Now Appearing in NYC: Langston Galloway

“Start spreading the news

I am leaving today


I want to be a part of it


New York, New York”

Frank Sinatra, New York, New York


New York Knicks v Washington Wizards
Langston Galloway drives against South Philly’s Rasul Butler in his NBA debut in D.C.

You don’t get to choose your family. You are born into your tribe. However, sometimes your friends become family over time. Because it’s a conscious choice it makes the bond even stronger and more special. Every once in a while you get to witness incredible journeys unfold.

It was the last week of February 1992 and my friend/brother, Geoff Arnold, and I decided to make our way the legendary festival of excess and debauchery known as Mardi Gras. Now, we are from the southern end of Darby Township, a town of 3,000 people, 2 bars about 7 churches and 3 traffic lights. We had always wondered about Mardi Gras.  The closest thing we had back home were basement $1 parties with red lights.  The highpoint of these parties was a slow drag with “that” girl when the DJ played the Whispers. I had just turned 27 and we wanted to experience the lewdness, drunkeness and gluttony first hand. We wanted to see it, touch it and smell it.

We wanted to experience a truly special week.

We decided to head for the bayou. After flying into Houston, we had to catch a prop plane for the short jaunt to Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Maaaan listen…. The propeller driven plane scared the shit out of me. It felt like we were flying in Snoopy’s doghouse during one his legendary battles with the Red Baron.

“They have potholes in the sky? What the fuck?”

Fortunately, we reached Baton Rouge. We were a lil’ battered and a lil’ bruised, but we were safe. We were ready to go all out.  We drove to, Geoff’’s sister, Jeralyn’s house. Immediately, her husband Larry Galloway, made us feel right at home… My man from day one…

Larry and LangLangston and his 1st coach, Larry Galloway

That first night we went out to pick up some seafood. So… we enter this huge fish market. It was unlike anything I had ever seen in my life. They don’t do it like that in Philly… Tony’s Seafood Market is the largest purveyor of fresh fresh and crawfish in the Gulf region. Tony’s has been known to sell as much as 50,000 pounds of live and boiled crawfish in one day. I didn’t know places like this existed. It was a seafood mall.

Ever the gracious host, Larry asked me what I wanted. “We down south… Catfish man… I want the catfish.” I watched them take the live catfish out of the tank and expertly slice and dice it in a matter of seconds. Within just a few minutes were on the road back to the house.

Once we reached the kitchen, Larry said “Yo Del, check this out” as he unwrapped the fish. The filets still had a pulse. While Tony’s had removed the heart, the” heartbeat” remained. Beyond fresh, is the only way to describe the catfish. Jeralyn, battered it up and fried the best catfish I have ever had. I remember that day like it was yesterday.

The main reason that day sticks in my memory is because while Jeralyn was preparing the fish there was a little boy propped up on the counter in a baby carrier. He was about 11 weeks old. I liked this kid. He was friendly and outgoing. He wouldn’t stop smiling. He was inquisitive, reaching, grabbing and full of energy.  That boy was Langston Galloway, number 2 for the New York Knicks.

Lang Debut-page-0Langston Galloway during home debut in Madison Square Garden

Yeah… later that week, Geoff and I made our way to New Orleans and, of course, we dove head first into the sinning, partying, drinking, parading, bead throwing and tittie observing that is Mardi Gras. They don’t party like that at the Darby Township Fire House… But, the thing I remember most… the thing that sticks out the most about that week was meeting that friendly, smiling little boy.

Fast forward 23 years, to January 8, 2015, my college buddy, Hansel Canon and I had the distinct pleasure of driving south on 95 to the Verizon Center in Washington, DC and watching that little boy play in his first NBA game against John Wall and the Washington Wizards. Nervous and clearly pressing a bit he managed to score 7 points in 17 minutes. He shot 2-8 from the field, while dishing 3 assists and grabbing 2 rebounds. Still, not a bad first night in da muthafuckin’ league…

We waited to talk to him after the game. The visitors passes he provided gave us access to the area next to the team buses.  As usual, he was unfailingly polite and extremely appreciative while expressing gratitude for coming to see him play his first NBA game. My friend, Hansel Canon, has been to just about everyone of Langston’s college and tournament games.  Like everyone else that has gotten to Larry, Jeralyn and Langston, he has fallen in love with them. He was able to freely express his joy to Langston and they engaged in repeated hugs and celebratory “Black” handshakes. You know, the kind President Obama gave Kevin Durant during his visit with the Olympic team.

Hans amd LangLangston and Hansel Canon after immediately after his NBA debut

For me, it was tough… I was happy but I had to be reserved. Langston said “Man.. you ain’t come to none of my D-League games, but you here at the first NBA game.” Wanting to appear tough and unaffected, I replied “Man… Fuck the D-League.”

I wanted him to think I wasn’t overly impressed with his exemplary performance in that league. I didn’t want him to know I watched every D-League game on youtube… I didn’t want him to know I studied every box score immediately after each game… After all, I never let on that I had done the same thing when he was in Portsmouth and the NBA Summer League…

I had to keep it together… Throughout his life, I’ve always held back on effusively praising him. After this game, I said “You did good, you look good… Now we gotta stay up here.”

“I gotchu!” was his simple reply.

He said those words with his usual confidence. Nothing extra… Just straight talk, “I gotchu!”

While nearly everyone professes a profound admiration for  “swagger”, they are usually referring to a false bravado exemplified by chest beating, unnecessarily boisterous gesturing and endless self-promotion. Lang, on the other hand, oozes “swag” because he really believes he belongs. He makes absolutely no effort to convince you.

He just shows you….

Phil Knight should really holla at the boy, because he exemplifies the Nike tagline “Just Do It” more than any kid I know…

When he said, “I gotchu!” I knew he meant it… I knew was going to prove he belonged.

I had to hurry up and make my way toward the exit… I was about to lose it… I was gonna cry… No way I could let Lang see me crying tears of joy!

“Sheeeeeeeeeit…” as Clay Davis would say, I’m the Ol’ head… He’s the youngbuck… I’m the “Uncle”… He’s the “nephew”… I didn’t want to confuse him… So I had to leave before I started crying like a little beeeeyotch…

The very next night, Geoff calls me and we’re watching Lang playing in a nationally televised game against the Houston Rockets led by the magnificent James Harden… In this, his second game, he plays 31 minutes and scores 19 points. He shot 6-10 from the field, 3-4 from the 3-point line, while snaring 4 rebounds and dishing 3 assists. During the course of the game he had a “here I am” moment when the Rockets failed to put a body on him and he got hold of a missed shot with his right and and flushed it cleanly through the basket with incredible force. Look closely in the background and you will see Tim Hardaway, Jr. and Amare Stoudemire leap from their seats in support of their new teammate. Everybody loves Lang…

Of course, the struggling Knicks have lost both games in which he has played, but there can be no denying that Lang has displayed an NBA level of skill, athleticism and confidence.

As I write, I think about the summers when he came to Philly. For years, I would always make him stand back to back with me and let him know he was still a little boy. Then one summer while in High School, he passed me by… I thought about all the times he would workout in the morning and come to my office to work on SAT/ACT prep even though he was NCAA qualified.

Lang just wanted to do better… just because…

I think about when Lang and his father collected thousands of sneakers for a community service project.  I think about the time the Galloways arranged for a significant donation to the HERO Foundation in North Philadelphia because they wanted to give back to a city that accepted Langston with open arms.

Lang SneakersLarry and Langston Galloway with thousands of donated shoes

I think about the times we talked about his recruiting process. I think about all the times I pretended to be impartial while his uncle was recruiting him. The same brother/friend I went to Mardi Gras with had to grind it out and really recruit the kid that was on the kitchen counter. After 3 state Championships, being named All-State a few times and showing out at Nike’s Peach Jam, Lang was recruited at a pretty high level. Texas A&M, Baylor, LSU and few other high majors were in hot pursuit.

Lang signing with SJULangston signing Letter of Intent to attend St. Joseph’s

I think about all the times I pretended I wanted him to go where he would be happy. I was pump faking… I wanted Lang to go to St. Joseph’s. I wanted to see every game he played. I wanted to be a part of his college experience. I wanted Geoff to land his nephew. But, I always acted like I was indifferent. Truth be told… I wanted to see Langston to win an A10 Championship like his Uncle Geoff. I wanted Langston to place the nets around his neck and hold the trophy high over his head.

Lang and GeoffGeoff Arnold 1986 A10 Champion, St. Joseph’s 2014 A10 Champions

I think about every one of the 1,991 points he scored on City Line Avenue. I think about the time I saw him make 10 straight three-pointers at Hagan. I think about the All-A10 First Team selection, the All-Big 5 Selections and Allstate NABC Good Works Team selection.

Lang nets

Langston Galloway after 2014 A10 Championship Game

I think about him helping my wife do yard work. I think about all the times I busted his ass in golf… I think about him graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in Sports Marketing.

What I don’t think about… What I don’t worry about is his future with the NY Knicks. For me, that was secured the moment Lang said “I gotchu!”

Larry and Jeralyn have done a phenomenal job with the little boy on the kitchen counter.  Over the years, they always make sure to thank me for supporting Langston. It was an absolute pleasure… I thank them for sharing their son with me and the rest of Philadelphia for four years.

Lang FamilyLangston, Jeralyn (Mom), Larry (Dad) and Lawrence (Brother)

Now appearing in NYC: Langston Galloway! His heart is pumping like that catfish filet from Tony’s… real strong!!

Yo Spike… Tell the Knicks to “Do The Right Thing” and lock my youngin up for the rest of the year!!

 

PA, NJ and DE College Hoops Power Rankings

As of 12/23/2014 at 4:43 pm…PA, NJ, DE College Hoops Power Rankings-page-0

Three things I know for sure…

1. Villanova is the best team;

2. DJay Newbill is the best player;

3. Shep Garner is the best rookie….

Let’s get the league games started!!

 

 

 

 

“You Treated Fairly?”: Open Letter to Philly’s Grassroots Hoops Community

Milk crateThe 1st hoop for many, many Philly ballers!!

If you ain’t ever been to the ghetto
Don’t ever come to the ghetto
‘Cause you ain’t understand the ghetto
And stay the fuck out of the ghetto…
“Ghetto Bastard” Naughty By Nature

Basketball is THE inner city game. It is the game played in the ghetto, ‘round the way and in the ‘hood. Every year black communities and neighborhoods many consider off-limits to outsiders are invaded by representatives of multi-million dollar college athletic departments. Wave after wave of college coaches regularly venture into places most white people avoid after sundown. The trained eye can spot ’em a mile away.  You see ‘em roll up in rental cars fresh off the private jets looking lost in public housing developments.  The team logo and that of their shoe company sponsor featured prominently on a new golf shirt or sweater if it’s a lil’ chilly outside.  The over-sized Conference Championship ring is dripping with ice.

Rucker_parkAcross America in cities like Philly, Motown, NYC, Chi-town, LA, B-more, DC, ATL, and H-town representatives of America’s increasingly wealthy athletic departments come in search of beautifully sculpted Black bodies. They are looking for the young men that will lead them to the “promised land” or at least the “Sweet 16.”  This search brings to them to the projects, Section 8 homes and other low-income Black neighborhoods one after the other.  Representatives of the Math department, Chemistry department and History departments never seem to make their way down.  In much of the non-sports mainstream (mostly white) discourse, urban centers are derisively described and as isolated pockets of dysfunction, deviance and despair to be avoided and in some case obliterated, if the opportunity for gentrification presents itself.

The athletic department reps, the coaches, the recruiters are there for a very specific purpose.

These colleges and universities are vying explicitly to extract a valuable resource from these impoverished communities. They want young athletic Black bodies.  They want to co-opt the labor of our young men and use it to increase the economic status of the University President, Athletic Director and Basketball coach and other athletic department employees. They want our Black boys to serve as cheap labor in the multi-billion dollar enterprise known as collegiate athletics.  Now, it should be noted that along the way he may earn or be awarded (see recent UNC scandal) a degree in some obscure major with limited earning potential.

As bad as this situation sounds, it’s infinitely better than being one of the 72% of Black boys that fail to graduate from HS on time every year in places like Philly and NYC.  These young men are headed for a lifetime of low wage earning or they will participate in the extra-legal ‘hood economy and likely end up in prison. In the ‘hood, collegiate athletics is a possible way up and out of poverty.  But having dealt with college programs over the years, you know others benefit to a much larger extent.  The fates of the gifted low-income urban Black male athletes and wealthy white university athletic department employees are inextricably intertwined.

A situation has emerged whereby Black boys and the struggling grassroot basketball community from which they emerge are dependent upon billion dollar sneaker companies and college athletic programs with $100-$150 million dollar athletic budgets. The existing situation breeds economic success and financial security for Presidents, AD’s and coaches. In many ways, the existence and sustenance of grassroots programs is dependent on the their connection to college programs and the college program’s continued economic gain in dependent upon struggling grassroots basketball programs. Born out of this arrangement is a sort of mutual dependency.

Dr JJulius “Dr. J” Erving in a Harlem, NY Playground

High skilled urban Black male basketball players sell their athletic labor in return for athletic scholarships while the college athletic programs generate millions of dollars selling their performance to alums and the general public.  Coaches are paid million in salaries, bonuses and perks.

As the heads of the AAU/grassroots “farm system,” what are you getting? Are you treated fairly? Do the coaches, boosters and fans respect you?  Over and over, I hear that you guys are “killing” amateur basketball.  It’s bullshit.  AAU/grassroots basketball long ago superseded scholastic basketball as the premier development arm for collegiate hoops.

In Philadelphia, basketball is king among amateur sports. College basketball occupies a unique space in Philadelphia’s sports milieu. There are six (6) NCAA Division 1 Basketball programs in the Philadelphia area representing some highly competitive conferences. Villanova (Big East), Temple (AAC), St. Joseph’s (A10), LaSalle (A10), Drexel (CAA) and Penn (Ivy) all play in tough leagues with nationally recognized competitors.

Anyone that watches the games will notice some common themes regarding these teams and others in their respective conferences. A significant percentage of revenue is generated by basketball programs with a high percentage of urban Black male athletes.  The boys from ’round the way are getting it in.  North Philly’s DJ Newbill is the star at Penn State.  Jabril Trawick, hailing from the Westside, is the headliner for Georgetown.  Another North Philly native, Rysheed Jordan in manning the point guard spot in Madison Square Garden for St. John’s.  Chester’s Rondae Jefferson is back for a 2nd and perhaps final season at Arizona.  Black males from ’round the way are making a lot of money for these schools.

sidewalk hoops

The over-representation, employment and production of Black males in revenue-producing sports (basketball and football) is well documented. Black males represent a mere 5.8% of the total U.S population. Black males comprised 45.8% of major college football rosters and 61% of major college basketball rosters in the 2009-2010. The numbers for the pros are even higher. Over 67% of NFL players are Black and 78% of the NBA in 2011-2012. Collegiate and professional football and basketball organizations consistently scour the ‘hood when seeking talented players.  In many cases, you stand ready and willing to serve your players up to the hunters. I want ask you some important questions.

Are your AAU/grassroots programs sufficiently benefiting? Do you feel like college programs respect the role you play? Do college coaches and fans appreciate your tireless efforts getting these guys ready for the next level?

Is it enough for these programs to just come year after year and take the most talented and highly gifted without considering the plight of those left behind?

Do the City 6 programs work with you when your kids can’t afford the $200, $300 or even $400 price of their camps? Do they give you balls? Do they donate equipment?  Do they make sure you “eat” when you bring your players to visit their campuses? Do they provide tickets to your organization so the younger kids can see the older kids play “live”?  Or, do they just come through, pick the ripest fruit and get back in the German luxury sedan?

Baltimore BoyPuttin’ in work…

Let me know… I’m really curious.  Remember, you have leverage.

If they tell you the kids have to “pay” full price, let everybody know… Tell the other AAU/grassroots coaches how you were treated…  Share information about your experiences…. In my opinion, Black boys have already paid. Let me show you how.

Young men from the ‘hood currently participating in revenue-generating sports (football and basketball) far exceed their white counterparts and other races. Keep in mind football and basketball make virtually all the money supporting all the other white dominated collegiate sports. Think about this fact, less than 1 percent of the total collegiate student-athlete population generates more than 90% of NCAA revenue during “March Madness.” Of the 1 percent, well-over half were Black young men from ’round the way.

Over the past decade (2004-2013), the NCAA men’s basketball tournament has triggered more than $6.88 billion of national TV ad spending from 269 different marketers. Ad revenue in 2013 was $1.15 billion, up 3.8 percent from the prior year.  Less than 1% of college student-athletes generate this staggering amount of revenue, the overwhelming majority are young Black men from the ‘hood.

Guys from the ‘hood played, started and produced more than their non-Black teammates. Locally, Black players scored 73.9% of Temple points last year. Blacks accounted for 83.5% at St. Joseph’s, 87.3% at Villanova, 98.3% at Drexel, 87.1% at LaSalle and 65.7% at Penn.

Wilt Claude

The 1953 Christian St YMCA, National Champions, featuring Philadelphia school boy legends Wilt Chamberlain (standing center) and Claude Gross (seated 2nd from right)

The local colleges and universities want and need Black athletic talent. Their labor is undeniably needed to sustain massive inflows of revenues in athletic departments. Make no mistake colleges, universities, Presidents, Athletic Directors and coaches are making money off the labor of young men plucked from the ‘hood.  The players get an “opportunity” to earn a college degree as long it doesn’t conflict with their athletic obligations. Alums, boosters and fans root for and are entertained by the performances of these young men.

Ask yourself: How do the university’s alums and fans really feel about the young men in the ‘hood? I know they shake your hand after your boy gets get 20 points  and grabs 10 rebounds against a rival. I know they cheer loudly and passionately for your boy when you’re seated next to them at the Wells Fargo Center, Liacouras Center, Hagan Arena and Gola Arena. But, how do they really feel about you and yours?  How do they talk amongst themselves?

Do fans of the local schools respect the communities that spawn the athletes that help them win games? How do they refer to the neighborhoods that border their respective institutions?  You have been there your entire life.  They are guests passing through while pursing a college degree.

One way you can get a feel for this is by perusing the local team message boards. It’s an absolute must for those desiring a peek behind the curtain of cordiality extended to your face during actual games and “official” visits to campus.  There behind the veil of a screen name, keyboard tough guys unleash their true feelings about the ‘hood and those who hail from there. They are talking about your Grandmom that refuses to move from the house she paid off years ago. They are talking about your cousin that is struggling to work 2 jobs to pay that Catholic school tuition. They are talking about your homie that’s remodeling the house his parents left him in their will. They talking about your Aunt with those hot ass plastic furniture covers on her “good” living room set.  They are talking about your uncle in the halfway because the police lied and fabricated evidence against him.

What are they saying? Far too often, they say “Fuck the community!” Far too frequently, they argue that they should “bulldoze your family’s homes!”

MinstrelTurn of the Century “Minstrel” Poster

Then 10 minutes later they argue that your son, grandson, godson, nephew, or youngbuck averaging 32 ppg for the public school ‘round the way should come to their school. They call President Obama and Attorney General Holder “minstrels.”  Meanwhile, the same person puts forth an argument why “Junior” should come, bust his ass and sack quarterbacks for their alma mater next year.  It’s a truly weird dynamic to observe. They make no apologies.  Indeed, the proudly claim they are speaking “truths”.  Many of them despise and hate the ‘hood, while simultaneously yearning for the big beautiful Black bodies walking down it’s narrow avenues.

I say Fuck ‘em!

I say keep track of these public discourses and hold the programs accountable.  I say ask the coaches and athletic directors to disassociate themselves from the most egregious offenders. If they choose not to, I say educate our young men from the ‘hood about the way SOME of the alums feel about them, their families and their neighborhoods.

Let’s not ignore those that wish you and yours harm.  Of course, MOST alums and fans are respectful and always decent in public and behind a screen name.  I say call on them to check the racist tendencies of the vocal minority within their family.  These boards have moderators.  If offensive language it left up, one can safely assume is is acceptable within that cyber-community of the school’s alumni.

Read for yourself. View this stuff for yourself. Make sure you let young people understand the parameters of public discourse surrounding their families and their neighborhoods.

The time has come to make sure our young people and their families are fully informed before they make the very important decision to earn money for a particular university.  If one or more of the local schools is offering your players a scholarship he will likely have other options.  If he doesn’t hit me up and I’m sure we can find a school that will pay his bills.

If you feel disrespected, if you feel unappreciated by local programs and their followers and they are offing your players scholarships you have options.  Exercise them.  Buyer beware!

It should be noted that it’s a very specific segment of the largely white male middle class fan and alumni base making the most vile statements.

Message boards are largely populated by white male alums of the schools. Recent surveys have identified the characteristics of message board posters. The data indicated that the vast majority of message-board users were male (87.8% of total, 92.2% of subscribers), White (90.8% of total, 92.4% of subscribers), and married (62.1% of total, 63.0% of subscribers); had least an undergraduate degree (76.0% of total, 79.3% of subscribers); and were current residents of the United States (97.4% of total, 98.1% of subscribers). Most respondents indicated that they were alumni of their message board’s school of focus (59.0% of total, 60.6% of subscribers). A total of 77.4% of survey participants indicated they were at least 30 years old, with subscribers tending to skew slightly older than non-subscribers. Also of note was the finding that 25.5% of all users were age 50 or older.

Let’s not send our young men where they aren’t welcomed and embraced. These are the internet addresses of message boards for the City 6 basketball programs.

St. Joseph’s Basketball – http://saintjosephs.scout.com

Temple Basketball & Football – http://temple.scout.com/

LaSalle Basketball – http://explorertown.proboards.com/

Villanova Basketball & Football – https://villanova.rivals.com/forum.asp

Drexel Basketball – http://www.caazone.com/boards/forums/drexel-dragons.7/

Penn Basketball – http://boards.basketball-u.com/showforum.php?fid/43/

Judge for yourself.

 

Ranking Philly College “Bigs”

This week Division 1 College Basketball programs across the country begin formal practices.  More than any other area in the country, Philadelphia has produced some of the best “Bigs” since Dr. Naismith hung up that first peach basket while teaching at the YMCA in Springfield, Massachusetts.  Wilt Chamberlain, Ray “Chink” Scott, Mike Brooks, Gene Banks, Eddie Griffin, Rasheed Wallace and many others have represented Philly on college hardwoods and beyond.  However, casual fans, college basketball coaches and independent scouts frequently rave about “Philly guards.”  Often overlooked and under appreciated, Philly guards usually find a way to infiltrate the nation’s conscience.  Tyrone Garland’s “Southwest Philly Floater” captivated the nation’s attention during March Madness earlier this year.  South Philly’s Dion Waiters shocked the so-called experts when he was the 4th player taken in the NBA draft after NEVER starting a game in college.

Here, I want to shine some light on the “Philly Bigs” currently plying their trade at the collegiate level.  My earlier ranking of Philly College Guards sparked a lot of heated debate.  I fully anticipate a similar level of disagreement over these rankings.  Please note that guys in JUCOs and current redshirts are NOT included because they will NOT be playing NCAA basketball this season.  So guys like Savon Goodman, UNLV and Jamir Hanner, Buffalo are not listed even though their talent level clearly warrants inclusion.

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1.  Ronald Roberts, Senior, Saint Joseph’s, 11.3 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 0.9 bpg last season.

At 6’ 8” 220 lbs., Roberts is the most explosive player in the city and, perhaps, on the eastern seaboard.  A determined rebounder with a relentless motor, he competes every single play of every game.  One of the most prolific dunkers in recent memory, Roberts has gradually added subtlety and nuance to his game each off-season.  While he relies primarily on sheer athleticism, he has developed a nice short range jump shot and added it to his offensive repertoire.  If he can become a consistent mid-range jump shooter, he will be almost impossible to guard at the collegiate level.

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2.  Jerrell Wright, Junior, LaSalle, 10.8 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 1.0 bpg last season.

Jerrell is a very strong low-post presence.  Standing 6’ 8” and coming in at a solid 240 lbs, he provides great balance to a LaSalle team that relies heavily on excellent guard play.  Jerell is very good at establishing himself on the block.  He is solid rebounder and shot-blocker as well.  He has a variety of moves that enable him to be an effective scorer.  If he can add an ability integrate countermoves finishing with his right hand, he will be a real problem for A10 defenses over the next 2 seasons.

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Tie 3.  JayVaughn Pinkston, Junior, Villanova, 13.3 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 0.5 bpg last season.

At 6’ 7” and 240 lbs., Pinkston is powerful athlete with solid ball-handling skills that allow him operate on the interior or the perimeter.  He is good jump shooter who can hit an occasional 3-pointer.  His forte, however, is using his strength and agility near the basket.

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Tie 3.  Rakeem Christmas, Junior, Syracuse, 5.1 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 1.8 bpg last season.

By far, the most difficult player to assess.  Undoubtedly, the most physically gifted player on the list.  He only played 20 mins per game.  His production has been well-below what was expected coming out of High School as a McDonald’s All-American.  Blessed with great size and very good athleticism, I look for Christmas to establish himself as a dominant force in the ACC over the next two years.

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4.  Halil Kanasevic, Senior, Saint Joseph’s, 8.5 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 1.7 bpg last season.

A high skilled basketball player at 6‘ 7” and 258 lbs, Kanasevic brings a variety of assets to the Saint Joseph’s attack.  A very capable ball-handler, Kanasevic brings the ball up the floor when needed.  He is the best passer among all the “Bigs” on the list, as evidenced by his 3.5 assists per game.  A capable scorer, Halil has outstanding footwork in the low post.  His jump shot is respectable and he shoots 27% from the three point line.  An very effective position defender, Halil averaged 1.7 blocked shot per game last season.  If he can control his emotions and maintain focus this season he should be one of the better Bigs in the A10.

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5.  Gene Teague, Senior, Seton Hall, 11.2 ppg, 7.2, 0.5 bpg last season.

An imposing physical presence at 6’ 9” and 270 lbs, Teague is traditional low-post, back to the basket “Big.”  Blessed with soft hands, Teague is able to establish himself in the low post and finish with a variety of moves.  A good athlete, Teague is able to run very well for a player of his size.  A very good outlet passer, he is depended upon to ignite the Seton Hall fast break.  If he can maintain his physical conditioning, he will be one of the premier “Bigs” in the Big East Conference this season.

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6.  Anthony Lee, Junior, Temple, 9.8 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 0.8 bpg last season.

Possessing a very long wingspan and a deft touch around the basket, Lee scores on a variety of hook shots and short jumpers. At 6’ 9” he’s a little on the thin side, but he will continue to add muscle while maintaining his athleticism.  With the departure of one the most prolific scorers, Khalif Wyatt, in Temple’s illustrious history, Lee will be asked to provide more scoring this year for the Owls.  I look for Lee to more than hold his own against Louisville, UConn and Memphis when they make their way to North Broad Street this season.

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7.  Steven Zack, Junior, LaSalle, 6.4 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 1.3 bpg last season.

A true center, Zack has a tremendous upside.  Still filling out his 6’11’’ 240 lb. frame, Zack provides a great front court compliment to Jerell Wright for the Explorers.  A little raw offensively, Zack does his scoring very close to the basket.  He runs the floor and battles for position every single play.  If he can avoid foul trouble on a more consistent basis, I look for his production to increase substantially.  It would not be a surprise to see his name mentioned as an NBA prospect, if he continues to develop over the next 2 seasons under the tutelage of Dr. G and the rest of the Explorer coaching staff.

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8.  Eric Copes, Junior, George Mason, 5.9 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 1.1 bpg last season.

Another traditional back to the basket big man, Copes provides a strong presence in the paint for George Mason.  He started all 34 games last season and led the team in rebounding and blocks.  While his offensive game is still unrefined, he very capable of finishing close to the basket.  Copes has exceptional timing and consistently forces defenders to alter their shots at the rim.  A very young (20 years old) college junior, Copes could evolve into a high level player in the A10 over the next 2 seasons.

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Tie 9.  Daniel Ochefu, Sophomore, Villanova, 3.5 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 0.7 bpg last season.

While backing up Mouphtaou Yarou last season, Ochefu was limited to 17.5 minute per game.  Look for his production to increase substantially with Yarou’s departure.  At 6’11” and 240 lbs, he possesses all of the physical tools to be a dominant big man in the Big East.  Still learning the game, he will play an important role for the Wildcats this season.

Amile Jefferson

Tie 9. Amile Jefferson, Sophomore, Duke 4.0 ppg, 2.9 rpg last season

Where will Amile play? How much will Amile play?  No one can argue against the fact that he is one of the MOST talented Philly kids in college basketball.  But a player has to actually play.  At Duke, Jefferson played less than 13 minutes per game.  Will he play on the wing? Will he play in the post?  “I think Amile can play any number of positions. He’s a guy that can play both frontcourt positions, he can play on the wing, he’s a basketball player,” associate head coach Steve Wojciechowki said.  I’m including Amile here because he has made an effort to gain weight over the summer.    Duke has landed the highly recruited Jabari Parker and he expected to play heavy minutes in the front court.  Amile supporters recall his days as a McDonald All-American.  College basketball fans are anxiously waiting for the potential to manifest itself in the ACC.

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10.  Daniel Stewart, Senior, Rider, 10.6 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 0.7 bpg last season.

Coming in at 6’6” and 215 lbs, Stewart is an undersized Big who relies on quickness and exceptional athleticism to compete against much larger opponents.  An outstanding leaper, he is known for finishing with power and force at the rim.  Stewart does an exceptional job rebounding and defending the basket for Kevin Baggett’s Rider Broncs.  If Junior Fortunat can continue to develop as a low post presence, look for Stewart to expand his game and flourish as an offensive force during his senior season.

11.  Marcus Kennedy, Sophomore, SMU, redshirt last season.

12.  Dartaye Ruffin, Senior, Drexel, 6.9 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 0.7 rpg last season.

13.  Fran Dougherty, Senior, Penn, 12.8 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 1.1 bpg last season.

14.  Will Barrett, Senior, Princeton, 9.3 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 0.7 bpg last season.

15.  Shaquille Duncan, Junior, Morgan State, 7.3 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 2.2 bpg last season.

16.  Malcolm Gilbert, Junior, Fairfield, redshirt last season.

17.  John Davis, Freshman, Towson, high school last season.

18.  Jeremiah Worthem, Freshman, Robert Morris, high school last season.

19.  Carl Baptiste, Senior, Delaware, 4.0 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 0.4 bpg last season.

20.  Junior Fortunat, Junior, Rider, 4.1 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 0.6 bpg last season.

21.  Xavier Harris, Junior, Fairleigh Dickinson, 4.1 ppg, 3.3 rpg, o.4 bpg last season.

Others to watch:

Julian Moore, Penn State

Quadir Welton, Saint Peter’s

Jai Williams, Saint Joseph’s

Darian Nelson-Henry, Penn

Darryl Reynolds, Villanova

Zac Tillman, Monmouth

Yohanny Dalembert, James Madison

Dominique Reid, Niagra

Xavier Lundy, Rider

Steve Smith, Fairfield

Contact Delgreco K. Wilson at delgrecowilson@aol.com