Recruitment of Hysier Miller: The Long Slow Grind

With Nanna Njoku (Sanford/Villanova), Jordan Longino (Germantown Academy/Villanova), Rahsool Diggins (Wood/UConn), Stevie Mitchell (Wilson West Lawn/Marquette) and TaQuan Woodley (Camden/Penn State) off the board, high major college coaches searching the shelves in Philadelphia’s class of 2021 are starting to focus on Neumann-Goretti’s tough hard-nosed PG Hysier Miller.

Hysier Miller, Neumann-Goretti

To some, Miller’s rise to prominence may seem meteoric. In actuality, it’s been a long slow, steady grind on the independent grassroot circuits and in Philadelphia’s Public League. For years, Miller toiled in relative obscurity with some of the best youth basketball coaches/instructors/mentors in the region. Jason Young and Harold Mackey Boswell developed a fine HS player. Sean Colson and Carl Arrigale have produced a high major “Philly” guard.

I first met Hysier when he was about 3 years old. His older brother, Mark, was one of my favorite participants in a youth program and we became very good friends. While there was about 30 years separating us, we shared a love for the game of basketball. Mark, like thousands of young Black boys in Philadelphia, was struggling behaviorally in school. My initial goal was to help Mark comply with school rules and expectations.

Once I became aware of his love for hoops, I used the game to help Mark learn to navigate educational and professional settings in a socially acceptable manner. We attended scores of college basketball games. Temple, St. Joseph’s, La Salle and especially Drexel. Mark became a huge Dragon fan. Then Dragon Head Coach Bruiser Flint and Assistant Coach Geoffrey Arnold took a liking to Mark. Mark had complete run of the program. He attended Bruiser’s summer camps. He befriended Samme Givens, Frank Elgar, Chaz Crawford and his favorite player Bobby Jordan.

Never, not one time, did Mark exhibit behaviors that would raise an eyebrow or be a cause for concern while he was in a college basketball setting. But, unfortunately, I couldn’t keep him on campus 24 hours a day. When Mark was in his neighborhood proximate to the Wilson Park public housing development, he assumed another identity.

As the young people say, Mark was about that life… Eventually, he would have run-ins with law enforcement. No longer enrolled in the program, Mark remained my friend. We ran the gamut… Juvenile court hearings, probation, Youth Study Center, Glen Mills… I have stood by Mark as he worked his way through the juvenile and subsequently adult justice system.

I love Mark, he’s like my little brother.

His late grandmother, mother, aunts and adult sisters all accepted me as part of the family. They are “my people.”

All this time, Mark would tell me about his lil’ brother Hysier “Fabb” Miller and how good he was in basketball. I knew Hysier as the kid too young to tag along when Mark and I would go to games. Nonetheless, I really liked Hysier. He was always unfailingly polite, respectful humble. Just a very nice boy.

Hysier Miller in 8th grade

Once he got to middle school, his mother Juanita would always say, “Mr. Wilson you gotta go see Fabb play, he’s my basketball star.” I hear this so often, I really didn’t take her seriously initially. I was, however, very happy to know that he was involved with organized youth basketball.

Engagement in organized basketball activities almost always leads to positive school outcomes like fewer suspensions and increased graduation rates. If we had been able to get Mark involved in youth basketball, I truly believe his path would have been much different.

Juanita also raved about his coach, Mackey. I didn’t know Mackey at the time, but the respect and appreciation Juanita had for Mackey spoke volumes. He would take care of Hysier for days at a time as they traveled up and down the east coast playing in tournaments. While I didn’t see Hysier play in middle school, I did begin to ask him about his game. He was always focused. He worked relentlessly… He would work out everyday on his own. Hysier was a true Philly “hoop head” in the making. I respected his grind.

As he neared completion of the 8th grade, he told me that he was going to attend Martin L. King HS. I was elated… One thing for sure, if Fabb had any real basketball talent, King Head Coach, Sean Colson would develop it, polish it, refine it and give the city a true college ready Philly guard. I’ve seen him do it over and over again.

With Hysier coming from Wilson Park in South Philly all the way to Stenton Avenue, in Germantown, every day, I was a little worried. That’s a very long commute for a 15-16 year old. But Hysier really appreciated the attention from Colson and he wanted to get better. It worked… Over the next two years, Colson molded Hysier into one of the best guards in Philadelphia.

The texts would inevitably come before “BIG” games… “Mr. Wilson, can you come to my game tommorrow?”

I made it out to a few games and I could see the potential to play at the D1 level. He was competing relentlessly… He was one of the better defensive guards in the city as a freshman. Offensively, Hysier more than held his own every time he stepped on the court. As a sophomore, he was the unquestioned leader of the Martin L. King squad.

However, the notoriety wasn’t there. No one really noticed.

Hysier decided he wanted to play on the biggest scholastic stage in the region. He transferred to Neumann-Goretti to play his last two seasons in Philadelphia Catholic League.

Soon as we talked about the transfer, Hysier told me he was gonna get to the Palestra and win the Catholic League Championship.

Straight up… First thing out of his mouth…

At the start of his junior campaign, Hysier had ZERO (0) scholarship offers. I felt he was as good or better than kids in his class with 10 or more offers. I told him I would make sure he had offers commensurate with his playing ability by the end of the season.

In October, I take Hysier and his Aunt Linda to visit Head Coach Zack Spiker and Drexel University. Now all along, Mark is calling me 2-3 times a week from prison and I’m keeping him updated on Hysier’s progress. He wants to know how he’s playing, does he have any scholarship offers, can they win the Catholic League.

I let Mark know I’m taking Hysier to visit his favorite program. Mark’s excited. He still likes Drexel. It was a very nice visit. Spiker is a very affable and personable man. He makes Hysier and his Aunt feel at ease. Drexel has updated the facilities, the locker room is very nice and the gym has been modernized. The apartments are top notch. I could tell Hysier liked University City. It’s a vibrant and diverse learning community within walking distance of Center City.

Outstanding visit…

As we walked back to the car to head out, Hysier asked “Did he offer me?”

“Naaaah… you will know when a coach offers you.”

I call Coach Spiker and tell him that Hysier liked the visit and was looking for an offer… Coach Spiker said, “we want to continue evaluating him while he plays for Neumann-Goretti in the Catholic League.”

“Coach… Once he starts playing the fields gonna be pretty crowded.”

Couple of weeks later, Hysier and wake up early and drive to visit Mark’s favorite college player Bobby Jordan who’s an assistant at Wagner College. We watch practice and tour the campus, Head Coach Bashir Mason and Jordan are wonderful hosts. As the visit winds down, Mason tells Hysier, “I want to come see you play at Neumann-Goretti before I offer a scholarship.”

“Coach… Once he starts playing the fields gonna be pretty crowded.”

Hysier Miller and Bobby Jordan at Wagner College

December rolls around and they start playing basketball games. First up, Westtown and Jalen Warley ranked #36 in nation by ESPN and #21 by Rivals. In his debut with Neumann-Goretti, Hysier steals the ball from Warley 3 times in open court while leading his team to a convincing wire to wire 64-59 victory over the much bigger Westtown squad.

Another one of Mark’s friends, Rider Assistant, Geoff Arnold watched the Westtown game. Impressed with Hysier, Arnold said he will bring the other Rider coaches to watch Hysier. They subsequently watch Hysier go against the highly regarded Lynn Greer III and Roman Catholic. Hysier is matched up with Greer and he does well as Neumann-Goretti wins 77-69 in double overtime.

Rider Head Coach Kevin Baggett has seen enough… He offers Hysier a full basketball scholarship.

Mar Mar Jones (sister), Delgreco Wilson, Kevin Baggett, Geoff Arnold, Linda Brown (Aunt) & Hysier Miller

Next up is Archbishop Wood led by Rashool Diggins ranked #69 by ESPN and #41 by Rivals. Miller scores 24 points and leads Neumann-Goretti to a 66-55 win over Wood. Diggins managed a hard-fought 14 points.

Wagner Head Coach Bashir Mason is in attendance at that game. Literally, within 3 minutes of the first quarter, he says “I’m offering him a scholarship.”

Things start to pick up for Miller, Hofstra offers him a scholarship. Eventually, Drexel extends an offer.

Just like he said he would, Miller helps lead Neumann-Goretti to the Catholic League Championship as they defeat Lynn Greer III, Jalen Duren and Justice Williams for the second time with everything on the line.

Talking to Mark several times a week, I let him know we are just beginning. With the state playoffs and the April “Live Period” I expected Hysier to pick up no fewer than 8-10 high major offers over the spring.

Then coronavirus struck…

Everything was shut down… No playoffs… No live period… No opportunity for Hysier to demonstrate his progress for coaches.

Fortunately, earlier in the year I had told my friend Michael Starling from Raw Sports that I expected Hysier to be the breakout star in in the Catholic League this year. Always looking to highlight deserving players, Michael made sure to focus his lens on Hysier during several of the biggest games of the year. Also, Charles Jones from BornLeader Sports decided to break down his game films and compile an outstanding highlight video for Hysier.

Armed with links to these videos, I pushed Hysier hard. First up Pat Chambers and Keith Urgo at Penn State. Knowing how much the Nittany Lions appreciate Philly toughness, I sent those guys the links. They contacted Hysier immediately after viewing the videos. Within 2 days, Chambers offers Hysier a Big 10 Basketball scholarship.

I also had conversations with VCU, Seton Hall and SMU. Everyone was interested, but they were all very deep in the recruitment process with other guards and reluctant to offer players they could not watch live.

Coronavirus was fucking up the process…

I continued to lean on my friends… I pressed Ashley Howard… But he had a freshman starter and was locking down the magnificent 2020 PG Jhamir Brickus from Coatesville HS. I figured Chris Clark at Temple would listen. Chris was a Catholic League product and I know he would see how much Hysier’s no-nonsense approach to the game mirrored that of his boss, Templ great, Aaron Mckie.

Chris immediately got it… But the Owls were also in deep with other PG prospects. Chris would not let up, he maintained contact with Hysier and the Neumann-Goretti coaches. Forced to recruit through ZOOM conference calls, McKie and the rest of the Temple staff got to know Hysier.

Eventually, in early July, Coach McKie extended an offer.

Last week, Joe Dooley, the head coach at East Carolina reached out. Joe and I go waaaay back to when he successfully recruited the Morris twins out of Prep Charter while he was an Assistant at Kansas.

Dooley said, “I need some toughness… I need kids that aren’t gonna back down.”

I sent him the Raw Sports and Born Leader Sports videos and he offered Hysier a scholarship within a few minutes of viewing them.

St. Joseph’s, Seton Hall, Virginia Tech and VCU have expressed interest.

However, it’s almost August, there will be no live periods… there will be no NCAA camps… there will be no NBA top 100 camps…

It looks like Division 1 coaches will be tethered to their respective campuses throughout the fall.

I am encouraging young boys and girls with real offers on the table to weigh their options and take one of those offers. Division 1 scholarships are valued anywhere from $200,000 to $320,000.

My man Mark should be home this fall, just in time for the Catholic League Basketball season.

All things considered, North Broad Street seems like it makes a lot of sense. Hysier’s rather large and boisterous extended family can attend every game. Temple pays a cost of attendance stipend. They have state of the art facilities, including luxury apartments for student-athletes. The academic support is first rate. And, most importantly, I trust Aaron McKie and Chris Clark with the social, emotional and basketball development of a young man I love.

Hysier Miller celebrating the Catholic League Championship

In the midst of one of the wildest years in recent memory, some shit just makes sense… We’ll see if Hysier agrees…

The ULTIMATE Snub! Diamond Johnson Excluded from the McDonald’s AA Game

Don’t piss on my leg and tell me it’s raining…

The McDonald’s All-American game is the premier HS all-star game. The game itself has been around since 1977. In the inaugural game, a group of All-Americans played in a game against a group of high school stars from the Washington, D.C. area. The following year, an East vs. West format was adopted. The McDonald’s All-American designation is 43 years old this year. In 2002, a girls game was added and the current girl-game/boy-game doubleheader format began.

It is well established that the McDonald’s All-American Team is the best-known of the American high-school basketball All-American teams. It’s really not even a close call…Designation as a McDonald’s All-American instantly brands a player as one of the top high-school players in the United States or Canada

It was forgone conclusion the Philadelphia would have a representative in the 2020 McDonald’s All-American game. The whole city was just waiting on the announcement.

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Diamond Johnson, Neumann-Goretti, Senior Point Guard. Photo Credit: South Philly Review

Shit was a lock! Neumann-Goretti’s Diamond Johnson had a better chance of being a McDonald’s All-American than Derek Jeter had of being inducted in the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame.

I had her at 99.999999% in…

The resume is impeccable… Johnson is the reigning 2018-19 Gatorade Pennsylvania Girls Basketball Player of the Year. The Gatorade award, which recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field, distinguished Johnson as Pennsylvania’s best high school girls basketball player. The 5-foot-6 junior guard led the Saints to an 18-8 record and a berth in the Class 3A state tournament. She averaged 28.1 points, 5.8 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 4.0 steals through 26 games.

Plainly stated, Johnson is a bad, bad muthafucka on a basketball court… I watched her drop 54 points in an 88-79 win over Imhotep Charter in the 3A city championship game. She would start for 90-95 percent of the boys basketball teams in the Greater Philadelphia region. I first saw her about 4 years ago giving bigger boys the business on a scorching hot ‘Norf’ Philly asphalt court in Little Vaughn’s summer league. Johnson was also named MVP of the Woman’s Slam HS Summer Finale.

Basically… She is relentless and super talented… She is a problem… A real FUCKIN problem!

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The MVP of the Philadelphia Catholic League as a Junior, she is currently ranked as the nation’s No. 6 HS prospect recruit in the Class of 2020 by ESPN. The ESPN rankings are widely considered the most respected… She’s number 6… Number 6 in the whole country!

A model citizen, Johnson has donated her time as a mentor for young children and has volunteered locally on behalf of the Christopher’s Footprints Child Care Center. An outstanding student, Johnson has maintained a 3.57 GPA in the classroom.

This young woman is truly an elite scholar-athlete. Johnson is the VERY best basketball player Philadelphia has to offer to the world in 2020.

Yet, somehow the McDonald’s All-American selection committee concluded that the 6th ranked prospect in the United States of America, with a 3.5+ GPA was NOT worthy of inclusion among the 24 McDonalds All-Americans.

There it is… That’s the yellow, filthy, smelly piss running down my leg…

The voting process for the McDonald’s All American Games Teams involves the McDonald’s All American Games Selection Committee. The Selection Committee is comprised of some of the nation’s (supposedly) most knowledgeable high school analysts, prep scouts, high school newspaper reporters and prestigious basketball coaches. There are 34 Boys Selection Committee members and 23 Girls Selection Committee members.

Putatively, selection takes place through a series of balloting system votes that are submitted by the Selection Committee.

‣  Votes are confidential.
‣ Committee members are instructed not to discuss any of the balloting results or nominees outside of the internal committee.
‣ At no time should any Committee member solicit information or opinions pertaining to any nominee’s athletic talent or basketball career.
‣ Each member submits his or her individual votes via a confidential and closed balloting system.

The results are tabulated from all voters and the top 24 vote getters compromise the McDonald’s All-American Teams.

That right there is where they tell me it’s raining…

There’s absolutely no way a young lady that was named MVP on the most prestigious summer circuit (Nike EYBL) while being ranked number 6 in the nation was left of the roster without the committee members discussing nominees outside of the internal committee. Her exclusion was deliberate and intentional. Somebody was butt hurt and sought vengeance against a 17 year old girl.

This was done to send a signal. But why? What could possible be the reasons?

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Diamond Johnson, MVP of Slam Summer Finale

Well… Johnson played AAU/Grassroots ball for Boo Williams out of Virginia. She did not play for the dominant Philadelphia area club.

And… She ultimately decided to commit to the team that the late racist/white supremacist, Don Imus, derogatorily referred to as the “nappy headed hoes.” Johnson chose Rutgers University. She turned down Notre Dame… She turned her back on Tennessee.

In short, she made the most significant decisions related to her career on her own. She did what she felt was best for Diamond Johnson. She refused to accept or follow the guidance of those controlling the power structure of girls basketball in Philadelphia.

For being independent… for choosing to play for Boo Williams and Vivian Stringer… Diamond Johnson was denied the ultimate recognition bestowed on High School players.

Fuck ‘em!

She is the best… They know she’s the best… You know she’s the best… I am proud of her independent streak. There’s always been a heavy cost associated with defying the ‘mainstream’ powers that be.

Can’t wait to see her crush some of preferred girls next year!

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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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!

 

Rysheed Jordan Debuts with the Camden Monarchs!

It’s January 2013 and across the nation there are some great scholastic basketball players performing in packed houses and with college coaches salivating all over their Nike, Adidas and Under Armour golf shirts. The athletic departments’ private jets were burning an ungodly amount of fuel that winter. Some of the best known prospects at the time were Andrew Wiggins (Huntington Prep, Huntington, West Virginia), Jabari Parker (Simeon HS, Chicago, Illinois), Julius Randle (Prestonwood Christian Academy, MicKinney, Texas), Aaron Gordon (Archbishop Mitty High School, San Jose, California) and some big kid named Joel Embid (The Rock School, Gainesville, Florida).

Duke, Kansas, Arizona, Kentucky and the other college basketball blue bloods were like sharks in the water. This was truly a great year for high school basketball and Philly was well represented. Steve Vasturia (St. Joseph’s Prep), Brandon Austin (Imhotep) and JaQuan Newton (Neumann-Goretti) were skilfully plying their trade.

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Rysheed Jordan, Camden Monarchs

 

But for the common folk, there can be no doubt, the Prince of ‘Norf’ Philly reigned supreme… UCLA, St. John’s and Temple basketball coaches were regular visitors to neighborhood of North Philadelphia known as Sharswood. They were stalking Rysheed Jordan… Members of college basketball’s royalty were frequently roaming on and about the grounds of the Norman Blumberg Apartments. Middle-aged wealthy white millionaires didn’t make their way though Sharswood too often. The poverty and crime rates at Blumberg were double the rest of the city’s. At the time, Blumberg was considered PHA’s “most distressed” public housing complex. So much so that three years later, they hit the detonation button and blew it up, reducing it to pile of rubble.

But in 2013, Sharswood was the place to be… Especially if you were a hoophead seeking out the very best action or a high major college basketball coach looking for a player with the potential to lead you to a Final Four or even a National Championship.

Rysheed Jordan and Robert Vaux High School were vying for Philadelphia basketball supremacy. Keep in mind, Vaux had never been a factor before the Phoenix-like rise of Jordan. Indeed, Vaux was literally on it’s last legs. In March, 2013, The School District of Philadelphia voted to close Vaux and 22 other district-run schools at the end of the school year.

Rasheed Jordan, unlike most of the other high profile prospects of his era, played with his childhood friends at an under-performing neighborhood public high school.

What? This just doesn’t happen… The lure of “national” schedules and ESPN games typically overrides any commitment to family and friends at the neighborhood school…

But, Jordan was different… Very different!

Ranked #17 in the nation by ESPN, Jordan could have easily fled to one of the national basketball academies like Huntington Prep, IMG, Montverde or Findlay Prep… He didn’t…

He could have chosen to suit up for one of the Catholic League powerhouse programs like Roman Catholic, Neumann-Goretti of Archbishop Caroll… He didn’t…

He resisted the lure of prominent Charter programs like Imhotep, Math, Civics and Sciences (MCS), and Boy’s Latin

Sheed stayed ‘round da way… He rose to national prominence playing for his neighborhood high school… He played basketball with the same guys he ate free lunches with in 3rd grade… He played in front of passionate and frenzied crowds with the scent of ‘loud’ wafting through the air…

Undying loyalty to his friends, his teammates, his coaches and his ‘hood’ made Sheed’s journey special… The love and affection was returned 100-fold!

His friends, his teammates, his coaches and his ‘hood’ supported the Prince in a manner impossible to explain to people from outside of Philadelphia.

These muthafuckas rode unbelievably HARD for Sheed!

As a result, he didn’t need the basketball academies… He didn’t need the Catholic or Independent schools… He didn’t need the Charters… He didn’t need the EYBL…

Sharswood, Vaux and Philly Pride stood behind and beside Jordan as he embarked on one of the greatest scholastic careers Philadelphia has witnessed over the past 2 decades. The fact that he did it with the same dudes that he cut that hard ass government cheese with made it sooooooo special.

It’s worth detailing some of the important moments for the uninitiated…

Seven years ago, in January 2013, the boys from Norf Philly went Uptown and spanked Imhotep Charter and Brandon Austin in one the toughest gyms in the State of Pennsylvania. Led by Jordan, Vaux went on a 21-2 fourth-quarter run to hand Imhotep its worst ever home loss.

 

Vaux and Imhotep would finish the regular season tied for second behind a loaded MCS squad. In the first round of the the playoffs, Jordan dropped 21 to lead Vaux to an easy 24 point victory over GAMP. In the round of 16, he scored 21 points to support Sammy Foreman’s 24 as Vaux rolled over Sankofa by 22 points, 87-65.

Then… Shit got real interesting in the Quarterfinals… Vaux faced the #1 team in the City, regular season Division A Champions MCS. MCS entered the game with a gaudy 23-1 record. In front of a packed house, Jordan put on his cape and poured in 29 points to go along with seven rebounds, five assists and four steals. With 10.7 seconds remaining in the game, after a 5-minute delay to control the ‘hood’ that was spilling onto the court, Jordan calmly sank two free throws to tie the game 61-61. Then Jordan knocked down the second of two free throws with one-tenth of a second remaining after he was fouled attempting to finish a full court sprint with the ball that began with 4.7 on the clock.

Legendary shit… The Prince of Norf, playing against the top ranked team, for the hood school in an overfilled South Philly high school gym with everything on the line…

Next up, a rematch with mighty Imhotep and their star Brandon Austin at the Liacouras Center on the campus of Temple University. This time, Vaux fell short… Imhotep won (67-66) their fourth Public League Championship in five years and avenged the 22-point, home-court spanking Vaux laid on them in January. However, legendary status of Jordan was cemented in the loss. Jordan exploded for 45 points, breaking Wilt Chamberlain’s record (40) for the most ever scored in any version of a High School Championship game.

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Rysheed Jordan (center), following state championship victory

A couple weeks later, Jordan score 32 points to lead Vaux to the PIAA Class A State Championship with a 20 point 83-63 victory over Johnsonburg HS at the Giant Center in Hershey, PA. Take a step back… Let’s think about this… Sheed Jordan led his troubled neighborhood high school to its first and only state title about 12 weeks before the City would shut it down.

Legendary shit…

Three weeks later, the Prince of Norf would commit to Steve Lavin and St. John’s University of the Big East Conference. Eschewing offers from UCLA and hometown Temple University, Sheed chose the bright lights of New York City and Madison Square Garden.

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Rysheed Jordan, St. John’s University

As a freshman, Jordan lived up to expectations… He averaged 10 ppg, 3.1 rpg and 3.0 apg and was named to the All-Rookie team in the Big East. He upped his scoring to 14.1 ppg as a sophomore while grabbing 3.7 rpg and dishing 3.1 apg.

At the conclusion of his sophomore campaign, St. John’s fired Steve Lavin and hired Chris Mullin as head coach. Jordan would never play for Mullin…

The Prince of Norf had a nice 2-year run at Madison Square Garden… Then it ended abruptly…

In the first week of June 2015… the divorce was finalized.

“Playing professional basketball has always been a goal of mine,” Jordan said in a statement released by St. John’s. “I believe I am ready to take the next step in my basketball career and plan to work hard to achieve my dream of playing in the NBA . . . This decision was made with my family’s best interests in mind.”

Chris Mullin said “We support Rysheed and wish him well in his professional endeavors.”

The timing of the divorce, however,  was very problematic… Jordan was ineligible for the 2015 NBA draft because he missed the early-entry deadline. His college career over, Jordan could not play in the NBA until 2016 at the earliest.

Fuck!

This would prove to be a very costly paperwork snafu… A really, really bad fumble… Things never really got on track from there.

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Rysheed Jordan, Delaware 87ers

Jordan would play in the D-League for the Delaware 87ers in 2015-16, averaging just over eight points per contest in 11 games. Eventually, he kinda just disappeared from the basketball scene altogether and retreated to his beloved ‘hood.’

Then… on June 1, 2016, almost exactly one year after separating from St. John’s University, Jordan was arrested and charged with multiple offenses stemming from two separate incidents over the preceding week.

Both incidents, per information provided by the Philadelphia Police Department, occurred in North Philadelphia. Jordan was charged with attempted murder, robbery, criminal conspiracy and simple assault.

Police alleged that Jordan shot a man in the arm.

According to police, the 23-year-old victim of the shooting and his companion, the witness, had gone to the area around 1400 North 26th street to purchase marijuana. They left their vehicle and approached a gold sedan, but the meet went sideways. Jordan’s group got out of the car with guns, and one of them ordered, “Give us your money and your phones.”

The victim and witness ran back to their vehicle, but Jordan’s group allegedly fired. The victim was hit in the right arm but managed to make it in the car. The witness began to back up, and the two were able to escape despite the fact that one of the offenders tried to reach inside the car window and turn off the ignition in addition to firing several shots.

The victim and witness found a policeman at 33rd and Girard and were brought to Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, where the victim underwent surgery.
Jordan was captured by Temple police early Wednesday morning after an unrelated incident. At 2:03 a.m., police tracked a green Jaguar that had run a red light. After the vehicle allegedly tried to evade police, Jordan got out and fled. He was pursued by officers on foot and threw away his gun before being captured and placed into custody. Recovered by police, the gun had five live rounds and an obliterated serial number.

A little over a month later, on June 16 defense lawyer Brad V. Shuttleworth asked Municipal Court Judge Marvin L. Williams to lower bail to $100,000, so Jordan could post the usual 10 percent (i.e., $10,000) and walk free pending trial, wearing an electronic monitoring bracelet. Judge Williams refused, however, saying that Jordan has proved he will run from the law and that he’s a danger to the community.

Jordan would remain in custody until December 1, 2019. He a did a 3.5 year bid. He emerged remorseful and eager to make a difference in the lives of the young men finding their way through his ‘hood’.

As soon as he was released, Jordan made his way to local gyms… Not to play…

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He had to share what he learned the hard way… He had to talk to young Black men about his poor choices…

It’s his calling. Jordan is at peace with himself, he has paid a heavy toll for his actions. A spiritual man, he seeks to uplift those willing to listen and learn.

Fully cognizant of the heavy sway he still holds over the City of Philadelphia, especially young men on the Norf side, Jordan tells cautionary tales these days. He is man that has done everything society has asked of him.

Young enough to fully relate to what young impressionable inner-city Black males experience on a daily basis, he is able to capture their undivided attention.

His fame and status hasn’t waned… He’s still the Prince of Norf… Older, wiser and thankful for an opportunity to make a difference.

Jordan is repentant… He lost his beloved mother while he was away… He is determined to fulfill his responsibilities as the head of his family…

While working out with his younger brother and the team at MCS, the urge to play competitively began to slowly creep back in…

Jordan had a basketball itch he needed to scratch.

Enter the Reverend, Stan Laws and the Camden Monarchs.

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Reverend Stan Laws, Camden Monarchs Head Coach

Laws is a stalwart in the Philadelphia Basketball community and long-time Norfside resident. He’s also the Head Coach of the Camden Monarchs. Laws and his boss, General Manager Joseph Richmond have given Jordan an opportunity to compete at the professional level without uprooting him from his family and the supports he has in place.

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Joseph Richmond (left), Camden Monarchs General Manager

The Monarchs fittingly play their home games in the Salvation Army’s Kroc Center. This is the prefect location for the resurrection of Jordan’s playing career. Laws and Richmond are spiritual men committed to using basketball as a tool for deliverance from sin and its consequences.

Every day, they try to live their life in accordance with the word of God. Ephesians 4:31-32 – Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another as God in Christ forgave you.

So on January 11, three and half years removed from the date he went away, Rasheed Jordan played basketball in front of a crowd with the lights on. Now… it wasn’t the 19,738 capacity crowd he entertained at Madison Square Garden. But the 400+ people that shoehorned themselves into the Kroc Center came with one goal in mind, to lift up the Prince of Norf.

The level of competition on this night was probably somewhere between NCAA Division 2 and Division 3. Laws did not start Jordan… Upon entering the game, one could sense that Jordan just wanted to be a teammate… He wanted to play the right way… He was playing very conservatively and unselfishly…

His timing was off… He would beat his man and the floater would fall short… Way short… He would blow by the initial defender, see the help defender coming but his reflexes just aren’t there yet… They were able to get their hands on the ball and prevent him from finishing…

“Just play Sheed… Just play…”

His supporters could feel him working his way into the game… He was supportive of his teammates and trying to find ways to make winning plays…

Forced to gauge him against at his very best… Jordan was about 50%… He was visibly winded at times and he was a half second slow…

He’e been away 3 and half years…

That said, Jordan at 50% finished the game with 28 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists. His team went into the locker room down at the half… Laws started Jordan in the second half… Camden ended up winning 116-82.

It’s all still there… The bounce… The sweet pull-up… The handle… The will to win…

Like a musician that had to put his saxophone away for 40 months, it’s gonna take a little time to get it all back… But he can still play music you want to hear.

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Lewis Leonard and family

 

Supportive Philly hoop heads came out to see the first show… Lewis Leonard, Mookie Laws, Randy Miller, Mike Terry, Rodney Veney, Maurice Watson, Sr. and Dallas Comegys were just a few Philadelphia hoopheads that made their way across the bridge.

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Rysheed Jordan, after his first game with the Camden Monarchs

There will be many more… The Prince of Norf is playing in East Camden… I’ll see you at the next Camden Monarchs home game.

O’Hara Basketball… The Best Delco has to offer?

Delaware County has a strong basketball tradition… Growing up in Delaware County in the 70’s, and 80’s hoopheads were always focused on mighty programs in Chester, Darby-Colwyn and Darby Township. Occasionally, Penncrest, Yeadon, Bonner, Archbishop Carroll and Springfield would also field strong teams. Almost never was Cardinal O’Hara in the conversation…

Yeah… Yeah… they had the great Tom Ingelsby

Ingelsby played for the Lions from 1965 to 1969. In his junior season he helped the team win the Philadelphia Catholic League championship, knocking off Father Judge High School in the finals. Ingelsby’s O’Hara team fell short in the City Championship, losing to the West Philadelphia High School Speedboys. But beyond that… not much to the O’Hara hoops pedigree.

Times… They are a changin’…

A few years ago, O’Hara made the decision to, once again, get serious about their hoops program. They hired Jason Harrigan away from troubled Delaware Valley Charter High School to lead the basketball program and the Lions began to stick their heads outside the cage. After Delaware Valley Charter closed in June 2017, Harrigan brought the magnificent Antwaun “Booty” Butler (Austin Peay University) to O’Hara. With Butler manning the point guard position, O’Hara immediately became a factor in the Catholic League. No longer were the Lions thought of as “sweet.”

After going 6-16 in 2013-14, 2014-15, 2015-16 and 5-17 in 2016-17, Harrigan and Butler led O’Hara to a respectable 11-12 record in 2017-18. Things were looking up in Springfield.

But Harrigan decided to move on and the Lions were once again looking for a coach that could keep the momentum moving forward.

Enter Ryan Nemetz

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Ryan Nemetz, O’Hara Head Coach

 

Nemetz is an intensely-focused and razor sharp lifelong hoophead. He was previously an Assistant Coach at Eastern University where he worked closely with the players in all areas of the program including recruiting, player development, academic progress and scouting. Eventually, Nemetz’s primary focus became serving as the defensive coordinator and recruiting coordinator.

Nemetz played collegiately at Kutztown University from 2007-2009 and then transferred to Temple University where he served as a walk-on and student assistant from 2010-2012 under Big 5 Hall of Fame Coach Fran Dunphy. One should note that all five years that Coach Nemetz participated in college basketball, his teams made the NCAA tournament.

Before joining the staff at Eastern University, Nemetz served as the Director of Player Development at the House of Sports (Westchester, NY), Senior Staff Coach at IMG Academy (Bradenton, Florida) and Assistant Director of Team Nelson (Chester, PA) where he has coached numerous college and professional basketball players.

Nemetz has a keen understanding of the Delco and Philadelphia basketball landscape. He has been charged with the responsibility of managing the Jameer Nelson Point Guard Camp. In this capacity, he was able identify 20-30 of best guards in the Greater Philadelphia area and place them in a highly competitive setting on the campus of Girard College for 3 days under the tutelage of a 15 year NBA professional point guard.

Nemetz saw Isaiah Wong, Jhamir Brickus, Zahree Harrison, Naim Walker, Donta Scott, Seth Lundy and many other great high school players up close. He saw their work ethics… He saw their skill levels… He was able to effectively gauge the type of player and the level of effort that would be required to compete in the Philadelphia Catholic League.

Smart guy…

With O’Hara lacking a strong basketball tradition, Nemetz realized he had to be creative to lure smart, talented and athletic players to Springfield, Delaware County. Toward that end, Nemetz and O’Hara hosted the Black Cager Middle School Classic last February and March. This competitive circuit brought some of the best 7th graders in the region into O’Hara’s gym on two weekends to play against stiff competition from Virginia and Maryland.

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Maryland Freshman Starting Forward, Donta Scott, working Middle School Classic at O’Hara

 

Indeed, last night… four kids that played for Jarett Kearse’s WER1/Blue Magic club listed O’Hara as one of their final High School options alongside schools like Episcopal Academy, Friends’ Central and Shipley. These kids can play. They were dominant throughout the regular season on Black Cager Middle School Circuit. O’Hara and Nemetz made them and their families feel welcome when they played at O’Hara. Indeed, O’Hara was effectively Blue Magic’s home court last winter. One shouldn’t be surprised to hear “I wanna go to O’Hara” when these kids are asked where they want to play High School basketball.

These kids know O’Hara has a large, modern, well-lit gymnasium with stadium style seating on all sides. They know it’s one of the nicest facilities in the region.

These kids know Ryan Nemetz…

Last night, the nationally ranked Archbishop Wood Vikings traveled from Warminster to test the Lions… Exactly how far has O’Hara come? Clearly, they are good… But how good?

The kids watched an exciting and intensely competitive game. While O’Hara came into the game undefeated with wins over Catholic League contenders Archbishop Ryan and Bishop McDevitt… This would be THE test…

Well over 1,000 energetic spectators filled the gym. The enthusiastic O’Hara student-body was ready… Stephen Stewart from Delaware State, Boo Farmer from the Boo Farmer Podcast, Superscout Norm Eavenson and Nemetz’s mentor Fran Dunphy, the recently retired winningest coach in Big 5 history were there to see the highly anticipated matchup.

They were not disappointed…

O’Hara is a very good basketball team…Let me repeat… O’Hara is a very good basketball team…

However, John Mosco’s Archbishop Wood club is better and more experienced.

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Rahsool Diggins, Rivals Top 100 Point Guard

 

One immediately notices that Nemetz’s Lions have a Jason Vorhees-like quality to them… You simply cannot kill these guys. After the 1st quarter they were down 2 and Wood, relying on the incredible athleticism of Daeshon Shepard and Muneer Newton, extended the lead to double digits rather quickly.

Then the Friday the 13th music starts to play in your head… O’Hara crawls out of the swamp… kicking, snatching, clinging and refusing to die. They go in at halftime down 2.

 

 

The second half starts and you are reminded why Wood is nationally ranked and one of the favorites to win the Catholic League title. Everywhere you look, they have Division 1 basketball prospects. Their point guard, Rahsool Diggins, is the smoothest guard in the mid-Atlantic region. His game is like Häagen-Dazs… creamy goodness… He lulls you to sleep and then he attacks… Never in a hurry… He gives you the in and out and lets it play out… You can see the defender thinking he has adjusted and has the situation under control and BAM… there’s a cross over leaving the defender flat footed as Sool has entered the lane… The help defender is on his way but he’s too late… The floater has been released… Splash!

The Vikings are setting their defense…

Less than four minutes into the third quarter, the 2 point lead has ballooned to 13… It’s starting to seem like it’s just too much… Jaylen Stinson is sniping and then he’s in your jersey with you playing a type of man to man on ball defense not often seen around these parts… Marcus Randolph is slashing, pulling up and relentlessly looking to attack… Muneer is rebounding and rebounding and rebounding… And…

Oh shit… Watch yo head!

Shepard is hanging on the rim again after catching and cleanly finishing the perfectly placed alley oop from Sool.

It’s just too much… So you think…

Here comes that Friday the 13th music in your head… They just won’t die… O’Hara, once again crawls out of the swamp… kicking, snatching and clinging… They cut the lead all the way back down to 2.

Watching the O’Hara backcourt (Anthony Purnell, Adrian Irving, Jr and Tre Dinkins) compete you just keep saying to yourself… “these guys are good.”

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Adrian Irving, Jr., Cardinal O’Hara Guard

 

In the end, however, Wood was better…

Nonetheless, Ryan Nemetz just may have assembled the best team in Delaware County. The matchups with Bonner-Prendie and Archbishop Carroll will feature very high level scholastic basketball. Perhaps, the best that Delaware County has to offer.

O’Hara is in the mix… Yup O’Hara… Can you believe this shit?

The Cahillites Capture South Jersey!

The sun still hasn’t set on the Roman Empire…

The Cahillites traveled about 20 minutes from Center City Philadelphia to meet the upstart Camden Panthers in a contest played in the supposedly neutral Cherry Hill East Gymnasium. Camden came into the game with a HEAVY reputation. Their main piece is, Lance Ware, a versatile 6’9” senior power forward headed to play for John Calipari and the Kentucky Wildcats. Alongside Ware is the incredibly strong and determined, TaQuan Woodley, a junior 6’8” 230 lb power forward that relentlessly rebounds and protects the rim. Woodley is a high major prospect with South Carolina, Temple, Saint Joseph’s and Penn State in hot pursuit. On the wing, the Panthers feature Jerome Brewer an athletic 6’7” wing with a sweet shooting stroke from 3 point range.

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DJ Wagner, Camden’s Freshman Guard

In the backcourt, DJ Wagner has arrived. Heir to the throne of Camden basketball, Wagner is the son of DuJaun Wagner and Grandson of Milt Wagner. He has already been anointed the messiah for the proud Camden High basketball program. Rounding out the rotation are 4 or 5 highly talented freshmen that display skill and athleticism that will one day result in college basketball scholarships at some level.

This group of uber-talented scholastic players is led by a former McDonald’s All-American and 9 year NBA Veteran point guard. Rick Brunson is a disciple of Temple’s legendary John Chaney and this matchup with mighty Roman Catholic was his first BIG game at the helm of the Camden High basketball program.

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Rick Brunson, Camden Head Coach

In preparation for this matchup, the Panthers have been plundering and pillaging small communities in New Jersey. They had piled up 4 victories with final margins ranging from 20 to 37.

But this would be different… This was HIGH MAJOR HS basketball... Coaches from Auburn, Temple, Penn State and several other high major programs were present. Saint Joseph’s brought their entire staff out to see the match up. Several former NBA players were present. Well over 2,000 spectators crammed into the hot gym designed to hold about 1,500. There were fans in every nook and cranny of the space not used for the actual contest itself. Jeremy Treatman, once again, put together a Play-by-Play Classics event that hoop heads could not resist.

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Pat Chambers, Penn State Head Coach & Hansel Canon, Black Cager Sports

Roman Catholic, on the other hand, is trying to find an identity. The Cahillites suffered massive losses of key warriors… Seth Lundy and Hakim Hart have moved on the the Big 10 playing for nationally ranked Penn State and Maryland, respectively. Louis Wild a key member of Roman’s last two Catholic League Championship squads is prepping at Olympus.

Throughout the summer and fall, the Cahillites have struggled to find a new way to win big games. The road has been filled with potholes. They have looked really bad in several performances against elite competition.

Not the last two games…

Facing the very best the Public League and South Jersey has to offer, Roman Catholic has found a new path to victory… They have convincingly vanquished two of the strongest teams (Imhotep Charter and Camden High) in the region.

How are they getting it done?

Of course, there’s the fact that they have the most athletic, most explosive, most powerful big man in the nation. Jalen Duren’s game really defies adequate description. Some shit you just have to see first hand to grasp. But… I will try…

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Jalen Duren

He dunks ON you! He dunks OVER you! He dunks THROUGH you! He dunks AROUND you!

On this night he had no fewer than 9 or 10 dunks… while these plays only resulted in 2 points each on the scoreboard, everyone in the gym will attest to the fact that they were worth at least 4 points each!

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Jalen Duren

His dunks are like the body shot that Bernard Hopkins landed to end his fight with Oscar De La Hoya. The contest literally STOPS for a standing 8 count after each dunk. These are not regular high school dunks… These are FUCK YOU… FUCK your family dunks…. These are FUCK YOU give me your lunch dunks…

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Rysheed Jordan, PUB Legend and Stan Laws, Head Coach of Camden Monarchs

Yeah… Yeah… His offensive repertoire is limited… He continues to take ill-advised jump shots… He really hasn’t developed a picture perfect turnaround jumper like former Cahillite Marc Jackson… He doesn’t have a feathery touch like Roman legend Eddie Griffin… So what?

That’s like complaining that a prime Mike Tyson lacked Ali’s lateral movement… Right now, he don’t need none of that shit. Why? Because…

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Jalen Duren

He dunks ON you! He dunks OVER you! He dunks THROUGH you! He dunks AROUND you!

But… we all knew that… and on many nights, we all know that will be enough for the Cahillites to eek out victories… But what about when they face the big boys? Will the other guys show up?

Well… For the second BIG GAME in a row Lynn Greer, III has displayed the leadership, poise, judgement and selflessness that one would expect from a HIGH MAJOR point guard prospect. His handle is beyond tight… LG3 has the ball on a string… He puts in front of defenders and yanks it back with precision… He’s able to go wherever he wants with the ball… He is big enough and strong enough to challenge BIGS at the rim… He finishes through contact… Most importantly, he has become very, very good at choosing the right time to impose himself of the game.

While Jalen Duren is an NBA athlete playing high school basketball, there is no doubt that this is Lynn Greer’s team. He has become an exceptional leader… Greer’s play is allowing the incredibly gifted Justice Williams to show his ASS this year. Lynn sets up the offense and gets guys in position. He gives it to Williams on the wing and Williams is doing things that other 10th graders simply cannot do. He was deep in his bag tonight. His in and out moves… His crossovers… His hesitations were simply majestic.

Camden was right there… They played solid defense, and on many occasions Justice’s offense was just better… If you want to know what a HIGH MAJOR wing looks like, watch the soon to be released Raw Sports video of this contest and focus on Justice Williams offensive performance tonight.

But… as noted in Isaiah 11:6 “a little child shall lead them.”

When Woodley was able to wrestle, bump and push Duren away from the rim… When Brewer’s and Ware’s length was giving Greer problems… When the Roman offense was stalling… It was the pubescent Xzayvier Brown that made big shot after big shot. Brown is very slight in stature… One can easily envision him sitting at middle school lunch table just a few short months ago… Then… The game begins and he is ALWAYS among the calmest, coolest and most collected players on the court. This kid has BIG BALLS!

Brown never gets sped up… He has a profound understanding of floor spacing… He makes himself available to Greer and Williams for skip passes… He gives them a clear target… And, when the pass is made, he is ready to squeeze! A freshman… A FUCKIN freshman is already one of the most reliable knock-down jump shooters in the Greater Philadelphia region. If his feet are set and he catches and shoots in rhythm… Count that shit! Put three on the board for Roman.

Brown is going to be a problem for four years down at Broad and Vine.

Another key piece for Roman is Nasir Lett. Like Brown, Lett understands floor spacing and he understands his role. If he is open, “Lett it fly!” Rarely does Lett catch rim… far more often than not… splash!

Impressive… Very impressive… It took a while for these guys to identify and GROW into their respective roles. One has to credit Head Coach Matt Griffin for switching defenses at key moments and constantly instilling a high level of confidence in this version of the Cahillites.

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Justice Williams, Roman Catholic, defends an inbounds pass

Yes… They have the BEST big man in the land… But they are much more than that… Greer has evolved into a maestro on the court. His tendency to play solos at inopportune moments is gone. He has clearly grasped the fact that he as to CONDUCT the orchestra. He’s allowing his young virtuosos to shine at precisely the right moments. Greer is a leader…

After finishing a tough layup, Brown took an ugly and violent spill. He thought he was hurt… I thought he was hurt… Everyone in the gym thought he was hurt… Greer knew he wasn’t injured! He made sure that Brown knew he wasn’t injured. After sitting one series, Brown immediately returned to the lineup and the Cahillites finished off the Panthers in front of about 2,000 despondent Camden fans.

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This is Lynn Greer’s team… They will go as far as he takes them… The car fully loaded with all the options… The tank is full of 93 octane and the GPS is set for the Palestra…

Can they be stopped?

The Roman Empire is seeking to capture their 5th Catholic League title in 6 years and 33rd overall… The Cahillites ended Neumann-Goretti’s string of six straight in 2015. Their recent run was interrupted by only Sir Colin Gillespie of Warminster’s incredible romp through the Catholic League in 2017. Other than that… It’s been all Roman for 5 years…

Well… I gotta go for now gotta get to work…  I owe Boo Farmer another Chicken Cheesesteak from Iskabibble’s!

I love this shit…

They Used to be BAAD Jawns!

Just got back from a party…

My man J-Rock threw another banging party… He’s been having some GREAT parties lately… Shit, a couple weeks ago he threw a party in Ohio and LeBron and Savannah James showed up… That night he had over 14,000 partygoers and the joint was rocking.

Tonight, I expected nothing less than another banging party… See, last year I went to a party right off 17th and Spring Garden and these two BAAAAAD jawns were there… These jawns were HOTTT!

One was from Center City… Her name is Romona and she’s a little stuck up… You know the bourgeoisie type… but I understand… She know she’s a BAD jawn! She was a BAD jawn waaay back in the 80’s… She had the big bamboo earrings and she was rocking cazals way back then… Her shit was fly… In fact, she always had the fly shit… She never lets up…

Very rarely will you catch her off her game… In fact last year, her shit was on point… The weave was tight… edges and all… She had the brand new Birkin Bag and the Loubitin pumps… The jeans was fitting just right… The make up was flawless… The manicure was perfect… This jawn was FLAT OUT fine… And, she knew it.

The other jawn was from uptown… Imhotesha is what they call her… She’s still kinda new to town… Her history doesn’t extend all the way back like Romona… Her pedigree is a lil’ questionable…

In fact, when she first came to town she lived in a trailer… But she got her shit together fast… Next thing you know she had a brand new crib… Yeah… She built it in the hood, but it’s a nice crib… She’s been getting all the attention for the past 6 or 7 years…

She’s not as polished as Romona… Now… Let me be clear, she’s a BAD jawn too! Don’t get it twisted… But she more likely to sport a pair of fresh Tims than Loubitin pumps… She is definitely all about the culture… Romona has crossover support… Imhotehsa is decidedly BLACK and ALL BLACK all the time for sure… She tends to pass on the weaves and wears her hair in braids or a natural style… In fact, almost every time I’ve seen her she’s wearing a Dashiki…

Last year, I went to a party right off 17th and Spring Garden and they both were there… Man those jawns were fine as shit… Niggas was sweatin’ both of ’em… They were on top of their game… You couldn’t take your eyes off of them, not even for a second… And they knew they were fine as hell… That was the party of the year.

That was last year…

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The Party was packed!

Tonight, the party was live… It was packed… Indeed, they had to stop letting people in… But it wasn’t a raucous as it was last year… It was a nice party though…

Truth be told, both Romana and Imhotesha fell off a lil’ bit…

The weave has been in a little too long… Romona’s manicure looks about 2 weeks old… You can see the little gaps where the nails have grown… The Birkin bag has a few stains on it… The make up looks like she was in a hurry and she has those weird extra long eyelashes…

Imhotesha has gained a lil’ weight, the love handles are hanging over the yoga pants… The braids have been in at least a week too long… The colors are faded on the Dashiki…

But damn… when they walked across the floor together, there can be no doubt… They are still two bad jawns!

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Rudy Davis, Marty Bibbs and Lewis Leonard at J-Rock’s Party

They still draw a crowd… They still make the party pop…

They just not as fine as they were last year.

Nor are they as fine as this chick I saw over the bridge last week… Mannnn… Listen that muthafucka is gorgeous… I heard Romona is going to a party with her on Monday… She better go to the hairdresser, go shopping and get that face painted…

That chick Cammy ain’t playing no games… Niggas is sayin’ she a dime!

 

 

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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

From the Mind of Rashime Middleton: HS Transfers

TALENTED TRANSFERS:

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Hysier Miller, Neumann-Goretti

HYSIER “Fabe” MILLER– 6’0 CG:
From  MLK to Neumann Goretti

The “gritty” South Philly guard has come back home to play for “Legendary” Catholic League Head Coach Carl Arrigale. “Fabe” has all the tools to get the job done….”Fabe” excels  in transition getting to the basket and drawing fouls. Very underrated passer, capable of hitting the long ball….sneaky hops too…. crafty ball handler “ankle breaker badge”…..mastered the stop ‘n’ go game that confuses defenders….Big time heart and a big time shot maker. I’m excited to see “Fabe” this season with Neumann Goretti.

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Ahmad Fair, School of the Future

AHMAD FAIR– 6’1 (SR) PG:
From Fels to School of The Future

“Mr. Excitement” is back like he never left, playing for 2nd year Head Coach Stan Jones at School of The Future.

Ahmad has stepped back on to the BBall scene with something to prove. The lightning quick guard keeps defenders on their toes with his unique ability to push the tempo. Ahmad has matured on the basketball court a great deal since I last seen him play. His hesitation off the bounce is extremely deceptive, creating space between him and his defenders  for his pull up. Ahmad is a dynamic passer, with the natural ability to find his teamates for open buckets which makes him exciting to watch. He may finish the season as one of the Top 5 PG’ s in the area JUST WAIT!!!!

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Mike Anderson, Girard College

MIKE ANDERSON– 5’10 (SOPH) PG:
From Roman to Girard College

MINUTES, MINUTES, MINUTES did not come easy for “Mighty Mouse” during his time at Roman Catholic. Now, at Girard College he will be the captain of the ship. Anderson’s game speaks volumes. Underrated as an athlete, Anderson is always in attack mode. Anderson can score from all 3 levels with a natural instinct for playmaking. Dynamic ball handling skills with good footwork when attacking off bounce. Hard to keep out of the lane, uses his body very well when drawing contact. Anderson score in bunches a plethora of ways which makes him a unique prospect. Now in the class of 2022, he’s arguable the best PG in the class.

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Che Evans, Neumann-Goretti

CHE EVANS– 6’7 (SR) WG:
From Dulaney(Md) to Neumann Goretti

The 6’7 San Diego State commit has brought his talents up I95 in hopes of winning a PCL Title. Che is a versatile athletic wing, who plays above the rim. Che is a high volume scorer who can get a bucket from all 3 levels. Solid ball handler who can make plays off the bounce. Che suffered a leg injury earlier this year that’s kept him off the court. Looking forward to seeing Che with the Saints this season.

MORE TALENTED TRANSFERS:

JEREMIAH BEMBRY- 6’5 (SOPH) CG:
From Pillow Academy(MS) to West Catholic

NAJI REID- 5’11 (SOPH) 2G
From Lincoln to Imhotep

DWAYNE SATCHELL- 6’8 (SR) C
From Valley Forge Military Academy to Gratz

CHRIS KIRKLAND- 6’7 (SOPH) WF
From Friends Select to Roman Catholic

MARCUS RANDOLPH- 6’3 (JR) 2G
From Willingboro(NJ) to Archbishop  Wood

THERMERE SIMMONS- 5’10 (JR) PG
From Imhotep to School of The Future

ISAIAH ENNIS- 6’5 (JR) PF
From Girard College to School of The Future

ALEEM LEE- 6’5 (SOPH) PF
From Monsignor Bonner to School of The Future

NADIR WOOD- 6’8 (SR) PF
From School of The Future to Math Civics and Science