In 2010, Buzz Williams, then Head Coach at Marquette University fucked over one of my favorite Philly ballers of all-time. DJ Newbill was in the midst of a fabulous senior season at Strawberry Mansion High School. Like so many others over the years, DJ was my lil’ Bro… The late, great John Hardnett brought DJ to my office in Camden after they decided to transfer him from Imhotep to Mansion following his sophomore season. John was emphatic… “DJ… when it comes to this school shit, listen to Del… Fuck everybody else… run all that shit by Del.”
From that day forward, DJ and I formed a close working relationship. DJ would easily meet NCAA freshman eligibility requirements and he ended up graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree from Penn State University. Mission accomplished… The road was never smooth… It was littered with potholes and speed bumps, but we got there… God Bless John Hardnett.
I asked my good friend and then Georgetown Assistant Coach, Mike Brennan to come evaluate DJ. I was convinced DJ would be an outstanding Big East player. Mike came to town on a Tuesday and, of course, DJ showed out. I forget the particulars, but he bussed dey ass. After the game, I asked Mike what he thought. “I gotta get (Georgeown Head Coach) JT up here next week to see him… He’s definitely good enough.”
“Good shit Mike… I appreciate you Bro.”
I immediately reported back to Hardnett… “Georgetown is gonna offer DJ.”
He replied, “I got (West Virginia Head Coach) Huggins coming in later this week.”
At the time, West Virginia and Georgetown were members of the Big East Conference. John and I were excited, DJ’s recruitment was finally reaching what we felt was a level commensurate with his ability… Da King of Norf was a high major player fo sho!
Saturday morning, my phone was blowing up… I’m getting messages one after another…
“DJ committed to Marquette…”
“Newbill is going with Buzz…”
Huh? Where did that shit come from?
Buzz had gotten hold of DJ on the phone on Friday night and he convinced DJ to commit to Marquette.
Hardnett was livid… “He’ll NEVER play at Marquette!”
A the time, I didn’t understand Hardnett’s vehement objection to the commitment. “Why you say that?”
“Buzz did that to block DJ from playing in the Big East… You had Georgetown come in and I had Huggins fly in, Buzz is being a dick. He doesn’t really want him, but he doesn’t want him in the Big East.”
I actually thought Hardnett was a conspiracy theorist… It all a bit seemed far-fetched to me…
Then, in early May, Hardnett died.
Eventually, DJ Newbill signed a Letter of Intent to play at Marquette for Buzz Williams. In doing so, Newbill forfeited ALL OPPORTUNITIES to play for other teams in the Big East. Hardnett understood this… Buzz understood this… I did not know this rule existed, neither did Newbill.
Then, during the summer, Buzz called Newbill one day and told him he rescinding his scholarship offer. Just like Hardnett had predicted, DJ Newbill would NEVER play at Marquette.
FUCK BUZZ WILLIAMS
I decided then and there I would never root for, help, assist, cooperate with or even be neutral towards any Buzz Williams coached team. In the clip below, I spell out my feelings and attitude toward Buzz.
FUCK BUZZ WILLIAMS
After a year at Southern Mississippi, DJ Newbill went on to have a magnificent career at Penn State. Since then, he’s become one of the finest professional players in Asia.
Well last night… Newbill’s alma mater, the Penn State Nittany Lions faced Texas A&M coached by non other than Buzz Williams. In what can only be described as poetic justice they beat the shit out of ’em!
Penn State beat da shit down Buzz’s legs!
It felt like Hardnett was perched atop the backboard, gently guiding Andrew Funk’s (Archbishop Wood) 30 ft 3-point attempts through the basket. One after another Funk splashed the nets… He made 8 out of 10 3fg attempts and went 3 for 3 from the free throw line. His teammate, All-American guard Jalen Pickett put forth yet another virtuoso performance… 19 pts, 8 ast, 7 reb and 0 turnovers in 40 minutes.
Truth be told, I was giddy with glee watching the broadcast… on at least 17 occasions, I shouted FUCK BUZZ WILLIAMS!
Micah Shrewsberry, Adam Fisher, Mike Farrelly, Mike Green, Josh Townsend, Seth Lundy, Pickett and Funk got DJ’s revenge and it was a beautiful thing.
On behalf of John Hardnett, I want to thank the Penn State basketball program from the bottom of my heart.
Ganar is a Spanish word that mean to “WIN” and to “EARN”!!!
Ganar Academy the non-profit company is a new organization that was created from the inspiration of Gary “Fudd” Fields Jr. Ganar Academy comes with the mission statement of “We want to change your mind”, came about when Fields thought hard about his background. Fields stated that coming from the environments that we were not adapting to our neighborhoods led to circumstances that led to prison for many of our family and friends (including himself). While in prison, Fields decided that he wanted to change his life and the ways he thought about life in general. The thought process was changing the paths for the way we in the hoods by thinking and operating in a space that was different than reality. The premise of this thought process was finding ways to change the mentality of “OUR” thought process and redefining success while watching that success being achieved in real time. Fields really started this process with his 2 sons (Gary III and Milan) and their friends trying to show them a different way. But with time being sparse and being stretched too thin, he wanted to find an alternative and a more economical way to have the time for this mission. This is where the vision of Ganar Academy started to become a reality and a mission for Gary “Fudd” Fields.
Ganar Academy is a program that will be “education for the youth” with an obtained curriculum based on “relationship education”. Fields is a Certified Educator in the relationship education field. He stated that one major reason for obtaining certification in this Curriculum was the schools in our region were not forgiving to kids that came from the “hoods” of their school districts. Fields maintains that he learned how proper conduct comes from many years of research and life experiences. Ganar Academy will be initially seeking young men from all walks of life with the stated goal of helping those young men navigate through their emotions. Currently there are not enough female staffers to support having young females participate but that is in the immediate future. Entrepreneurship is another key facet in the learning curriculum at Ganar Academy. Fields has developed partnerships with local business entities to provide fellowship opportunities for the students to get hands on learning experiences from business owners. These opportunities will include field trips and college educational visits for the young men who want different options to pursue. Ganar Academy will also be in a Pilot program with some local school districts. The motto of “we are the solution of evolution” will be geared to curtail the violence and the misunderstanding of children and getting to the root of the issues causing the outburst.
Ganar Academy will also host an Athletic Sports Training division of the company. Right now the Sports division will consist of basketball and football. The basketball division currently has a partnership with the excellent Lewis Leonard Basketball Training, headed by retired professional basketball star and current professional trainer Lewis Leonard. Other trainers, including a couple trainers from O.T.T. Training will provide some assistance when called upon. The football and the gaming program will be headed by Marcus Herder & his staff. Fields stated that he was looking to add competitive AAU basketball program along with 7 on 7 football programs to the training soon to the current programs. Not on lost on Fields was adult resources that were needed in the communities such as access to Health Care, Government Assistance, Car Insurance and Homeowners (Renters) Insurance. Moving the academy forward with the adult interaction is always a welcomed resource.
Gary “Fudd” Fields will be hosting an Open House for the reveal of Ganar Academy on Thursday March 9th, at 7pm with the location being the Ambler Borough Hall (address: 131 Rosemary Avenue, Ambler, PA 19002). For more information about the services and possible opportunities, please contact Gary “Fudd” Fields on Instagram @ganar_academy_ or by phone at 215-470-2945
Today was Senior Day for the University of Maryland basketball team. Hakim Hart (Philly Pride/Roman Catholic) and Donta Scott (Philly Pride/Imhotep) may have played their last home game in a Terrapin uniform. Both have Covid-years in their pocket, if they want to come back and play a 5th season in College Park. Both also have NBA aspirations and will make every effort to ascertain their likely draft status before making a decision on whether or not to play another year of college basketball.
For Scott, in particular, Senior Day takes on significant meaning. Scott wrote a book, WIRED DIFFERENTLY: My School Journey, over a year ago in which outlined the way he came to grips with the fact that he learns differently than most people. The book was reviewed in the Washington Post and the Philadelphia Tribune. Scott has discussed his educational experience with children at numerous schools and camps in Philadelphia, Chester and Prince George’s County, Maryland. He’s become a sort of expert and advocate for young people dealing with a learning disability diagnosis.
I’ve been fortunate to have a front row seat and watch him evolve over the past decade. When we met, Scott was an academically insecure middle school student exhibiting a recurrent pattern of engaging in acting out, disruptive and negative attention seeking behaviors when encountering frustration in learning. He had very poor organization and study skills.
As he neared completion of the eighth grader, Scott was set to enroll at Archbishop Caroll High School in the Philadelphia Catholic League to play varsity basketball for Paul Romanczuk. Basketball-wise… great choice. Romanczuk is wonderful coach that has repeatedly competed with the top Catholic League programs.
But… what about his learning disability?
Scott’s mother, Sandra Campbell and his AAU coach/surrogate father Howard Hudson asked me to review his IEP before they made a final decision regarding Archbishop Carroll. I carefully read every page of the document. Then I called my friend Dr. Abby Baker, a psychologist that has worked closely with 30-40 of the top HS and college basketball athletes in the region over the past decadeand asked for her opinion.
We both concluded that, in order for Scott to attain and maintain a level of academic performance that is commensurate with his intellectual ability, he needed to attend a school with a strong special education program in place. While Archbishop Carroll is a fine academic institution that prepares it’s students to compete in some of the finest colleges in the country, it does not have a particularly strong special education program.
Campbell and Hudson asked me where could they find a combination of elite basketball and a strong special education program? That was exactly the right question to ask. Even at the tender age of 14, it was apparent that Scott would evolve into a scholarship level basketball prospect. He needed to be pushed athletically in practice and play a top flight schedule in order to each his potential.
Simultaneously, he needed an academic program that could provide instruction specially designed to meet his unique needs as a student that learned differently. If he was going to be prepared to enter college upon graduation, Scott needed an education individually developed to address his specific needs resulting from his disability.
I told Campbell and Hudson they should consider Imhotep Charter School. I reached out to my then friend, Andre Noble, and arranged an introductory meeting. Scott, Hudson and I visited Imhotep and met with Noble and his Special Education teachers. Imhotep had extensive experience developing and implementing academic programs for students with learning disabilities. The decision was made to enroll Scott at Imhotep.
He went on to have one of finest schoolboy basketball careers in the history of the Philadelphia Public League.
In the classroom, he also did very well. Scott easily met NCAA freshman eligibility guidelines and was recruited heavily by some of the top programs in the nation. Scott took official visits to South Carolina, Maryland, Seton Hall, Temple, Penn State, Temple and La Salle. He declined offers to visit programs like Florida, Auburn and Georgia.
Campbell and Hudson accompanied Scott on every visit. I went on every visit except one.
Ultimately, Scott chose to accept a scholarship from and attend the University of Maryland. His decision resulted in some very hard feelings locally. Ten and twenty year friendships were torn asunder. People were very upset that he chose to leave town.
Having accompanied Scott on his visits, I completely understood his decision. I was in the room when Hudson forced Scott to compare and rank his final 5 or 6 programs in the following areas:
Eventually, I interjected and said “Man… what the fuck are we doing? It’s clear where he wants to go… Let’s get it over with.”
With that, Scott called all the coaches and informed him of his decision.
Today, he played what may be his last home in a Maryland uniform. As a freshman starter, Maryland was the Big 10 regular season Co-Champion and the playoffs were cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic. As a sophomore starter, the Terp made the NCAA tournament and won a first round game before bowing out in the second round. His coach, Mark Turgeon abruptly resigned in the middle of his junior season and the team struggled. As a senior starter, Scott has helped lead the Terps to 20-9 record and they currently stand in 2nd place. Once again, Maryland will play in the NCAA tournament.
Scott will finish this season with more than 1300 career points and 700 rebounds. He’s gonna graduate on time… He has a nice car… He’s a published author and respected public speaker… He’s made some VERY GOOD NIL money… He’s spent some quality time with a few nice looking Maryland coeds… He’s lived in a luxury apartment… He’s flown exclusively on private jets… Stayed exclusively in 5 star hotels…
I woke up extra early this morning and made my way to the 6:30 am service at Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church. I felt a need to pray for those that questioned the young man’s decision four years ago. I also prayed that God will help me continue to offer sound counsel and advise to Scott and his family. So far… So good…
By 8:45 am, I was on the road to Maryland… Go Hak! Go Donta! Go Terps!
And… He can do it all again next year… If he so chooses.
Dreamchasers Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS) program provides eligible New Jersey High School students with the opportunity to experience and explore the world of work and plan for the transition to college or other postsecondary educational programs. Together with provider partners across Camden, Mercer, Burlington, Cumberland and Salem Counties, we help Newark students make decisions about their career paths and create a plan for success in college. Whether younger students are interested in learning about their first summer job or upper-level students are planning for college after high school, Dreamchasers offers a wide range of possibilities for students aged 14-21 (up until their 22nd birthday).
Dreamchasers Pre-ETS program for NJ High School students focus primarily on five core Pre-ETS services.
Job Exploration Counseling Work Place Readiness Work-Place Learning Counseling on college and other post-secondary education option Instruction in Self-Advocacy
Dreamchasers Community Services is actively seeking Pre-ETS Program Counselors to provide direct instruction and teaching to High School age students with disabilities as documented by an IEP, 504 plan, or medical diagnosis, which makes them potentially eligible for services from Vocational Rehabilitation at a later date. Successful candidates will utilize transition age curriculum and hands-on work experience to support youth with disabilities to increase successful transition from school to work or post-secondary education outcomes.
If you are patient, understanding and want to help young people successfully transition to independent adulthood please email a resume and cover letter to the address listed below:
Please forward inquiries and resumes to:
Delgreco K. Wilson, M.A. Executive Director of Vocational Programming Dreamchasers Community Services, LLC
On February 17, 2023, Black Cager Sports Media announced the resignation of Executive Director Delgreco K. Wilson. Mr. Wilson has served as Executive Director for Black Cager Sports Media since September 1, 2013. He will continue to serve as as a part-time Sports Columnist Emeritus and contribute original content occasionally. However, he is leaving Black Cager Sports to work full-time as Executive Director of Vocational Programming for Dreamchasers Community Services, LLC. Founded by Marco Morcos, CEO in 2014, Dreamchasers Community Services is a statewide (NJ) licensed mental/behavioral health, and vocational rehabilitation organization serving youth ages 3-21. Dreamchasers is the fastest growing provider of Mental/Behavioral Health Services and Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS) in the state of New Jersey.
Announcing his resignation, Mr. Wilson stated, “It has been an amazing experience these last ten years – Black Cager Sports accomplished so much. We have been able to provide much needed exposure for talented high school and college student-athletes in the mid-Atlantic region. I am very proud of the original content Black Cager has produced and the connections we have forged for young people and heir families. I spend a lot of time traveling to different college campuses to watch the fruits of our labor shine on the court. I will be forever grateful for the chance to form and lead Black Cager Sports Media.”
In light of Wilson’s resignation, two senior positions have been created. James Nelson-Stewart has been named Director of Creative Content and Stephen Alford has been named Director of Black Cager Basketball Scouting Service. Wilson noted, “I have worked closely with Nelson-Stewart and Alford for years. Their values are closely aligned with Black Cager Sports mission. Nelson-Stewart is a gifted writer and sports storyteller. I look forward to seeing what direction he takes as he assumes full control of basketball coverage. I am confident that he will provide readers with incisive and well-informed content.”
“Stephen Alford has been a God-send for scholastic basketball players, boys and girls, in the Greater Philadelphia region. His network of small college (D2, D3 and NAIA) coaching connections is unmatched. He consistently gets it done when few others can. Alford helps kids find scholarship… I have worked closely with him for more than five years. I am extremely pleased that he will be leading Black Cager Scouting Service.”
Wilson states, “The same question keeps driving me: What am I willing to stand for? That question has followed me throughout my professional career… Helping young people successfully transition to adulthood is a problem I have chosen to address. For nearly 30 years, helping student-athletes transition to college has made me feel energized, connected, and stimulated. After much prayer and careful consideration, I have decided to follow my intuition and help non-athletes, learning disabled students and justice involved youth navigate the transition to independent adulthood. For me, the great reward is the feeling of lasting contentment and self-respect that comes when I am living out the truth of who I am. I thank God that Marco Morcos and Dreamchasers Community Services have provided me with an opportunity to help thousands of deserving youth throughout the state of New Jersey.”
About Black Cager Sports Media Black Cager Sports is an independent mid-Atlantic based sports media firm owned founded and owned by Delgreco K. Wilson. The company was founded in 2013 by Wilson. Black Cager Sports has produced in excess of 2,000 pieces of original sports media content over the past decade. This content has been viewed by more than 5 million viewers. Black Cager Sports broadcasts video content primarily from facilities located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Camden, New Jersey. The company also provides coverage of scholastic and collegiate basketball in Baltimore and Washington, D.C. James Nelson-Stewart currently serves as the Director of Creative Content and Stephen Alford is the newly named Director of the Basketball Scouting Service. These gentlemen assumed these positions following the resignation of Wilson on February 17, 2023
It was December 9, 2018 and two of my homies were set to battle in what I thought would be a highly competitive scholastic basketball matchup. Abington’s highly regarded boys basketball team, featuring Eric Dixon and Lucas Monroe, was traveling to Washington, D.C. to face Nick Myles’ nationally ranked squad led by point GOD Ace Baldwin in the Gonzaga DC Classic. I settled into the small Gonzaga gym, grabbed my requisite hot dog, chips and coke expecting a fierce battle.
Seated mid-court directly facing both benches I was hyped… Nick Myles is my brother from another mother… For several years, he had been beating up on every opponent he faced from the Philadelphia region… Summer games, Fall games, scrimmages, regular season games… Didn’t matter… Nick and Ace were knocking everybody off…
I thought, maybe… just maybe that night would be different…
After all, Grasty came to town with Dixon… At the high school level, on most nights, against most opponents… that was more than enough. Dixon was the proverbial “man-child”. He was just too big, too skilled, too determined… too FUCKIN good for most high school opponents. I thought Dixon might prove to be too much for St. Frances and finally, one of my Philly homies would get a win against the mighty Panthers from Baltimore.
Naaaaaaaah… It wasn’t meant to be. Just another day at the office for Myles and his boys.
St. Frances knocked off Abington 77-54.
But I will always remember that game for something that happened off the court. As I’m watching the action, a very pretty young lady seated behind me tapped me on my shoulder. I turned around…
“You ain’t right… I see you all the time covering our boys, you need to come see our girls play.”
“Why? Are y’all as good as the boys?”
“Really… You play?”
“You good? Can YOU ball?”
“What’s up with your recruitment? You got any offers?”
“I’m down to my final 5.”
“Ohhhh… Ok give ‘em to me.”
“USC, Syracuse, Tennessee, Maryland and South Carolina.”
“Wait a minute… Who are YOU?”
“Angel Reese… google me.”
It took me about 4.8 seconds on the google machine to realize that this beautiful, articulate, confident, self-assured and brash young lady was the number 2 player in the Class of 2020.
At that very moment, she forced me to reconsider the way I approached coverage of HS sports. I had to admit to myself that there was no way I would ever engage in a whole basketball conversation with ESPN’s #2 ranked Boy Basketball recruit and not have a clue who he was.
It just wouldn’t happen… Girls basketball deserved better… Angel Reese deserved better…
Right then… Right there… I decided to do an instant background check. I face-timed Dawn Staley, Head Women’s basketball coach at the University of South Carolina. When Dawn’s face appeared on my phone, I pointed the camera at young Ms. Reese and asked a simple pointed question…
“Dawn… what’s up with this one?”
“She’s the one Del… I NEED to get her… Help me out…”
From that moment on, I was a fan of young Ms. Reese. Per her suggestion, I made my way down to Baltimore to watch the St. Frances girls play. As she claimed, they were as good or better than the boys. And individually, Reese was even better than she described herself.
As noted earlier, she was the #2 overall player in the class of 2020 and the No. 1 wing as ranked by ESPN. She was a McDonald’s All-American. Reese led Saint Frances to three straight IAAM championships and two conference titles while averaging 18 points, 20 rebounds and five assists per game for her career. She was named Player of the Year by The Baltimore Sun after her junior and senior seasons and was also named USA Today First Team All-American. She was also a key cog for Team Takeover which won the Girls EYBL National Championship.
Just like Kurk Lee, Ace Baldwin, Jonathan Lamothe, Khyrie Staten and a host of other St. Frances boys, Ms. Reese became one my BMore youngins.
Over the next few months, I cajoled, begged, pleaded and urged Reese to consider and commit to my homie at the University of South Carolina. I explained that I knew Dawn since she was Angel’s age.
My college roommate Dexter Matthews grew up with Dawn in the Raymond Rosen Projects in North Philly. Dex let everyone in earshot know that his lil’ homie Dawn Staley was coming and coming hard. It was only right that Dex was one of the first people I encountered upon entering the arena before the game.
He introduced a generation of Lincoln University alums to the legend of Dawn Staley. We all became invested as Staley matriculated at the University of Virginia. We watched and cheered as she led Virginia to four NCAA Tournament appearances, three Final 4’s and one National Championship game. We watched lil’ Dawn from Raymond Rosen become finest player in the land. She was named the national player of the year in 1991 and 1992.
After meeting Angel, I sensed she could be on a similar trajectory toward greatness. Wouldn’t it be great if da homie coached da youngin? I talked to Angel… I talked to her Momma… over and over again.
I would wear South Carolina hoodies or sweatsuits if I knew I would see young Angel. I tried… I really tried to help da homie land da youngin.
At the end of the day… couldn’t get it done… Reese committed to the University of Maryland at College Park.
As a freshman, Reese saw action in 15 games, missing 14 due to a foot injury. When available, she was good. She averaged 10.0 points and 6.0 rebounds as a rookie and scored in double figures in eight of 15 games.
During her sophomore campaign, a healthy Reese returned to the national stage. She became the first Terp sophomore to average a double-double since Angie Scott in 1975. Reese scored in double figures in 27 of 32 games, scoring 20+ points in 14 games. She led team in scoring in 17 games and in rebounding in 26 games. Reese was named AP Third Team All-American, USBWA All-America Honorable Mention, All-Big Ten First Team and All-Big Ten Defensive Team.
Da BMore youngin was rollin’…
Then Da BMore youngin entered the portal…
Once again, I talked to my homie in Columbia, South Carolina about the possibility of Reese becoming a Gamecock.
Angel and her mother visited three SEC schools: South Carolina, Tennessee, and LSU.
Once again… couldn’t help Staley get it done… Reese committed to Louisiana State University.
Reese wanted to be “free”. In a recent interview with Sports Illustrated she stated “I didn’t feel like I was the player I am now… I wanted to regain my confidence, be free and have fun playing ball.”
“It was a tough step to make, but I had to walk in faith.”
Her faith has been amply rewarded…
Statistically speaking, Reese is making the strongest case for National Player of the Year. Her numbers are among the best in the country and her well-rounded skill set is very strong. Her 23.2 ppg rank fifth and 15.3 rpg second. Reese notched double-doubles in and helped lead LSU to 23 consecutive wins heading into a nationally televised showdown with Coach Staley and the also undefeated Gamecocks.
The game itself was over before the national anthem…
Staley had her team prepared, locked and loaded… For the overwhelming majority of the contest, it looked like a complete mismatch. South Carolina scored early, easily and often while racing out to a 18-2 lead. The game plan devised by Staley was obvious. Reigning SEC and National Player of the Year, Aliyah Boston and Center Kamilla Cardoso were NOT going to allow Reese to relentlessly pound the glass as she had in every other game this season. Boston and Cardosa resembled Parrish and McHale and they grabbed every carom and effectively prevented Reese from finding and cracks and crevices in the wall they installed around the low post on the defensive end.
Boston finished with 14 points, 9 rebounds and 3 blocked shots, and was highly focused on placing her sturdy frame between Reese and the basket. Cardoso led the Gamecocks with 18 points and 13 rebounds. These women were too big… too strong… too good and too well COACHED for LSU to overcome.
Reese struggled to impact the game. She picked up two first-quarter fouls and was limited to just three first-half points. Reese’s venerated 23 game double-double streak came to a screeching halt in Columbia. She finished with 16 points on 5-of-15 shooting and managed to grab just four rebounds.
Unlike Connecticut Head Coach, Geno Auriemma, who was BITCHIN’ after losing to Staley and the Gamecocks last week, LSU coach Mulkey praised the Gamecocks.
“I’ll give my utmost respect and comments about how good they are, how big they are, how tall they are,” Mulkey said. “It’s South Carolina, in my opinion, and everyone else. After playing them today, my opinion on that has not changed. They have things that we don’t have and a lot of the teams in the country don’t have. We aspire to be there one day.”
I am grateful that I was able to be attendance for this event… There were over 18,000 fans jammed into the sold-out arena to watch a regular season women’s college basketball game. This season, I’ve attended at least 10 Big 10 games and several Big East, American Athletic Conference and Atlantic 10 conference matchups. None of them come close to generating the buzz and electricity surrounding this contest.
If I hadn’t ventured to Washington, D.C. on a cold December day in 2018… If Angel Reese hadn’t admonished me for failing to adequately cover the girls side…
If she hadn’t told me to “google” her… I wouldn’t have been at that game and I would be much worse off as a result.
My BMore youngin is a truly GREAT college player… A bona fide 1st team All-American… A surefire WNBA lottery pick… She just can’t fuck with Coach Staley and the Gamecocks… But who can?
February 28th, 2022, I attended the PCL Championship Games at the Legendary Palestra. I got to the arena early enough to see the Girls’ Championship game that had Archbishop Carroll going against Cardinal O’Hara. Truthfully before 2020, I had not been a fan or even a spectator of HS Girls’ basketball. I knew of local players such as Dawn Staley (Dobbins/Virginia), Tammy Greene (Plymouth Whitemarsh/Textile) and Renee Womack (Methacton/Penn State, who was my friend’s John Womack’s little sister). Also, I had some knowledge of the 1987 Wissahickon Girls Team (led by Peggy Jewell, Trish Corace and Dee Perry) who made a run to the PIAA finals when I was a Middle School athlete just finding my love of sports.
To say I was any more than a casual spectator would be an overstatement. But back to February 28th, the atmosphere at the game was a growing buzz but mainly because of the Boys Final that was going to be played right after that game with Neumann Goretti and Archbishop Ryan. So as I’m walking to my seat I see my brother Trenell Clements-Herder sitting there and I greet him and ask “What’s Good, what you doing down at the game?”. Trenell, who has been the Lansdale Catholic Assistant Girls’ Coach since 2020-2021, pointed at a group of people with hoodies on and said, “That’s what up.” That group with the hoodies on was the Lansdale Catholic’s Girls team soaking up the atmosphere of the Palestra with Coach Trenell and Head Coach Eric Gidney (better known as Coach EG). I observed that group of young ladies get excited from the aura of the event and from that point on they did not lose another game until the PIAA 4A State Title Game, where their opponent that night was the Archbishop Wood Girls, who won that game 57-45.
Archbishop Wood Girls on the other hand has built a very successful program. Since 2010, the Wood Girls’ Programs has won 7 PIAA Championships and 3 PCL Championships with 9 District 12 Championships. That is quite a resume. Coach Mike McDonald has been leading this juggernaut since 2015-2016 (2014-2015 interim head coach) and has kept the ship rolling with 4 State Titles and 2 PCL Titles at the helm. Every year, he has players leaving his program and attending college at every level. One of the true Powerhouse Girls’ Programs of this region. Lansdale Catholic is trending towards that distinction every year building a winning tradition and now looking to add 2 very distinctive pieces of hardware to their collection and those are the PCL Crown first and then the PIAA 4A Title.
Those stories alone would be enough to add to the intrigue and excitement of this game, but the other back stories give this game a very classic feeling. The 2 Division 1 Signees Senior Stars of both teams (Wood’s Deja Evans-Albany and LC’s Gabby Casey-St. Joes) played AAU together with the Nationally Ranked Philadelphia Belles National Team, who was a close-knit bunch of young ladies that travelled the country and had much success. Another key part of that AAU team was Unsigned Wood Sr. G Delaney Finnegan, who has a reputation for her defensive prowess. The plot just keeps thickening with Coach Mike McDonald coaching Unsigned LC Sr. Jaida Helm, who played her 1st 3 seasons at Abington High School, who transferred to Lansdale Catholic due to Family Medical Situations. Helm was a multiple time All-League performer at Abington, who is getting interest from school at the D1 and D2 levels. A few of the ladies are very familiar with each other because they train with Elite Skills Trainer Ryan Washington (Wissahickon and Kutztown Fame) and has had players like Evans, Star LC So. Saniyah Littlejohn, Emerging LC Fr. F Isabella Allen and Heady Fr. Lead Guard Aubrey Mobley in the gym or at the park working alongside each other to push each other to higher heights. The brother of Star Wood So. Emily Knouse was also part of those workouts.
This game has the potential to reach the same heights as the Camden/Imhotep and the Neumann/Roman games did with both teams having extremely excellent seasons and stakes that continue to grow with each passing game. The matchups are incredible for this Catholic League Battle. 1st Place Archbishop Wood (8-0 League, 16-3 overall) vs Tied for 2nd Lansdale Catholic (7-1 League, 17-2 overall). As we mentioned the Seniors (Wood- Deja Evans, Delaney Finnegan, Kara Meredith (Holy Family), and the injured Allie Fleming) (LC has Gabby Casey, Jaida Helm and Ali Johns). Star Sophomore Guards on both teams with LC PG Saniyah Littlejohn who has the potential to be the next BIG star in the region along with her backcourt mate Sharpshooting Nadia Yemola going up against Wood’s Sharpshooting So Wing in Emily Knouse, who also has a chance to be a high major D1 player. You have the Jr Point Guards controlling the show with Wood’s Ava Reddinger matching up with LC’s Olivia Boccella. LC Freshman Girls Mobley and Allen are getting more time and crucial minutes while Wood’s bench is deep full of Jrs., So, and Freshman. To just give you an understanding of the importance of this game, there will be a televised showing on the PCN network. Will we see a changing of the guard or will we continue to see the dominance of Wood continue. Can’t Wait and Hope to See you there.
Events like this don’t happen often, so when you encounter these types of events the feeling sticks with you for a very long time. My father was a boxer during his youth, so the first sport I was introduced to was boxing. When I was 6 years old, I vividly remember being excited for a boxing match the was considered the BEST vs BEST. There was an excitement I had leading up to that event that forever made me a fan of the sport. Even in my early ages, I was an avid reader of newspapers (especially the Philadelphia Daily News) and magazines (Ring Magazine was my favorite). This event was so built up that it couldn’t deliver. It delivered and then some!!! That event was Leonard vs Hearns I!!! The generation before me had an event that was even bigger than that called “THE FIGHT OF THE CENTURY” Frazier vs Ali I. These events shaped a generation and this game much like those mega-events of the past has a chance to shape the new generations of athletes that will come after them.
I know that people are going to say Boxing and Basketball are 2 different sports. I know of course but this matchup is different!!! In Black and Red corner, you have Imhotep Charter, who is coached by Andre Noble. Imhotep Charter, much like Joe Frazier, is the gritty Philadelphia Team who plays the game with the proverbial “Chip on their Shoulder”. Imhotep, who has dominated the Legendary Philadelphia Public League for over a decade, is always battling for National Recognition. A team that went to Montverde and beat them on their home court in previous years still doesn’t feel like they don’t get enough National “Respect”. In our region we count on Imhotep EVERY year to win the Pub and the State titles and Coach Noble has exceeded that expectation and more.
To say that he is a Hall of Fame Coach would be to shortchange what this man has accomplished. With a Title log over 20, when counting Pub, City and State Championship, he is STAMPED as one of the Philly Coaching GOATS. Respect due!!!
Then in the Purple and Gold corner, you have Camden High aka “THE HIGH”. In this matchup, I would consider Camden to be more like Muhammad Ali because of the National profile this team has. People flock to see “THE HIGH”, in large part due to their best player and his family lineage of greatness through 3 generations. Expectations have crushed many souls but when a person meet or exceeds such expectations, they become larger than life. “THE HIGH” has a deep basketball history as much as any program in our parts. The tradition of Camden High Basketball may only be matched in these parts by Chester High and is known throughout the nation for having that kind of basketball reputation. Players like Billy Thompson, Nate Johnson, Vic Carstarphen, Arthur Barclay and numerous others have graced the Camden courts and established excellence. But no name is synonymous with Camden Basketball as the last name Wagner. Milt Wagner, Dejuan Wagner and now D.J. Wagner are 3 generations of stars at “THE HIGH”.
Milt (Class of 1981) started this off by becoming one of the Nation’s best guards in earning a McDonald’s All-American birth, then Dejuan (Class of 2001) came in and became one of the best guards in New Jersey history by scoring over 3,000 points and 100 points in a game and also earning a McDonald’s All-American bid and now D.J.
So now I will give you 5 reasons that this may be the BIGGEST GAME EVER LOCALLY
Never has there been a game where the #1 player and #2 player in the country has matched up in a local game. Imhotep’s Justin Edwards (#1 ESPN 2023) and Camden’s duo of D.J. Wagner (#2 in 2023) plus Aaron Bradshaw (#4 in 2023) will matchup in this game. We have 3 Top 5 players nationally on the same court locally. Some people point out the Gene Banks/Lew Lloyd matchup, others have pointed to the Kobe Bryant/Rip Hamilton matchup or Kobe Bryant/Donnie Carr matchup and even more recently the Eddie Griffin/Dejuan Wagner matchup as reference points but neither of those matchups were 1 vs 2 in the same class and the same year. Edwards and Wagner have both held that #1 spot at some point this year. Both competitors want to show their supporters who is #1. Next year, all 3 will be teammates sporting that Kentucky Blue. Bragging rights anyone!!!
Hall of Fame Philly Coach vs Rookie Coach from Philly. This adds to the allure of this matchup. I have already talked about the accolades of Coach Noble but what a feather in the cap Coach Maalik “Smack” Wayns, the Head Coach of Camden. Wayns, has been a Philly staple for years with his McDonald All-American career at Roman and his collegiate career in the Big 5 at Villanova plus his NBA stints including the Sixers. Camden’s staff also has another Philly playing legend Ramone Moore from Southern and Temple fame.
The social media angle. New age, new trends. This game will be followed by basketball fans all over the world. Nike, who has an NIL deal with D.J. Wagner, sponsors both teams. Drake has done advertising with Wagner and others adds to the popularity of this game. Everyone is picking sides of the Bridge on this game.
The Matchups are flat out impressive on both sides. We have Ra Barno (FGC Commit City of Palms MVP) and Nationally Ranked 2024 Ahmad Nowell from Imhotep Charter going against Cian Medley (St. Louis Commit) and Wagner. Then you have the frontcourts Edwards, 2024 6-8 Makye Taylor, 2023 6-4 Yahmir Satterfield and 2024 6-6 Jeremiah White from Imhotep going up against Camden’s front line of the 7-footer Bradshaw, 2023 6-5 Cornelius “Boog” Robinson (Albany Commit), Nationally Ranked 2024 6-6 Billy Richmond, 6-8 Dasear Haskins. Star Fr 2026 Guard R.J Davis (Imhotep) and Star multi-sport athlete Jaylen Hornsby (Camden) will add to the star power on the court.
The AAU Battle. Imhotep which has players that are on the established Nike sponsored Team Final are battling the other local Nike Sponsored team New Jersey Scholars. These teams usually start battling for players before they even hit high school. This game will give each respective program the bragging rights at least for a year. The balance of power will be on the line in this contest.
January 28th 2PM @St Joseph’s Hagen Arena is where this game is going down. As the great Amauro Austin wrote in his article. WHERE ARE YOU GOING TO BE??? Game is SOLD OUT and not streamed. Players like Edwards and Wagner rarely now play for their hoods anymore. The High School game is big business now and the public schools are the biggest victims to the business. 2 Nationally Ranked Public-School teams in 1 area are like a dinosaur. This game is the Tyrannosaurus Rex!!! I’ll be there and can’t wait!!! Events like this never fail to live up to their hype!!! Thank you to both communities Imhotep and Camden for making this event happen!!! Good Luck to both teams!!! Events like these never have LOSERS!!!
Black reactions to white oppression has taken many forms over the past 400 years. Sustained systematic and violent oppression has led to countless individual acts of resistance. But the most common reactions have come in the form of protests. Black creative artists have produced protest poems and Black protest plays. Black writer have given us Black protest novels. Musicians have created spirituals, work chants, prison songs and the blues. The Black press has often produced biting social satire and raised the consciousness of Black readers.
The tradition of Black protest continues today. Early in the morning on Sunday, January 8, 2023, Pastor Daniel Jackson led a small protest against bigotry and racial intolerance on the corner of East Cumberland and Cedar Street in the Fishtown section of Philadelphia. Jackson, Pastor at New Kingdom Baptist Church, was riding his bike through that intersection earlier in the week when a white male threw a can of beer a him and shouted, “stay out my neighborhood.”
A lifelong resident of Philadelphia, Jackson had encountered restrictive, oppressive actions before. As Pastor of a growing congregation he felt compelled to use tried and true nonviolent methods to amplify his voice, challenge racial dynamics and press for change in that part of the city.
Surrounded by members of his congregation, Jackson recounted the episode in great detail. He explained the wide range of emotions he was forced to deal with as he rode his bike through that intersection. The protest drew in several members of the Fishtown community. Several young women emerged from their homes to listen and watch.
These neighbors indicated that they would review their surveillance cameras to see if they captured the incident. They also apologized for the manner in which Pastor Jackson was treated in their neighborhood.
After the protest, Pastor Jackson and the congregation headed to New Kingdom and had CHURCH!
Today was a good day in Philadelphia. Young Pastor Jackson is the latest in a long line of highly effective clergymen that have adopted non-violent protest as a means to address the scourge of racial intolerance.
God Bless Pastor Jackson and New Kingdom Baptist Church.
PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania, January 4, 2023 — SUREATHLETE announced NIL partnerships with that men’s college basketball players Hysier Miller (Temple), AJ Hoggard (Michigan State) and Derek Simpson (Rutgers). All three players will be championing SURATHLETE’s Prism® Portrait. The Prism® Portrait reveals comprehensive insights into nearly every aspect of an athlete or coach’s Emotional, Relational and Team Intelligence (ERT-i™). This highly relevant and transformative data provides coaches, athletic directors and other administrators with critical information that impacts personal and professional performance, productivity and success.
“The Prism® Portrait describes how athletes present themselves and how others might perceive them. It gives coaches insight into how athletes present themselves under stress, how they process information and how the manage conflict. Prism® Portraits help coaches and players use people analytics to navigate the highly competitive collegiate sports landscape,” according to Sean Flynn, CEO of SUREATHLETE. “As a proud supporter of scholastic and collegiate sports, I am pleased to associate with these proven, dedicated and professional young men.”
“The relationship I am building with SUREATHLETE is very similar to how they do business on campuses across the country,” said Miller. “It’s very personal, impactful, and important. I couldn’t ask for a better company to represent than SUREAHLETE.” The student-athletes will also participate in projects as researchers refine and enhance SURATHLETE’s products and services that drive better outcomes throughout the entire talent lifecycle – from recruiting, roster management and player development to gam coaching. “These highly intelligent young men have provided us with valuable insight and will continue to help us understand the value of a relationship with college athletic programs,” said Neal.
According to Hoggard, “I’m happy to have partnered with such an innovative company. As a point guard, understanding what motivates my teammates and how they perform under stress is crucial. SUREATHLETE helps me be a better team leader.”
About Hysier Miller Hysier Miller took over as the starting point guard midway through his freshman season. He is now entrenched as the floor general for Aaron McKie’s Owl. In high school, he was named 2021 PA AAAA State Player of the Year, averaging 18.4 points, 10 rebounds, 6.4 assists & 2.9 steals. Miller recorded two triple-doubles in 2020-21, including a 30-point, 12-rebound and 10-assist outing in an overtime loss to league champion, Archbishop Wood
About AJ Hoggard AJ Hoggard, a junior, is the starting point guard for Michigan State. As a sophomore, he appeared in all 36 games, starting eight times. Hoggard started eight of the final 13 games of the season and finished the season averaging 7.0 points, 2.3 rebounds. He led the team with 4.8 assists per game while playing 20.3 minutes and ranked fourth in the Big Ten in assists per game. Hoggard played at Archbishop Carroll in Philadelphia for two years before transferring to Huntington Prep for his junior and senior years. He was ranked No. 71 nationally by 247Sports.com and No. 13 among all point guards.
About Derek Simpson Derek Simpson is a freshman point guard for Rutgers. He has made several starts in his rookie campaign. In high school, Simpson averaged a team-high 20.6 points-per-game and 4.9 assists-per-game for Lenape High School also making the most three-pointers on his team. Simpson was recognized with several accolades in his home state of New Jersey and Burlington County after his stellar performance last season. He was a member of the All-State Third Team, the 2021 Burlington County All-County Team and was named the 2021 Burlington County Player of the Year.
About SUREATHLETE SUREATHLETE, a division of the SUREPEOPLE Corporation, headquartered in Rosemont, IL, synthesizes three critical data sets – who people are, how people think/feel and how people behave/perform – to derive predictive insights and deliver prescriptive actions for every leader, team and mission-critical player and coach in your program. SUREATHLETE utilizes Prism Psychometrics to understand how each player and coach in your program is uniquely wired by measuring 54 key traits and attributes across Personality & Personality Under Pressure; Processing; Decision Making; Motivation; Conflict Management; and, Fundamental Needs. Prism provides talent with the richest, most nuanced psychometric portrait for increasing self-awareness, understanding strengths & blind spots and guiding personal & professional growth.