Understanding New Rules: The End of “One-and-Done”

Black Cager Sports Media takes pride in our ability to disseminate important information to the youth, high school and collegiate basketball communities in the Mid-Atlantic Region. We are starting a new series of essays, “Understanding New Rules.” The aim, as always, is to help parents, student-athletes, coaches and other stakeholders make better informed decisions regarding their educational futures.

In the first essay, we delve into one of the most widely publicized aspects of the “New Rules” outlined in the Rice Commission Report submitted to the NCAA.

End of One-and-Done
“Elite high school players with NBA prospects and no interest in a college degree should not be “forced” to attend college, often for less than a year. These uniquely talented players are the focus of agents, apparel companies, investment advisors, college coaches and other seeking to profit from their skills and offering them cash and other benefits in hope of future gain. If they are allowed to turn professional, some of the pressure on the collegiate model will be reduced.”

Rice Commission Report

Those of us of a certain age can understand what the Rice Commission means by “the pressures on the collegiate model.” Like elsewhere, in college basketball, money is at the root of all evil.

What’s important to note is that this ain’t no new shit! The NCAA has been aware of this “pressure” for decades…

This particular “New Rule” only impacts “uniquely talented” players… Not good HS players… Not great HS players… Just “uniquely talented” players…

The jump from scholastic basketball to the NBA is HUGE… Only a select few over the past six decades or so have been able to make the jump successfully…

In the greater Philadelphia area, we tend to produce one of these players every 5-10 years… Wilt Chamberlain, Gene Banks, Rasheed Wallace, Kobe Bryant, Eddie Griffin and Cam Reddish immediately come to mind as guys that would have been high NBA draft picks right after prom. That’s a pretty short list…

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Gene Banks, #1 HS Player in the Nation at West Philadelphia HS

But when such a talent emerges, “the pressures” as the NCAA euphemistically calls them are well documented.

Forty-four years ago, “uniquely talented” young man from Petersburg, Virginia put ENORMOUS pressure on the collegiate model.

Shit was out of control!

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Moses Malone at Peterburg HS

After his junior year, Moses Malone made the trek to Howard Garfinkel’s Five-Star camp where he dominated… Garfinkel gave Malone 5 full stars and stated that his potential was to “infinity.” As a senior Malone was recruited by more than 200 colleges. Envelopes addressed to his uncle containing $1,000 were commonplace. One day a brand new Chrysler Imperial magically appeared with the keys in from of the Malone home.

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1974 Chrysler Imperial

Never really a serious student, Malone received straight A’s as a senior and managed to barley meet the minimum requirements for accepting an athletic scholarship.

Moses put real “pressure” on the collegiate model!

It was commonly understood that Malone required $200 to even consider making a visit to any college campus.

An assistant coach from New Mexico lived at the Petersburg Howard Johnson’s for more than two months while stalking Malone. Maryland’s tab at the Petersburg Holiday Inn surpassed $20,000.

In an extremely poor neighborhood of homes with no paint, no grass on the lawns… The Malones had a new floor model television, new carpeting and new furniture. They were also the only home in the area with an air conditioner in the window.

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Moses Malone as an ABA Rookie

Very rare are boys that can play with the best men in the world… Like mythological unicorns…

The NCAA has openly acknowledged that the collegiate model isn’t built to withstand the pressures surrounding these young men.

Darryl Dawkins, Bill Willoughby, Shawn Kemp, Kevin Garnett, Jermaine O’Neal, Tracy McGrady, Amare Stoudemire, LeBron James, Dwight Howard, Sebastian Telfair, J.R. Smith, Monta Ellis and Louis Williams were “uniquely talented.”

While Philly produces an abundance of college basketball prospects, straight to the NBA prospects are seldom seen…

Truth be told… Philly-based AAU/Grassroots Coaches/Directors tend to wage intense, friendship testing battles over low to mid-major D1 prospects…

But just in case another unicorn appears on the horizon, the basketball community should be well-versed in the rules…

The end of the “One-and-Done” era is fast approaching…

How will we know when another unicorn appears? Just look for the sports agents, NBA scouts, apparel companies, investment advisors and HIGH-MAJOR college coaches… They will ALL be at the games…

Putting PRESSURE on the young man and his family…

 

 

 

 

 

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The Rise of $$$ and the Erosion of Boundaries in Youth Basketball

“For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”
Timothy 6:10

Because money has become central to youth sports at an elite level, grown men involved with the game today are unwilling to say “no” to kids… men are unwilling to establish boundaries with kids for fear that they will leave the programs…

Because money has become central to youth sports, men encourage kids to lie, deceive and be disloyal…

The centrality of money negatively impacts the culture of youth sports, especially basketball…

To argue that Philadelphia’s basketball culture has not deteriorated or that the deterioration is not related to the increased presence of money in nonsensical… Indeed, I would argue the respect for boundaries and money are inversely correlated… The more money involved, the less respect for boundaries.

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Moreover, and perhaps more importantly, the erosion of boundaries within Philadelphia’s Black basketball community has emerged as a social problem. Most of us have cringed after reading a kid described as a “bum, trash, hoagie or even a pussy” by grown men on facebook or twitter. It is not uncommon to hear parents, friends or ol’ heads ruthlessly attack referees and coaches during games. Doesn’t matter the venue… Collegiate, scholastic, grassroots or youth levels it happens everywhere the game is played these days.

Adult males text and “slide in the DMs” of 13-14 year old boys on a regular basis… Sometimes they contact these boys multiple times a day, everyday for months at a time…

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Many may think of these blatant boundary crossing incidents as the actions of a few isolated rogue individuals. In this way, these behaviors are attributed to some personal fault or pathology in the adult or the kid and the parents, or all of them. In other words, if the parents “want the attention” then the issue is a personal problem affecting only a few “abnormal” situations.

However, those immersed in Philadelphia’s basketball community know full well that these are not isolated incidents. These behaviors have emerged as the new norm. Boundary crossing behaviors occurs so frequently… SHIT HAPPENS SO MUCH… it is no longer a private matter, but rather a public issue. It has also become much more difficult to attribute its causes to the personal defects of a few bad apples in the basketball community. So why is this happening?

The causes grow out of important shifts in the structure and resulting culture of the basketball community itself. Understanding the proliferation of boundary crossing behaviors, requires an assessment of how personal experiences are shaped by social factors built into the basketball community in which we all operate.

The past 15 years or so have witnessed the ascent of elite travel grassroots basketball clubs with the Philadelphia basketball community. Guys like Lonnie Lowry (K-Low Elite), Kamal Yard (Philly Pride), Terrell Myers (WeRone Hoops), Rob Brown (Team Final) and Paul Gripper (Team Phenom) have at various times assembled groups of highly talented youngsters and barnstormed across the country with varying degrees of success. The opportunity to play in very nice venues against the top players in the country is, understandably, very attractive to youngsters and their parents.

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There are many positive aspects to the travel team experience. More than ever, Philadelphia kids get an opportunity to been seen by coaches from different parts of the country. In one weekend, a young man can play in front of 300-500 Division 1 coaches. In recent, years several Philadelphia area players have completed their senior HS season with no Division 1 and picked up 15 or more offers in April-May based solely on their performance in AAU/Grassroots events. There is undeniably a lot of good!

But what are some of the social costs associated with rise of elite travel ball in our community?

The erosion of boundaries within the Philadelphia basketball community has accompanied the shift away from recreation center-based, neighborhood focused youth basketball programs.

Everyone is scrambling for a spot on a sponsored team…

Elite travel basketball at the highest levels is fully funded by major athletic shoe companies (Nike, Adidas and Under Armour). These public traded multi-billion dollar companies have each established separate summer “circuits” where their teams compete against one another.

The sponsored clubs typically have have 2 or 3 teams that are “fully sponsored.” The shoe companies pay the costs associated with travel, lodging, feeding and clothing these clubs as they traverse from city to city playing in front of college coaches eager to evaluate and gain access to the finest players.

As evidenced by the high profile scandals involving NBA Agents, financial advisors and coaches at Louisville, Arizona, Auburn and South Carolina… Shit gets tricky when thousands of dollars are involved.

The budgets for sponsored teams can range anywhere from $75,000 to $200,000+ for team loaded with potential NBA players.

The insertion of money has resulted in a massive change in the culture. The mere existence of an opportunity to profit has resulted in men violating and regularly trampling boundaries that were once firmly established.

Shit done changed…

At the core of it, one has to question the continued existence of the all important adult/child distinction… Organizations like the Sonny Hill Community Involvement League was run by a core of dedicated volunteers. Men like James Flint, Claude Gross, Tee Shields, Fred Douglas, Tee Parham and Vince Miller were former great high school players committed to developing young men into responsible adults. The teams were neighborhood-based and in most case you had to earn your way onto the team.

There was no money involved for the coaches… There were no flights across country to Los Angeles or Las Vegas… No all expenses paid trips to Chicago, Orlando or Atlanta.

Just a game against Germantown on North Broad Street at McGonigle.

These MEN were not going to compromise their values. For what? They were willing to confront disruptive parents… They were willing to dismiss unruly players…

“Get the fuck out of my gym with that bullshit” was a fairly common refrain amongst these guys…

The Philadelphia basketball community controlled the spaces dedicated to High School and youth basketball… This is no longer the case…

Fast forward to the contemporary era… the motivations are different… Money has negatively impacted the Philadelphia basketball culture…

Clubs, inevitably, feel pressure to attract the best collegiate prospects… Ultimately, the shoe companies want to sell shoes… The primary way they accomplish this is by having superstars wear their shoes… Kevin Durant (Nike), Lebron James (Nike), Steph Curry (Under Armour) and James Harden (Adidas) some of the biggest names.

The pressure to attract and keep talented players has resulted in a widespread compromising of values… Many in the basketball community excuse the inexcusable and forgive the unforgivable…

Times have changed for the worse…

It is impossible to imagine Claude Gross calling a 13-14 year old boy everyday begging him to play for South Philly… It’s also hard to imagine a mother and father in the 70s, 80s or 90s allowing a adult male stranger to call her son every single day for months trying to get him to play with a club…

“Leave my son the FUCK alone”… I can just imagine the responses during that era…

Today, it’s all good… Parents want their kids to play with sponsored teams so badly they allow unfettered access to boys with 8:00 pm bedtimes… WTF?

Parents want to be ranked and receive scholarship offers as early as the 9th and 10th grade… They apply incredible pressure on youth and high school coaches when they feel their child is not receiving the accolades due to him… Imagine a Dad sitting behind the bench cursing at Vince Miller about playing time for his son…

Trying to attract the best clubs and their registration fees, event promoters openly and brazenly seek to destroy business opportunities for other event organizers… Imagine Tee Parham trying to keep Fred Douglas from sponsoring a tournament…

Grassroots coaches encourage deceit, deception and disloyalty…”Fuck them, you should be over here… They ain’t taking care of you… You should leave them… Don’t tell nobody I talked to you…”

Imagine James Flint trying to steal a player from John Hardnett…

Adult fans make deeply hurtful negative public attacks on 15-18 year old boys… When kids play with another school or another grassroots program they become targets for senseless vilification… Imagine someone’s uncle writing that a kid is “bum” or “trash” in a newspaper 20 years ago…

Packs of young men and boys follow and support their friends in a socially unacceptable manner… Competition turns into strife… Crowds resort to violent assaults to resolve verbal disputes… Imagine fans at a Sonny Hill League game stomping the parent of one of the players…

Neighborhood beefs are resolved through murders at games… Imagine a man being shot on North Broad St after leaving a Sonny Hill or Baker League game…

Things have truly changed for the worse…

A few (40-60 kids) are better off… They travel across the country, play in great events against top competition… They are seen up close by college coaches eager to offer scholarships…

The vast majority, and the City as a whole, are much worse off because the recreation-based, neighborhood focused programs have been decimated in the process… The values and important boundaries that were once well established and consistently reinforced in these programs have been obliterated…

As a first step, we should work to strengthen and support organizations like the Ralph Brooks Community League, BAA League, Retroaction Sports and the Chosen League. We need these leagues and organizations to flourish… We need the values promoted within these groups to spread and once again become the norm in Philadelphia.

Many of the younger (30 and under) members of the basketball community grew up in this new era… They have no real frame of reference for an adequate comparison…

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Sonny Hill League

They could not imagine Mr. Hill at 5’7” 150 lbs bringing an entire gym to halt and complete silence because a guys shirt was not tucked in… Everything stopped… No talking, no playing… No nothing until the shirt was tucked back in and Mr. Hill was finished talking…

We are much worse off as a result…

Basketball beefs are corny…

Middle School “Live Period” Sponsored by Black BBall Hall of Fame

The Philadelphia Black Basketball Hall of Fame is sponsoring the first annual Middle School Showcase at Fidonce Basketball Development on Friday, December 29, 2017. The Tournament is designed to facilitate exposure to high quality academic high schools for Philadelphia-area Middle School students.

Admissions staff and basketball coaches from Catholic, Independent, Charter, Magnet and select Public Schools will be invited. Parents of participating students will have an opportunity to interact with high school representatives.

To encourage parents to bring relevant academic information, admission is 50% off if a player’s report card is presented. We want the parents and coaches to approach the event as a Middle School “Live Period.”

The Black Basketball Hall of Fame encourages and supports basketball centered activities that further academic advancement.

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For further information, please contact:

Delgreco Wilson

blackcager@gmail.com

Philly Basketball Beefs: Notes From an OG

In exactly one month I will be 53 years old. My son will be 35 in January. My grandson will be 1 in January.

When the high school guys call me OG, I truly appreciate it… I feel that I’ve earned that designation… After all, I truly love and respect my OGs like the late Claude Gross pictured below… Every interaction and every move I make in the basketball community, I make knowing that he is watching me… I literally hear his voice giving me instructions… He’s never steered me wrong…

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Delgreco Wilson & the late Claude Gross

In 1992, I began to work with freshman basketball players Mark Bass and Reggie Townsend at St. Joseph’s University. Since then, I have worked with young men and women every year helping them transition from high school to college. I have been blessed to encounter hundreds of young people on their basketball journeys.

Some, like Bass, have become dear friends. That’s my Lil’ Bro… I attended his wedding. His wife is like my sister. His Mom is my buddy. His sons are my nephews. Not a week has gone by since 1992, that I haven’t talked to Bass.

Guys like Rashid Bey (SJU), Terrell Myers (SJU), Eddie Griffin (Seton Hall), Jameer Nelson (SJU), Delonte West (SJU), Jamal Nichols (SJU), Mark Tyndale (Temple), Dionte Christmas (Temple), Samme Givens (Drexel), Scott Rodgers (Drexel), Devon White (La Salle), Traci Carter (La Salle), Dion Waiters (Syracuse), Rick Jackson (Syracuse), Scoop Jardine (Syracuse), Trayvon Reed (Texas Southern), Dimencio Vaughn (Rider), Anthony Durham (Rider) and hundreds of others have all listened to the same spiel.

All are friends… Once they are no longer students, we become equals…

Until then, I try to maintain an adult/child distinction while they are students… It helps me when I ask them about their academic progress or when I try to redirect them from negative social behaviors they are exhibiting… College coaches know that I will try to reinforce the positive messages they are sending to the kids once they are on college campuses.

Parents like Ursula Tilghman (Austin Tilghman), Chandra Minnis (Biggie Minnis), Constance Cotton (Matt Cotton), Anthony Durham (Ant Durham), Dwayne Welch (Elijah Kiah-El) and Charles Brown (Charlie Brown) trust me with their child. These kids spend hours in my office and in my home… I am treated like an extended family member, I get report cards… I get test scores… I get question after question about the recruitment and eligibility processes…

I value these relationships…

The thought of publicly engaging in a “basketball beef” is anathema to me! Straight dumb, incomprehensible “nigga-shit”… Not gonna be able to do it…

I spent years developing a platform whereby I am able to reach thousands of parents, AAU coaches, HS coaches, college coaches and players.

Why would I use it to tear down another Black man? Huh? This what that would look like…

 

I’m NOT going back and forth arguing, calling names with a Black man for public consumption and entertainment!

We got WAY BIGGER fish to fry…

We have super elite HS athletes in prison right now… Two very serious NBA prospects have had to deal with allegations of sexual assault… A college senior finishing a wonderful career was shot in the leg in South Philly… An incoming freshman was shot multiple times in the torso before he could go off to college on a scholarship… Less than 1/3 of Black boys are graduating from Philadelphia and Camden public schools in 4 years… I could go on and on…

There is a void in leadership within the basketball community. Guys like Sonny Hill, Tee Parham, Ray Scott and Fred Douglas are in their 80s… They’ve put in half a century… It time for guys in their 40s and 50s to assume the reigns!

So what are we doing? How are we behaving?

So what are some of the contemporary “elders” doing? What the current so-called “leaders” doing? What are the “ol’ heads” of today up to?

Some go on Facebook and become social media “gangstas”… “Keyboard tough-guys”… Some go around “trashing” other Black men… Some smear other Black men… Some slander the businesses of other Black men…

NUT SHIT!

Black basketball guys in his mid to late 40s are calling a guy in his early 50s a “sucka” on social media? Really… Really? Shit is corny…

Why not “jive turkey”?

Basketball Beef? WTF?

Miss me with the “Nigga Shit”!

I ain’t done anything to harm anyone in the basketball community… EVER!

I’m not about to start… This summer, I’ll have my grandson with me checking out games…

You and your homie can play internet “gangstas” and social media “tough guys” all by yourselves…

Real tough guys… Some of my friends and family members that have done 5, 10 or more years and prison constantly tell me to ignore the HATERS… It’s good advice…

See you at the games! And… y’all ain’t gonna do shit but make another facebook post…

Hate is like a disease… I don’t make fun of cancer patients… I don’t taunt people with HIV…

I hope they find a cure… Same with hate… I hope you are cured!

When You Get the Call…

At this point, it’s inevitable…

Sure as the sun is gonna rise…

You are gonna get the call…

If you work with me in any way, shape or form… it’s coming!

If I reviewed your transcripts… it’s coming! If I introduced you to a college coach… it’s coming! If you put a team in the Black Cager Fall Classic… it’s coming!

If your team played in the Battle for the Bell… it’s coming!

Trust me… it’s coming!

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How do I know?

Over 20 people, including someone tonight (11/21/2017) have called me and asked me why…

“What’s up with him? Why is he calling me and asking me NOT to do business with you? Why is he asking me NOT to put a team in your event? Why is he telling me you are a bad guy?”

I NEVER know what to say when I get these calls… Each time I am at once surprised and impressed…

I’m surprised because I NEVER had crossed words with HIM… EVER… For years, I would do anything he asked…

“Can you speak at my event?”

“Sure… what day, what time?”

“Can you record a promo for my events?”

“No problem… I’ll stop by your crib on my way home…”

I would attend most of HIS events… Pay at the door and watch the games… You know, SUPPORT his shit!

I am impressed by his stamina! This guy is relentless… He doesn’t let up… He just keeps calling… He just keeps smearing…

Initially, it took me by surprise when I started getting the calls… We have so many friends in common… I never imagined he would wage a smear campaign…

Why would he? I always supported him… FOR YEARS!

But it’s been relentless… Like I said, I got another call tonight…

“What up with him? I told him I never had any issues with you… I told him you helped kids in my program…”

“He said I should stay away from you… what’s wrong with him?”

I told my friend, I NEVER did anything to HIM… NOTHING! EVER…

I told my friend… I still consider HIM my friend… One day he will see that I am NOT his enemy…

Indeed, I wish him the very best…

When you get the call… and you will get the call…

Just tell him Del said, “He wishes you much success!”

Just tell him Del said, “He hopes your daughter is well!”

Just tell him Del said, “He hopes your health is good!”

Just tell him Del said, “He’ll see you at your next event!”

 

Do unto others as you would have them do to you” Luke 6:13

 

Inaugural Full Court Press on ALS All-American Game set for August 2018 in Washington, D.C.

 

October 7, 2017 – Vorhees, NJ – Marco Morcos, Executive Director/Co-Founder, Full Court Press on ALS, 501(c)(3), announced the formation of the “Full Court Press on ALS, All-American Game.” The game will feature twenty-four of the nation’s finest high school basketball players. Delgreco K. Wilson, Founder/Publisher, Black Cager Sports Media has been brought on as the Director of High School Events for Full Court Press for ALS.

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(L-R) Marco Morcos, Co-Founder, Kevin Nickelberry, Howard University Head Coach,    Delgreco K. Wilson, Director of HS Events, (seated) Michael Honrychs, Co-Founder

 

Wilson noted, “The Full Court Press on ALS, All-American Game will provide an opportunity for us to greatly increase awareness about this debilitating disease. Also, I’m a firm believer in exposing young people to opportunities to do great things. Over the years, many of these great high school players will become ambassadors for this worthy cause and carry the baton further than any of us can imagine.”

“We are only here for a short time. We should all make a fundamental effort to leave this world better than when we first encountered it!”

Michael Honrychs, Co-Founder, Full Court Press on ALS

 

 

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Kentucky Coach, John Calipari & Michael Honrychs, Co-Founder, Full Court Press on ALS

DISCOVER ABOUT ALS

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, or ALS, is a nervous system (neurological) disease that causes muscle weakness and impactsphysical function.ALS is often called Lou Gehrig’s disease, named after the famous baseball player who wasdiagnosed with it. ALS is a type of motor neuron disease that causes nerve cells togradually break down and die. In the United States, ALS is sometimes called “motorneuron disease.” In most cases, doctors do not know why ALS occurs. A small numberof cases are perhaps inherited.ALS often begins with muscle twitching and weakness in an arm or leg, or sometimeswith slurring of speech. Eventually, ALS can affect your ability to control the musclesyou need to move, speak, eat, and breathe. ALS cannot be cured, and it eventually leads todeath, typically within two to five years of diagnosis.

*Sourced from Mayo Clinic Report 

Psssst… Mayor Kenney and Superintendent Hite Let Me Holla at Ya…

Shit sounds real good…

On Tuesday, October 3, 2017, Mayor Kenney, Superintendent Bill Hite, and others at the top of the city leadership totem pole announced a plan to organize and expand sports opportunities for school-age youth throughout Philadelphia. The Philadelphia Youth Sports Collaborative (PYSC) was debuted as not just as a way to develop athletes, but as a way to spur genuine social change.

Like I said… Shit sounds real good…

Everybody round the way understands the positive role sports can play in the socialization of urban youth. In theory, everyone will be on board… In practice, naaaaaah….

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School District of Philadelphia Superintendent, Bill Hite (kneeling)

The key players said all the right things… Superintendent Hite emphatically declared, “We need to be providing a system so that ALL young people have opportunities.”

The newly minted, PYSC Executive Director, Beth Devine hit the right notes when she said they will “build the game plan for the biggest and best sports development system in the country… Sports, can change a person’s trajectory.

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Beth Devine, Executive Director, Philadelphia Youth Sports Collaborative

 

Damn… That shit sounds good!

The heavy hitters are onboard… Otis Hackney, the city’s chief education officer; Michael DiBerardinis, managing director; and David Montgomery, chairman of the Phillies, have been charged with leading a new task force to analyze the state of youth sports and youth development and to make actionable recommendations for building a citywide system of such programs.

Lofty and ambitious goals for sure… Nonetheless, really good stuff!

But, I’m sure this seems like a daunting and highly complex task. Philadelphia has over 300,000 school age children and a sprawling disconnected (and frequently dysfunctional) network of youth sport organizations, recreation programs and school-based leagues.

I’ve met both Mayor Kenney and Superintendent Hite. I like them both… They seem like earnest and dedicated public servants pursuing the common good.

As a person intimately familiar with the complex and dysfunctional nature of the disparate sub-systems the Philadelphia Youth Sports Collaborative is trying to corral, I humbly and respectfully offer one modest suggestion…

STOP FUCKING OVER Philadelphia’s kids!

Let me provide some clear examples of what I’m talking about…

While the big shots were downtown outlining their plans to develop “a system so that ALL young people have opportunities,” middle management level city employees were holed up at one of the oldest and largest of the German-American clubs in Philadelphia. A committee of District 12 Athletic Directors were meeting at the Cannstatter Volksfest-Verin Club to CRUSH the sports dreams of two young Philadelphia Boys.

While the city’s elites rolled out their plan in City Hall, 12.7 miles away, the middle managers were actually changing the trajectory of two young Black boys. Unfortunately, the direction of the change, however, is not what Ms. Devine had in mind.

T.J. Taylor is a 17 year old boy with a 3.9 GPA. He comes from a stable two-parent home. Extremely bright, he has already exceeded the 1,000 point barrier on his SAT exam. His parents Rodney and Joy Taylor have instilled all the proper values into their son. T.J. has impeccable manners and is always extremely respectful.

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T.J. Taylor and his mother Joy Taylor before their District 12 hearing

T.J. was ranked in the top 20 of his class at Boys Latin. An inquisitive young man with high aspirations, T.J. did a lot of research and soon realized that he would be much more competitive for admission to elite Universities like Colby, Oberlin, Morehouse, Swarthmore and Bates if he was ranked in the top 1 or 2 of his class. With the annual cost of these schools in the $60,000-$70,000 range, T.J. and his parents felt is was worth it to transfer to, Overbrook, his neighborhood school where he would have a shot at Valedictorian status. A quarter million dollars is still a LOT of money for some of us. Besides a close friend of his was murdered just blocks away from Boys Latin.

He made the move… A sound, rational well-thought out FAMILY decision…

Another factor working in Taylor’s favor is the fact that he is a strong and solidly-built basketball player. While he is not among the city’s elite, he is a very solid, tough hard-nosed player with a sophisticated understanding of the game. A Philly guard! They are always in demand at all collegiate levels. Like two of Philly’s very best HS guards Shipley’s Sam Sessoms and Cardinal O’Hara’s Antwuan “Booty” Butler, Taylor’s skills were forged during weekly Bottom Ballers wars in the quaint and extremely hot City Recreation Center located at 34th and Haverford. The Bottom Ballers Basketball Club, arguably, has routinely produced some of the most competitive and well-rounded guards in Philadelphia. T.J. Taylor is a Bottom Baller.

His basketball skills combined with his strong academic profile make him an ideal prospect for NCAA Division 3 programs with high admissions standards. With a strong senior season, Taylor would garner attention from all the top D3 programs in the mid-Atlantic region for sure. He would be able to pursue his dream of playing college basketball while matriculating at one of the nation’s finest institutions.

Socialized largely through sports, Taylor is a poster-child for the program envisioned by our well intentioned leaders Mayor Kenney and Superintendent Hite.

Just one problem though…

At the exact same time the big dogs were in Center City extolling the virtues of sports participation, middle management level school employees were running different play…

Somebody needs to tell Kenney and Hite they calling audibles out there on the field…

“Fuck T.J. and his aspirations!”

While the cameras were rolling in City Hall, PIAA District 12 committee members ruled that T.J. Taylor was ineligible to play basketball at Overbrook for his senior year…

Like Devine said… “Sports can change a person’s trajectory.”  I saw it happen.

Alas, on this day, there was a doubleheader… Next up…

Yazid Powell transferred out of Boys Latin High School in late February. He enrolled at West Philadelphia High School. By early May, Powell and his mother, Romaine Sims, determined that West was not a good fit after his grades dropped precipitously.

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Yazid Powell and his mother Romaine Sims

She ruled out her neighborhood high school, John Bartram. She cited repeated violence such as when a student “knocked out a teacher” among other concerns. She also felt that Yazid was too familiar with all of the kids at Bartram. She decided to enroll him at Overbrook High School.

While Yazid DID NOT EVER PLAY AT WEST PHILADELPHIA HS, he did compete with the Philly Hurricanes basketball club in the late spring and throughout the summer.

While playing with the Hurricanes, Yazid exhibited breathtaking athleticism. Finally healthy after a nagging ankle injury he BLEW UP on the grassroots/AAU circuit. Yazid, literally can hit his head on a 10 foot basketball rim. A very good shooter, his range extends well beyond the three-point line. He caught the eyes of college coaches. He has several Division 2 scholarship offers and many Division 1 programs have promised to come watch him play during his senior year.

 

Ms. Sims was feeling wonderful… Having lived through the murder of Yazid’s father and watching his 28 year old brother end up in the penitentiary, her young son was on his way.

Sports would be the vehicle he uses to escape the streets of Philadelphia and access higher education…

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Philadelphia Mayor, Jim Kenney

Just like Mayor Kenney and Superintendent Hite envisioned…

Then middle management called another audible…

At the request of the West Philadelphia High School Athletic Director, supported by the Boys Basketball coach, the District 12 committee ruled Yazid ineligible to compete his senior year at Overbrook.

Another trajectory changed by sports… Beth Devine seemed prescient…

Even though Yazid NEVER donned a WPHS uniform, they were determined to keep him from playing at Overbrook. Their argument won the day. They won. Their achieved their goal!

Seriously… Think about that shit…

At the exact same time Superintendent Hite were standing before the assembled mainstream media outlets contending “We need to be providing a system so that ALL young people have opportunities” his employees were working diligently to DENY an opportunity to a young fatherless boy living in Philadelphia’s public housing and a mild-mannered kid with a 3.9 GPA.

What the hell are we doing?

The grandiose objectives outlined for the PYSC are admirable. I truly hope they succeed…

Lord knows we need all hands on deck.

For now though… I’ll settle for simpler, tangible and more easily obtained goal…

STOP FUCKING OVER Philadelphia’s kids!

Delgreco K. Wilson
Black Cager Sports Media
http://www.blackcager.com
http://www.delgrecowilson.com
http://www.kwalifi.com