So… the father of one of the top D1 prospects in the area calls me yesterday… Right away he observes…
“The kids are gonna wanna play at St. Joe’s… Billy let’s ’em go, they play hard and they play anybody.”
His son already signed, sealed and committed to another D1 program out of the state, Dad was just doing what we’ve always done… Talking local hoops. I had to agree with his assessment.
“They are in shape, he let’s those guys play basketball. They keep coming at you…”
This was after the second loss in a row to a nationally prominent Power 5 conference opponent. We both agreed there will be some BIG wins coming and soon…
St. Joseph’s Head Coach Billy Lange has taken a stand… He’s decided that he will throw his bunch into the deep end of the pool and see what happens. Sink or swim muthafucka… It’s an admirable approach. Lange sits at 6-28 since assuming the helm at 54th and City Avenue.
Many other coaches would schedule as many America East, NEC or MEAC opponents as possible and get some easy wins. Not Lange…
Yet, despite the losses…
Everyone seems to agree that he’s got the program headed in a decidedly positive direction. Shit… Lange is so convinced in his team’s progress that he is apparently seeking out every available Power 5, Top 25 road game he can find.
Such a scheduling approach is revered around these parts. Grab a bunch of Philly kids, get on a plane and take on all comers. For hoop heads in the 50 – 70 year old range, some of your fondest memories include watching John Chaney march his troops into North Carolina, Duke, UCLA and UNLV and screaming “check rock.”
Last year, despite a ton of close losses, Coach Lange stuck with his plan and his analytic dependent approach to college basketball.
Layups and threes… That’s what the analytic eggheads say… Layups and threes… This approach has taken over the NBA… Houston, Portland, Golden State, etc. have adopted this approach to basketball…
Lange’s embrace of this strategy was clear last year… Many questioned the approach, myself included…
We noted that Lange didn’t have the horses for the kind of race he wanted to run. Maybe, just maybe, he could have slightly modified his approach and won another game or two. Maybe he could have finished 8 – 24 or 9 – 23 instead of 6 – 26.
Naaaaaaah… Lange clearly said FUCK that… We are gonna learn to play the way I want to play…
He decided to stick with his approach and take his lumps. He wanted his team to learn to play a certain way. Of course, he wanted to win but not at the expense of forestalling the full implementation of “BillyBall” on Hawk Hill.
At times, it was painful to watch. He was playing pinochle with a hand dealt from poker deck.
This year, he has assembled a roster that is faster, more explosive, better shooting and better defensively.
These guys are playing as a unit. They are committed to being aggressive offensively. They push the rock. Even against elite athletes they just keep coming.
Dahmir Bishop (Imhotep/Xavier) and Jack Forrest (Lower Merion/Columbia) look like kids that have been allowed outside after spending 6 months on punishment. With Lange’s encouragement and support, these guys are letting it fly… They have demonstrated an ability to get good looks at layups and threes… More importantly, they’ve been converting these looks at a nice clip.
Greg Foster is athletic, he’s able to push the rock while being cautious and he’s a very capable perimeter defender. Jordan Hall is finding his way… A natural playmaker, he is a long and capable point forward.
Cameron Brown is a capable scorers and a steady calming influence off the bench and Rahmir Moore provides pure unadulterated Philly toughness.
Despite the aforementioned upgrades to the roster, this SJU team will only go as far as the BIG DOGS are able to take them. Taylor Funk and Ryan Daly possess All-A10 talent. Funk, with his feet set is one of the best shooters we’ve seen in recent years. His range literally extends from the concession stand inward. He’s always been capable of stringing together 3, 4 or 5 straight NBA 3 pointers. Nothing new to see here. What is new is his commitment to strength and conditioning. He has changed his body. He is leaner than he was in high school. This is significant because he will have to play major minutes if this version of the Hawks aspire to be a factor in the A10.
Funk can barely jump over the laptop he using to complete his schoolwork, yet he had emerged as a solid “BIG” for this team. He understands the importance of positioning in rebounding and defending the post. He’s getting shit done against much bigger and more explosive post players… Respect.
Daly continues be the unquestioned leader of this scrappy Hawk bunch. He’s a fucking hockey player on a basketball court. Daly is the Bobby Clarke of college basketball. Against Auburn and Kansas he repeatedly tried to protect the rim against 6’9” dudes with 40 inch vertical leaps. Watching at game speed, one is convinced that he got “all ball” on these efforts. The slo-motion instant replays reveal the truth though… He just checked those guys against the boards and damn near knocked their teeth out.
But he sells it hard! “What foul ref?”
Daly has never seen a matchup he didn’t like… He’s going to score, rebound and get assists every game. There’s literally nothing the opponent can do about it. His tenacity and confidence allows the other guys to play freely.
Coach Lange has a very interesting team… They play an appealing style of basketball… They are seeking out the very best opponents… Local Dads and kids are noticing.
Imagine what will happen if they can make it to the Stanley Cup Finals?
Or… better yet, what if they knock off Nova on Wednesday?
Been getting a lot of questions from parents and players about Prep Schools… Have some friends that recently placed their kids in prep programs… This burst of interest in Prep basketball was expected. With the dramatic shift in the scholarship market, 17, 18 and 19 year old students face tough choices. For many, Prep School basketball is a rational move… Shit makes sense…
Think about this…
For the first time in history, every men’s and women’s college basketball team in America could theoretically field the exact same team again for the 2021-2022 season. This season will not be applied to the student-athlete’s eligibility clock.
The 2020-21 season is a free year as far as eligibility is concerned. This rule change is having an enormous impact on the scholarship market.
Walk through the basic numbers…
Let’s say there are 350 Division 1 basketball programs. Each program has 13 basketball scholarships. There are roughly 4,550 scholarships. Every year around 1,000 or so D1 scholarships become available.
Not this year… Everyone playing college sports can theoretically come back next year. The extent to which player take advantage of this rule change directly impacts the number of available basketball scholarships.
Somewhere less than 100% of the student-athletes will choose to stay. Some guys will just want to get on with their lives. Coaches may not want all of their players to return. For illustrative purposes, let’s say half or 50% choose to play another year of college basketball. The number of available scholarships decreases to a mere 500 or so. If 30% choose to stay the number of available scholarships decrease to 700.
The recruitment process can get even more complex and daunting for high school prospects and their parents.
College coaches fully realize that any player currently participating in NCAA basketball could conceivably play on their team next season. Players can transfer one time and play immediately without sitting out a year in residence.
This is pure free agency.
These conditions have never existed before. College coaches have adapted their recruitment strategies in light of the relaxed transfer constraints. Plainly stated, college transfers are preferred over high school prospects in most situations. Real rap…
So much so that once vaccines are widely available, one can envision some college coaches literally recruiting in the hand shake line after the games…
As of right now, many college coaches are not even considering high school players.
The market shift is forcing an increased number of high school players and their families to consider “Prep Schools” or accept slots in D2, D3 or NAIA programs.
One thing for sure in college basketball, levels matter. As they say, “it’s levels to this shit.” This statement definitely applies to college hoops. Players and parents want to play at the highest level. They want to play D1 hoops.
Rather than abandoning hopes of playing D1 basketball, more and more prospects are going the Prep School route.
With far-reaching regulatory changes enacted by the NCAA, this route will appeal to an increasing number of prospects.
There’s a lot of variation in Prep School Programs. There are some really excellent programs and there are some really bad ones. This is a largely unregulated area.
Prep schools have been around for a long time. Since the early 1900’s, the term “prep school” has been associated with predominantly white, private, elite institutions that have highly competitive admission criteria and high tuition fees, catering to students in the 8th – 12th grade range. Many of the elite prep schools are located in New England. These schools charge tuition ($20,000 to 70,000). Some prep schools are affiliated with a particular religious denomination. Independent preparatory schools are not governed by a religious organization, and students are usually not required to receive instruction in one particular religion. Graduates of these schools typically enter highly competitive colleges such as those in the Ivy League. Many of these prep schools have fine basketball programs.
Then… on the other end of the spectrum, there are basketball clubs that label themselves as “Prep schools.” These are programs where the emphasis is solely on basketball. Some of these programs play 60-70 games per season. In the past, schools like this were able to provide miraculous academic recoveries for students in a short amount of time. However, the NCAA began to argue that they did so with “little-to-no instruction.”
Eventually, the NCAA created a list of Prep Schools whose transcripts are no longer be accepted because of what they described as questionable academic credentials.
Parents MUST verify that any academic work completed under the auspices of the Prep School will be accepted by the NCAA.
Ask the Head Coach and/or Director of the Prep School for the School’s NCAA High School Code or CEEB/ACT Code. With either code you can search for a high school’s list of NCAA courses with this link.
If you don’t know the school’s NCAA High School Code or six-digit CEEB/ACT Code, you may search by city/state and high school name.
If… Academic concerns are part of the equation, parents MUST verify that the classes will be accepted.
Here’s the interesting thing though… More than likely, there will be a significant increase in the number of NCAA eligible kids that just want to play Prep School basketball. For many, this makes perfect sense. They don’t have D1 offers and they want to get better and earn a D1 scholarship. The NCAA clock does not start while a kid is in Prep School. Kids can play a full schedule of games, practice everyday, get stronger and further develop skill sets.
Kids that are NCAA eligible, can take up to 6 credit hours per semester at a Community College. A qualified Prep student could enter college with 18-24 credit hours under his belt.
Most importantly, by playing at the Prep level a kid’s NCAA eligibility clock does not begin.
If a kid is NCAA eligible, he could focus entirely on basketball, strength, conditioning and nutrition. Good prep school programs are strong in these areas.
Some reputable prep programs in the mid-Atlantic region include, Mt. Zion Prep (MD), Rocktop Academy (PA), Covenant Prep (NJ) and Olympus Prep (NJ). All of these programs play strong national Prep school schedules.
Mt. Zion Prep Sports Academy is located in Lanham, Maryland. n 2011, Founded in 2011, by Rodrick Harrison and Brian Scott. Mt. Zion Prep has emerged as one of the premiere Prep Programs in the Nation. Mt. Zion is an independent prep program that competes on a national level. Mt. Zion has competed in the National Prep Showcase as well as the National Prep School Invitational. Obi Toppin, the 8th pick in the 2020 NBA Draft Lottery is a Mt. Zion alum.
Founded by Sam Rines, Rocktop Academy is located in the suburbs of Philadelphia, PA and directly across from the largest shopping mall in the United States. It is the only prep school partnered with the fastest growing recruiting service in the country, BasketballFinders.com.’s With more than 100 universities within a 50 mile radius of Philadelphia and many more throughout the northeast, Rocktop Academy is ideally located. Los Angeles Laker forward Kyle Kuzma in a Rocktop Alum.
Founded by Ian Turnbill, Covenant College Prep is located in Belmar, New Jersey. Turnbill has built a respected basketball academy with a college level training program. He emphasizes three core components: 1) Strength and conditioning training, measurably improving on court performance; 2) On court college level skill development, and; 3) Comprehensive meal program to enhance training. Temple freshman Nick Jourdain is a Covenant Prep alum.
Founded by Todd Beamon and Rich Marcucci, Olympus Prep is located in West Berlin, New Jersey. Marcucci has decades of experience running Prep Programs. He has worked with some of the best college and professional players to come out the Greater Philadelphia region. Eugene Teague (Seton Hall/Europe), Marcus and Markeiff Morris (Kansas/NBA) played in Marcucci’s program. Olympus has a modern, safe basketball facility and produces highly skilled, and disciplined players.
Players and parents have to do their research. Before anything, players have to realistically assess their value in today’s basketball scholarship market. Are you likely to attract a D1 offer? Please keep in mind, there are fewer available D1 scholarships… Additionally, high school kids are competing with more 21, 22 and 23 year old student-athletes for this smaller number of scholarships.
Players and parents then have to try to realistically project value after a year of serious training. If the player is committed he can improve and demonstrate improvement while playing at any of the prep programs listed above. Division 1 coaches regularly recruit players from these prep programs.
But, if a player is bullshittin’ his situation will not change.
In some cases… Maybe most cases…
Kids will be better off accepting one of the D2, D3 or NAIA offers on the table. In the grand scheme of things, the objective is to leverage basketball ability for access to higher education. A D2 or NAIA scholarship accomplishes this goal. For outstanding students, D3 programs offer outstanding merit-based financial aid packages. If you are a D1 player, it will become evident and you will be able to transfer and play immediately without sitting out a year.
 Villanova Senior Collin Gillespie, 2 years eligibility, (Archbishop Wood HS) Gillespie is a serious candidate for 1st-Team All-American honors. Last season, he was named second team All-BIG EAST. Gillespie is proven and highly productive high major point guard. To many, he is the best college player Philadelphia has to offer for the 2020-21 season. He averaged 15.1 points and 4.5 assists per outing in 31 regular season games. He was first team All-Philadelphia Big Five.
 Rhode Island Senior Fatts Russell, 2 years eligibility, (Imhotep HS) Russell has an opportunity to join Jameer Nelson among previous Cousy award winners. A magnificent combination of speed, explosiveness and skill, Russell ranks among the top point guards in the nation. Last season, Russell ranked second in the nation in steals, while also finished third in the conference in scoring at 18.8 points per game. He needs just 39 steals to become the all-time leader at Rhode Island. Fatts Russell is a pure Philly guard and one of the premier players in America.
 St. Joseph’s Senior Ryan Daly, 2 years eligibility, (Archbishop Carroll HS) Daly is one of the most productive college basketball players to come out of Philadelphia the past decade. He enters his senior season with 1,616 points, 617 rebounds and 261 assists. Daly combines a quick first step, strength, instincts, and aggressiveness to get to the rim, then uses his big frame and excellent body control to consistently finish through contact. In addition to his scoring ability, Daly doubles as an excellent passer and playmaker. St. Joe’s has added some talent. All that’s left for Daly to accomplish at the college level is a Conference Championship and NCAA appearance.
 Penn State Junior Sam Sessoms, 3 years eligibility, (Shipley HS) Sessoms absolutely excelled in the America East Conference. He led the conference in scoring with 19.4 ppg and ranked second in assists with 4.8 app. Sessoms ranks eighth in NCAA in career scoring average among current players (18.6 ppg.) He became just the seventh player in America East history to reach 1,000-point mark as a sophomore (1,151 pts.). Sessoms transferred to Penn State to play the Big 10 for Pat Chambers. Chambers abruptly resigned, Sessoms was granted a waiver to play immediately.
 Towson Senior Zane Martin, 2 years eligibility, (Neumann-Goretti HS) Martin returns to the campus where he exploded on the scene as a sophomore. That year Martin was All-CAA Second Team and NABC All- District 10 Second Team. He was MVP of the Basketball Hall of Fame Belfast Classic. He averaged a team-best 19.8 points, good for third in the CAA. He scored double figures in 30 of the Tigers’ 32 games that season, while also averaging 3.5 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game. He had 18 20-point outings, three games of 30 or more points and a 21-game streak in which scored double figures. He is expected to pick up where he left off.
 Washington Senior Quade Green, 2 years eligibility, (Neumann-Goretti HS) The most heralded of all the Philly ballers coming out of high school, Green participated in the 2017 McDonalds All-American Game, the 2017 Jordan Brand Classic and was the MVP of the 2017 HoopHall Classic. Green has had a solid college career, he left Kentucky with 43 career games, 13 starts, 387 total points, 112 assists and 52 3-pointers. He averaged 8.0 ppg as a sophomore season while shooting 44.9 percent from the floor and 42.3 percent from 3-point range. As freshman, Green started 13 of the 34 games and averaged 9.3 points, 2.7 assists and 1.8 rebounds per game while leading the team in scoring three times, steals four times and assists on seven occasions. Prior being declared academically ineligible, in 15 games, Green was averaging 11.6 points and 5.3 assists while shooting 44.7% from 3-point range. He had scored in double figures in each of his past eight games, averaging 6.0 assists over that span.
 Bowling Green Senior Daeqwon Plowden, 2 years eligibility (Mastery CHS) Plowden has emerged as an NBA prospect. He is winding down a wonderful career at Bowling Green. Last season, he played in all 31 games, making 30 starts. Plowden was Second Team All-MAC and named MAC East Player of the Week two times. He averaged a career-high 12.7 points, which ranked third on the team and 24th in the MAC. Plowden led Bowling Green in total minutes (974), while ranking second in minutes per game (31.4). He also led the Falcons in rebounding for the first time in his career, averaging a career-high 8.5 rebounds per game (264 total). He is a gifted and explosive athlete and will have an opportunity to play at the professional level.
 Maryland Sophomore Donta Scott, 4 years eligibility (Imhotep HS) Scott turned in an outstanding freshman campaign and helped lead Maryland to a Big 10 Championship. Scott played all 31 games (21 starts) in season cut short (no postseason) due to coronavirus pandemic. He started final 20 games of season. On the year, he averaged 5.9 points and 3.6 rebounds in 21.7 minutes of action. Scott was very efficient shooting 44% from the field and 85% from the free throw line. He was a very talented glue guy on a loaded Maryland team as a freshman. This year he will be called upon to score at a much higher clip and make plays for teammates. Look for Scott to emerge as an all-league level player this season.
 Miami Sophomore Isaiah Wong, 4 years eligibility (Bonner-Prendie HS) Wong had a strong freshman season for the Hurricanes. He was one of three Hurricanes to appear in all 31 games, he started the final 13 contests. For the season, Wong averaged 7.7 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.0 assist in 21.2 minutes per contest. He shot an impressive 82.9 percent from the free-throw line and 37.3 percent from 3-point range, both second-best on the team. Look for Wong to increase his scoring substantially this season.
 Penn State Soph Seth Lundy, 4 years eligibility (Roman Catholic HS) Lundy had a very solid freshman season for the Nittany Lions. He started the last 15 games, all Big Ten games, and played in all 31 contests as a true freshman. He contributed 6.3 points and 3.1 rebounds per game in league games with a 3-point field goal percentage of 40 percent. Lundy has a strong athletic frame and NBA 3 point range.
 Villanova Sophomore Eric Dixon, 4 years eligibility (Abington HS) Dixon practiced with the team but did not appear in any regular season games as he decided to redshirt the season. Over the course of the year, he transformed his body. Dixon is very lean and muscular. In open runs, he is a unique combination of brute strength and offensive skill. He has exceptional post footwork. He is adept on the interior or stroking a soft 3- point jumpshot. Look for Dixon to make an immediate contribution to the Wildcats.
 VCU sophomore Nah’shon “Bones” Hyland, 4 years eligibility (St. George’s HS) Hyland made the A10 All-Rookie Team. He played in all 31 games and made nine starts, including in the final seven contests of the season. He ranked third on the team in scoring at 9.0 points per game, matching the highest by a VCU freshman since the 1998-99 season; Averaged 11.0 points per game in conference play. Nicknamed “Bones” he plays with a unique flair. Hyland set a VCU freshman record with 63 three-pointers. Ranked third in the A-10 in 3-point field goal percentage at .434 (63- of-145), a mark that is also tied for sixth in school single-season history. Handed out 57 assists (second on the team) and grabbed 26 steals. Bones is a bad boy.
 Providence Junior Ed Croswell, 3 years eligibility (St. Joe’s Prep) Last season, Croswell played in 26 games for LaSalle, averaged 10.4 points and 7.6 rebounds, while shooting 60.2 percent from the field in the A10. Croswell is one of the better rebounders in the nation. He ranked third in the nation in offensive rebounding rate at 18.5 percent. He led La Salle in rebounding. He had career best game of 24 points and 18 rebounds versus St. Louis (1/29/20) and posted his seventh double- double of the season with 10 points and 12 rebounds at Duquesne (2/2/20). Croswell will provide immediate help on the boards for the Friars.
 La Salle Junior Jack Clark, 3 years eligibility (Cheltenham HS) A healthy Jack Clark is a difference make in the A10. Last season was a Medical redshirt season. In 2018-19, Clark Missed first seven games of season while recovering from injury suffered in high school. He immediately contributed on the offensive end when he was able to play. Clark averaged 10.6 points and 4.3 rebounds in nine games he played. But he suffered lower-body injury against George Washington in the middle of January and sat out remainder of season. Look for Clark to be among the A10 scoring leaders one he returns full-time to the court.
 Rhode Island Junior Allen Betrand, 3 years eligibility (Roman Catholic HS) Betrand was named to the All-CAA Third Team. He earned CAA Player of the Week honors for the first time in his career on Jan. 13 and was named to the All-CAA Honor Roll on Jan. 6 and 27. He led the CAA in free-throw percentage (88.6) and finished 11th in scoring (13.6) and 13th in 3-point field goal percentage (38.7). Betrand started all 32 games and averaged 28.9 minutes. He was second on the Tigers in scoring and 3-pointers made with 46.
 George Washington Sophomore Jameer Nelson, Jr, 4 years eligibility (Haverford School) One of the most explosive athletes in the nation, Nelson Played in all 31 games and made 28 starts in his first season. He finished fourth on the team in scoring and second among freshmen team with 10.4 points per game. Nelson led the team with 1.8 steals per game. Nelson dropped a season-high 22 points on 8-of-10 from the field with six rebounds against Saint Joseph’s (1/25). Look for him to emerge as an all-league level player this season.
 La Salle Senior David Beatty, 2 years eligibility (Archbishop Carroll) Beatty was All-Big 5 Second Team. A big part of the resurgence in the Explorer program, Beatty led the club in scoring with 10.7 points per game. He played in all 30 games, starting 19. Beatty will be called upon to lead a young group of Explorers this season.
 Hartford Grad Student Traci Carter, 1 year eligibility (Life Center) Carter has had an interesting career. He started 19 out of 33 games as a freshman at Marquette. He averaged 5.4 ppg, 4.6 apg and 1.4 spg. He transferred to La Salle 8 games into his sophomore season. After sitting a year, Carter started 30 out of 31 games for La Salle. He averaged 6.4 ppg, 3.3 apg and 1.8 spg. After graduating from La Salle, Carter enrolled in graduate school at the University of Hartford. Last season, Carter averaged 9.7 ppg, 4.9 apg and 2.5 spg. Granted an additional year by the NCAA, Carter will be one of the best guards in the America East Conference and the unquestioned leader of the Hawks.
[19t] Penn St. Junior Izaiah Brockington, 3 years eligibility (Archbishop Ryan HS) Brockington Provided Nittany Lions with athleticism and intense defense in sixth man role. He averaged 8.1 points and 2.7 rebounds per game with 13 double-figure scoring games. IZB, as he is affectionately called, led team in scoring four times. He saved his best for the hometown crowd as he scored 15 of his career-best 23 points in the second half to lead Penn State to victory over No. 23 Iowa (1/4/20) at The Palestra.
[19t] Penn St. Senior John Harrar, 2 years eligibility (Strath Haven HS) Harrar played in all 31 games with starts in 14 of the last 15 contests. He had Nittany Lions’ best field goal percentage at 62.7 and 61.0 percent in Big Ten games. Averaged career high 17.0 minutes per game. As a sophomore, he played in all 32 games and possessed second-highest overall field goal percentage at 55.1.
 Villanova Sr Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree, 2 years eligibility (Neumann-Goretti HS) When healthy, Cosby-Roundtree is an athletic forward capable of finishing through defenders at the rim. Last season, he was dealing with lingering lower body injuries. He appeared in 29 regular season games, averaging 2.2 rebounds and 7.7 minutes per outing. That production is a significant drop from his sophomore campaign when he averaged 20.5 minutes, 5.1 points and 5.8 rebounds for the Wildcats. He started 16 games that season. Cosby-Roundtree was named the Most Outstanding Player at the 2018 AdvocCare Invitational. During that 2018-19 season, he connected on .648 of his field goal attempts and .741 of his free throw attempts. A healthy Cosby-Roundtree is a double-double threat every game.
 Arcadia Senior Da’kquan Davis, 2 years eligibility (Roman Catholic) A legitimate small college All-American candidate, Davis started 26 of 27 games played throughout his junior season. He ended the season with 1,571 career points to become the program’s all-time scoring leader. Davis was selected to the D3Hoops.com All-Region Second-team and named to the NABC All-District Second-team. He was awarded All-ECAC First-team and chosen to CoBL All-Area First-team. Received First-team All-MAC Commonwealth honors… Totaled 730 points, averaging a conference-best 27.0 points per game… Recorded 173 rebounds, 94 assists, 36 steals and five blocks… Averaged 46.5% from the field, 33.7% from behind the arc, and 80.2% from the charity stripe…
 Michigan State Freshman AJ Hoggard, 5 years eligibility (Huntington Prep) Hoggard is expected to contribute immediately. He has a BIG 10 body. Very strong for a point guard, he has height, girth and strength. Possessing excellent vision, Hoggard is an elite playmaker. He is very good at creating space to get his shot off the dribble. He’s an adequate 3-point shooter. Rebounds his position. Quality defender who gets steals. Should be an early starter at some point during his freshman year at Michigan State.
 VCU Freshman Ace Baldwin, 5 years eligibility (St. Frances Academy) After a legendary HS career in Baltimore, Baldwin arrives at VCU ready to compete for minutes right away. Baldwin possesses a lean angular frame with long reach and room for additional muscle without affecting his overall quickness. He plays with very good balance and body control, he is explosive with his initial step and he has the quickness to push the ball on the open floor. Has a great work ethic and attitude, bringing energy to the court and leadership to the locker room.
 South Alabama Freshman Jamal West, 5 years eligibility (St. Frances Academy) If you can get past the fact that he is at least 2-3 inches undersized, West has very good physical attributes. Unlike most players, though, he uses his to the fullest extent at all times. West has a D1 ready frame and a super-heros build, with very soft and strong hands, great upper and lower body strength, and a superb wingspan. He has a powerful first step and very solid ability to get off the ground and finish strong at the basket. West is essentially the prototype for what most coaches look for in a player. He is fundamentally sound, tough as nails, and incredibly hard-working; always giving everything he has out on the floor, showing superb confidence in himself, but usually playing strictly up to his strengths.
 Kentucky Freshman Lance Ware, 5 years eligibility (Camden, NJ) Ware combines power forward size and strength, with wing ball-handling and passing skills. He possesses the size, physical gifts and skill to defend four or five positions at the Division 1 level. Ware is ideal for the emphasis on “positionless basketball.” Highly unselfish, team oriented player. Will find his way into the rotation early at Kentucky.
 Notre Dame Freshman Elijah Taylor, 5 years eligibility (Imhotep, CHS) At the high school level, Taylor had the upper body strength to deny almost anyone vying for position on the block. He contested every shot he could reach. He was very good at positioning himself to guard drop steps and up and under moves in the paint. These are all attributes that should lead to early playing time for Taylor. He’s a very good help defender, possessing great timing and anticipation when blocking shots from the weak side. Look for Taylor to play significant minutes because he has good enough foot speed to hedge pick and rolls effectively and guard small players when forced to switch. He always boxes out. He grabs rebounds outside of his area with regularity. Never takes possessions off, which makes him a nightmare to have to score on. Look for him early and often for the fighting Irish.
 Maryland Sophomore Hakim Hart, 4 years eligibility (Roman Catholic HS) Stronger and more confident, Hart sill be a key factor for the Terrapins this season. He appeared in 18 games as a reserve guard in season cut short (no postseason) due to coronavirus pandemic. He helped lead Maryland to 2020 Big Ten Championship. Hart averaged 1.6 points in 6.3 mins of action during the season and matched season-high with 13 minutes of action against Rutgers (3/3). He scored 5 points against Michigan State (2/29) … posted season-highs with 7 points and 3 assists vs. Oakland (11/16) … made collegiate debut against Holy Cross (11/5) and knocked down a 3-pointer.
 La Salle Sophomore Christian Ray, 4 years eligibility (Haverford School) Ray was an impact freshman who saw action in all 30 games, making eight starts. He averaged 4.5 points and 5.0 rebounds per game and grabbed six or more rebounds 13 times, including three games with 10 or more. Scored career-best 15 points in win over FDU. Season-high three steals at Penn… Had six points and 10 rebounds, including four at the offensive end, in win over St. Bonaventure… Closed season on strong note with 13-point, 11-rebound outing at Saint Joseph’s.
 New Mexico State Sophomore Wil McNair, 4 years eligibility (Martin L. King HS) Saw time exclusively as a reserve during his first season of deployment…Took part in 28 of the team’s 31 games and averaged 1.8 points, 1.6 rebounds and 0.1 assists in 8.2 minutes per game…Shot .583/.000/.636…Ranked second on the team in blocked shots (12)…Debuted in style by coming up with season-highs in points (11), rebounds (seven), field goals made (four), field goals attempted (five), free throws made (three) and free throw attempts (four) in a season-high 17 minutes during the team’s season-opening home victory over Western New Mexico (11/5)…Posted two blocked shots on three occasions, the first coming during a non-conference home win over longtime rival UTEP (12/3)…Helped the Aggies capture their third-consecutive WAC regular season title while ending the season in a 19-game winning streak that ranked as the second-longest in the nation.
 NJIT Junior Booty Butler, 3 years eligibility (Cardinal O’Hara HS) Played two seasons at Austin Peay, starting 37 games over his freshman and sophomore campaign…helped lead the Governors to 22 wins in 2018-19 and 21 victories in 2019-20…averaged more than 27 minutes per game as a sophomore, scoring 6.4 points per game and dishing out 3.3 assists per game…scored a career-high 14 points at West Virginia on December 12, 2019…tallied career-best nine assists vs. McKendree on December 19, 2019.
 Texas A&M, Corpus Christi Junior Cyrie Coates, 3 years eligibility (Overbrook HS) Averaged 11.0 points, 7.3 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 2.2 steals in 31 games in 2019-20 for the Community College of Beaver County…played for coach Bryen Spriggs and helped the team to a No. 4 national ranking.
 Cal-Bakersfield Sophomore Ray Somerville, 4 years eligibility (Shipley HS) Physically imposing, good athlete, Somerville spent a redshirt year working on all aspects of his game. Expected to contribute immediately as a first year player.
 Coppin State Junior Justin Steers, 3 years eligibility (RockTop Academy) MEAC All-Rookie Team…Played in 28 games and made one start while averaging 13.5 minutes per game… Averaged 6.0 points and 3.2 rebounds while finishing second on the team with 25 blocks to go with 12 assists and 17 steals… Made team-high 52.9% of his field goals (63-119) along with 5-of-20 3-pointers and 38-of-66 (57.6%) free throws… Scored in double figures six times, including a season-high 17 points on 6-of-9 shooting and 5-of-5 free throws in win over Bethune-Cookman (1/28)… Also scored 16 points at Rider (11/19) and 13 at Louisiana Monroe (12/21)… Had a huge MEAC Tournament where he averaged 12.0 points, 6.0 rebounds and 3.0 blocks while making 9-of-11 shots.
 St. Joseph’s Freshman Jordan Hall, 5 years eligibility (Neumann-Goretti HS) Hall is a highly skilled and unselfish wing. He will help Ryan Daly and the Hawks with his passing and rebounding. Led Neumann Goretti to a 45-13 record as a junior and senior…Named First Team All-Catholic and First Team 3A All-State as a senior after leading his team to the Catholic League Championship…Competed for Cardinal O’Hara as a sophomore and Middle Township as a freshman.
 Bucknell Freshman Deuce Turner, 5 years eligibility (Neumann-Goretti HS) Turner enjoyed a stellar high school career at Malvern Prep, where he became the all-time leading scorer in the history of the Inter-Ac League and one of the top scorers in Philadelphia high school annals with 2,452 points. In 2020, Turner was named Pennsylvania 5A State Player of the Year. He averaged 25.1 points per game as a senior, leading his team to a school-record 27 wins and 10-0 league mark.
 La Salle Freshman Jhamir Brickus, 5 years eligibility (Coatesville HS) One of the top scorers in the state of Pennsylvania, registered 2,531 career points for Coatesville Area High School… Two-time Pennsylvania State Writers Association Class 6A All-State First Team honoree… Averaged 23.1 points per game as a senior, bettering John Allen (Seton Hall) to became Coatesville Area’s all-time leading scorer… Team went 20-8 record, tying West Chester East for first place in the Ches-Mont League National Division during the regular season… In final high school game, scored 26 points in a 81-75 loss to Roman Catholic in the first round of the PIAA Class 6A tournament.
 St. Joseph’s Sophomore Dahmir Bishop, 4 years eligibility (Imhotep CHS) Appeared in 10 games, averaging 1.6 points and 2.5 rebounds over 12 minutes per contest…Had four points, seven rebounds and three assists in his collegiate debut against Jacksonville…Finished with four points and seven rebounds in a season-best 23 minutes versus Siena. High School/Personal: Named a Pennsylvania Sports Writers Class AAAA First Team All-State selection as a junior and senior…Averaging 12 points and 5.5 rebounds per game as a senior captain, led Imhotep to its third PIAA Class 4A state championship and the Philadelphia Public League title…Played on three consecutive league and state title teams.
 Marist Freshman Hakim Byrd, 5 years eligibility (Neumann-Goretti HS) A classic Philly guard, Byrd is quick, tough and smart. Byrd shined scholastically at Neumann-Goretti High School in Philadelphia. In his high school career, his team won four district championships, two state titles, and one Philadelphia Catholic League crown. In his senior season, Byrd earned First Team All-Catholic League and Class 3A Second Team All-State honors as he averaged 14.6 points, 3.1 assists, 2.1 rebounds, and 1.6 steals per game for a team which went 24-4. Byrd built off a junior season in which he averaged 12.5 points per game while shooting 47 percent from the field and 36 percent from three-point range. He was a Second Team All-Catholic selection who boasted a 2-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio.
 St. Frances (PA) Freshman Zahree Harrison, 5 years eligibility (Cheltenham HS) Coming off a knee surgery that robbed him of his senior season in high school, Harrison is anxious to return to competition. He was a three-year letterwinner as the point guard at Cheltenham after earning a letter at Archbishop Wood his freshman year and a two-time captain at Cheltenham. He was the only sophomore to be selected as All-League in 2017-18 when he was selected to the third team and was the only junior to be selected to the All-League First Team in 2018-19.
 Quinnipiac Sophomore Seth Pinkney, 4 years eligibility Pinkney played in all 30 games, making one start as a freshman. He recorded 3.0 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game over 11.2 minutes. He finished the season third in MAAC in total blocked shots (43). Registered season-high eight points in collegiate debut at Brown (11/13), adding four rebounds in 21 minutes. He added six points and season-best eight rebounds vs. Niagara (1/10)
 Drexel Junior Tim Perry, Jr., 3 years eligibility. Perry appeared in 22 games last season for Drexel, playing 165 minutes which came to 7.5 minutes per contest. He scored 16 points and contributed 39 rebounds. As a freshman, he played in 27 games with the Dragons and had one starting assignment…averaged more than 11 minutes per game off the bench…shot .698 from the floor (30-for-43)…averaged 2.3 points and 3.1 rebounds.
 Lincoln University Junior Bernard Lightsey, 3 years eligibility. Lightsey played in 17 games with 16 starts last season. He led the team with 17.4 points per game, while shooting 40.9 percent (92-of-225) from the floor … despite missing 12 games, still connected on team-high 59 three-pointers (59-of-137; 43.1 percent) and added 51 assists. He reached double figures in 15 of 17 games and dropped season-high 32 points in his return to the court (12/19/19; vs Fayetteville State) … dished out season-high 10 assists (1/20/20; Elizabeth City State) … pulled down season-high five rebounds (2/22/20; at Bowie State).
 Central Connecticut State University Junior Karrington Wallace, 3 years eligibility (Archbishop Wood HS) Last season, Wallace played in 21 games and made 18 starts, averaging 5.0 points and 3.1 rebounds. In conference play, he ranked 15th with 0.8 blocked shots. He ranked second on the team with 19 blocked shots. Shot team-best .464 from the field…Shot .737 at the foul line…Scored a career-high 13 points against Wagner (1/25) and posted four blocked shots…Grabbed a career-high 10 rebounds at St. John’s (11/9)…Had a season-high two assists against Fairleigh Dickinson (2/18)…Had two steals in opener against Hartford (11/5).
 Quinnipiac Junior Tyree Pickron, 3 years eligibility Last season, Pickron Played in 14 games, scoring 4.1 points to go along with 1.6 rebounds per game off the bench. He made his season debut vs. Fairfield (1/24), recording three points, three assists and two rebounds. He recorded 10 points and three rebounds at Saint Peter’s (2/14), then chipped in with eight points and three rebounds at Rider (2/16). Closed season with nine points at Fairfield (2/28), five points vs. Marist (3/1) and eight points vs. Iona (3/4) As a freshman, he played in 28 total games and averaged 2.1 points and 10.0 minutes per game.
 Bucknell Junior Andrew Funk, 3 years eligibility. Selected to 2020 Academic All-Patriot League Team … played in 33 games with 32 starts in the backcourt … missed one game due to illness … 4th on the team in scoring at 10.8 ppg … also averaged 3.9 rpg, 1.7 apg … shot 39.1 FG%, 30.2 3FG%, 70.6 FT% … led the team with 169 3FGA … scored in double figures 21 times … ranked 22nd in the Patriot League in scoring and 8th in minutes played (32.6 mpg) …
 Georgia Highlands Langston Wilson Sophomore Langston Wilson, 3 years eligibility Committed to Alabama, Wilson is a phenomenal athlete who certainly looks the part of a NBA wing. He measures in at 6’9 with a 7’+ wingspan and possesses elite-level quickness, leaping ability and explosiveness. In order to compete against SEC players on a nightly basis, he will quickly need to fill out his lanky frame. He uses his incredible athletic gifts to make an impact in the open court. He was a force on the break by using his quickness to leak out or fill lanes to get to the rim for a dunk. He isn’t yet comfortable handling the ball in transition but instead prefers to give the ball up to a guard and look for a lob pass back. His physical tools are on full display in transition, as he can beat the defense down the floor and sky for highlight reel caliber alley-oops, including corralling passes that look like sure-fire turnovers.
 Rider Sophomore Chris Ings, 4 years eligibility. Ings was one of six players on the team to play in all 30 games, including 18 starts. He averaged 4.9 points, 1.9 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game, posting a 1.2 assist-to-turnover ratio. He posted double-figures scoring in six games. Posted season-highs of 15 points and six rebounds at Canisius (Jan. 19), hitting 5-of-8 attempts from the floor, including 2-of-3 from long range. Contributed 14 points in a season-high 36 minutes against Iona (Jan. 10)
 Rider Sophomore Allen Powell, 4 years eligibility. Powell played in 25 games off the bench, averaging 8.8 minutes per game. He established season highs in points (nine) and minutes (25) at UMass (Nov. 20), hitting 3-of-6 three-point field goals. Dished out a season-high three assists at Delaware State (Nov. 8) Added six points against Canisius (Feb. 7)
 Abilene Christian Senior Makhi Morris, 2 years eligibility. Morris appeared in 17 games, making one start. Unfortunately, he suffered season-ending injury prior to game at SHSU. Had two double-digit scoring efforts and averaged 3.8 ppg and 1.6 rpg.
 Lincoln University Senior Markus Stevenson, 2 years eligibility. Stevenson played in 28 games with four starts for the Lions. He averaged 4.7 points and 4.0 rebounds. He scored season-high 11 points (12/7; at Livingstone) and grabbed a season-high 12 rebounds (12/3; Millersville)
September 14, 2020 (Camden, NJ) – Black Cager Sports is proud to announce the dates, location and some of the participating teams for the 2020 Awesome Fall Classic. More than 60 teams representing grassroots clubs, AAU programs and high schools from across the mid-Atlantic region will hit the hardwood at Millersville University for the two-day event from Saturday, October 10 to Sunday, October 11.
“We feel this year may be the best since the Fall Classic started in 2016. The quality and the depth of the talent is exceptional and will lead to exciting games as some of the best high school players in the country have the chance to showcase their abilities. Seeing Temple, UConn, Villanova and LaSalle as destinations for some of the players, says a lot about the quality of competition,” said Delgreco Wilson, Founder of the Black Cager Fall Classic Series. The Fall Classic has hosted many future college superstars over the years. The most recent wave of talent has included Collin Gillespie (All-Big East/Villanova), Eric Dixon (Redshirt Freshman/Villanova), Donta Scott (Sophomore Starter/Maryland), Seth Lundy (Sophomore Starter/Penn State), Isaiah Wong (Sophomore Starter/Miami), Ace Baldwin (Freshman/VCU) and Jhamir Brickus (Freshman/La Salle).
The full schedule, with start times for all 72 games, will be listed in early October.
Team Registration is underway. Send text to 856-366-0992 or email to email@example.com requesting registration forms.
This year’s event will feature nationally ranked teams and plenty of top 100 high major prospects from the mid-Atlantic region and beyond. Some of the top players as rated in the latest ESPN rankings include:• Nanna Njoku (#93 c/o 2021, Sanford, Villanova) • Julian Reese (#73 c/o 2021, St. Frances, Maryland) • Rahsool Diggins (#69 c/o 2021, Archbishop Wood, UConn. Other Mid-High Major confirmed participants include Hysier Miller ‘21 (Neumann-Goretti, Temple commit), Alassane Amadou ’22 (McDevitt. SJU, Drexel, La Salle offers). Additionally, the Fall Classic looks to welcome several new teams to the event.
Back to participate in his fourth Fall Classic is a certified Philly legend in the making. Rahsool Diggins, returns for his senior season after establishing himself as a consensus top 100 player over the past couple years. The nation’s 69th ranked player, according to ESPN, has committed to UConn. Maryland, has a commitment from Julian Reese in the Class of 2021. Reese makes it a total of three Fall Classic players commiting to Mark Turgeon the last three years. Locally, this season’s event welcomes several of the top teams in the states of Pennsylvania and New Jersey, including Archbishop Ryan, MCS, Constitution, Lincoln, West Catholic, Neumann-Goretti and Camden.
The Awesome Fall Classic will run two sessions – 9 am to 8pm Saturday and 9 am to 5 pm Sunday. “Every year, we get very excited to have our basketball program to participate in an event with such strong competition,” said St. Frances Academy Head Coach, Nick Myles. “The Fall Classic gives us an opportunity to play against some of the top programs in the country. This will prepare us for the long season ahead.”
Black Cager Sports and the Awesome Camp have brought aboard The Miller Report, a regional sports marketing company, to assist with management of all event operations. The Miller Report has worked with many of the mid-Atlantic region’s leading youth basketball brands, including current working relationships with Julian Dunkley and Difference Makers.
For more information on the Awesome Fall Classic, text 856-366-0992 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Black Cager Sports was established to help scholastic student-athletes successfully transition from high school top college. Black Cager Sports also manages youth sporting events. To date, Black Cager Sports has partnered with over 20 schools, youth organizations, and basketball clubs to manage medium and large-scale basketball events.
BlackCagerTV.com amplifies student-athlete voices and prepares them for a new era in college sports with Name, Image, & Likeness. We want student-athletes to use BlackCagerTV.com to be proactive in properly monetizing their social media presence as the NCAA moves closer and closer to allowing athletes of all sports to profit off of their name, image, and likeness rights.
Joe Biden’s selection of Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate on the Democratic ticket has triggered severe anxiety and uncontrollable thoughts among many Black men. For these men, the rise of this highly qualified, uniquely experienced and politically ambitious AKA from Howard University is a traumatic event. As evidenced by the relentless onslaught of attacks levied against the sister, the brothers are experiencing difficulty adjusting and coping with her being placed on the Democratic ticket.
As a result, these brothers will be of no use in the struggle to remove the candidate endorsed by the alt-right, neo-nazis and the KKK from the office of President of the United States.
The hope is that with time and good self-care, these brothers will get better. However, the competence, self-assurance and searing intellect Senator Harris will display over the next three months will likely make the symptoms worse. Should the Biden/Harris ticket emerge victorious, the anxiety and uncontrollable thoughts could last for months or even years. The reality of President Biden and Vice-President Harris will interfere with the day-to-day political functioning of these Black men.
In a very real sense, these Black men are politically disabled. Their disability is characterized by below-average political intelligence or political ability and a lack of skills necessary for day-to-day political engagement. These Black men have developed positive feelings towards the explicitly racist/white supremacist administration of the current President. They exhibit a persistent refusal to cooperate with progressive forces and other social movements unless they are led by racist/white supremacists tied to or endorsed by the current administration.
Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, politically disabled Black men believe in the humanity of the current administration because they do not perceive the current President as a threat when Black people hold the same values as the administration. It should be noted that politically disabled Black can and do learn political skills, but they learn them much more slowly than non-disabled Black men.
Hard head makes a soft ass…
Political disabilities among Black men strike their friends and family members much harder than it does the disabled Black man himself. Because of the personality difficulties and problems of adjustment of the politically disabled Black man, many friends and family members consider their lives to be miserable during election season.
However, while some friends and family members ignore politically disabled Black men, others go out of their way to help him to the extent of overprotecting him. This, on the contrary, makes politically disabled men completely unfit to learn or achieve anything.
Their friends and family members therefore should be properly trained as how to handle the politically disabled Black men. No doubt the politically disabled Black man should be given proper love and affection. But this should not amount to something like overprotection and overindulgence. The friends and family members must be sympathetic but at the same time they should be strong on certain points.
Every effort should be undertaken to redirect politically self-destructive behavior. When politically disabled Black men affirm their support for Donald Trump, friends and family members should refer to the case of Herman Cain. Cain, Black male supporter of Trump, attended his rally in Tulsa, refused to wear a mask and did not practice social distancing. Days after the rally, Cain was hospitalized with coronavirus. Within weeks, Cain was dead.
Should the Black men continue to exhibit politically disabled behaviors, friends and family members can refer them to documentation of Trump’s father’s arrest at a Ku Klux Klan rally in the 1920’s.
Evidence of his refusal to rent to qualified Black tenets and his signed agreement to not discriminate in 1975 should be cited.
The unwritten policy of removing Black employees from the floor of Trump casinos whenever he visited should also be mentioned.
Politically disabled Black men should be required to read the full page ad Trump took out calling for the “death penalty” for the Central Park 5. At the same time they should read Trump’s statement that he still believes they are guilty despite the confession of the actual rapist and DNA evidence exonerating the Central Park 5.
Politically disabled Black men must be required to review documentation of the $200,000 fine Trump paid for transferring Blacks off tables to accommodate racist gamblers.
Trump’s central role in perpetuating the false and patently racist rumor that President Barack Obama wasn’t born in the United States should be examined closely. His persistent questioning of President Obama’s academic credentials should also be reviewed.
If, after these interventions, politically disabled Black men remain in the Trump camp, friends and family members can share the litany of racist statements made and bigoted actions and policy decisions taken since Trump has occupied 1600 Black Live Matter Blvd.
If after these all of these interventions, the politically disabled Black man still remains in support of Trump or his political minion, Kanye Kardashian and steadfast in his opposition of the Biden/Harris ticket, the friends and family members must look the man squarely in his eyes, forcefully say “fuck you… you coon ass muthafucka” and walk away never to engage him politically again.
Philly is a tough sports town… Fans want success and they want it yesterday…
It can be a very difficult place to establish a playing or coaching career. Thirty years ago, a hard-nosed, no-frills guard emerged on the basketball landscape and led Simon Gratz High School to the Public League championship with a 26-4 record.
That season, his last year playing for legendary high school coach, Bill Ellerbee,Aaron McKie averaged 18.9 points, 9.9 rebounds and 7.2 assists per game. Despite his incredibly well-rounded game and his accomplishments in what was then one of the premier scholastic leagues in America, McKie wasn’t highly recruited.
But he got the offer he wanted…
Even though McKie was unable to meet NCAA freshman eligibility requirements, Temple’s Hall of Fame coach, John Chaney gave him a scholarship and patiently waited for McKie’s sophomore year to put him on the court for the Owls.
As they say, the rest is history… McKie finished his three-year career tied for sixth on the Owl’s all-time scoring list with 1,650 points. Once eligible, McKie never came off the court, averaging 17.9 points per game while starting all 92 games. He teamed up with eventual NBA All-Star Eddie Jones at Temple, and was named first-team All-A10 and he was named to the A-10 all-tournament team as a senior. As a junior, he was the 1993 A10 Player of the Year, after averaging 20.6 points per game.
Fast forward 30 years… After a strong 14 year NBA playing career, McKie finds himself at the helm of the Owl program. Coming off an inaugural season that saw his squad post a subpar record of 14-17, McKie is looking to instill some of that Philly toughness he was known for as collegian.
Today, McKie accepted a commitment from his first Philadelphia player as head coach of the Owls. Hysier Miller, a rising senior for the reigning Philadelphia Catholic League Catholic League Champion Neumann-Goretti Saints has stated that he will play college basketball on North Broad Street. Miller chose the Owls over Penn, Penn State, East Carolina and Rider, among others.
The Liacouris Center is a 10 minute drive from Miller’s Wilson Park neighborhood in South Philadelphia. For the uninitiated, Wilson Park is the decidedly NON-GENTRIFIED section of South Philly. He lives a mere stone’s throw from I-76. It’s a neighborhood that has experienced far more than it’s fair share of violence and mayhem in recent years.
Miller has seen some of his friends and family members succumb to the lure of the streets. Through it all, he has managed to maintain a clear focus on his educational, vocational and athletic goals.
Upon transferring to Neumann-Goretti prior to his junior season, Miller stated that he would bring the Catholic League crown back to South Philly… Done.
As he worked his way through the recruiting process, Miller established a strong relationship with Temple Assistant coach, Chris Clark. He worked extremely hard to get this commitment done… The last Philadelphia Catholic League player to suit up for the Owls, Clark really zeroed in on Miller. The phone calls and texts were relentless. Miller was the guy Clark really wanted. Over time, their relationship grew much stronger. Miller was also impressed by the direct, no sugar coating personal interaction style of Coach McKie.
Miller has a very large extended family. His younger siblings and little cousins look to him for guidance and direction. He actually works a few of them out everyday. During these sessions, Miller is a taskmaster… “No days off” he says.
As he weighed his options, Miller knew he wanted to play for a coach he really trusted in a high profile and highly competitive league. He also wanted to be able to share his college playing career with his mother, aunts, siblings and cousins that have supported him along the way.
Temple is his choice.
The first Philly kid to commit to Head Coach Aaron McKie is the personification of Temple TUFF!
Hysier Miller will look to defend the best opposing player… He will take no plays off… He will not unnecessarily dribble between his legs and behind his back… He will make the plays at the right time… He will help Temple win basketball games…
Shit… In so many ways, he reminds a lot of a kid from ‘Norf’ Philly that arrived on Broad Street 30 years ago..
That worked out pretty good for the Owl program… So will this commitment.
In 2016, America reacted to the close of the first presidential administration led by a Black man by placing a reality TV star, Donald Trump, in the White House. By any reasonable measure, the host of “The Apprentice” has failed to adequately deal with the public health crisis caused by coronavirus pandemic that overwhelmed the mid-Atlantic region in the first half of 2020 and continues to advance through the South and mid-West with relentless verve.
Coronavirus is kicking our American asses! It reminds me of the Dream Team’s blowout of Somalia. Just like the African nation on the court, the USA led by “Coach” Trump is offering very little resistance.
Coronavirus has grabbed America by the pussy…
This situation could conceivably create pockets of athletic “refugees.” Recently, Maryland joined six other states with the District of Columbia, to move its fall season to the New Year. Unless, all 50 states and Washington, D.C. follow suit, scholarship level HS student-athletes have a tough choice to make.
If a football or basketball player in Maryland or Washington, D.C. has received “interest” from NCAA Division 1 or Division 2 programs but no offers, they feel immense pressure to perform in scholastic contests to prove themselves worthy of a scholarship. If they have offers from low major D1 programs or D2 programs, they feel pressure to prove themselves worthy of mid to high major offers.
The horrendous handling of the coronavirus pandemic by the Trump administration resulted has resulted in tremendous uncertainty in all facets of American life, including scholastic sports.
On February 26, President Trump boasted that the coronavirus was about to disappear altogether from the United States. “You have 15 people, and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero.”
As of August 15, there have been 4,793,950 confirmed cases and 157,416 deaths.
People are justifiably shook… State governors and state sanctioning bodies have been forced to develop strategies and policies to deal with a NATIONAL crisis. They are performing admirably in their attempts to fill the void resulting from the breathtaking absence of Presidential leadership as the United States limps through the largest public health crisis in a century.
However, it should be noted that the absence of federal leadership has resulted in 50 different intervention strategies. The variation among the responses is significant. Some states have postponed Fall and Winter sports until 2021. Others are committed to fielding teams and having them play as if the coronavirus crisis has subsided.
District of Columbia — Per July 16 announcement, the District of Columbia State Athletic Association has postponed interscholastic activities until January 2021. Under this plan, winter season practices would begin Dec. 14 with games coming Jan. 4. Postponed fall sports would begin practicing Feb. 1 with games getting underway Feb. 22.
Maryland — The Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association (MPSSAA) announced Aug. 3 that football along with all its fall and winter sports will be moved to a hybrid two-semester plan starting in 2021. The exact plan for how it will fit into the two semesters is still being worked on, but Maryland joined six other states with the District of Columbia, to move its fall season to the New Year. According to a MPSSAA news release, the new plan will be made available in the next couple of weeks.
Now… the parents of D.C. or Maryland student-athletes face a choice. Let’s assume their child has been contacted by college coaches interested in following him/her and perhaps offering an athletic scholarship. Thanks to the inept response of the occupant at 1600 Black Lives Matter Blvd., spring and summer organized sports activities have been abrogated.
No basketball playoffs… No grassroots/AAU events… No 7 on 7 football… No combines…
The NCAA implemented a “dead period” in March. It looks as if it will extend through the fall… No face to face recruiting… No live evaluation of players…
Athletic scholarships are worth anywhere from $200,000 to $320,000 depending on the school. That’s a nice chunk of change… These kids have invested years of training, practice and conditioning for this moment and it’s suddenly taken away.
What if the pandemic deepens? The schedule set for January 2021 may not come to fruition. What if they just cancel sports altogether?
Do D.C. and Maryland parents send their kids to play in Pennsylvania where games are scheduled to take place? Even if there are no fans, the video can be shared with college coaches looking to fill out rosters.
If Drexel told the kid they want to evaluate him in high school games, does he move to another state to make it happen. Drexel costs north of $80,000 per year. A Maryland kid could come play in the Philadelphia Catholic League or Division A of the Public League and prove himself worthy of the $320K schollie… Or, he could wait, hope and take the chance that the pandemic will subside and their current schools will have sports in the spring.
While driving on I-95 last weekend, I saw a “caravan” of a couple hundred fit, lean and athletic 17-18 year olds walking on the side of the road. They were headed north towards Philadelphia.
Elections have consequences… The next one is November 3, 2020.
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.
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. JasonYoung 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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
In the midst of one of the wildest years in recent memory, some shit just makes sense… We’ll see if Hysier agrees…