Recruitment of Hysier Miller: The Long Slow Grind

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

Hysier Miller, Neumann-Goretti

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hysier Miller in 8th grade

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Straight up… First thing out of his mouth…

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

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

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

Outstanding visit…

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hysier Miller and Bobby Jordan at Wagner College

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then coronavirus struck…

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

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

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

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

Coronavirus was fucking up the process…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hysier Miller celebrating the Catholic League Championship

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

College Basketball Recruiting During the Coronavirus Pandemic

This is a unique era… Since March, college athletic departments have been effectively shut down… The NCAA has halted ALL face to face recruiting for Division 1 college basketball coaches… Since March, D1 Basketball recruiting, both men’s and women’s, has been in a dead period

Shit is at a complete standstill…

During a dead period a college coach may not have face-to-face contact with college-bound student-athletes or their parents, and may not watch student-athletes compete or visit their high schools. A “dead” period is a time when coaches cannot have any contact other than phone contact with players they are recruiting. Coaches can’t scout, visit players’ homes, bring recruits in for visits, talk to them in-person. Coaches may write and telephone student-athletes or their parents during a dead period.

We are approaching the 6th month of the current extended dead period. It’s seems likely that the dead period will be extended through the fall.

This begs the question: What should class of 2021 boys and girls with D1 scholarship offers do? How should they proceed?

If kids have scholarship offers that are real, meaning the head coach would accept a commitment, the kid should carefully weigh his options and accept one of the scholarship offers sooner rather than later. Bear in mind, college coaches are constantly engaged in the roster management process. While they may have offered kid A a scholarship, most likely they have made similar offers to kid B, kid C and kid D. Even if kid A is the preferred target, the coach has an obligation to his staff and his team to effectively administer the roster management process.

If the team needs a point guard and kid A is the primary preferred target, but kid B is acceptable and ready to commit, the coach will likely take the commitment from kid B rather than risk not landing an acceptable point guard prospect.

In such a scenario, the options for kid A will be reduced over time as kid B, kid C and kid D accept scholarships. If kid A knows where he wants to go to school and they have offered him a scholarship, he should accept it.

Sometimes, people advising kids want to keep the process open to help other kids in an AAU or HS program. The thought is that having college coaches coming out to see the star player will help increase the visibility for lesser known players in the program. In many instances, that is true…

Not today though… The coaches ain’t coming out…

The advisers may also argue that other “higher profile” programs will eventually offer and the kid shouldn’t take the offers on the table.

Maybe… maybe not… It’s truly a crap shoot this year…

We are operating in truly unforeseen circumstances. Ordinarily, college coaches would have had an opportunity to evaluate kid A in April, June and July during AAU/Grassroots live periods, NCAA camps and HS live periods. Those evaluation opportunities were nonexistent this year. In normal times, college coaches would be able to visit high schools in September and October and evaluate kids in “open gym” settings. It does not appear that D1 coaches will be allowed to do so this year.

The dead period is likely to continue through the fall… It is what it is…

So… If kids have real offers, they have to be creative and find ways to gather the information necessary to make a decision. While they cannot take official or unofficial visits to campuses and engage athletic department staff, they can visit the city and tour the campus on their own. If they really want to see what the campus looks like, get on a plane or gas up the car and go check it out on your own. Ask people questions while you are there. Do what you can do without assistance or contact from the basketball staff.

It’s a big decision… Treat it as such…

Do NOT wait for permission from the NCAA to take official or unofficial visits… It’s probably not coming…

Again… If kids have scholarship offers that are real, meaning the head coach would accept a commitment, the kid should carefully weigh his options and accept one of the scholarship offers sooner rather than later.

Don’t let kid B, kid C or kid D take the scholarship you really want…

Bloomfield College: NJ’s Black College

by Eric Dixon

“We’re like Family!”

Bloomfield College, as it has been known since 1961, has been serving it’s community with responsiveness and proactive compassion since its beginnings in 1868 as a German Theological Seminary. It is appropriate and inspiring that the private liberal arts school is led by “spiritual” and passionate leaders who are committed to helping their students find their professional and personal purpose. 

“God orders your steps,” intimates Sheila Wooten, the school’s athletic director of 18 years and de facto mother figure, who has been a fixture at Bloomfield since her Hall of Fame basketball career there in the 1980s. She embodies the commitment that she hopes to “grow” in the student body she serves. “Service” is a mantra repeatedly espoused by both Wooten and Gerald Holmes, her assistant Athletic Director and Head Men’s basketball coach, a post he’s held for 19 years. 

“One thing my father always told me was do something you love and give back”, says Holmes, a 4-time Coach of the Year during his tenure at the school of 1700 students, which evolved into a predominantly black (PBI) and Hispanic Serving (HSI) institution in the mid-1990s. The commitment to an underserved sector of the education industry was necessitated after ancillary campus policy changes facilitated a shift in student demographics. “We started to get more applications from Essex County so we began to look to better serve those communities,” says Wooten, who shared that during her days as a BC Bear the school was only about 35% African-American. “I enjoyed my experience here (as a student) which is why I came back,” she added saying that even though the majority of the students were white, “we all worked together.”

Sheila Wooten, Athletic Director

So why consider Bloomfield College? The answer is a simple one: The People. Holmes, who came from a family of “learned” professionals, and Wooten, one of six siblings from a depressed section of Atlantic City, bring different perspectives but the same passion to “give back” even though neither had early plans to gain their current positions. “This was not my journey” says Wooten, echoing the sentiments of her “brother” who also shared that he entered coaching on a lark after seeing someone he knew garner a high school coaching position. 

Holmes, a scrappy 5-7 PG at NJIT (D3) in the mid-80s, said his love of the game didn’t lead him into coaching until 6 years after his playing eligibility expired. Wooten said a chance encounter and some coaxing from a former mentor, Al Restaino, led her to her current perch atop the athletic department where she is one of 5 female ADs and the only African American in the CACC. Both share a love of the college, sports and helping student-athletes reach their goals on and off the field or court. 

Dr. Marcheta Evans, President

In addition, Wooten and Holmes lauded Dr. Marcheta Evans, the new President of the school for her continuing and enhancing the commitment of creating a familial environment in the athletic department and school in general. She is the 17th president of the college and first African American female. “I was attracted not only to Bloomfield College’s mission; its designation as a minority-serving institution (PBI and HSI) committed to providing access to an affordable education; the quality of our distinctive, nationally-ranked curriculum offerings; but also to the importance placed on inclusive excellence and preparing our community to be multiculturally-competent citizens,” is part of her perspective she shares in her letter to the school community on the Bloomfield College website.

Athletically and socially, BC offers 14 sports and a wide range of other extra-curricular activities that cater to their specific demographic groups. One example is the “Male Empowerment Club” which welcomes men from all nationalities and ethnic groups but is geared to address concerns of African American males in particular. “We see the unique problems they face and want to help them”, says Wooten.

Gerald Holmes, Men’s Basketball Coach

In men’s basketball, Holmes’ program offers a solid culture, a great atmosphere and winning tradition to “tough, hardworking” players looking to maximize their abilities. Did I mention that they win? A lot. Competing in the CACC the Bears boast an impressive 322-192 record with 11 regular season first place finishes, 7 league titles and 8 NCAA tournament appearances. This team success has translated well into individual accolades for players in the program which has produced six (6) CACC players of the year under Holmes.

Academically the school offers “personalized education with small class sizes that allow faculty to provide detailed assistance and instruction to meet the needs of students. Also, part of the school’s aspirations can be seen in its commitment to making higher education affordable for their students. “Bloomfield College is the first institution in New Jersey to eliminate its comprehensive and course fees” to maintain one of the lowest tuition rates for a private college in the state.

The practical benefit of attending the school is the “Bloomfield Bounce”. According to its website the students are often propelled several rungs up the socio-economic ladder from where they are upon entering the school. This adds pragmatic substance to the pursuit of the institution’s  mission statement.

Holmes says although the school’s lack of top tier facilities and awareness of the quality of instruction and academic rigor can present some challenges in recruiting, his focused approach to recruiting and the large amount of talent in New Jersey make getting the right players for his program easier. He demands “mental toughness” from players and believes in an honest approach to recruiting and coaching relieves much of the frustration that small college coaches often experience. 

Holmes counts a few influences on his approach as a coach and a prominent one is former Temple great, John Chaney, whose fiery temperament seems in contrast to Holmes’ calm but stern off court demeanor. He is a molder of men who uses the tools of honesty, consistency and accountability to shape his players into contributing community members. In his own way he furthers Bloomfield’s aim to, in the words of Dr. Evans, “recruit, retain, and graduate students to be ‘workforce-ready’ as well as civically-engaged, global individuals.”

Whites, Blacks and Jews: Recent Examples of Tribalism in Sports

The U.S. Constitution was written as a tribal document. Indeed, based upon a careful reading of the document in 1857, the United States Supreme Court in a majority opinion written by Chief Justice Roger B Taney, ruled that no African-American, free or enslaved, had ever enjoyed the rights of a citizen under the Constitution. Taney argued that, since the time of the ratification of the Constitution, blacks had been “regarded as beings of an inferior order, altogether unfit to associate with the white race … and so far inferior, that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect.”

Roger Taney statue removed from Maryland State House

The Constitution was designed to protect the rights and interests of the white American tribe. Those arguing otherwise have absolutely no respect for the intellect of non-whites.

It took a civil war and the deaths of 750,000 Americans to (temporarily) establish that Black Americans warranted protection under its Bill of Rights. That protection lasted a brief period spanning twelve years from 1865 to 1877. The white tribe rigidly implemented and enforced a white supremacist Apartheid/Jim Crow social order from 1877 to the mid 1960’s. The struggle to have the rights and interests of Blacks, Latinos, Native Americans and other people of color fully recognized and protected continues today.

Reconstruction Era Black Congressmen

But focusing on the Constitution’s shortcomings and flaws can result in an under appreciation and overshadow what it actually accomplished. Its core mission was to forge, out of a diverse population, a new national identity, uniting Americans of European descent into a white America tribe. To a remarkable extent, it succeeded.

Throughout the colonial and revolutionary eras, Americans were a multiracial, multi-ethnic conglomeration… A diverse mix of English, Dutch, Scots, Irish, French, Swedes, Italians, Germans, Greeks, enslaved Africans and terrorized Native Americans.

The Founding Fathers deftly united the people of varying European backgrounds into a white American tribe. The Constitution was a key tool deployed to overcome profound divisions among people of European descent. The Founders guaranteed members of the white tribe religious freedom. The Constitution also declared that the United States would have no national church and no religious tests for national office. These foundational guarantees helped America avoid the religious wars that for centuries had torn apart the nations of Europe.

The Founders also utilized the idea of white supremacy to establish the “others” once they granted American citizenship status to members of the white American tribe. The Black tribe was relegated to “chattel” status. The Native American tribe was deemed “savage” and marked for removal or eradication.

Tribalism lies at the heart of the American experiment.

Today, we are witnessing tribal allegiances return once again to the foreground. The white tribe is alarmed. The United States is experiencing rapid demographic shifts that are resulting in the inevitable tanning of America. The nation is well on its way to becoming a predominantly Black and Brown country.

Formed explicitly to further white American tribal interests, these shifts are resulting in considerable angst and tension for all Americans. The angst is observable in many aspects of contemporary American life, including sports. Riley Cooper, Colin Kaepernick, Lebron James, Drew Brees, Kylin Hill, Pat Chambers, DeSean Jackson, Stephen Jackson and Bubba Wallace are just a few prominent sports figures that have found themselves at the center of racial tempests in recent years.

Colin Kaepernick

It makes sense that racial strife permeating American life in general is spilling over onto the playing fields and courts as well as into the locker rooms. Sports have played a pivotal role in American communities since the dawn of the 20th century. Today, athletic contests pushing physical limits are more popular than ever before. Sports is a booming industry at the youth, high school, college and professional levels.

As long as local governments, schools, universities and major corporations continue to see sporting events as sound investments, sports will play a vital role in society for the foreseeable future. This means sports will continue to provides one of the most visible platforms for racial wrangling.

At no other time in American history have sports played such a dominant role in daily life. Their absence due to the coronavirus pandemic only serves to heighten their importance. While we have had no games, yet we have had plenty of tribal warfare taking place in the world of sports.

The white tribe, for the most part, until the George Floyd murder at the hands of the Minneapolis police remained steadfast in their opposition to Colin Kaepernick’s peaceful protesting of police brutality and murder during the national anthem. It should be noted that there were some whites that defected and supported Kaeperneck prior to Floyd’s life being extinguished on camera. Indeed, Nike launched a massively successful marketing campaign focused on Kaeperneck’s peaceful protest campaign. However, the tribe’s resistance front remained strong.

The unquestioned leader of the white tribe, President Donald Trump, loudly and relentlessly beat the racial drums on this issue. He engaged in a sustained attack on NFL players who kneeled in protest of the national anthem. Trump’s line of attack reached a crescendo in September 2017 when he openly challenged NFL owners to release anyone who engages in the movement started last year by Kaepernick.

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired. He’s fired!’” the president said at a campaign rally for an Alabama candidate for the U.S. senate seat vacated by Jeff Sessions.

The white American tribe loved Trump’s antics.

Adequately describing social developments prevailing in contemporary America requires a word as primal as “tribe” to place adequate focus on the mindless allegiances and deeply held partisan affiliations. Tribes have formed everywhere. In many ways they are similar to gangs, sans the violence. Like gangs, tribes demand loyalty, and in return they confer the security of belonging to insecure people longing to belong. They’re badges of identity, not of thought. Indeed, they are hostile to intellectual pursuits and sophisticated analyses. Tribes make thinking unnecessary, because they do it for you. This point is important… Tribes will attempt to punish you if you try to think for yourself. According to their imbecilic logic, to get along without a tribe makes you a fool. Moreover, to give an inch to the other tribe makes you a sucker.

This conceptualization is applicable to hard-core Trump supporters. Their blind allegiance to the president is unlike anything in recent history. Those red baseball caps give them a sense of belonging to the white nationalist tribe. These people not only reject intellectual pursuits, they frequently abandon science altogether. Those that accept science-based Center for Disease Control guidance are considered suckers.

Fuck a mask… Fuck social distancing… Fuck your health… The white tribe is “giving up its freedoms.”

The Black tribe is similarly engaged in reflexive and regressive behaviors. Recent revelations that Penn State Head Basketball coach Pat Chambers used the word “noose’ while talking to then freshman point guard Rasir Bolton has riled up the Black tribe. Eighteen months ago, on the heels of a poor performance against Wisconsin, Chambers said, “I want to be a stress reliever for you. You can talk to me about anything. I need to get some of this pressure off you.

“I want to loosen the noose that’s around your neck.”

With these words, unknowingly Chambers initiated a tribal skirmish that wouldn’t see a retaliatory strike for 18 months. But when it came, it came hard and heavy.

Pat Chambers

With Chambers at the helm, Penn State has made deep inroads into the Philadelphia basketball community. He’s recruited several prominent players from Philadelphia’s Public and Catholic Leagues. DJ Newbill, Shep Garner, Lamar Stevens, Seth Lundy, Izaiah Brockington and Mike Watkins are a few of the more prominent Philly kids that have donned the Nittany Lion uniform. Philadelphia has been good to Chambers and Penn State.

So when it was revealed that he uttered the word “noose” to a Black player, the Black tribe within that community was triggered. Members of this tribe quickly gathered around the fire (social media) and declared their commitment to seeing Chambers terminated. The speed with which partisan lines were drawn was spectacular. Like a gang, the Black Philadelphia basketball tribe demands undying loyalty, and in return they confer the security of belonging to the larger group.

The significance of the sense of belonging cannot be overstated. These are a group of frustrated middle-aged men that could not play in high school and college… They do not coach… They wield zero influence beyond the tribe itself… Basically, it’s a bunch of bitter irrelevant “never was” dudes that were MAYBE honorable mention all-milkcrate. With the Black basketball tribe and the advent of social media, they have created a basketball home for themselves. They have created a self-contained place where their thoughts, opinions and arguments related to basketball matter.

Membership in this tribe is a badge of identity, not of thought. For the most part, they reject anything but the most simplistic instinctual responses. “Chambers is a racist, Penn State must fire him immediately.”
Individual tribal members do not have to think, because tribe thinks for them. In the case of Chambers, there’s no need to examine his actual track record with his Black players. There’s no need to even talk to the Black players from Philadelphia.

The Tribe demonstrated that they will attempt to disparage and punish anyone with a propensity to think for themselves. For them, to spend ven a moment assessing the actual situation as it has existed within the Penn State basketball program over the past decade makes you a fool. Moreover, to condemn Chambers actions, to call for suspension, suggest cultural competency training and NOT demand that he be dismissed makes you an Uncle Tom.

This strain of behavior is spreading almost as fast as the coronavirus…

Then less than 24 hours after the Chambers headlines grabbed the nation’s attention, the Jewish tribe gathered around the fire (social media). Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson ignited controversy by sharing anti-Semitic comments on social media this week.

DeSean Jackson

Jackson posted a quote on his Instagram Story on Monday which was attributed to Adolf Hitler, stating in part “the Jews will blackmail America, they will extort America, their plan for World Domination won’t work if the Negroes know who they were.” The Jewish tribal response was predictable and swift…

Notably, former Eagles president Joe Banner, who is Jewish, forcefully declared, “If a white player said anything about (Black people) as outrageous as what DeSean Jackson said about Jews tonight there would at least be a serious conversation about cutting him and a need for a team meeting to discuss… Which would be totally appropriate. Absolutely indefensible.”

Here we go again…

Tribes, as I have noted, eschew sophisticated analyses. Banner demonstrated the reflexive and instinctual nature of the tribal response. Tribes don’t think things through. They just want casualties… They are interested in the body count… Careful consideration of Banner’s reaction validates this assertion.

There’s an obvious and appropriate Eagles case study that serves as a useful comparison for the Jackson incident. It’s worth a quick review… During a Kenny Chesney country music concert in June 2013, Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper was caught on video calling Black people “niggers.”

Riley Cooper

Despite Banners claim to the contrary, the Eagles did not cut Cooper after he called Black people niggers. One could argue they actually embraced him. Exactly, what were the consequences applied in the Cooper case?

In August 2013, the Eagles announced that, “Riley Cooper will be seeking counseling and we have excused him from all team activities. This is all new territory and we are going to evaluate this timetable every step of the way. He will meet with professionals provided by the Eagles during this period of time to better help him understand how his words have hurt so many, including his teammates.”

Then on February 27, 2014, the Eagles announced that they signed Cooper to a new contract. According to reports, the terms of the deal include $25 million over 5 years.

So… What the fuck is Joe Banner talking about?

Banner is bright man that has manned the helm for two NFL franchises. He most certainly was very much aware of the Riley Cooper “nigger” episode. Yet, he made the patently false claim that if a white player said anything about Black people as outrageous as what Jackson said the team would consider cutting him.

That’s simply not true. The team in question, the Philadelphia Eagles, not only didn’t cut Riley. They signed him to a next 5 year $25 million dollar deal just months after he called Black people niggers on a video that went viral.

It’s tribalism that prevents Banner from making the obvious comparison and conducting a sober analysis. He feels, perhaps rightly so, that his tribe is under attack. His response, nonetheless, does nothing to move the dialogue forward in a constructive manner.

Joe Banner

How do we begin to limit the impact of tribalism? From whence does it come?

The causes of America’s resurgent tribalism are many. One obvious explanatory factor is seismic demographic shift underway. Whites have ruled this continent since the colonial era. They have enslaved, subjugated and oppressed people of color for centuries. They are well aware that they will lose their majority status within a few decades. On some level, whites have to wonder if people of color will do unto white as whites have done unto them. Tribalism is spreading like penicillin in a petri dish under these conditions.

Another factor is perceived declining social mobility and a growing class divide. Over 33 million Americans have filed for unemployment is recent months. People are scared. Rent and mortgages are due and they don;t have jobs. The global pandemic is only intensifying despite the quixotic proclamations of President Trump. This seems to be contributing to widespread retreat into tribes.

Finally, social media has evolved in a manner that rewards expressions of outrage. Any dunderhead with a cell phone can “go live” and rally up a tribe predisposed to feeling under attack and pitted against another tribes. Tribal idiots have stages and platforms to spread ill-formed ideas and half-baked arguments among other frustrated tribal members.

Unfortunately, the past three years have witnessed further entrenchment of tribalism. Hence, social interactions, even in the world of sports, are devolving into mindless zero-sum competitions, one in which tribes measures success by the extent to which they can stroke their member fears and appealing to their ugliest us-versus-them instincts.

Count me out… I refuse to stop thinking for myself…

Social Media and Dumb Muthafuckas: The Gift and The Curse…

One of the greatest joys I have experienced is to have my ideas and thoughts read and responded to by thousands of people across the globe in just a few hours. Last night, I wrote a piece that was read 2,849 times in less than 24 hours. It reached folk in Canada, Thailand, Afghanistan, Switzerland, Lithuania, Isreal, Ecuador and Spain. This was not possible 25 years ago.

Social media has allowed writers, photographers, videographers and other content creators to share their work quickly and directly with a wide ranging audience. By social media, I mean the sum total of websites and applications that are designed to allow people to share content quickly, and engage with the public efficiently, and in real-time. The ability to share ideas, opinions, videos and photographs in real-time has transformed the way we live and address social phenomena.

From the outset of my “Black Cager” social media journey, I’ve always wanted to make my content accessible. I make it a point to use common (some say coarse) language. I find common everyday language is inviting to people that may not ordinarily spend 10-15 minutes perusing an opinion piece. As a result, I’ve pulled in some “non-traditional” readers. Lately, I find that this strategy may have costs that outweigh the potential benefits.

There has emerged a crew of critics that mistakenly assume the accessible and common language form unsophisticated arguments. Key points go over their head like Vince Carter’s dunk on Frederic Weis.

It’s becoming more and more frustrating. While I welcome their readership, these clumsy, crude and childlike thinkers have repeatedly proven themselves incapable of grasping even slightly nuanced and subtle lines of reasoning.

Indeed, I am sure a few of them they are working their way through this essay. So… Let me take this opportunity to be perfectly clear… I want them to grasp the thesis of this particular essay…

Y’all some real dumb muthafuckas!

Over and over, their responses to points raised in different pieces display an astonishing lack of intellectual rigor. Simply put, they wade into the deepest end of the pool and they can’t swim a fuckin’ lick.

Honestly, I’m waiting for one of them to start a feeble retort with “I stayed in a Holiday Inn Express last night…”

For several years now, I’ve been hoping to see even a glimmer of clarity in thinking… I await anxiously even the faintest display of an ability to think carefully, deeply and with rigor when faced with new knowledge and arguments.

Alas, I have come to the realization that it is not forthcoming… ever. It cannot come… Like my ol’ heads said back in the day. “you can’t get blood from a turnip.”

They lack the capability of engaging constructively and methodically when exploring ideas, theories and philosophies. They can’t think at the conceptual or societal level. Hence, they resort to and rely upon “I just don’t like him… He ain’t shit… He’s getting a bag” and other tired personalized insults and tropes.

FUCK ‘EM…

I’ve come to the sad conclusion that they simply do not possess the ability to analyze and construct knowledge with depth, insight and intellectual maturity. It is apparent that they never applied themselves in school. Sadly, they never learned how to learn. For a large number of Blacks, these attributes are acquired via the challenge of ongoing and systematic study at places like Hampton, Howard, Spelman, Fisk, Lincoln, Cheyney, Morgan and Delaware State. Intellectual rigor is encouraged and nurtured in learning communities designed to expand and strengthen young Black minds. The challenge for faculty at these institution is impart into students the ability to consider other points of view and make a thoughtful argument.

I have resigned myself to the fact that countless hours spent playing Madden and NBA2k or hanging out at Danny Wok’s, Jim’s Steaks and Sneaker Villa is simply not an adequate substitute for reading a book.

Please note that I fully realize that formal education does not necessarily lead to intelligence. Indeed, some of brightest and most thoughtful brothers I have encountered spent considerable time learning, reading and studying while incarcerated or developing and refining their skills working one of the trades. What separates these guys from the pack of dullards is their ability to recognize and acknowledge when they don’t know something.

The dumbest muthafuckas really, truly think they have THE answer. They are quick to grab a mic or go live to “call it how they see it”… Huh?

Ignorant and ill-formed folk have been inspired by the singular ascendance of one of their own to the highest office in the land in 2016. As a result, they really believe they are experts and capable of expounding on a wide range of topics… It’s America… Have at it… Dumb muthafuckas…

All I ask is that you stay over there and leave me the fuck alone…

Pat Chambers FUCKED UP! Now What…

Penn State Men’s Basketball Coach Pat Chambers finds himself is a huge racial hole of his own making. The timing could not be worse. This is, by far, the worst possible time for a rich middle-aged white man, especially one in a position of power, to be accused of racist behavior in the fifty-five years I have been alive… By far…

Keith Urgo, Rasir Bolton and Pat Chambers

So how did we end up here?

Eighteen months ago, in January 2019, Chambers told then freshman starting point guard Rasir Bolton, “I want to be a stress reliever for you. You can talk to me about anything. I need to get some of this pressure off you…

I want to loosen the noose that’s around your neck.”

There it is… the big ass RACIAL elephant in the room. Chambers with that sentence created a devastating imagery that harkens back to the darkest days in this nation’s long and violent struggle with racism/white supremacy.

A middle-aged white man, working under a multi-million dollar contract at one of the most highly regarded public research Universities in the nation, said “I want to loosen the noose that’s around your neck” to a young 19 year old Black man under his direct supervision. It’s an inexcusable comment… There is no other way to assess it.

Rasir Bolton, Pat Chambers and Keith Urgo

That’s really, really fucked up… Unbeknownst to him, Chambers built a huge problem for himself right as the word “noose” passed through his mouth… A year and a half later, the bill has come due.

There are no ifs, ands or buts needed… It was a very bad and very bigoted moment… I have made this clear to Pat Chambers.

Moreover, it truly does not matter if Chambers intended it in a bigoted manner. It’s a bigoted statement. The word “noose” has a very specific connotation in the Black American community. The threat of the noose has been used to rigidly enforce an Apartheid/Jim Crow racist/white supremacist social order throughout American history. After slavery was abolished, lynching with “nooses” emerged as a horrific weapon used to reinforce white supremacy and suppress Black civil rights. At least, 4,000 Blacks were lynched with nooses between 1877 and 1950. There have been countless incidents of people using nooses to intimidate or terrorize Blacks in the ensuing years.

Pat Chambers knows this. Or, he should have known this was a totally unacceptable manner in which to speak to a young Black man in his basketball program.

Chambers, in a recent interview published on ESPN’s TheUndefeated.com, stated, “I didn’t realize that word would hurt him, and I am truly, truly sorry for that.”

There can be no doubt that Chambers should have realized that word would hurt any young Black man in his program. Saying he didn’t know it would hurt weakened the apology considerably.

Adding insult to injury, Bolton also alleges that Chambers later told him he was impressed with how “organized” and “well-spoken” his parents were.

Well… Damn… Now the RACIAL Hippo just joined the elephant in the living room.

From the moment Black people stopped working for free in the United States of America, a derogatory stereotypical narrative emerged: Blacks are disorganized, inarticulate and lazy. I have been praised countless times for my writing and being articulate, each and every time it feels like a paper cut.

Da fuck you talkin’ bout?

I attended some of the best schools in this country… Why can’t you assume that I am organized and well-spoken? It’s another inappropriate and bigoted comment.

The score is now 0-2 and Chambers is down in the late innings.

Figuratively speaking, he has RACIAL shit on the soles of both shoes. We now know that Bolton left the program and had a fine year at Iowa State after he was granted a waiver to play right away without sitting out a year. Chambers and Penn State also experienced a successful season. The divorce seemed to have worked out for both parties.

George Floyd, the man who was killed by police officers in Minneapolis on May 25, 2020. Credit: Selfie, no credit

Then everything changed… The world seems to have finally come to the realization that racism/white supremacy is horrible and very much present in all aspects of American social life. After the murder of George Floyd, everyone has a heightened sensitivity to the stench of the 18 month old racial shit on Chambers shoes. College student-athletes have become activists and now lead racial reform movements. A football student-athlete at Oklahoma State called his Head Coach into question for supporting a network with a history of racist programming. Another football student-athlete sparked a movement that led to the removal of the slaveholder racist/white supremacist Mississippi state flag after it proudly flew for more than 126 years.

I wholeheartedly supported these movements. I stand with these kids. I applaud their bravery and willingness to confront racism/white supremacy. I think Bolton and his parents did the right thing when they formally complained to the Penn State administration last year. That’s what they should have done.

Obvious questions emerge: What was the appropriate consequence for Chambers’ actions 18 months ago? Did Penn State impose such consequences? Now, that the story has become public, what consequences, if any, should be taken today for Chambers actions 18 months ago?

Should he be fired? Should he be suspended?

Living and working in the Philadelphia region, reaction has been swift and, for the most part, very harsh.

As coach of the Nittany Lions, Chambers has had an incredible amount of success recruiting the Philadelphia region. Devonte “DJay” Newbill (Strawberry Mansion), Shep Garner (Roman Catholic), Tony Carr (Roman Catholic), Lamar Stevens (Roman Catholic), Nazeer Bostic (Roman Catholic), John Harrar (Strath Haven), Izaiah Brockington (Archbishop Ryan) and Seth Lundy (Roman Catholic) are some of the area players Chambers has recruited to play in Happy Valley.

Given the intense racial climate of today, it should come as no surprise that some observers are calling for his immediate dismissal. Time is up for racism/white supremacy…

For many Blacks, especially those unfamiliar with his racial track record, Chambers’ words uttered 18 months ago in the practice gym should cost him his job and perhaps his career. For them, the mere fact that the word “noose” crossed his lips is evidence of a previously unseen and deep seated racism/white supremacy permeating his true character.

As noted earlier… I agree that Chambers FUCKED UP! But does his behavior warrant a career death penalty? I don’t think so…

So… What should have happened?

There can be no denying that he should have been disciplined. The transgression should have been formally documented in his personnel file. An unpaid suspension of some sort would have been appropriate… Additionally, Chambers should have been required to attend a recognized cultural competency training… In short, Chambers should have definitely been subjected to serious and logical consequences for his behavior.

It should have been noted that further transgressions of this sort could lead to termination.

Penn State, apparently, chose not to impose such consequences. In this regard, the Penn State athletic director, Sandy Barbour, fumbled.

Sandy Barbour, Penn State Athletic Director

Now, because these incidents did not reach the general public 18 months ago, there was no widespread media coverage at the time. For better or worse, they have come to the fore right now, the absolute worst time… ever.

Eighteen months after Chambers said he wanted to “loosen the noose”, we have cops lynching unarmed Black men in the street. We have several young Black men dangling from trees with ropes around their necks in recent weeks. We have had a garage door pull fashioned into a noose in the garage of the only Black driver on the Nascar circuit. We have Confederate statues being toppled like dominos across the country. We have “Black Lives Matters” riots and protests in virtually every city and town in America and many others in nations spanning the globe.

The flames of racial anger are raging like California wildfires. Rasir Bolton came along and dropped an 18 month old kerosene soaked ” We Are” rag into that fire.

Again… Pat Chambers FUCKED UP.

With his carefully crafted reputation and, perhaps, his career hanging in the balance, I am sure he knows he FUCKED UP.

Here’s why I am sure Chambers grasps the seriousness of his situation…

Because he know what FUCKING UP looks like… So do I… On many occasions over the past decade, young men playing for Pat Chambers have also FUCKED UP. It’s what young college age men do…

It’s what I did when I was in college. I FUCKED UP… I smoked marijuana every day while I was in college. EVERY SINGLE DAY… I got in trouble for it… I was placed on something called “social probation” and my mother was notified about my fuck ups. I was arrested while in college. I was caught “running a speakeasy” while in college. My friends “hustled” relentlessly, while we were in college… I invested in their entrepreneurial efforts. I had several “incidents” in the girls dormitory while in college. I thank God, the adults at Lincoln University didn’t throw me away. I truly appreciate the patience, love and understanding they displayed every single time I FUCKED UP! Upon leaving Lincoln, I came to truly understand and appreciate the importance of grace.

Upon graduating from Lincoln, I had full fellowship, with substantial stipend, offers from Delaware, Michigan, Ohio State and California-Davis. At any one of 20 or more points during my time at Lincoln, I could have been kicked out of school. However, the adults believed in me and believed in my potential to do better. It’s a lesson that I’ve never forgotten.

Two weeks after graduating Lincoln, I was on a plane headed to the University of Michigan where I was paid to pursue graduate studies. After that, the University of Delaware and the University of Maryland paid me to do the same. I eventually taught at Maryland and Lincoln.

All of that after I FUCKED UP damn near every day in undergraduate school at Lincoln University.

Over the past ten years, I’ve watched Philly kids go out to State College and guess what… from time to time, they would FUCK UP. Sometimes they would get caught smoking weed… On occasion, they would be arrested… They would get into fights… They would have incidents with young women on campus. On each and every occasion, Pat Chambers handed out a measured and logical consequences for the behaviors. Never… not once, did he throw the young men away. Each and every time he notified all of the adults involved with the young man and came up with a plan to address the negative behaviors, while NOT throwing the young men away.

Some of the incidents were serious. He’s dealt with complex mental health issues. On multiple occasions, Chambers was urged by many commentators to dismiss the young men from the program. Never… Not once did he go down that road. Today, these young men are productive, contributing members of society and more importantly, they are Penn State graduates.

All this despite the fact that they FUCKED UP on campus more than a time or two…

So today, the tables are turned… This time Chambers FUCKED UP. There are some calling for his dismissal, there is a loud crowd gathering on the courthouse steps… They want the Penn State administration to remove Chambers from his position as Head Coach of the Men’s Basketball program. I get that… I understand those yearning to see his head roll… So far, the administration hasn’t given any indication that they are preparing to throw him to the angry mob. Hopefully, Chambers’ behaviors will treated as he has treated others. Of course, Penn State must address his bigoted comment, but they shouldn’t throw away the man.

If so, he will be held accountable for his actions. He will learn from his FUCK UP. And, most importantly the Penn State community will be better off as a result.

TaQuan Woodley ’21 (PSU Commit), Rio Pitts ’30 (Holds PSU “Offer”) and Pat Chambers.

Besides, I have a seven year-old nephew that Chambers offered a basketball scholarship during a trip to Happy Valley. I also have a 3 year-old grandson. If they are interested in Penn State, I would send them both to play for Pat Chambers.

I know my youngins… They are likely to FUCK UP…

Blackness and College Selection for Athletes

Off the top of my head… the list includes Earl Lloyd (West Virginia State), Al Attles (North Carolina A&T), Zelmo Beatty (Prarie View A&M), Dick Barnett (Tennessee State), Willis Reed (Grambling State), Sam Jones (North Carolina Central), Earl Monroe (Winston-Salem State), Bobby Dandridge (Norfolk State), Truck Robinson (Tennessee State), Purvis Short (Jackson State), Charles Oakley (Virginia Union), Elmore Smith (Kentucky State), Marvin Webster (Morgan State), Slick Watts (Xavier-Louisiana), Ben Wallace (Virginia Union) and Rick Mahorn (Hampton), Ronald “Flip” Murray (Shaw) among others.

Willis Reed, Grambling University

All of these proud Historically Black College and University (HBCU) alums went on to play in the National Basketball Association (NBA). To this woefully incomplete list we can add guys like Cleo Hill (Winston-Salem) and John Chaney (Bethune-Cookman) that were more than good enough but had to watch lesser white players fill rosters during the era of American Apartheid.

Today, a renaissance of sorts is underway. We are witnessing many of the top scholastic players choose to play for Black coaches at high major programs or committing to play at HBCUs. It’s a truly refreshing shift. For the last 50 years or so, white coaches at predominantly white universities have invaded the hood and syphoned off the very best basketball players from Black communities. Before that, these coaches and schools stood in the door and declared “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.”

After seven decades of explicit and rigidly enforced racist/white supremacist exclusion, white coaches and white institutions finally opened the doors of opportunity to Black student-athletes in the early 1970’s. But not before Texas Western with a Black starting 5 spanked the Kentucky Wildcats led by the virulently racist Adolph Rupp and USC led by a Black Quarterback trounced Bear Bryant’s Crimson Tide on National television.

Texas Western, 1966 NCAA National Champions

The desire to field the most competitive teams proved overpowering. Even white supremacists want to win football and basketball games. By the dawn of the 1980’s, most college basketball and football teams at the high major D1 level were at least half Black.

All too often, observers forget just how recent widespread Black participation in NCAA athletics emerged. These fans, alums, coaches, athletic directors, boosters, presidents and trustees did not like nor want Blacks in their schools not long ago.

But… Blacks, especially parents and student-athletes must NEVER forget. Whites have already cast aside the memory of the Jim Crow era that spanned 1906 to roughly 1970. White fans and commentators forget how white coaches and white institutions shunned even the most talented Blacks. So much so, that when a kid like Makur Maker commits to what many consider the finest HBCU in the land, some whites publicly respond as follows: “Many types of decisions defy conventional logic regarding a wide range of topics. Unless we see more examples of the same thing, maybe a lot more–no pressing point in solving any perceived mystery.”

In other words, he’s convinced the overwhelming majority of the finest Black student-athletes will continue to commit to and play for white coaches at predominantly white schools. Maker to Howard is viewed a just a “one-off,” he’s an anomaly. Blacks will continue to view white coaches at white institutions as more desirable.

I beg to differ… We live in very interesting times… Existing power dynamics and relationships are being questioned.

Penny Hardaway (Memphis) signed seven (7) top 110 players in the class of 2019. That happened… I saw the NCAA (with it’s long unquestionably racist history) intervene and run the best freshman, James Wiseman, in the country off the court because he played at Memphis and not Duke, Kentucky or North Carolina… That happened…

Mike Boynton put together Oklahoma State’s top-10 signing class and then add Ole Miss guard Bryce Williams and 6-10 forward Bernard Kouma. They join a Cowboy class ranked No. 4 by Rivals, featuring the 2020 Naismith High School Player of the Year, Cade Cunningham, who was named the nation’s top recruit according to ESPN, 247Sports, Rivals, USA Today, MaxPreps and Ball Is Life.

Cade Cunningham. Oklahoma State commit

That happened… Again, I saw the NCAA (with it’s long unquestionably racist history) intervene and impose some harsh penalties on the Oklahoma State program, perhaps, hoping to see Cunningham flee to one of the traditional programs known for “Strong Ass Offers” like LSU, Arizona, Kansas or Duke…

Form where I sit, it seems that Black parents and student-athletes are increasingly behaving in a rational manner. All things considered, it makes sense… It’s a rational decision to commit to Juwan Howard (Michigan), Ed Cooley (Providence), Ashley Howard (La Salle), Aaron McKie (Temple), Patrick Ewing (Georgetown) or Kevin Baggett (Rider). It’s a rational decision to play at Howard, Morgan State, North Carolina-Central, South Carolina State or FAMU.

By placing Black men in leadership positions, these institutions have demonstrated a level of respect that should be prerequisite for Black parents considering college destinations for their talented sons.

What doesn’t make sense it to hand your gifted Black son over to a white coach at at white institution that has never had a Black head coach, athletic director or University President.

Why the fuck would you do that? They do not see Black men as leaders.

Michigan, Ohio State, UCLA and Vanderbilt have Black athletic directors right now. Maryland has a Black President, Black Athletic Director and a Black Head Football Coach.

Choose wisely…. and never, ever… ever… shut up and dribble.

Paul Gripper Memorial Scholarship

Paul Gripper Memorial Scholarship Recipient Announced

The Friends of Paul Gripper have selected their 2020 Paul Gripper Memorial Scholarship recipient. This is the inaugural year for the scholarship which awards at least $250 towards tuition or school-related expenses and a laptop computer for a student entering their freshman year of high school. The recipient was selected after displaying remarkable dedication to the sport of basketball, academic achievement, extra-curricular participation and community service.

Funded by the Friends of Paul Gripper, the scholarship program is designed to facilitate the transition from middle school to high school for a local student-athlete. The late Paul Gripper had a long-standing history of service to the local basketball community. He was especially dedicated to working with middle school student-athletes and was instrumental in guiding the development of scores of players that received full basketball scholarships.

The Friends of Paul Gripper includes representatives from the Philly Pride Basketball Club, Team Final Basketball Club, NJ Playaz Basketball Club, Black Cager Sports Media, Rider University Men’s Basketball, the families Torre Harrison, Jonathan Michels and many others that were touched by the magnificent work of Paul Gripper.

2020 Paul Gripper Memorial Scholar

Khalid Jenkins, Cardinal O’Hara High School In the fall of 2020, Khalid Jenkins will attend Cardinal O’Hara High School in Springfield, Pennsylvania. With the goal to one day be a college student-athlete, Jenkins flourished academically at West Oak Lane Charter School. West Oak Lane provides students with a student-centered, learning environment emphasizing literacy, math and the sciences as well as targeted intervention and enrichment programs so all graduates are prepared for and accepted to high performing high schools. His desire to achieve academically and athletically stems from guidance he has received from his mother Priya Cavanaugh, stepfather Dwayne Murphy and his grassroots coach Jarett Kearse. When he wasn’t doing homework or helping at home, Jenkins was in the gym with Kearse and his Philly Blue Magic teammates. While at West Oak Lane, he was an Honor Roll student and played on the boys’ basketball teams. 

White Privilege: The Curious Case of Patrick Johnson

America is experiencing racial tension and strife unlike anything we have seen since the tumultuous 1960’s. Those of you familiar with the work of the Black Cager, have witnessed a relentless push for opportunities in the world of scholastic and collegiate athletics since 2013. The Black Cager platform is highly visible and well respected in the worlds of grassroots, scholastic and collegiate basketball.

Over a two week period in April, the following people appeared on Black Cager Sports talk for extensive and wide-ranging interviews:

Pat Chambers, Head Coach, Penn State Men’s Basketball

Frank Martin, Head Coach, South Carolina Men’s Basketball

Bruce Pearl, Head Coach, Auburn University Men’s Basketball

Jamion Christian, Head Coach, George Washington Men’s Basketball

Dwayne Killings, Associate Head Coach, Marquette Basketball

Kimani Young, Asst. Coach, UConn Basketball

Adam Fisher, Asst. Coach, Miami Basketball

Dave Caputo, Asst. Coach, Miami Basketball

Ashley Howard, La Salle University Basketball

Keith Stevens, Director, Team Takeover Basketball Club

There were many, many others but you get the point. The Black Cager platform is respected as a place where basketball people come to share their ideas, thoughts and concerns about the game at the grassroots, scholastic and collegiate levels.

Five years ago, I used the Black Cager platform to condemn the fact that there were ZERO (0) Black coaches among the 6 Division 1 programs (Penn, Temple, Drexel, La Salle, Villanova and St. Joseph’s), 4 Division 2 programs (Jefferson, Chestnut Hill, Sciences and Holy Family) and the 14 Catholic League teams.

Today, Temple and La Salle have Black head coaches. Chestnut Hill has a Black head coach. St. Joseph’s Prep (boys basketball), McDevitt (boys basketball), Hallahan (girls basketball), West Catholic Prep (girls basketball, boys basketball, football and athletic director), Roman Catholic (football) and Neumann-Goretti (football) have minority coaches in place. O’Hara (boys basketball) and Conwell-Egan (boys basketball) have had Black coaches that have since moved on.

That’s progress.

Additionally, I have used the Black Cager platform and Black Cager Scouting service to provide exposure for high school prospects in the mid-Atlantic region. Last September, I hosted 78 teams that played 78 highly competitive games in the Black Cager Fall Classic. These games were held at Friends Central high School and the Sixers G-League facility. The action was intense and the fans filled the facilities to the limit.

 

Over the past 15 years, I have utilized the Black Cager platform to help hundreds of young men and women successfully transition from high school to college. Below is a small partial listing of the young people I have helped transition to college.

Clients

This list does not include more recent kids like Charlie Brown (St. Joseph’s/NBA), Donta Scott (Maryland), Alliya Butts (Temple), Deja Reynolds (Lincoln/Temple) or current kids like Nisine “Wooga” Poplar, Rahsool Diggins, Taquan Woodley and Hysier Miller.

These young people have leveraged their athletic ability to access higher education. That is the mission of Black Cager Sports. Most people respect and appreciate the work we do.

But then, there are people like Laura Ingraham and Patrick Johnson. These are privileged white folk who are extremely perturbed by the existence of independent Black voices. These are the white folk that want Black males especially to just “shut up and dribble.”

Black Cager sports makes extensive use of R&B and hip hop music. In my social media posts, I frequently use quotes from historic figures like Langston Hughes, Marcus Garvey, Malcolm X and Martin L. King Jr. From time to time, I borrow lines like the one below from American classics like Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn.

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For over a century, American school children have consumed Twain’s writings. We were told over and over again, this is “great” literature. Likewise, Tupac’s lyrics are widely considered to be examples of “great” contemporary poetry.

But… When you are exercising your white privilege and these literary classics appear on Black Cager Sports social media platforms, the use of the word “nigger” by a Black man becomes “racist.”

Not just racist, but grounds for a sustained campaign to have me terminated from my position with National College Preps. For anyone that has ever wondered, this is what white privilege looks like in action…

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White man trying to have a Black man terminated for writing “nigga” on his personal page… That’s his cause… That’s his contribution to the battle for racial justice in America today… White privilege is REAL… At least in his mind…

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To his credit… Mr. Johnson is persistent… He really is struggling to understand why his white privilege is NOT being accepted immediately… “Karen” wants to speak to the “manager.”

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When the corporation responded, Karen wasn’t satisfied… It’s like I asked her to leash her dog in Central Park… Or, I tried to grill a hamburger in the park in Oakland… Karen is SERIOUS! She wants me fired….

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I would like to let Karen know… My posts are MINE and MINE ALONE.

I take tremendous pride in being an independent voice for what I think is right.

I have NEVER run my social media posts by anyone… EVER!

Nor will I begin to do so…

I would not want to be associated with an organization that attempted to silence or censor my free speech.

So, in response to the threat to go to the media, I have provided this response. Please feel to copy the link and forward to as many media outlets as you wish.

What matters more? What’s more significant? Hundreds of kids accessing college through sports or Karen’s hurt feeling because she saw or heard a Black man use a word permeating English literature, contemporary music and prominent comedy acts?

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I hope you get a media outlet to take up your cause… I’m more than ready to have the discussion…

I always say, white people do nigga shit all the time… this is Exhibit A!

Delgreco K. Wilson

Explaining Black Looting and Destruction to My Grandson

My grandson, Kameron is 3 years old. He is a bright, energetic and inquisitive boy. Unfortunately, his entry into this world coincided with the rise of a racist/white supremacist shyster reality television personality to the highest office and the most powerful position in the world. In that way, Kam’s timing was really fucked up. But like most 3 year olds, he lives a sheltered existence with narrowly circumscribed responsibilities.

Kam has one job… developing his intellect and ability to think critically. He is well on his way on both counts, he is eagerly learning to count and read… His quest for knowledge is quite voracious… My young beautiful, Black grandson thinks.

A decade from now he will be in a middle school classroom and the subject of riots spreading like wildfire across America’s urban centers will inevitably become a topic of discussion.

As sure as the sun will rise tomorrow, racist/white supremacist police officers will continue to murder unarmed Black men.

At some point, I am quite sure, Kam will ask, “Pop-Pop why did the Blacks loot and destroy their own community?”

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Fortunately, I will be in position to explicate some carefully considered ideas to my grandson. He won’t have to search beyond his grandfather and our personal library for thoughtful explanations of behavioral problems that continue to baffle most Black observers.

When he is around 13, I will have to share and explain Neely Fuller’s often cited quote with Kam:

“If you don’t understand white supremacy/racism, everything that you do understand will only confuse you..”

I fully expect that Kam, like most Black people, will struggle mightily with this conceptualization.

His initial response will likely be something along the lines of “Pop-Pop… I’m talking about Black people that participate in the looting, burning and destruction of businesses in their own community. That hurts them as much as, if not more than, it hurts white people.”

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Kam will be correct. Their behavior is NOT rational.

Eldery Blacks, the grandparents and great-grandparents of many of the looters and arsonists are disproportionately harmed when community stores, markets and pharmacies are destroyed. The actions of the looters make zero sense when assessed from what is commonly referred to as a rational perspective.

It will be my responsibility to help this highly intelligent young boy understand that while the destructive pattern of rioting, looting and destructive behaviors exhibited by Blacks in the mid-1960’s, the 1980s, 1990s, 2000s, 2010s and now 2020 is not ‘rational,’ it can be considered functionally ‘sensible.’ Although these behaviors take certain forms we usually consider the height of irrationality, they are sensible because they are well-adapted to the exigent circumstances that accompany the racism/white supremacy at the core of the American creed.

It will be challenging, but I know my grandson will grasp the dynamics at play.

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For most observers, both academic and journalistic, behavior is best explained utilizing a cost-benefit, reward-punishment approach. The key thing I will want Kam to understand is that the persistence and all-encompassing nature of racism/white supremacy severely limits the explanatory power of the rational choice approach when it is applied to frustrated Black behavior.

Son… racism/white supremacy ain’t rational… and, racism/white supremacy ain’t goin’ nowhere anytime soon.

Police, as you are told over and over in school and through the mainstream media, are there to protect and serve the community as a whole. The narrative is familiar… Citizens experience a threat to their person or property, they call 911 and the police respond. The responding officers take the report and make very effort to solve the crime. The victims are treated in a respectful and professional manner by law enforcement officials. More often than not, the criminal matter is resolved, the culprit is identified, the prosecuting attorney indicts and the justice system holds the criminal to account for his actions. After such encounters with police, every attempt is made to full fully respect the rights of the victims and alleged perpetrators. “Americans are innocent until proven guilty,” that’s what they teach you in school, right?  In this way, citizens develop a preference for solving matters within the system in full accordance with the law. This is typical “goal-motivated” behavior. This is what my grandson will come to expect, given the manner in which the educational system and mainstream media deal with crime. This is the world familiar to white Americans, where correct choices lead to benefit and where wrong choice are costly.

That’s NOT the world in which Black America lives.

What happens if justice is made random and unpredictable for Black people? What happens is exactly what “rationalists” would expect; after some trial and error, Blacks sensibly refuse to call upon the police; one might say that rewards being random, they reduce costs to zero.

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But what if Blacks are forced into encounters with the police. Real life, after all, frequently forces Blacks into police entanglements when avoidance may be their preference. Suppose you are Amadou Diallo, an unarmed 23 year old Black man, standing in front of your front door and four white plain-clothed officers—Sean Carroll, Richard Murphy, Edward McMellon, and Kenneth Boss claim to have mistaken you for a rape suspect from one year earlier and fire a combined total of 41 shots, 19 of which strike and instantly kill you, outside your apartment in the Bronx.

Suppose you are Abner Louima, a 31 year old Black man and you get into a fight in a Brooklyn nightclub. You are arrested and on the ride to the station, racist/white supremacist cops beat you with their fists, nightsticks, and hand-held police radios. On arriving at the station house, they kick you in the testicles, and while Louima’s hands were cuffed behind his back, a sadistic cop squeezed your testicles and then sexually assaulted you with a broken broomstick. After sodomizing you, the racist cop walked through the precinct holding the bloody, shit-stained instrument in his hand, bragging that he “took a man down tonight.”

Suppose you are Rodney King and you try to outrun the police in a high speed chase. Once the police stop you, they use their nightsticks to batter your joints, wrists, elbows, knees and ankles. Officers attempted numerous baton strikes on you, resulting in some misses but 33 blows hitting you, plus seven kicks. You was taken to the hospital after your arrest, where you are found to have suffered a fractured facial bones, a broken right ankle, and multiple bruises and lacerations. In a negligence claim filed with the city, you alleged you suffered “11 skull fractures, permanent brain damage, broken [bones and teeth], kidney failure [and] emotional and physical trauma”.

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Suppose you are Walter Scott and you end up shot five times in the back after a traffic stop for a broken brake light. Suppose you are Philando Castile and you inform a cop during a traffic stop that you have a licensed gun in the car and he shoots you five times at close range. Suppose you are John Crawford III and you pull a BB gun off the shelf in a Wal-Mart and a cop shoots you twice killing you instantly inside the store.

Suppose you are George Floyd and a store clerk alleges that you used a counterfeit $20 bill to purchase a pack of cigarettes. Seventeen minutes after the police arrive on the scene, you are dead. Three officers have you pinned on the ground, in the street next to a car. One of the officers is using his knee and body weight to literally crush your throat.

Existing within an explicitly racist/white supremacist society, Black men in America have always faced an insoluble problem. Frustration is inevitable when faced by problems that are impossible to solve. Black men want to live but racist/white supremacist police repeatedly kill them and, for the most part, are not held accountable by the justice system in America.

What happens, essentially, is that frustrated ‘raging’ behaviors become stereotyped. Some Black males loot. Others destroy property proximate to their communities. These behaviors are consistent across geographic regions and over time. These stereotypical behaviors persist whether or not their friends, families and neighbors will be negatively impacted. Most striking is the fact that the stereotyped behavior persists even when sanctioned and approved protest opportunities are available. Frustrated Black males are aware of the locations and times of sanctioned protests, but they pillage and loot anyway.
This is evidence of the extent to which, these patterns of frustrated behaviors have become fixated.

Virtually every cop killing of an unarmed Black man is accompanied by raging behaviors among young Black males. So much so, that by now it should be evident that a percentage young Black frustrated males no longer inhabits a world of choice at all.

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Kam, after centuries of existing within a racist/white supremacist society, a segment of the Black community that has a developed an infrequent orientation to the future… Plainly stated… They don’t “give a fuck!” They have developed a level of resignation and fatalism and tolerance for behaviors other regard as pathological. Kam, people will continue to ask “what’s wrong them?”

Racist/white supremacist law enforcement officials will continue to murder unarmed Blacks. A segment of Black men, unable to reasonably expect the criminal justice system in America to hold racist cops accountable, will engage in fixated behaviors that severely damage their immediate surroundings.

“Pop-Pop… What can be done about it?”

Kam… As long as racism/white supremacy exists, anything done that is not intended to eliminate racism/white supremacy and to help produce justice, is a waste of time and energy… Racism/white supremacy is a helluva drug son…

Don’t trust cops!