Open Gym: Cardinal O’Hara

Located in the heart of Delaware County, Cardinal O’Hara’s basketball fortunes rest on the shoulders of a true “Philly Point Guard.” Antwaun “Booty” Butler is a grizzled veteran of Philly Public League and PIAA playoff wars. He’s come away from more than his fair share of skirmishes with some BIG name scalps. For example, in addition to a 20 game winning streak, he’s led an undersized, undermanned Del Val program to playoff victories over a very good Mastery North program and nationally prominent Neumann-Goretti and Imhotep.

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Antwuan “Booty” Butler, Senior Point Guard

A complete player, before the first game this year, Butler has already amassed more than 1,000 varsity points. He gets buckets, but he’s not a scorer… He is a consummate “Philly Point Guard.” Elite Philly Point Guards have an ability to do something special every time they put the ball on the floor. HoopHeads have been spoiled over the past few years. There have been several guys that have upheld the tradition… Tony Carr (Roman Catholic/Penn State), Quade Green (Neumann-Goretti/Kentucky), Collin Gillespie (Archbishop Wood/Villanova) and Daron Russell (Imhotep/Rhode Island) have proudly represented the brand.

This year, Sam Sessoms, Jr. (Shipley/Binghamton commit) and Booty Butler are the guys.

With the revocation of Del Val’s Charter by the School District of Philadelphia, Butler was thrust into a quasi “free agent” status for his senior season. There was widespread speculation that he would join one of the established basketball powers… Would he end up at Martin L. King? Would he play at Constitution? Would he fill Gillespie’s shoes at Wood?

For those that know Butler, it’s not surprising that he’s at Cardinal O’Hara. After all, he played some his finest basketball and won some of his biggest games playing for Jason Harrigan at Del Val Charter. After Bulter’s sophomore season, Harrigan was named the Philadelphia Daily News Coach of Year. Perhaps, sensing the precarious nature of Del Val’s long-term future, Harrigan accepted the challenge of guiding the moribund Cardinal O’Hara program in the ultra-competitive Philadelphia Catholic League.

While he’s added some talent over the last year, Harrigan remains short-handed. But for this year, at least, O’Hara cannot be counted out…

They got Booty Butler!

Thick-bodied and tough, Butler embodies that tough Philly Point Guard mentality we have become accustomed to watching Carr, Green, Gillespie and Russell. He is probably the most physically imposing point guard in the Greater Philadelphia region. His speed makes him a threat to create a fast break in the blink of an eye. He plays a very efficient, no-frills version of the position. Butler, generally speaking, makes good decisions in transition. He pushed the ball relentlessly at every opportunity, seeming to gain strength when opponents begin to wane.

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Herman Suazo, Senior PF

While Butler will inevitably carry much of the load, he will have some assistance. O’Hara picked up some much needed size and athleticism when senior power forward Herman Suazo transferred from Wilkes Barre High School. Suazo stands 6’6″ and weighs 190 lbs. He’s going to help O’Hara on the boards and provide some quality low post defense.

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John Dinkins and Dajon Womack

Two other quality combo guards have made their way to O’Hara this year. Elijah Smith a strong 5’10” combo guard has transferred from Academy New Church and 6 foot wing John Dinkins has come over from Mt. Pleasant (DE).

Senior wing Garret Ripp will provide some energy and athleticism. He’s an excellent athlete, at 6’0″ he attacks the rim with outstanding leaping ability. After transferring in from West Catholic, Dajon Womack should be a significant contributor. He’s a solid “glue guy” that’s always around the ball. Womack is a very willing and capable on-ball defender, he rebounds well and he comes up with loose balls.

But…

At the end of the day… This team will go as far as Booty Butler can carry them…

He may have score much more than he’s been asked in the past, but Booty will probably be up to the task…

If anyone knows how to get the most out of Butler, it’s Harrigan…

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Jason Harrigan, Cardinal O’Hara Coach

He may not have as many weapons as some of the top programs, but he’s got Butler… On many nights this winter, that will be enough. Yo Booty… Welcome to the Philadelphia Catholic League!

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Open Gym: Camden High

“You want da High?”

“Yo Got da High!”

For decades that chant has roared from the student section in victory after victory as the storied Camden High School basketball program rolled over opponents… In recent years there has been a steady uptick in a program that had fallen on hard times.

Camden has regained it’s place of prominence among South Jersey programs. The question… The ONLY question that matters, is… Does Camden have what it takes to compete with the powerhouse programs in North Jersey?

The names are very familiar… St. Benedict’s, The Patrick School, Hudson Catholic, Rosselle Catholic and Immaculate Conception… With the closing of mighty St. Anthony’s and the retirement of it’s legendary Hall of Fame Coach, Bob Hurley, New Jersey basketball supremacy is up for grabs.

For the first time in recent memory, Camden High may be among the elite programs in the state. They have tremendous size, athleticism and experience.

All of that was on display in an “Open Gym” at the Camden Boys and Girls Club across the street from the now shuttered “Castle on the Hill.” The buzz around this year’s team is palpable. Upon entering the gym, I was warmly greeted by highly respected, long-time independent scouts Chick Gillespie and Allen Rubin. These guys sniff out talented college prospects as well as anyone in the nation.

Seated in the bleachers observing were some of the finest college players of the past 30 years. Pervis Ellison was watching intently. Ellison was the MVP of the 1986 NCAA Final Four, a Consensus All-American, the number 1 pick in the 1989 NBA Draft and a NBA player for more than a decade. Seated a few feet from Ellison was the man himself, Mr. Camden basketball, DaJuan Wagner. Wagner was a consensus High School All-American at Camden High before averaging more 21 ppg as a “one and done” player for Memphis University. His flourishing NBA career was cut short by illness and injury.

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L to R, Tyrone Pitts, Pennsylvania, Vic Carstarphen, Temple, DaJuan Wagner, Memphis

Seated next to Wagner and recording the scrimmage was Vic Carstarphen, another Camden High All-Timer who went on to man the point for some very good Temple teams under the great Temple Hall of Fame Coach John Chaney.  Carstarphen was discussing the players with Tyrone Pitts, another life-long Camden resident that played in the Ivy League at the University of Pennsylvania before embarking on a lengthy professional career overseas.

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LaMarr Greer (L), Florida State and Camden Superintendent, Paymon Rouhanifard (R)

On the floor, barking directions was LaMarr Greer, a Middle Township HS alum and former Florida State standout. Greer’s son, Corey, is a Division 1 point guard prospect coming off a serious knee injury. Greer participated in all activities, did not wear a brace and moved fluidly while scrimmaging. When asked how he feels, Greer replied “my knee is fine… I just have to get back in basketball shape.”

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Corey Greer, Camden Senior Point Guard

Roaming the paint during the scrimmages was a slender, raw 7’0″ center named Osato Iduwe. Still developing his offensive repertoire, Iduwe is a presence on the defensive end of the court. His extensive wingspan consistently alters and blocks shots. He’s a capable defensive rebounder and he plays within himself. He will ably man the center position for Camden.

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Camden High power forward/center, Osato Iduwe (center)

Helping out on the boards will be senior SF/PF Myles Thompson. Standing 6’4″, Thompson has really leaned out over the past 6 months. As a result he is much quicker and more agile. At the same, he still has a very refined low-post offensive game. He’s got a nice package… Up and unders… Drop steps… Turn around jumpers… Jump hooks… All done at a very nice pace with excellent footwork.

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Camden High senior small forward/power forward, Myles Thompson

Then there’s Lance… Standing 6’9″ Lance Ware is a Top 50 player and it is immediately observable why… He plays like a very fluid 6’4″ wing… He grabs defensive rebounds and immediately begins pushing the ball up court… Head up, looking for teammates…

Remember… Lance is 6’9″…

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Camden sophomore small forward/power forward, Lance Ware

He deftly uses a crossover to elude a defender… Head still up… quick no look pass to teammate under the basket for a layup…

Huh? Whoaaaaa…

On one play, after pushing the ball end to end he decided to take off about 10 feet from the basket…

“What’s he doing?”

The ball was extended in his left hand and he jumped off his right foot… After floating for what seemed like 5 seconds, he punished the rim while slamming the ball straight through to the floor… An “ol’ skool” Dr. J one-handed off one leg “gusto dunk”… The gym and all the grizzled basketball veterans said the same thing….

“Dayyyyyymn!”

This could be special year for Camden High basketball… Itchy Smith, Milt Wagner, Billy Thompson, Kevin Walls, DaJaun Wagner, and now… Lance Ware!

Everyone is on board… Camden is a city trying to re-emerge after some very trying times… There are signs of progress… Cooper Hospital is expanding, Subaru has come to town, Campbell’s still calls Camden home and the Philadelphia Sixers are poised for a rebirth from their new Camden home…

They are all in… Indeed, Camden Superintendent, Paymon Rouhanifard is working as assistant coach with the freshman team. Tasked with overhauling one of the most challenging urban public school systems in the country, Rouhanifard carves out a few hours everyday to work with kids on the court. The value of his presence cannot be overstated. 

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Superintendent Rouhanifard works with a young player on free throws

Black Cager Sports asked him why he believes sports matter in urban education. Rouhanifard responded by saying, “I believe in a holistic educational experience for kids, that means developing the mind, body and spirit of kids. Sports are an integral part of that holistic experience for kids. To take it a step further, especially in Camden, I think sports change kids lives and kids are learning here the same way they learn in a classroom. The skills they gain on a basketball court, volleyball court or a football field are the skills they need to be successful in life. If you’re coachable, show that you are resilient and fight through adversity… All of those things you take with you for the rest of your life.”

Rouhanifard further added, “For me personally, sports changed my life. For some kids, yes, the classroom is where they are more likely to excel or extracurricular activities like chess. But for me personally, sports changed my life… The relationships I had with coaches helped make me the person I am today. I am grateful that I can help pay it forward here.”

“You want da High?”

“Yo Got da High!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Black Cager TV to Livestream Select Scholastic Play-by-Play Classics Match-ups!

Throughout the upcoming season, high school basketball fans won’t miss a moment of live regular season action in some of the most exciting match-ups. Black Cager Television will make several Scholastic Play-By-Play Classics games available nationwide through livestreaming on Facebook Live.

In addition, fans will be able to access archived versions of the live games to view on demand through the Black Cager youtube channel and the http://www.blackcagersports.com web site shortly after the conclusion of the contests.

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Among the featured Scholastic Play-By-Play games are the following:

Malvern vs. Archbishop Carroll, December 9, 2017 – This game features high scoring Malvern sophomore guard, Duece Turner facing off with the high powered Archbishop Carroll tandem of AJ Hoggard and Justin Anderson.

Neumann-Goretti vs. Shipley, December 9, 2017 – The key matchups in this game are at point guard and center position. Neumann-Goretti’s Chris Ings squares off with Shipley’s legend in the making Sam Sessoms (Binghamton commit). On the block, we have a heavyweight battle between Neumann-Goretti’s center Marcus Littles, and Shipley’s rapidly improving low post stalwart Ray Sommerville.

Bethlehem Catholic vs. Martin L. King, Jr., December 9, 2017 – A battle between two perennial powerhouse programs. Ray Barbosa’s Bethlehem Catholic squad will be led by power forward/center Ryan Young (Northwestern commit) and point guard Justin Paz. Martin L. King Head Coach, Sean Colson will rely heavily upon center Wil McNair and point guard Denelle Holly, Jr.

Shipley vs. Coatesville, January 20, 2017 – Shipley’s Sam Sessoms goes head-to-head with Coatesville’s Jhamir Brickus in one of the most promising point guard match-ups of the year. This game is sure to thrill those that appreciate high level point guard play.

Haverford School vs. Plymouth-Whitemarsh, Jaunary 20, 2017 – The Haverford School features an exceptional backcourt led by Khoran Randolph with highly prized freshmen Jaylen Stinson and Christian Clover expected to make significant contributions. Forward Christian Ray is one of the top players in the Philadelphia area. Plymouth-Whitemarsh’s backcourt features the talent and ultra-competitive Williams twin, Ahmad and Ahmin. Their center, Naheem McLeod is emerging as one of the finest low post players in the nation.

Westtown vs. Camden (NJ), January, 20 2017 – Westtown is led by future lottery pick small forward, Cameron Reddish (Duke commit) and, power forward Jake Forrester (Indiana commit). Top 50 sophomore Noah Collier will provide some excitement at well. Camden features Top 50 power forward, Lance Ware, 7’0″ center, Osato Iduwe, wing forward Myles Thompson and point guard Corey Greer.

According to Founder, Jeremy Treatman, “This livestream schedule showcases the some of the outstanding basketball programs in our area, but it also is one of the best vehicles to brand and share what we do at Scholastic Play-by-Play Classics.”

Scholastic Play By Play Classics has showcased dozens of current and future NBA stars including: Lebron James, Dwight Howard, Dajuan Wagner, Eddie Griffin, Jameer Nelson, Kevin Durant, O.J. Mayo and Michael Beasley. More than 400,000 fans have attended 75 events and another 1,000,000 plus have watched games produced on ESPN, Comcast Sports South, Comcast SportsNet, CN8, and the Pennsylvania Cable Network. Scholastic Play-By-Play has hosted games at the Palestra, Temple, Villanova, St Joseph’s, Greensboro Coliseum (NC), Ohio State, US Bank Arena (OH), Dayton U, The Pyramid (TN), and Sovereign Bank Arena (NJ).

About Black Cager Television: Black Cager Television is a division of Black Cager Sports Media family. The Black Cager Sports Media family of products includes Black Cager Sports Talk Show, Black Cager Promotions, Black Cager Sports web sites and the Kwalifī smartphone app. Visit http://www.delgrecowilson.com, http://www.blackcagersports.com and http://www.kwalifi.com

 

Open Gym: Imhotep

It’s always the same… Dashiki-clad young people looking you in the eyes and greeting you, “How are you… Sir?” Each time, I make a mental note… “This school is a little different…”

This is truly a place that builds champions!

I make my way up the stairs and through the glass doors…  Now there are four doors and each and every time ONLY one is open… I swear it’s never the same door… No matter where I start, it’s always the 4th door I pull that allows me to enter…

Once in, a quick wave and “How you doing?” to the security staff to your immediate left… Then a leisurely stroll about 40 feet straight ahead to the “House that Bro. Andre Noble built.”

The small Imhotep Charter High School gym has become one of the most rigorous basketball training facilities in the nation. Year after year, Head Coach Andre Noble has produced Division 1 basketball players by the boatload!

As I tugged on the finicky gym door, I could see about 12-14 college coaches sitting in the one set of bleachers pulled out for their convenience… Their eyes were glued to the floor where, at least, 6 Division 1 players were competing in an intense series of scrimmages.

As usual, the kids were getting it in!

Last year’s team finished ranked in the Top 5 in the United States of America!

This year’s team might be better…

Overbrook in the mid 1950’s, West Philly in the mid 1970’s, Overbrook in the late 1970’s, Gratz in the early 1990’s… These may be the appropriate comparisons for this Philadelphia Public League juggernaut…

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Head Coach, Andre Noble addresses the Imhotep Varsity Basketball Team

 

Yeah… yeah… yeah… they lost David Beatty (South Carolina/SEC), Daron “Fatts” Russell (Rhode Island/A10) and Kobe Thomas (Robert Morris/NEC). For an ordinary program, those would be debilitating losses…

Not at Imhotep… Brother Andre’s bullpen is ALWAYS fully stocked… The next man up in the backcourt, junior Dhamir Bishop already has 10 scholarship offers before he has ever started a varsity basketball game. Penn State, St. Joseph’s, VCU, La Salle, Temple, Rutgers and several others really, really want Beatty and Fatt’s backup. For those old enough to remember, Bishop looks like La Salle great Steve Black reincarnated. He is wiry, yet strong, quick, explosive with excellent range.

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Junior Forward/Guard Donta Scott

 

Veteran leadership will be provided by, 3rd year starter, Donta Scott. A junior, Scott (UConn, St. Joseph’s, Temple, La Salle, Penn State) has been an integral component on the last two Imhotep squads. Capable of playing ALL five positions at the high school level, Scott will likely assume increased ball-handling and decision-making responsibilities with the departure of Russell and Beatty. A willing distributor, Scott is a true stat -sheet stuffer… Should average at least 15 ppg, 10 rpg, 5 apg, 3 bpg and 2 spg…

Running alongside, Scott and Bishop will be Chereef Knox, Jamil Riggins and Bernard Lightsey. Knox (Rider) is talented forward capable of playing with his back to the basket and facing up on the wing. Riggins (Central Connecticut State, Rider, Coppin State, Sacred Heart) is a powerfully built stretch 4 with a real nasty streak. He rebounds relentlessly and is very tough to move once he establishes position in the low post. Lightsey (low-major/high Division 2) is a combo guard with a very quick release and range that extends well beyond the collegiate 3 point line. He’s a capable ball handler and able to create space for his shot off the dribble using crossovers and in and out moves.

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Senior Combo-Guard, Bernard Lightsey

 

Once Noble goes to the bench, there will be very little if any fall off… Karam Cummings (St. Francis, PA) may be the most athletic player in the Imhotep program. He aggressively attacks the rim and finishes through contact… He will BANG on ya Head! He also exhibits excellent lateral quickness and a willingness to defend the most talented opposing wings. Fatayn Wesley is a quick, heady scoring point guard. He has a very good jump shot and makes good decisions in transition. A good athlete, Wesley is capable of emerging as an elite full court defender.

Sophomore Elijah Taylor is currently ranked #74 in the Class of 2020 by Future 150. Powerfully built and standing 6’7″ Taylor is an already elite scholastic Big. He will pound the boards and block shots at a high clip when called upon. Another sophomore, Sami Wylie, Jr is a rapidly improving sophomore point guard. He returns to school bigger, stronger, faster and more confident. He will compete for back court minutes off the bench. Senior, Amear Johnson returns as an experienced “glue guy” for this uber-talented group. He will provide a calming influence when called upon.

 

 

 

FiDonce has Retained Black Cager Sports Media for Strategic Communications

Black Cager Sports has been appointed as the retained PR agency for Basketball Player Development company, FiDonce.

Philadelphia, PA. – September 19, 2017 – Black Cager Sports Media today announced it has been retained by FiDonce Player Development to serve as its public relations agency of record. FiDonce, based in Philadelphia, PA is a Black-owned and operated basketball training facility. FiDonce’s 40,000-square-foot complex is home to 2 regulation hardwood courts and a modern turf fitness and conditioning area. Basketball programming includes a variety of basketball tournaments, leagues, camps, clinics, instruction and open play. Several professional and elite collegiate players train at FiDonce which fosters a vibrant, highly competitive basketball atmosphere that exudes energy and encourages great play.

Black Cager Sports Media will be working with FiDonce to lead media relations strategies for the organization.   Public relations efforts will also include executive positioning for Fidonce’s co-founders Bryant Watson and Eric Evans. Black Cager will focus on generating brand awareness and disseminating the company’s non-traditional and unique story. FiDonce is an ideal basketball home for everyone from novices to NBA veterans.

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Dion Waiters (Miami Heat), Eric Evans (FiDonce Co-Founder) and Miami Heat staffers

“I have known Eric and Bryant for years so it is exciting for us to be working with FiDonce as they continue to grow and diversify their client base,” said Delgreco K. Wilson, Founder and Executive Director of Black Cager Sports Media.  “FiDonce has a lot of interesting projects in the works, and we think our experience working with various youth, grassroots and scholastic basketball organizations clients will be an asset.  We look forward to telling the stories behind their many projects to the media and generating attention for their tremendous work.”

Fidonce’s core services include: 1) Individual Training, 2) Strength, Agility and Conditioning Training, 3) Group Training and, 4) Basketball/Volleyball Court Rental. FiDonce hosts AAU tournaments, Youth Leagues, Special Events, Basketball theme parties and meetings. Notable clients, include Dion Waiters (Miami Heat), Charles Brown (St. Joseph’s University) and many other elite Philadelphia area players.

Black Cager Sports Media is a Black-owned and operated firm specializing in strategic communications, brand positioning, media relations, social media, advertising and graphic design for a growing roster of regional and national sports-related brands and organizations. A PR firm headquartered in Camden, New Jersey, Black Cager serves clients seeking strategic interaction with sports media outlets, parents and organizations.

 

 

Open Gym: Archbishop Wood

Catholic League Champions ✓

State Champions ✓

Top 25 Nationally ✓

Archbishop Wood, under Head Coach, John Mosco had one of the great seasons in recent memory.  The 2016-17 season was the greatest in the history of the Wood program. That team featured 5 or 6 Division 1 basketball players.

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Wood Assistant Chris Roantree addresses the team at the end of workout

What’s up with this years version? While they return 4 bona fide D1 prospects in the senior class, there are some questions… They lost the “maestro”… As good as the other Wood players are, everyone that watched them realized that Collin Gillespie made each and every one of them better. Alas, he has moved on to bigger and better things… his “big games” are no longer in the Palestra… He now plays in the Wells Fargo Center and Madison Square Garden.

His probable replacement is a prodigy… Rahsool Diggins has a game well beyond his years. He has a tight and smooth handle. He is equally adept pushing the rock with either hand. His court vision is excellent. His willingness to attack belies his youthful appearance. In an era where 16 year old bearded freshman are commonplace, Diggins looks like a fresh-faced middle schooler. His much older teammates have a tremendous amount of confidence in him. It is readily apparent that they respect his game.

Still…

One wonders: How will he hold up against Kyle Thompson and Darius Kinnel (St. Joseph’s Prep)? Will Chris Ings and Noah Warren (Neumann-Goretti) be able to get in his head? Will Allen Betrand, Lynn Greer and Hakim Hart (Roman Catholic) be able to push him around? Will scoring guards like Patrick Robinson (Conwell-Egan) and Isaiah Wong (Bonner) force him in to mismatches? Will Antwuan “Booty” Butler be able to “youngbul” him?

The answers to these questions will very likely determine the fate of this years Wood team. Mosco and his assistants may have to take a page out of the hockey playbook. Prodigies like Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux and Sidney Crosby needed space to operate. The “tough guys” on the team made sure they were accorded the necessary space.

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Tyree Pickron (Quinnipiac Commit) & Andrew Funk (Bucknell Commit)

Junior forward Julius Phillips, along with senior guards Tyree Pickron (Quinnipiac commit) and Andrew Funk (Bucknell commit) are very tough and gritty basketball players. If they can combine with 6’11” senior center Seth Pinckney and 6’7″ senior power forward Karrington Wallace to give young Diggins some space on offense and support him on defense, Wood can reclaim their place at the top of the Catholic League.

It’s gonna take a team effort to replace the maestro… Diggins exhibits all requisite skills but he is just a kid and he has played ZERO (0) varsity Catholic League games. Watching him today, I realized he will be problem as sophomore, junior and senior. The boy is nice!

If the seniors take a page out of the hockey playbook and make sure the kid has the space and support he needs as he adjusts to one of the toughest high school leagues in the country, Wood will be right back at the Palestra in front of a standing room only crowd of 9,000+ this winter.

Yo Johnny Mos… The Flyers phone number is  215-218-7825!

 

 

Tale of Two Camps: Lewis Leonard and Jameer Nelson

So the summer is winding down… With it, another fantastic year of summer hoops is behind us…

The older Boys have left home and begun their journey toward manhood… Izaiah “IZB” Brockington (below) is at St Bonaventure. Youngfella… It gets EXTRA cold in Olean youngin… That ain’t the place for fly, fresh super-clean Timbs! Boots are for protection up there… Not fashion! The temps are frigid and the snow is deep… Can’t wait to see you come back through City Ave and 20th and Olney.

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Collin Gillespie (below) is on the Mainline… Once again… People will underestimate his abilities… He’s too slow… He’s not explosive… He’s not ready for the Big East… That’s what they’re gonna say… Til’ Jay calls his name! Then they’re gonna say “Ooooooh… did you see that!” The boy can play basketball… He’s gonna contribute right away… Brunson is one of the very best point guards in the nation and every day Collin is gonna try to come at his neck… Nova’s backcourt is in good hands thanks to the keen evaluation skills of Coach Ash…

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Daron “Fatts” Russell (below) is in Kingston, R.I… He will bring a fierce competitiveness to the A10… Undersized and OVERLY athletic he’s gonna be a problem for that league. Watch yo head… Fatts is gonna try to bang it on you…

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Right now in Columbus, South Carolina Frank Martin is in Dave Beatty’s (below) ass… ALL DAY, EVERY DAY… Next time we see Dave, he’s gonna be on the court playing a brand of defense he could only imagine a few months ago… Gamecocks get after it… They get in your face for the whole game… Dave has the size, the lateral quickness, the strength and the toughness to be an elite defender right out of the box…

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In Happy Valley, Pat Chambers is smiling from ear to ear… We all know Penn State is a football school and Chambers may have the best football recruit on his roster… Big John Harrar is 6’9” and comes in at about 255 lbs. He loves to bang and never backs down from a challenge… He will provide a much needed hockey “tough guy” presence for Tony Carr, Shep Garner and Lamar Stevens. He’s more than ready help Mike Watkins give Penn State a true Big10 front line for the first time in recent memory.

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Cheesing, perhaps, more than any of the other coaches in the area is Doug Overton. He’s got Jordan Camper (below) strolling across the bucolic Chester County campus of America First Historically Black college, Lincoln University. At 6’7” Camper is an exceedingly quick and explosive leaper. He should immediately be among the rebounding and shot blocking leaders in the ultra-tough CIAA.

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Those guys are ALL High School graduates and NCAA Eligible!

They are gone from Philadelphia’s scholastic hoops scene… Their achievements recorded for the archives… But, as we all know, there are always new hitters on deck. Black Cager Sports Media spent time at two of the finest camps this week checking out some they guys that are next up. Fortunately, the talented was concentrated in two wonderfully different camp settings.

The AAU/grassroots season is done… WeRone Hoops, led by Coach James Johns, won the Under Armour National 17U Championship for the 3rd time in 4 years. Locally, Skip Robinson assumed the helm as WeRone took the hardware in the Chosen League and the King of Philly Tournament. They are loaded… Eric Dixon, Eric Ayala and Isaiah Wong are all consensus top 100 players in their respective classes.

From time to time, I hear the arguments that other area programs are better… None of these argument are persuasive…

Now, as the kids prepare to return to school, they are honing their skills in camps across the country. Two of the very best camps were held in Philadelphia this week. Jameer Nelson’s Lead Guard Camp was a small, intimate camp focused on identifying weakness and providing instruction in ways to address those weaknesses. Lewis Leonard’s Elite Camp is throwback old-school summer basketball camp experience where high level competition is the focus.

Both were excellent!

Nelson, a former National College Player of the Year at St. Joseph’s and 13 year NBA veteran identified 12 of the better guards and wings to participate in his camp. Every morning in the spacious gym on the beautiful Girard College campus, they began with boxing instruction. After that, they received lectures on topics such as NCAA eligibility and life after basketball. But, the central feature of this camp was intense small group instruction from the likes of Drew Hanlen, NBA Strategic Skills Coach, Monte Ross, NCAA D1 Head Coach and Nelson himself. The impressive participant list included AJ Hoggard (Archbishop Carroll/Team Final), Chris Ings (Neumann-Gorreti/NJ Playaz), Lynn Greer (Roman Catholic/Team Final), Jameer Nelson, Jr. (Haverford School/Jersey Shore), Mikeal Jones (Girard College/Team Final), Donta Scott (Imhotep/Philly Pride), Michael Smith (Chester/Philly Pride), Isaiah Wong (Bonner/WeRone Hoops), Rasheen Caulk, Jr. (Salesianum) and Jhamir Brickus (Coatesville/Rip City).

Lewis identified some of the very best players in the mid-Atlantic region and had them go at it in a small hot recreation center gym and outside on painted black top surface with the sun beaming down on their backs. Ohhhhh… Lewis had the dudes in attendance… Sam Sessoms (Shipley/Team Final), Eric Dixon (Abington/WeRone Hoops), Julius Phillips (Archbishop Wood/Team Final), Elijah Taylor (Imhotep/WeRone Hoops), Dahmir Bishop (Imhotep/K-Low Elite), Jon Bol Ajok (Church Farm/Team Final), Chereef Knox (Imhotep/WeRone Hoops) and Fatayn Wesley (Imhotep) were all in the building.

In Nelson’s camp, the player changed uniforms several times a day… They were each given new sneakers and the lunch was catered… At Leaonard’s camp it was “shirts and
skins,” play in the shoes you came with and the girl out front was selling snacks…

One guy is a multi-millionaire NBA veteran, the other is an overseas professional working hard for his next contract…

The common denominator? Both guys give 100% of themselves! Both guys LOVE the kids in their camps… Both guys LOVE the game of basketball…

Both guys have so much knowledge and expertise to share with the kids… One thing is certain, every kid in both of those camps got better… Every kid in both camps NOW know that the man sponsoring the respective camps truly LOVES them and wants to see them use basketball to improve themselves and access high education…

If you ever, feel the urge to be critical of either camp? Don’t…

If you find yourself pitting one camp against the other? Stop…

Lewis Leonard and Jameer Nelson are teammates, they share common goals and purposes…