American.

Jones is right… “It’s levels to this shit!”

However, the differences between the levels are not as large he would have us believe… Doughty may very well be the best Philly Guard in college basketball, but the discussion is definitely unsettled and ongoing.

Black Cager Sports Media thanks him for introducing some much needed nuance and subtlety into discussion usually driven by personal bias and animosity.

We will revisit this topic every few weeks or so.

 

A Hawk is a Hawk… Right?

Blunt1-1

Actually… I am not friends with Lange. I do know and respect his wife from working at St. Joseph’s. I met her when she worked as an academic advisor for student-athletes at SJU… I was tutoring several players…

Arguably Lange is qualified.

His hiring would be perceived as a slap in the face by some that have supported and believed in the “Hawk Tradition” in the Philadelphia community.

Philly College Basketball fans in their 40’s and 50’s grew up on the Hawk. Even the Black guys. Since Blunt wants to have the “race” discussion…

We know about Ramsay, Lynam, McKinney, Boyle, Griffin, Martelli… These are Hawks…

We also know about Clark, Warrick, Costner, McFarlan, Williams, Martin, Arnold and Flint… These are Hawks…

For the younger set it was O’Connor, Bey, Bass, Myers, Davis, Crenshaw, West and Nelson… These are Hawks…

c381beb8672f3c9ca6a45b94a6a4ccd3

The Hawk

A Hawk is a Hawk… Right?

Generally speaking, throughout Hawk basketball history, the “best” available Hawk has been given an opportunity to lead St. Joseph’s Basketball into battle.

This is how the position has been filled…

Flint, Baggett, Arnold, Bass and Nelson are Hawks. In varying ways, they are at least, as qualified as Lynam, Boyle, Griffin at the same points in their coaching careers.

Currently, the Men’s Head Coach position at St. Joseph’s is OPEN.

This job, almost always, has gone to the most qualified Hawk.

Jameer Nelson is also qualified.

Hardaway in Memphis, Mullin at St. John’s, McKie at Temple, Ewing at Georgetown are the appropriate comparisons for the Nelson candidacy.

More importantly…

Nelson, more than any other Hawk in my lifetime, has brought honor and glory to Saint Joseph’s. I was there… I saw firsthand…

Saint Joseph’s was at legitimate top 10-15 program for Jameer’s last 2 seasons and peaked with run to the top.

While at St. Joseph’s, Jameer Nelson was the finest player in College Basketball… The very best… I was there…

He has been an exemplary citizen.

Nearly 10,000 points and 4,508 assists in the NBA.

Graduated from Saint Joseph’s!

Committed his son to St. Joseph’s!

The St. Joseph’s University Men’s Basketball Coach position is open. This job has always gone to Hawks, with Phil Martelli being the notable exception. Phil did run point for St. Joseph’s Prep and Phil had been a ten year assistant. Notably, Bass has twice that and he’s a Hawk. Geoff has at least the same amount of experience and he’s a Hawk.

As an aside… I think the Hawk basketball community should include Terrell Myers in discussions about positioning the the “strategic asset”.

His AAU program has won the National 17U Championship on the Under Armour Circuit 3 out of the last 5 years. Over the past few years, players from his program have committed to Duke, Miami, Maryland, UNLV, Villanova and Providence… He is a Hawk… I was there with Terrell as well…

Something is amiss…

Everything that the “Hawk” stands for says that Nelson, Flint, Arnold or Baggett will be announced at the next head coach.

The job is open and they are Hawks…

Just like Ramsay, Lynam, McKinney, Boyle, Griffin, Martelli…

Would you ask Ramsay, Lynam, McKinney, Boyle or Griffin to work FOR Billy Lange at SAINT JOSEPH’S?

John Becker? Dane Fife? Billy Lange?

Huh?

The Hawk is on the clock…

 

 

 

St. Joseph’s… I know a guy…

I know a guy… You’re looking for a basketball coach… right now… You play in the A10…

My guy coached in the A10 from 1996 to 2001… His record in the A10 was 52-28… His last year, he was 11-5 in the A10 and his Athletic Director turned down an NIT Invitation. Overall, my guy won 65% of his A10 games.

317628.0

Bruiser Flint, St. Joseph’s Alum

 

From there, my guy went to the CAA… There he won 56% of his games… One year, his team beat St. Joseph’s, Temple, Villanova, Syracuse and Creighton ALL on the road…

Four times, he was CAA Coach of the Year…

For his career, he’s won 331 college basketball games and lost 289 (53.4%).

Please note that my guy has graduated 100% of his four year players and one of his players, Damion Lee, is in the NBA.

My guy is currently an assistant in one of the top 6-7 programs in college basketball… (Kentucky, Duke, North Carolina, Kansas, Villanova, Indiana, Michigan St.)

Based of this resume, my guy would be, arguably,  the most qualified alum ever to apply for the basketball coach position at St. Joseph’s…

Jimmy Lynam was 93-90 at Fairfield and American when their alma mater hired him. Jim Boyle took over after Lynam.

Boyle was a St. Joseph’s player, assistant coach and head coach. Boyle had a connection with all of the SJU coaches over the past five, Boyle played for Hall of Famer Dr. Jack Ramsay and served as an assistant coach on the staffs of Jack McKinney, Harry Booth and Jim Lynam. Boyle also worked with John Griffin, when they were assistants to Lynam. Then during his tenure as head coach, Boyle hired Phil Martelli as an assistant coach.

Boyle also recruited my guy… My guy played for Boyle…

My guy would seem like a worthy candidate… His Hawk bonafides are in order…

But, one has to wonder how the National Search Firm weighs Hawk bonafides when ranking candidates? Indeed, one has to question if they matter at all… I don’t think they are part of the equation anymore…

The St. Joseph’s AD is from Notre Dame… Not Drexel Hill…

There was a distinct Hawk way of doing things… Local relationships mattered… Status as alum mattered… If you were gonna terminate the employment of a loyal, highly respected 35 year employee you would put significant thought into exactly how you would carry it out…

Increasingly, basketball at all levels has become a business first and foremost… This is especially the case at the NCAA Division 1 level. Administrators, presidents and athletic directors, have tough decisions to make. The other day St. Joseph’s AD made such a tough decision when she decided to move on from legendary Coach Martelli.

How the AD and the President carried out the decision raises the question is there still “a way of doing things”?

Phil Martelli deserved a far more dignified and respectful separation from the University. More forethought could have been applied. Just doesn’t look right… Maybe that doesn’t matter anymore…

gettyimages-1130561686-750xx4432-2494-0-118

Phil Martelli, Winningest Coach in SJU History

The Hawk community at St. Joseph’s has always been like a family. Clearly, decisions have been made to take a “National” approach to the business of college basketball. I’m sure many are all too happy to discard what they consider “Mom and Pop” approaches.

But… Keep in mind… Ramsay, Lynam, Boyle and Martelli would NOT have made the national search firm short list at the time of their hiring. My guy’s resume is stronger than all of theirs at the time of their hiring and he probably won’t be considered.

Oh well…

All I ask is that you give him full and fair consideration… Don’t act like you can’t see that Hawk standing right there looking all “experienced and qualified.”

Come on with the bullshit… Treat him right during this “process.”

 

Suburban Hoops: James Nelson Stewart on District 1

By James Nelson Stewart

District 1 6A playoffs are heating up. The quarterfinals have 4 interesting games.

#5 Norristown (19-5) at #4 Pennridge(22-3)– 2 teams without a lot of size. Very well coached teams . Navy Commit 6-3 Sr Sean Yoder is the headliner for Pennridge but 6-5 Sr Jonathan Post provides help for Pennridge. Norristown is led by Sr quartet (Mikeel Allen, Tyler Lyons, Marcus Sanford and Xavier Edwards) and 3 Sophomores (Nizer Kinney, Aaron Reddish and Willie Anderson Jr.).

1006258412-LAN-L-PR-SOUD_0962-e1482513707194

Sean Yoder, Navy Commit

#6 Chester(18-4) at #3 Lower Merion(22-2) – historically two of the Top teams in District 1. This year is no different. Chester is led by 6-4 Sophomore Double-Double Machine Karell Watkins and 5-11 Sr G Man-Man Smith and they are hot at the right time with a 14 game winning streak. Lower Merion is led by 6-6 Sr Columbia Commit Jack Forrest and 6-2 Sr G Steve Payne.

5c414d98daa44.image_

Michael Smith, Chester (left)

 

#7 Methacton(21-5) at #2 Coatesville(24-1) – this has a chance to be a classic!!! Methacton, which has already beaten Neumann-Goretti this year is led by 6-3 Sr Dave Duda and 6-9 Jr Jeff Woodward. 5-11 Sr Brett Eberly and 6-4 Jr Erik Timko provides additional shooting for Methacton. Coatesville is led by 5-8 Jr. dynamo Jhamirr Brickus, one of the most electrifying players in the area. But riding along side of him is 5-8 Jr 2 sport MONSTER Dupree Bryant, who is rounding into basketball shape at the right time. Seniors Dymere Miller, Tione Holmes and Aaron Young provide shooting, toughness and defense for Coatesville

BB-MJ-PVvsMeth-21419-34-2-2-e1550204616510

David Duda, East Stroudsburg Commit

#8 Perk Valley(20-6) at #1 Abington(24-1) -2 very different styles in this matchup. Perk Valley who is led by 6-4 Sr Shooter/Baseball Star Tyler Strechay, 5-11 Sr G Zach Krause and 6-3 Sophomore Kameron Parks. They are disciplined and their zone defense can cause many problems. But they have a HUGE task ahead of them. The 2 time defending District champions await them. 6-8 Sr Villanova Signee Eric Dixon and 6-6 Sr Penn Signee Lucas Monroe have both taken their games to the NEXT level. Dixon is the All Time Leading Scorer at Abington and is having a season for the ages. While the Swiss Army Knife Lucas Monroe has just went over 1,000 points for his HS career. But they aren’t alone, Abington’s unheralded Support players have come up Huge in big moments. Sr Darious Brown, Sr Maurice Henry, Sr Derek Sussman and Jr Manir Waller have provided timely shooting and solid defense.

AR-180418883

Eric Dixon, Villanova Commit

 

I see 3 very close Pick-um type games with Abington being the only team that I would say has a clear advantage over the visiting team.

Love to hear people’s thoughts and predictions on these games.