The MYTH of the “Bad” AAU guys

I HATE AAU basketball!
I hate it!!
I hate it!!
I hate it!!
Because it’s just a lot of coaches exploiting kids to try to get a payoff one day.
Robert Horry

Robert Horry is wrong…

On far too many occasions prominent basketball athletes and coaches have come out and bashed AAU basketball.  The criticisms are knee-jerk and reveal a lack of intimate knowledge about what good AAU programs actually do for young people. They have a bad experience or see some bad things occur within one program and condemn the AAU/grassroots circuit based on very limited interaction. It’s just not a fair assessment.

Over the past six months, I have had the pleasure of working with several young men and women as they sought to meet the increasingly stringent NCAA eligibility guidelines. In each case, these young people were referred to the Assist Project by their AAU coaches or program director.

deja imhotep

Deja Reynolds holding the Championship trophy with her Imhotep teammates

Here a brief list of just a few of the young people that came through this year:

Deja Reynolds (Girls), Philly Triple Threat/Imhotep High School – Temple
Kimar Williams, Team Philly/Constitution High School – Florida International
Samir Doughty, Team Philly/Math, Civics & Sciences High School – VCU
Derrick Jones, WeRone Hoops/Archbishop Carroll High School – UNLV
Mike Watkins, Team Philly/Math, Civics & Sciences High School – Penn State
Horace Spencer, NJ Gym Rats/Findlay Prep High School (NV) – Auburn
Eric Cobb, Heart & Hustle/ St. Francis HS (MD) – South Carolina
Malik Ellison, WeRone/Life Center Academy (NJ) – St; John’s
Traci Carter, WeRone/Life Center Academy (NJ) – Marquette
Charles Brown Philly Pride/George Washington High School – St. Joseph’s

CarterCarr

Traci Carter and LaSalle Basketball legend Donnie Carr

In each case, a representative of the AAU program identified an issue that could cause eligibility issues and sought out assistance in addressing the problem. Some kids needed to take additional core course. Some needed to replace poor grades in previous core courses. Some needed tutoring for the SAT/ACT exam. Some just needed encouragement. What they all received was a very clear explanation of their academic situation.

Once they understood what they needed to accomplish to meet NCAA eligibility standards, a plan was put in place. The AAU guys made sure the kids had the SAT/ACT study books. The AAU guys transported the kids to tutoring sessions. The AAU guys stayed in contact with the parents to make sure the kids stayed on track.

Watkins and Newbill

Mike Watkins and Penn State great D Jay Newbill

Rick Barrett and Horace Spencer made sure little Horace knew what he needed to do when he was in the 11th grade. They brought the young man in and we reviewed his academic record together. Eric Worley asked me to reach out to Deja Reynolds. Once Philly Triple Threat made the referral, Kamillah Durham made sure her daughter made it to at least 10 tutoring sessions. Eric always checked in and checked up in her progress. Lonnie Lowry and Kamal Yard cast aside their competitive energies and both grabbed Samir Doughty by his collar and made sure he did what he needed to do. Terrell Myers literally harassed Derrick Jones about his course work and SAT scores. Donnie Carr did the same for Traci Carr.

Yesterday, Philly Pride/Triple Threat arranged an academic “team meeting” attended by a highly regarded school psychologist, two Triple Threat coaches, a player, his parents and myself. The aim was to review the rising 9th grade player’s academic record and explain the NCAA requirements to the player and his family. As we approach the first year with new NCAA standards in place, this is exactly what AAU programs need to be doing.

Let me repeat that… this is exactly what AAU programs need to be doing!

Derrick

UNLV freshman and WeRone/Archbishop Carrol product Derrick Jones

I was touched… When I received the call to arrange the meeting, I realized that my message has been getting through. Despite the negative chatter circulating about the role played by AAU programs, I am here to tell you… I have seen these guys save kids… I have seen these guys inform and empower parents… I’ve seen these guys support parents intimidated by the recruiting process… I’m telling you… these guys do a good job and you can catch their players on TV this fall as they suit up in the Big East, C-USA, AAC, A10, Big10 and SEC conferences.

Rick Barrett – NJ Gym Rats

Kamal Yard – Philly Pride

Eric Worley – Philly Triple Threat

Lonnie Lowry – Team Philly

Terrell Myers – WeRone Hoops

Rob Brown – Team Final

Rod Harrison – Baltimore’s Finest

Bay Frazier – Team Melo

Omhar Carter – Mississippi Basketball Association

Even at the middle school level, guys like Marvin Stinson (Bottom Ballers), Howard Hudson (Philly Triple Threat) and Paul Gripper (Team Phenom) have established rigorous academic standards for participation in the respective programs.

Are there problems in some AAU programs? Of course… just like there are problems in some businesses, congressional offices, college athletic departments and every other type of organization.

Bottom Line… If your AAU coach or program director hasn’t asked you for report cards or transcripts… You need to find another program. The end game is to prepare student-athletes for life after high school. You can’t do that if you don’t even know how he’s performing in school. If you need a referral to a quality AAU program just reach out an ask… I’ll give you at least 3 recommendations.

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What’s Up with Temple and St. Joseph’s hoops?

Right now, Philadelphia is a pro football and college basketball town. The Phillies stink, the Flyers are not a playoff team and the Sixers organization has purposely lost games for two straight seasons. Despite the insane levels of irrational exuberance displayed for the Philadelphia Eagles (NFL), college football hasn’t gained significant traction in the region. In fact, I’m pretty sure there are more Dallas Cowboy fans than college football fans in the Greater Philadelphia Region. College football is largely ignored by all but diehard Owls fans and Philadelphia-based Penn State alums.

Villanova and Delaware are not BCS programs. They do not play big-time college football. On those rare occasions, when Penn State and Notre Dame are competing for national championships larger numbers of Philadelphians pay attention to NCAA football.

For the most part, collegiate athletics in this area, consists primarily of six Philadelphia-based Division 1 basketball programs (Villanova, Temple, St. Joseph’s, Drexel, LaSalle, Penn) competing with Rider, Delaware, Delaware State and Princeton for student-athletes and attention in the Greater Philadelphia region. While interest in college football lags, Philly college hoops matter… But there is a clear pecking order.

Truth be told, Villanova basketball is on another level… They regularly play in a sold out NBA arena. They are consistently ranked among the Top 10-20 programs in the nation. Wright graduates all of his players. He is able to land virtually every local recruit he targets. None of the other area programs are comparable to Villanova. Over the past decade, the Wildcats have exhibited an incredible level of success. Wright has led Nova to NCAA appearances in 10 of the last 11 years. Villanova’s big “problem” – if one identifies it as such – is “advancing” in the NCAA tournament. Big East Championships and spots in the Big Dance are expected every year. Villanova basketball gets the most print and television media attention by a significant margin.

But the consistent winning… The high graduation rates… The firmly entrenched and highly regarded coaching staff… are all kinda boring. You know Nova’s gonna win a lot of games every year. You know they will make the NCAA tournament. In recent years, they have struggled to make out of the first weekend. That’s a good problem to have.

Villanova Champs

Less discussed and, undoubtedly, more interesting developments are unfolding within the Temple and St. Joseph’s basketball programs.  Over the past 25-30 years, these programs have each had only two head coaches. Coaching changes in City 6 basketball programs occur less frequently than Papal Inaugurations. However, dissenting voices emerged within each program’s fan base over the past couple of years. They did not receive a lot of coverage in local print and internet media.  In both cases, the self styled ‘loyal opposition’, was a consistent presence on message boards and other websites. Before he won the A10 Championship in 2014, a “Phil Must Go” website emerged and a few hundred extremely loud hawk fans were calling for Martelli’s ouster. In fact, there were very strong and sustained chants of “Fire Phil” during the home loss to Villanova. It was bad on Hawk Hill… Fast forward three months, that Hawk team won the A10 Championship.

After posting a 9-22 record in 13-14, many Temple fans questioned Dunphy’s ability to right the ship. His ability to recruit Philly and other urban areas was frequently called into question. The next year, with a strong contingent of Philly players, Temple won 26 games and reached the NIT Final Four.

So… Where do things stand now? Both programs are headed by Philly hoops lifers and future Big 5 Hall of Famers.  They clearly connect their program with Philadelphia’s strong basketball tradition. As evidenced by the incoming classes, they remain relevant in Philadelphia’s bare-knuckle college basketball recruiting scene. For one of the programs, the future direction seems clear…

Dunphy

Temple Athletic Director, Kevin Clark and President Neil D. Theobald have, apparently, committed to Dunphy (pictured above) and, his heir apparent, Aaron McKie. This makes a lot of sense.

Despite it’s national gridiron aspirations, athletically, Temple is a Philly school first and a basketball school second. Clark and Theobald can pursue BCS football aspirations and leave Temple basketball in capable Philly hands. Dunphy and his staff are proven winners and continue to demonstrate an ability to develop and maintain strong relationships with Philadelphia and Baltimore/Washington, DC based AAU/grassroots programs. These AAU/Grassroots programs are the lifeblood of college hoops.

After one losing season (13-14), Dunphy quickly regrouped and led the Owls to an appearance in the NIT Final Four.  As you can see in the chart below, Dunphy has been a very consistent winner over the course of a career spanning a quarter century. On the few occasions his teams posted losing records, Dunphy was able to quickly rebuild and compete for Conference Championships and NCAA appearances within a season or two.

Fran Dunph Record

Dunphy is a very good and highly respected basketball coach, without a doubt… In recent seasons, we’ve seen him defeat Jim Boeheim (Syracuse) and Coach K (Duke). Last December, Temple knocked off Bill Self and nationally ranked Kansas in a 77-52 blowout. That win snapped the Jayhawks’ eight-game winning streak. The last time we saw Dunphy’s team, they were ending an impressive postseason run in the National invitational Tournament. Temple fell 60-57 to the University of Miami (25-12) at Madison Square Garden in the NIT Final Four.

Dunphy has a lot of talented players. At 6’8”, freshman Obi Enechionyia displays a high ceiling and a considerable offensive skill set. Obi plays within himself, he shows great poise. His game is highly fundamental. He can go left and right and does a good job of using his athleticism on offense. Obi is a rapidly developing big forward capable of providing the Owls with consistent scoring, rebounding and shot-blocking over the next three seasons. Offensively, he’s shown flashes where he overpowers opponents and bangs on people around the rim. He also has a nice little mid-range jump shot.

Joining Obi and the upper classmen next season will be three highly regarded high school recruits. Levan “Shawn” Alston Jr. (Team Final/Haverford School), Trey Lowe (Team Final/Trenton Catholic) and Ernest Aflakpui (We R 1/Archbishop Carroll) are ranked among the best HS prospects in the nation. Dunphy says, “It’s a great grouping of guys to come in [during] one year. I think they’ll have terrific careers here. They all bring a little something different to the table.” Alston is 6’4” 175 pounds a four-star SG/PG. Lowe comes in at stands 6’5” 165 pounds. He’s a three-star WF/SG and Aflakpui is a 6’9” 230 lb three-star PF recruit. Next year, Dunph will have a core of solid veterans – Jaylen Bond, Josh Brown, Daniel Dingle, Quenton Decosey and Devin Coleman – to mix with the highly acclaimed young players. With Aaron McKie (pictured below) serving an apprenticeship under Dunphy, the Temple program is positioned well for a period of sustained success.

Aaron McKie

Over on City Avenue, things are little more complex and uncertain… Compared to the relatively steady ride enjoyed by Temple fans, Martelli has taken his program to higher highs experienced lower lows. Just 15 months ago, Martelli’s program sat at the top the tough Atlantic 10 Conference (pictured below). Last season, however, his squad finished 10th with an overall record of 13-18.

SJU A10 Champs

But as Martelli enters the final year of his contract, there’s reason for optimism on Hawk Hill. Phil’s got some good players again. Over the course of his career, Martelli has been able to recruit highly talented players and build winning teams around them. His most vocal critics focus on the rebuilding years between the winning seasons. Martelli won with Yah Davis and Rasheed Bey in 1997. Marvin O’Connor, Jameer Nelson and Delonte West led the Hawks from 00-01 to 03-04. Calathes and Nivens led the Hawks to the NCAA tournament in 2008.

Phil Martelli record

That year Saint Joseph’s President Timothy R. Lannon, S.J. gave “clear indication of the University’s support of men’s basketball and of Phil Martelli…. [and] extended Martelli’s tenure at Saint Joseph’s through the 2015-16 season.” After two consecutive NIT’s, in 2014, Martelli led St. Joseph’s to the Atlantic 10 Championship and an automatic bid in the NCAA tournament. That Hawk squad was led by Langston Galloway, currently starting as rookie for the New York Knicks, Ron Roberts and Halil Kanecevic.

In what some observers considered a bit of a surprise, St. Joseph’s chose not to extend Martelli’s contract after he took eventual National Champion UConn to overtime in the 2014 NCAA tournament. For those more familiar recent developments at St. Joseph’s, it would have been a surprise if St. Joseph’s did extend Phil. Saint Joseph’s like many private and Catholic Universities across the country experienced difficulty with consecutive unexpected multimillion-dollar shortfalls.  The administration responded by cutting budgets and working to increase enrollment and class sizes. The acceptance rate hovered around 80% and there was low morale among faculty and staff.

Last year, Saint Joseph’s professors censured the whole administration in September. In March, it took a no confidence vote in two senior administrators. In April, senators passed a resolution urging university to cut its ties with its current board chairman once his term expired. The business school faculty voted no confidence in the president, the Rev. C. Kevin Gillespie, and the Senate Executive Committee warned the incoming board chairman the whole Senate was prepared to do the same. There was a need for a change.

Change has been implemented…

mark reed

A couple of weeks ago, Saint Joseph’s chose Mark Reed (pictured above) as the first lay leader in the 164-year history of the school. A Philly native, Reed graduated from St. Joseph’s Preparatory School in 1992. In his most recent position, he was senior vice president and chief of staff at Fairfield University in Connecticut. Reed is replacing the embattled Rev. C. Kevin Gillespie, who is stepping down after a three-year term.

So what does this mean for St. Joseph’s basketball?

Change is likely on North Broad Street and City Avenue over the next 3 to 5 years. What will it look like? At Temple, it appears that a succession plan is in place. Aaron McKie seems poised to assume the reigns at Temple University whenever Dunphy turns in his clipboard.

How will things play out at St. Joseph’s?

To a large extent, it depends… When blessed with talented players, Phil has been known to make runs… He could have a much improved team in the final year of his contract.

Bembery Dunk

He has the most talented player, DeAndre Bembry (pictured above), in the Atlantic 10 and the Big 5. Can Phil build a winner around the uber-talented Bembry? Who, if anyone, will rise up and become a credible “Robin” to Bembry’s magnificent “Batman”? Will it be one of the new comers? Like Dunph, Phil can still land good players in the Philadelphia region. Recruits Chris Clover (Philly Pride/St. Joseph’s Prep) and LaMar Kimble (Team Final/Neumann-Goretti) are highly regarded Philly Catholic League players. Will one of the youngbucks help Bembry lift the Hawks into contention? Perhaps… But a far more likely source of the boost is the current roster.

After missing all of last season, Markell Lodge and Papa Ndao could be big contributors for Martelli next year. Lodge will bring an exceptional level of athleticism to the SJU front court. Lodge is immediately the best athlete on the team and one of the best in the Atlantic 10. His explosiveness and athleticism is comparable to that of former Hawk Ronald Roberts. Although the video below is over two years old, it allows one to see the raw athleticism Lodge brings to the table.

Additionally, Papa Ndao (pictured below) brings a sweet shooting stroke and significant experience. He has been part of the SJU program for more than four years. Ndao has demonstrated an ability to hit perimeter jumpers, even 3 pointers, when open. He is a solid rebounder and capable of defending the PF and WF positions. Papa will add a some new dimensions to Martelli’s attack next year.

papandao

Will the addition of Lodge, Ndao and the freshman be enough? Will St. Joseph’s play in a post season tournament next season? If so, would that warrant a long-term extension for Martelli? How should President Reed and his Athletic Director evaluate Phil? Those are  important questions that will be hotly debated on Hawk Hill.

Over the long and proud history of Saint Joseph’s Basketball, the Hawks have participated in 19 NCAA tournaments. Martelli (pictured below) has led six of those teams. The Hawks have made 16 NIT appearances. Martelli coached six of those teams. He’s reached the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 twice (1997, 2004) and the Elite Eight once. He was Naismith National Coach of the Year in 2004. He became Saint Joseph’s all-time winningest coach four years ago.

martelli pic

Phil’s had a pretty good run at St. Joseph’s. He shows no sign of wanting to place his whistle in the drawer. He’s recruiting aggressively giving every indication he plans to coach St Joseph’s beyond next season. As noted earlier, Saint Joseph’s  is experiencing difficulty with budget shortfalls by cutting budgets and working to increase enrollment and class sizes.

The context of legitimate fiscal constraints creates an interesting set of “political” circumstances for President Reed to consider. As noted on the Scout message board, according to most recent IRS form 990 for fiscal year 2012, Martelli’s “reportable compensation” from St. Joseph’s exceeded $2.1 million. In light of budget shortfalls issues and subsequent faculty unrest, does Dr. Reed extend Martelli at his current terms? Does SJU ask Phil to take less compensation? Suppose the Hawks make a run and reach the postseason this season this year, does Martelli merit an extension and a bump in compensation? There are a lot of unanswered questions on Hawk Hill…

Does Dr. Reed continue the longstanding tradition of identifying the most qualified Hawk to succeed Phil? Geoff Arnold and Mark Bass are former Hawk captains and members of the Saint Joseph’s University Basketball Hall of Fame. Dave Duda has been a hard working and loyal Hawk assistant for a decade.

Among followers of Temple basketball, it is widely assumed that Aaron McKie will assume leadership once Dunphy retires. McKie is alum of both Simon Gratz and Temple University. A former 1st round draft pick McKie played in the NBA from 1994 to 2007. He joined the Philadelphia Sixers coaching staff in September 2008. He joined the Temple staff in August 2014. McKie solidifies Temple’s stature in Philly’s AAU/Grassroots community. While Temple continues to recruit at a national level, they have also placed increased importance on the Philadelphia region. The strategy has paid dividends. Temple’s incoming class has two Team Final (Rob Brown, Director) alums and one from We Are 1 (Terrell Myers, Director). These AAU programs have consistently produced Division 1 prospects over the past 5 years. This year, Temple is once again heavily recruiting current players in both AAU programs. Led by Dunphy and McKie, Temple will continue to be force in the recruitment of elite local prospects.

Saint Joseph’s, led by Martelli and Geoff Arnold (pictured below), has also made significant inroads within the local AAU community. SJU has a Team Final (Lamar Kimble) product and a Philly Pride (Chris Clover) alum in it’s incoming class. They will join public league product Jai Williams. A current Philly Pride player, Charles Brown, has exhibited a strong desire to play on Hawk Hill. By all accounts, the Hawks are a force on the local recruiting scene.

Geoff  & galloway

Will Arnold, Bass or Duda emerge as the heir apparent to Martelli? Does President Reed make a run at Jameer Nelson? Will Phil coach St. Joseph’s beyond next season? A lot of questions at SJU?

How much juice does Phil have?

Temple fans and area AAU programs know Aaron McKie will be with Temple going forward.

President Reed… What’s up with Saint Joseph’s hoops?

Welcome back to Philly!!

April 26, 2015

10:34 pm

Delgreco K. Wilson

The Epitome of the STUDENT-athlete: It’s the RAK!!

Come on
Ha hey yo stop playin man
This is real serious
Ha… It’s the Roc… yeah yo

Jay-Z, “Guns & Roses”

 

Black collegiate student-athletes should strive to be like Syracuse Superstar Rakeem Christmas. He has blazed a trail that should be followed. He represents all that “could be and should be” in collegiate athletics.

Rakeem GraduateSyracuse Graduate, Rakeem Christmas

For the most part, collegiate Football and Basketball fans either don’t know or don’t care about the dismal academic outcomes for black male student-athletes. They acknowledge and loudly applaud their performances in jam-packed stadiums and arenas while ignoring the cold hard fact that half of them will never earn a degree. Within ivory towers across the country, there’s a largely unspoken acceptance among administrators and faculty of black athletes as unconscious accomplices in a naked race for exponentially expanding athletic revenues.

To a considerable extent, black male student-athletes are not viewed as worthy members of learning communities within academic institutions. They are modern-day gladiators, merely entertainers for the rest of the campus community and well-heeled alums.

Stats don’t lie… People do…

Black men among the top 25 BCS schools represent 3 percent of their student bodies but 60 percent of the football players. The performances of 3 percent in football and basketball contests generate hundreds of millions, perhaps even, billions of dollars for NCAA and their respective schools on an annual basis. These revenue streams have evolved into veritable “Nile rivers” of cash.

cardale-jones

Cardale Jones, Quarterback of Ohio State’s National Champion Football Team

Let’s take just a cursory glance at the top lines for NCAA football and basketball. On the gridiron, in 2014, the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC each drew a baseline amount of approximately $50 million in the first year of a 12-year contract. The other five FBS-level leagues will split $75 million. The “BIG” football schools are in the midst of an unprecedented windfall that’s more than five times greater than their combined payday in 2013.

According to Bill Hancock, the College Football Playoff’s executive director, “It’s good for everybody… There’s more money for everybody.” One cannot dispute his assertions, the BCS schools and a few other major conferences have put forth proposals to provide athletes with stipends, to allow athletes to borrow money to obtain injury insurance and to prohibit schools from pulling scholarships from athletes due to injury or poor performance.

They can certainly afford to make these concessions to the players.

USA TODAY Sports has reported that BCS football playoff television revenue will average at least $470 million annually over the life of the contract. Ticket and merchandising sales and sponsorship deals could add $40-50 million annually, on average.

The NCAA makes even more marketing and selling the performances of it’s basketball players.

It is very likely that within the next 48 months, the NCAA will surpass a billion dollars in annual revenue. The exponential revenue growth is a direct result of lucrative television rights for its men’s basketball tournament.

The NCAA cashes in every year during “March Madness.” It wasn’t always this way.

As recently as 1973, when the first wave of Black student-athletes were recruited to all-white Jim Crow athletic departments across the Southern part of the country, TV rights for the NCAA tournament generated only about $1 million. Plainly stated, segregated collegiate sports weren’t generating the enormous revenues we see today.

1967-alabama-footballAlabama’s 1967 Football Team

Let’s recognize that it wasn’t until June 9, 1969 that the University of Kentucky signed it’s first Black basketball player. In 1971, Alabama signed it’s first Black football player.  Over the next decade, Black student-athletes became de rigueur in the American south. The influx of Black student-athletes into major college sports was accompanied by an explosion in revenues. The performances of Black student-athletes have become extremely marketable and valuable. Last year, Men’s basketball tournament multimedia rights accounted for more than $680 million of the NCAA’s nearly $913 million in total revenue.

So… How have Black student-athletes fared? What are they getting out of the deal? Have young Black student-athletes been entering “Faustian Bargains” since the early 1970’s? Have they abandoned their commitment to academic achievement in order to play on the largest stage? Are they modern day equivalents to Roman gladiators?

Shaun Harper, Collin Williams and Horatio Blackman of the Center for the Study of Race and Equity at Penn Graduate School of Education,  reported the following in their study of graduation rates:

~ Across four cohorts, 50.2% of black male student-athletes graduated within six years, compared to 66.9% of student/athletes overall, 72.8% of undergraduate students overall, and 55.5% of black undergraduate men overall.

~ 96.1% of these NCAA Division I colleges and universities graduated black male student-athletes at rates lower than student-athletes overall.

~ 97.4% of these institutions graduated black male student-athletes at rates lower than undergraduate students overall.

By any reasonable measure, Black male student-athletes are struggling. Plainly stated, half of them do not graduate within six years. At nearly every D1 school they graduate at rates lower than student-athletes overall. Moreover, they graduate at rates lower than undergraduate students overall.

The picture is more than bleak! It’s downright scary… Young Black men are entering the chamber and fewer than half are emerging out of the other end with a degree within six years… There’s gotta be a better way…

Who will provide the example? Where is our Beacon on the Hill?

It’s the RAK!!

Rakeem1Rakeem Christmas, Syracuse

The numbers are beyond impressive. Syracuse’s Rakeem Christmas is averaging 18.4 ppg and 9.0 rpg in an astounding senior campaign. One of the favorites for ACC Player of the Year and a sure fire ALL-American, Christmas dropped 35 and 9 on Wake Forest. In his very next game he put up 21 and 10 against Clemson. Miami was victimized for 23 and 8, while he gave North Carolina 22 and 12.

Rakeem is, without question, the most productive BIG in college basketball this season.

However, the greatest numbers he has put up over the past year were 120 and 3.

120 and 3…

Defying the odds and refuting stereotypes, Rakeem Christmas graduated from Syracuse University – earning 120 credits of coursework – in just 3 years.

The Syracuse graduation requirements are very clear. Students must earn a minimum of 120 credits of coursework for the B.A. or B.S. degree. For all students enrolling in the College of Arts and Sciences, 30 of the 120 credits must be taken in upper-division courses. Every major leading to the bachelor’s degree in the College of Arts and Sciences must include at least 18 credits of upper-division work (courses numbered 300 and above) in the field of study.

In an era where half of Black male student-athletes fail to graduate within 6 years, Rakeem graduated in 3.

It’s the RAK!!

Rakeem2After three seasons as a Syracuse starter, Christmas graduated as a junior with a B.S. in communications and rhetorical studies from SU’s College of Visual and Performing Arts. According to Head Coach Jim Boeheim, Christmas is the first to accomplish this feat. Boeheim said, “It’s got to be about as rare as can be… It’s an unbelievable accomplishment.”

What was the key to his academic success? Is there a secret that can be passed on to other Black student-athletes in high profile D1 programs?

So… Rak, exactly how did you get this done? “I’m just here in the summer time a lot and I was taking a lot of classes… For my major, I was just knocking out a lot of stuff that I needed. So I was getting down to it and I realized I had taken a lot of my major courses.”

Everyone familiar with the demands of collegiate sports is familiar with the obstacles. There are probably a minimum of 15-20 hours practice each week. If you want to get better, you have to exceed the mandatory time in the weight room. In the hyper-competitive ACC there are countless hours spent in meetings and studying film. After all, it is widely considered the premier conference in all of college basketball.

Then after all of that, you have to travel up and down the East Coast to play the games. This demanding schedule takes you away from the classroom. You invariably miss lectures and seminars.

How have you managed this demanding schedule? “The travel is the tough… We’re away from campus a lot, but I made sure I kept in contact with professors, emailing them and sending in assignments.”

Raised primarily by his Aunt, Amira Hamid, Rakeem has internalized her lessons on the importance of developing and refining his ability to prioritize and compartmentalize aspect of his life.

Rakeem and AmiraRakeem and Amira Hamid

“Practice isn’t that bad for me. It’s about two hours out of my day. I practice and I go home and work before going to sleep.”

He admits that road games can be a challenge.

“When we’re traveling, I don’t really want to focus on class work. I’m thinking about the game… But I know I’ve got to get the work done.”

Hamid has instilled a strong West Indian value system in Rakeem.

“I’m pretty self-motivated… My first year, people had to tell me what to do. But I have come to realize that I have to get it done… I learned to pay attention to the little things that you need to do to get it all done.”

Oh…… Rak’s gotten it done….

His freshman year Syracuse went 34-3 and reached the Elite Eight. As a sophomore he helped the Orange to a 30-10 record and a Final Four Appearance. During his junior year, the Orange were 28-6 and made it to the Third Round of the NCAA Tournament.

The team has been incredibly successful. Average attendance in the Carrier Dome was 26,253 in 2014.

Most importantly, Rakeem came out of the chamber early. His degree was firmly in hand after 3 seasons. He is an example for all Black collegiate student-athletes that come after him. He’s committed to helping younger kids understand the importance of focusing and setting priorities.

A McDonald’s All-American in high school, he struggled early trying to find a niche on supremely talented Syracuse squads. Unlike the 604 Men’s Basketball student-athletes that transferred in 2014, Rakeem buckled down, hit the books and worked on his craft. He has reaped the benefits of studying as he makes his way through a Master’s program. Syracuse is reaping the benefits of his perseverance as he slays ACC opponents night in and night out.

A classic win-win proposition… That’s exactly how it should be for every young Black student-athlete participating in collegiate athletics.

“I love Syracuse University! I couldn’t imagine going to another school… I bleed Orange!”

Rakeem4It’s the RAK!!

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