Teaneck’s Pierre Sow Commits to Hampton University!

Pierre Sow (pictured below) is an unassuming, quiet and highly intelligent young man. A strong student, Sow has very good grades and an outstanding SAT score. He also happens to stand about 7’0″ tall and is fast becoming a very good basketball player. A key member of the 2 time State Champion Teaneck (NJ) High School Highwaymen basketball program, Sow has worked his way to a Division 1 scholarship. On the morning of April 7, 2017 he committed to play for Coach Edward Joyner, Jr and the Hampton University Pirates. IMG_1876

Sow just began playing organized basketball a couple of years ago and has really progressed while playing for Teaneck’s fine coach Jerome Smart. However, Division 1 colleges in New Jersey paid little attention to Sow. They missed out on kid with a chance to be a good college player. Sow’s former HS Assistant Coach, Roland Whitley firmly believed in Sow’s ability to compete at the Division 1 level.

“The kid has all the tools… He’s long, he has good timing and he’s very agile. He lacked strength and experience. But, I knew he was a Division 1 player”, said Whitley. “More than anything else, I just needed more people to see him play. So I asked Black Cager Scouting Service to come and check him out two years ago. Delgreco Wilson (below left) came up and agreed that Pierre was a D1 prospect.”

Pierre Sow Poster-page-0.jpg

Wilson noted, “I saw a kid that was raw with a huge upside. The immediate goal was get him in the gym against other good big guys in the off season. I reached out to several Philadelphia area AAU/Grassroots programs. Only Philly Pride invited Pierre to come work out. He didn’t end up playing with them for the summer because the travel was too much, but he made it to several workouts and made some important contacts.”

Philly Pride directors Nette Bennett and Amauro Austin are proud Hampton University alums. Austin reached out to Hampton and strongly encouraged them to offer Sow a scholarship. He had been considering prep school.

“Those guys at Black Cager Scouting really helped me through this thing,” said Whitley. “I played at North Carolina State under Jim Valvano but things are much different these days. I really leaned on them to help me guide the family. We are extremely happy with Hampton University.”

IMG_1874

According to Wilson, “academically, Pierre is the type of kid that usually ends up in the Ivy or Patriot League. Hampton is a perfect fit for him because he has the intellectual tools to really take advantage of Hampton’s academic programs. The University President, Dr. William R. Harvey (above right) made Sow’s mother (above center) feel welcome and assured them that he would take care of their son. There is no substitute for the intimacy and familiarity one finds on HBCU campuses. Jaekwon Carlye is a Philly Pride kid completing his freshman year at Hampton and he loves it there. I know Pierre made the right choice.”

 

 

Shit Ain’t Fair… We Need Search Firms for Families!

There’s a BIG ASS thumb on the scale in the college coaching market… I am sure Adam Smith is rolling over in his grave. In this particular market, the “invisible hand” has been amputated! You see… Free Trade and open market exchange are SUPPOSED to automatically channel self-interest toward socially desirable ends. However, in the college basketball coaching market free trade and open markets have been usurped. A group of overwhelmingly white men have formed cabal that controls access to the 350 or so Division 1 head coaching positions. This search firm cabal severely limits minority candidate access to these highly desirable positions.

Thumb-on-Scale

In some ways, the existence of these “search firms” is easy to understand…

Choosing a Division 1 basketball or football coach is very difficult task… Where do you begin? These guys are silky smoooooth… They really know how to come across as personable, gregarious and charming. It’s hard not to like most of them… They present themselves well at all times…

They are TOP NOTCH salesmen… Some would say “slick”… The product they are selling, at all times, is themselves…

FN4ic50

Guys like Mark Turgeon (Maryland), Mike Hopkins (Washington), John Calipari (Kentucky – pictured above), Frank Martin (South Carolina – pictured below), Phil Martelli (St. Joseph’s), Fran Dunphy (Temple), Pat Chambers (Penn State), John Giannini (La Salle), Zach Spiker (Drexel), Martin Ingelsby (Delaware), Todd Bozeman (Morgan State), Kevin Baggett (Rider), Joe Dooley (Florida Gulf Coast) and Mike Brennan (American) are ALL good dudes… Spend a few hours with any of these coaches and you will like them…

maxresdefault

The very best among them can sell water ice to Eskimos in the dead of winter… They can sell a furnace to Satan himself… Oh… they use different approaches and different tactics but selling is selling… It’s what they do best… Buyer beware!!

Indeed, the overwhelming majority of the 351 Division 1 Head Basketball Coaches come across as “good dudes” precisely because they are highly capable pitchmen… The questions that ultimately matter are: Which one is best for you? Which one should you entrust with your future? How do you begin to figure it out?

Two distinct groups grapple with these crucial questions year after year: 1) predominantly white male athletic directors, and; 2) predominantly Black families. They bring vastly different backgrounds and resources to the decision-making process. The former are, generally speaking, experienced and well educated. Most ADs have Masters or Doctorate degrees. The latter are, for the most part, novices in the world of college athletics and often lack Bachelors, much less, advanced degrees.

The differences between the two groups are really profound…

One recent survey found that whites are 89 percent, 90.9 percent and 95.9 percent of the athletic directors in Divisions I, II and III, respectively. Additionally, only 8.3 percent of Division I athletics directors are women. Plainly stated, hiring a college coach is, more or less, a white male task.

Conversely, in 2015-2016, Blacks (3,153) made up a majority (57%) of the total number of Division 1 basketball players (5.472). Black Division 1 football players (13,453) also outnumber white players (11,240) and all other racial groups.

Both groups, white male ADs and Black families, routinely face the difficult challenge of selecting a D1 coach… For both groups, it’s an extremely important decision.

Let’s examine the way each approaches selection processes…

On one hand, university presidents and athletic directors have become increasingly reliant on search firms. The aforementioned cabal has assumed the role formerly played by Athletic Directors in the dysfunctional college basketball coaching market. For that, they are handsomely rewarded. It’s not uncommon for universities to shell out anywhere from $50,000 to $325,000 for assistance in making such decisions. Search firms, supposedly, dig deep into the background of the coaches and provide detailed reports to institutional decision-makers. Thereby enabling highly informed and rational decisions. In this way, it is argued, the help the market function better…

However, very little attention is focused on the extent to which qualified minority coaching candidates are EXCLUDED through this process. With search firms in place, they often can’t even get a sniff!

Black families choosing a coach, on the other hand, all too often are left to fend for themselves… They, typically, have little to no experience and even less background information.

Who provides Mom and Dad a detailed report? Who tells them about the 6 players the coach ran off over the past 3 seasons? Who tells them the program has NEVER had a Black Head Coach in 120 years? Who tells them Black players ALL major in Parks and Recreation? Where are the search firms for families?

There are none… In fact, when well-informed AAU coaches or HS coaches offer assistance and guidance, the media and the general public at large are quick to condemn them as “interfering handlers” or, worse, self-centered “pimps.” The cry is to “let the market prevail in a fair and unfettered manner”…

To sum up… Helping athletic directors = good… Helping families = bad…

It’s a highly hypocritical position to hold… Shit makes NO sense…

These days, presidents and athletic directors rarely rely on their own contacts and instincts… They don’t perform their own due diligence… Parents, however, are forced to go it alone in many cases…

The cabal works in the shadows…

Very little is said about the way university administrators use search firms to shield access to their decision-making process. Arguably, search firms are used to favor some groups and exclude qualified candidates from full consideration.

If a candidate is not on the search firms short list, he has absolutely no shot! He can’t even get a fucking phone interview…

Search firm dealings are Top Secret! They clandestinely develop lists of coaching candidates and put out feelers to “preferred candidates” without divulging any information, should the match not be made. Search firms also prevent problematic situations for coaches under contract at other institutions. Their names are usually not revealed as applicants for said opportunity, preventing awkward conversations with current employers. Perhaps, most importantly, an athletic director can place the blame for what could be a future bad decision on the search firm thus save his own ass.

Compare that to the situation faced by families. Every single offer a family receives from a D1 coach is immediately broadcast on several recruiting websites, college message boards, twitter, instagram, local newspapers, etc. Everyone knows the family’s business… Everyone knows which coaches are vying for their child’s services. If they turn down an offer, everyone knows… Unlike, presidents and athletic directors, families have no one to blame for what could be a future bad decision. The media and the general public hold families accountable for their decisions.

NICKB

Shit ain’t fair… We need search firms for families!

Such firms could lead parents to selecting certain coaches in manner similar to the way universities are led to preferred candidates. Search firms could match parents of elite Black prospects with Black coaches, programs that have high Black student-athlete graduation rates and/or programs with Blacks in leadership positions.

LevelleAbout

Of course such intervention would foster heated discussions among the media and university athletic administrators. Such outcomes would be vilified… The media would predictably condemn a process whereby “middle  men” steer prospects to certain coaches…

The same media  is largely silent while “middle men” steer presidents and athletic director to certain coaches…

I call BULL SHIT!!

These consultants offer a mix of headhunting, background checks and other services formerly performed by Athletic Directors. Cost is no object for NCAA D1 institutions.

At the same time, those offering similar “consulting services” to families are commonly labelled pimps and handlers…

But who is truly pimping the game? According to USA Today, Texas paid the search firm Korn Ferry $267,000 for services associated with the hiring of football coach Charlie Strong. Three years earlier Colorado State paid about $320,000 for a company to run its football coaching search.

Tennessee coughed up $50,000 plus expenses for Collegiate Sports Associates to oversee its men’s basketball coaching search which yielded Rick Barnes. George Mason paid $50,000 paid to Parker Executive Search to help them hire Dave Paulsen away from Bucknell. More recently, N.C. State paid $90,000 to Parker Executive Search to help hire Kevin Keatts and Missouri paid $80,000 to Parker Executive Search to help hire Cuonzo Martin.

Street-agents and handlers ONLY look out for themselves we are told… They do a lot of self dealing… Right?

Baker_Dunleavy_Nova_JENSEN08

Well… Last year Quinnipiac University used the Chicago-based search firm, DHR to hire its athletic director. This year, Quinnipiac fired its men’s basketball coach -Tom Moore. DHR receives the contract to replace him. DHR targeted Villanova Assistant Baker Dunleavy (pictured above) who was recently announced as the Head Coach. Meanwhile, Ashley Howard, also an Villanova Assistant (pictured below), is, apparently, not on the search firm short lists for some reason… SMH…

P 30 Ashley Howard Replacement

Hmmmmm… Pretty sweet arrangement for DHR…

Many hardworking single Moms have no awareness of the differences between low-major, mid-major and high-major programs… They don’t know the Big 10 and from the SWAC… They don’t know how to research NCAA Academic Progress Rates… In too many cases, Dad is not involved… Mom may be working two or more jobs trying to keep food on the table…

These folk need help making extremely difficult choices among D1 football and basketball coaches. In my opinion, low to moderate income Black families need help with these decisions waaaaaaaay more than white guys running $20-$200 million dollar athletic departments.

I’m just saying…

The Paucity of Black Coaches: Does it Matter?

African-Americans have long dominated college basketball on the court. Every year, college send their coaches into Black communities in search of talented Black basketball players. These coaches beg, plead and some even try to bribe young Black men to come play for their colleges and universities.

In the overwhelming majority of instances, the Head Coaches are white. The players are, for the most part, Black.

Does this matter?

Should players, their parents, AAU coaches and others involved in the school decision process consider the racial background of the coaches?

If they do not consider the racial background of the Head Coaches, will the situation ever improve?

Are Black males destined to remain the “talent”? Will their presence on the sideline ever match their presence on the court?

Basketball Racial Disparity-page-0

As you can see on the chart (above), Black players are disproportionately represented in the uniforms. These are ten of the biggest conferences with the largest basketball budgets in the nation.

In the Missouri Valley Conference, Blacks make up about half the players and there are ZERO (0) Black Head Coaches in that league. ZERO!

If Black players never see Black Head Coaches and Black Athletic Directors, how will they envision themselves in these positions of authority?

Kwalifi logo

Where are Today’s John Chaney & John Thompson?

The NCAA has consistently implemented a series of increasingly stringent academic reforms. These reforms have disproportionately impacted Black student-athletes from under-performing urban and rural schools in the South.

Kwalifi logo

When the initial reforms were proposed and implemented John Chaney and John Thompson took incredibly strong stances. They cited the “racist” nature of the measures. They openly criticized the NCAA.

Today, prominent Black coaches and professional athletes are noticeably silent. This despite the fact that the most restrictive and discriminatory reforms are set to become effective August 1, 2016.

This had led me to ask: Where are today’s John Chaney and John Thompson?

I’ve spoken to a couple hundred young student-athletes in the Philadelphia area over the past 3-4 weeks. Maybe 1 in 20 have ever heard of John Chaney and John Thompson.

Our children do not know our history. They have no idea of their place in the struggle for inclusion and equality. As a result, they are not prepared to navigate the traps that have been set for them.

Kwalifi Poster - Rens-page-0

 

The DEVIL is a LIAR! Our kids WANT to learn!

Black student-athletes don’t care about academics… Inner city High School coaches don’t emphasize the importance of books…

Last week a U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia openly stated “There are those who contend that it does not benefit African Americans to get them into the University of Texas where they do not do well, as opposed to having them go to a less-advanced school, a slower-track school where they do well.”

I’m here to tell you…

Devil is Liar

Out kids are thirsty for knowledge. They want to learn! They want to go to college. They want to create better situations for themselves and their families.

What they lack is a road map. How do they accomplish their goals? They have no idea. What are the obstacles the face? They have no clue.

What I know for sure is that High School Coaches want to see their kids excel and further their education. Coach after coach has demanded that I come in an explain the NCAA eligibility process to their players. Indeed, Lou Williams at Dobbins Vo-Tech insisted that I hang up the phone and come talk to his players immediately. Of course, I jumped in my car and headed to 22nd and Lehigh. Upon arriving, Coach Williams stopped practice because he said, “education is MORE important” than what they were reviewing in practice.

Time after time, the same scenario plays itself out… The DEVIL is liar…

Andre Noble and Rob Moore - kwalifi poster-page-0

The coaches know that in June of 2013 Philadelphia Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. laid off 3,783 employees, because of the district’s financial crisis. The list included 676 teachers, 283 counselors, 127 assistant principals, and 1,202 noontime aides. Before he said it, the coaches knew that “These … employees are more than numbers: these are people — professionals — who play important roles in the lives of thousands of students throughout our city.”

The coaches see the results… Hite called the layoffs “nothing less than catastrophic for our schools and students… Every aspect of the district will feel the impact — schools, regional offices, and central office — along with employees ranging from senior administrators to support staff.”

I have been amazed by the extent to which the coaches and the student-athletes persist in the desire to pursue higher education… Everyone knows Philly’s students and student-athletes have long received the short end of the stick. Yet, they strive…

Kwalifi logo

When I show up to talk about NCAA regulations and the kwalifī smartphone app, I am frequently told “I already downloaded it and put my grades in…”

I cannot put into words how that makes me feel… To know that my idea, my concept, my plan has come to fruition and the young people are using it without being prompted nearly made me cry! Youngbucks have called me from Baltimore asking how to interpret their results and I have yet to visit a single school in Maryland.

It’s not just under-performing urban schools… Predominantly white and middle to upper class Upper Moreland, Wissahickon and Pymouth-Whitemarsh have embraced kwalifī. But, the intent was and will always remain to help those who are most needy… For years, I have spent hours and hours with some of the sharpest, most intelligent young men in the country. I have seen many of these guys go on to do great things in college and beyond. Here is a partial list…

Kwalifi - Partial Client List-page-0(1)

With the kwalifi app, instead of 10-15 per year, we will be able to help tens of thousands!!

Team Photos-page-0(1)

The young brothers pay attention to the message… They ask very good questions…

Team Photos-page-1

I love, love, love this particular project… For us, by us… But everyone should feel free to download and utilize the kwalifī app…

Team Photos-page-2

I will be visiting schools every day for the rest of the school year… If you want us to talk to your guys/girls contact us blackcager@gmail.com…

Team Photos-page-3

We must remain vigilant… We cannot allow a return to the days of yore…

Kwalifi - Black Boys Prison Poster-page-0

…and remember… The DEVIL is a LIAR!!

Take Control of YOUR NCAA Eligibility Process: kwalifī app

Happy Holidays!! Here’s my gift to the basketball community… It’s a tool that will allow you to track the progress of young people you care about. It could be your son, daughter, niece, nephew, grandson, granddaughter, neighbor, cousin or just a youngin’ you know with potential.  For a limited time in December, we are making the kwalifī app available for FREE to those that read The Black Cager.

kwalifi Poster - Bruiser Flint-page-0

The kwalifī smartphone app allows high school student-athletes, parents and other concerned adults to track progress toward meeting NCAA DI, DII and NAIA eligibility standards.

kwalifi - screen shots -page-0

The app is available in both the IPhone App store and Google Play store for Android. Use a keyword search for “Black Cager” to access the FREE download. You can also download kwalifi by clicking on the logo below and following the links on the website…

Kwalifi logo

If you care about a young student-athlete, download the app… Tell the student-athlete to download the app… Tell his parents to download the app… Take control of the NCAA eligibility process…

It costs you nothing!! This is my gift to the basketball community… Merry Christmas!!

If you do NOT download the app… If you do NOT take control of the NCAA eligibility, the consequences could be severe!!

kwalifi poster - basketball black & white-page-0

For nearly 30 years… The NCAA has been closing the window of opportunity for students…

“A survey by the Associated Press showed the overwhelming majority of players sidelined by NCAA eligibility standards are Black…. Blacks accounted for 81 percent of football ineligibles in 1986 and 90 percent in 1987.”

Reading Eagle, September 9, 1988

eddie_jones_1991_01_01

Temple Great Eddie Jones was ineligible as a freshman

“Two members of Temple’s 1990 basketball recruiting class who figured prominently in the Owls’ plans will be ineligible next season because they failed to meet the academic requirements of NCAA Proposition 48, sources said. Sources close to the program said yesterday that Eddie Jones, a highly touted 6-foot-6 swingman from Pompano Beach, Fla., and Aaron McKie, a 6-4 shooting guard from Philadelphia Public League champion Simon Gratz, had scored less than the required 700 of a possible 1,600 on the Scholastic Aptitude Test or 15 of a possible 36 on the American College Test.

Philadelphia Inquirer, July 18, 1990

Garnett

Sun-Times player of the year Kevin Garnett of Farragut H.S. (photo by Phil Velasquez 2/28/95 Sun-Times) Sun-Times Library files

Kevin Garnett had the high-school grades to qualify to play college basketball, but the standardized test scores were a different story. He easily gained the necessary number in practice tests, and his teachers considered him plenty smart, but try as he might, he kept coming up short when the ACT was given for real. The best he could do was a 16, one point short of the minimum required by the NCAA for freshman eligibility at the time.”

ESPN, February 28, 1995

jennings.600

Brandon Jennings could not meet NCAA eligibility requirements

Brandon Jennings signed a letter of intent to attend Arizona and planned to stay there only one season. But he struggled to reach a standardized test score to meet the N.C.A.A. minimum for a scholarship. (He and his mother, Alice Knox, said that his last SAT score was questioned by the testing service and that they still had not received it.)”

New York Times, October 4, 2008

jonahbolden

Jonah Bolden (right) in street clothes during UCLA game

“The NCAA has ruled that UCLA freshman Jonah Bolden is a partial qualifier, and as such, will not be able to compete for the men’s basketball team this season,” UCLA said. “The ruling allows for Bolden to continue on athletic scholarship.”

ESPN, September 12, 2014

lamonteturner

Lamonte Turner was not cleared by NCAA

“Tennessee athletic department spokesman Tom Satkowiak confirmed that Lamonte Turner is unable to compete or travel with the Volunteers this season because he “was not cleared by the NCAA eligibility center.” Satkowiak said Turner will be able to practice with the team. Turner enrolled at Tennessee in August but was awaiting clearance from the NCAA in an attempt to play this season.”

ESPN, September 28, 2015

kobie-eubanks

Kobie Eubanks lost a scholarship to University of Alabama

“Kobie Eubanks, Alabams’s top recruit in the 2015 class, won’t play for the Crimson Tide after he was not cleared by the NCAA. Eubanks will not enroll at Alabama, Tide head coach Avery Johnson said in a statement on Wednesday.“We are disappointed for Kobie and his family,” Johnson said. “Unfortunately, Kobie wasn’t cleared by the NCAA and we couldn’t get him admitted to the University of Alabama. He has a bright future and we wish him well.”

Sports Illustrated, August 19, 2015

andyvanvliet

Andy Van Vliet ruled ineligible by NCAA

“Wisconsin forward Andy Van Vliet will not play in the 2015-16 season after being ruled ineligible by the NCAA, UW announced Tuesday night. According to the press release from UW, “NCAA rules state that prospective student-athletes have one year to enroll in a collegiate institution following their high school graduation or expected graduation date. Van Vliet played basketball as an amateur outside of that one-year window, which has resulted in him sitting this season and losing a year of eligibility.”

SB Nation, November 17, 2015

James Proche

James Proche ruled ineligible by NCAA

“SMU receiver James Proche, a DeSoto alum, has been ruled academically ineligible for the 2015 season by the NCAA. But don’t get the wrong impression about Proche, who was one of the state’s top-100 recruits in the Class of 2015.”

DallasNews.com, August 25, 2015

Marcuslovett

Marcus Lovett cannot play this year

Red Storm freshman guard Marcus LoVett has been deemed a partial qualifier for the 2015-16 season, which basically means that he can practice with the team but cannot play in games. The ruling stems from an investigation into LoVett’s academic credits in high school, as the six-foot point guard attended three different schools.

CBSSports.com, November 11, 2015

2014 Nike EYBL. Session #2. Dallas.

Mickey Mitchell rule ineligible by NCAA

“Ohio State freshman forward Mickey Mitchell has been ruled ineligble, according to a release from the university athletic department. “Freshman forward Mickey Mitchell has not been cleared to compete for the Ohio State men’s basketball team by the NCAA Eligibility Center,” Ohio State director of athletics Gene Smith said in the release. “He is eligible to practice but not compete until the issue is resolved.”

Scout.com, November 3, 2015

Mayimba

Therence Mayimba lost scholarship to George Mason

“We got some sad news yesterday via redshirt freshman Therence Mayimba’s instagram account. It appears that once again he has been ruled ineligible by the NCAA and likely keeping him off the college basketball hardwood for good. Recently he’s been playing in the FIBA Afrobasket 2015 tournament for his home nation of Gabon and doing well.”

GMUHoops.com, August 29, 2015

Jovon Robinson

Jovon Robinson ruled ineligible

“Auburn’s biggest running back on the roster will not be playing for the Tigers this year after the NCAA ruled Jovon Robinson ineligible. The action came after one of his high school guidance counselors at Memphis’ Wooddale High admitted to changing a grade on his transcript.”

Trackemtigers.com, August 18, 2012

GIOVANNI-MCLEAN-3

Giovanni McLean lost a scholarship

“The NCAA has issued a temporary waiver allowing Giovanni McLean to continue his studies at the university for the remainder of the fall semester,” said Lynn Bushnell, vice president for public affairs. “He is, however, prohibited from playing and practicing with the basketball team until the NCAA issues a final decision.”

Q30television.com, November 3, 2014

kwalifi Poster - Kevin Baggett-page-0

Download the kwalifi app NOW!!! Click the link below…

www.kwalifi.com

Do Y’all Even Give A Fuck? Notes of a Madd Ol’Head

With the start of the High School Basketball season upon us, the Black Cager has few things he wants to get off his chest… This information is presented “WITH LOVE” and nothing I write is directed at any particular individual… However…

MorganMeme

Yo… HS Coach, why you tryin’ to get that boy to transfer to your school?

You know the average SAT score at your school is 650… You know the kid is at a good school right now… The average SAT score at his current school is 1280… His science labs have modern, functioning, state of the art equipment… Your school has 15 year old text books and the students have to share those…

Last year, there was one suspension at his school. There was a heated argument and one girl slipped and called another girl an “ugly bitch.” She fucked up and said it in front of that nosey meddlesome group of parents that volunteer at the school 3-4 days a week. Of course, they reported her to the Head Master and his hands were tied… He had to suspend her for one (1) day… That’s as bad as it gets at his current school…

Last year, at your school there were 4-5 fights per day. Everyday, weapons and potential weapons are confiscated as students arrive for their daily trek through the metal detector gauntlet. There are 3 armed police officers assigned to your school. One of the rooms adjacent to the main office has been converted to a “holding cell.” The police make trips to take “offenders” to the station for processing.

schoolfight-page-0

The counselors told you that there were 23 pregnancies at your school. You took three of your players to the clinic when you realized they were “burning.”

C’mon man… How…..

How do you even broach the subject of the kid transferring from such a well regarded, high achieving learning environment to your abysmally under-performing school? One hundred percent of the students at his school are admitted to college and many end up in Ivy League institutions. Conversely, only about 26% of the Black males in your school will actually receive a diploma.

Does high school basketball mean that much to you?

Are you really willing to place your desire to win a league, city and/or state championship above the clear cut “best interests” of this young man?

You’re fucked up!

Yo… AAU coach, why you trying to get that boy to change AAU programs?

He’s been with those guys for six (6) years. When they first got him, he couldn’t make two consecutive layups. He was garbage… No one wanted him.

Marquise_Walker_001.jpg

That range from anywhere on the floor all the way out to NBA three… It didn’t just appear. Those guys put in hundreds of hours in the gym working on that jumper. That soft touch around the rim, where he uses both hands to finish with a variety of moves, is the result of intensive drills day in day out. You know how he gets in the triple threat position and uses jabs and shot fake? Well, they work so well because those guys spent countless hours improving his first step.

When they got the kid, he was soft as cotton candy. Now, he fights hard to get good position on the block, and even harder when crashing the offensive glass. That’s the result of reinforcing the mental aspects of the game day in and day out for years. They have developed a kid with a strong personality with great confidence who never gets down on himself. There are few doubts about him becoming a big time impact talent at the collegiate level.

Now… You want him to abandon those guys and come play with you?

He already has 23 scholarship offers… How does changing programs benefit him?

Are you really gonna place your desire to win AAU tournaments and secure a shoe company endorsement over what’s best for the kid?

You’re fucked up!

Yo Mom… Why you not playing the parental role?

That boy is only 12… I know he can be a handful. He’s going through that stage. He’s trying to figure out who he is.

He wants to be a baller!

But… Pay attention… I mean… seriously…

Pay attention

You need him to be a student-athlete. Or, should I say STUDENT-athlete! In order to accomplish that goal, he needs his parents to play a parental role.

blackboystudying

Black student-athlete at his desk

I know it seems innocuous… The “mentor” seems nice… He looks out for your son. He picks him up almost every day to go to the gym. He feeds him before he brings him back. He’s given him 6 or 7 pairs of sneakers. I know it feels like a real burden’s been lifted off your back. Those sneaks cost $125-$200 a pair.

maxresdefault

Your son seems happy… He’s traveled to New York, the Jersey Shore, Washington, D.C, Virgina Beach and Orlando to play ball. There’s no way you could have afforded to take him all those places.

I understand… But… Nothing is free…

Here is where you need to be careful. The “mentor” is gonna come and tell you that your son should change schools. He’s gonna tell you that his current school cannot “develop” your son to his full potential. He’s gonna tell you that your son should go to “Big Catholic/Private HS.” He’s gonna tell you it’s a much better school and he may be right in that regard…

What he isn’t telling you is that he has a relationship with the coach at “Big Catholic/Private HS”… He isn’t gonna tell you that the transfer is designed to ensure that he strengthens his “control” over your son’s scholastic basketball career…

private-school-4

Knowing full well that you can’t afford to pay $9,000, $22,000 or even $30,000 per year, he’s gonna tell you that your son will receive a “scholarship.”

Beware… If your son does not develop as player the “scholarship” funds will disappear. If your family decides to move, you may find out you have accumulated a balance that will have to be paid in full before your school records are released to his new school. If you son has disciplinary issues, you may discover that same balance is due the day they ask you to leave.

I can safely predict that they will tell you that you son need to repeat a grade (reclassify) when he enters “Big Catholic/Private HS.” The stated reason will be that he is inadequately prepared for the more rigorous curriculum. The extra year will allow him to become acclimated to more challenging academic setting. The more pressing, and often unstated, reason is that 19 year old seniors are more effective high school players than 17 or 18 old seniors.

Collage Poster-page-0

You may agree with all of the above, but it should ALWAYS be your decision. Do NOT relinquish your parental control.

When the college coaches start to call, text and direct message your son, make sure you are in the loop. It may seem convenient to let the mentor “handle” his recruitment. College coaches are worse than the most persistent bill collector you have ever encountered. They are relentless and the amount of communication can seem overwhelming. But, it’s part of the process.

Always remember that the interests of the mentor and those of your family might be aligned and they also might NOT be aligned. There may be outstanding academic colleges offering your son a scholarship but unwilling to make donations to the mentor’s “program.” If a less prestigious, less competitive college is willing to make a donation to the mentor’s “program” he will steer you toward that program. More importantly, you may never even know the other school offered a scholarship.

Are you really gonna place your convenience above the best interests of your son?

If so, you’re fucked up!

Which begs the question: Do y’all even give a fuck?

 

Aaron McKie, Tyrone Pitts: From Evictions to Big 5 Success

What do you see in this picture?

Pitts and McKie

Aaron McKie, Temple ’94 and Tyrone Pitts, Penn ’88

Most people probably see two American success stories… Aaron McKie (left) earned over $50 million dollars over the course of a solid 13-year NBA career. Drafted in the 1st round of the 1994 NBA Draft by the Portland Trailblazers, McKie was a key player for Portland, Detroit and Philadelphia. He finished his playing career with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Philly hoop heads will see a Simon Gratz High School graduate. They will recall his prolific three-year career at Temple (1991-92 thru 1993-94). A Big 5 legend, McKie started for all 92 games of his career, averaging 17.9 points per game while leading the Owls to 60 wins, three NCAA Tournaments and a trip to the 1993 Elite Eight.

mckie and chaney

Hall of Fame Coach, John Chaney and Aaron McKie

McKie was an honorable mention All-American (1993). He was named first-team All-Atlantic 10 (1993, 1994) and a member A-10 All-Championship team (1993). He balled out in the local rivalry games and was named first team all-Big 5 every year of his college career (1992, 1993, 1994). In addition, McKie was named Atlantic 10 Conference and Philadelphia Big 5 Player of the Year for his performance in the 1992-93 season, when he averaged a team-best 20.6 points per game.

Tyrone Pitts (top right), born and raised in Camden, New Jersey, is the largest minority general contractor in Southern New Jersey. This year, his firm KL Pitts Construction will generate in excess of $20 million in revenue. Like McKie, Pitts made his mark playing in Philadelphia’s Big 5.

tyronepitts

Tyrone Pitts with a picture depicting the balance between books and basketball

A high flying Palestra favorite and an All-Ivy League player, Pitts finished his career at the University of Pennsylvania with 1301 points. After trying out for the Philadelphia 76ers, Pitts embarked upon a highly successful 7 year professional career in several overseas leagues. Once his playing days were over, he returned to the Ivy league an assistant coach with Cornell University.

Longing to return to the Camden/Philadelphia region, Pitts joined Speedy Morris’ staff at LaSalle University. However, his training in Wharton business school allowed him to see business opportunities where others could not. For a while, he tried to maintain his responsibilities as a basketball coach and manage his investments in Camden real estate.

It soon became obvious that he would have to devote his full attention to managing over 100 full-time construction workers on multiple commercial, public and residential projects. Over the past year or so, his firm has totally renovated 175 low-income housing units in Camden and built a 110 unit senior housing complex in Lindenwold, New Jersey.

What you don’t see in the picture…

You don’t see the scared and insecure boys that came home from school to find padlocks on their front doors and their family’s precious few belonging strewn across the sidewalk. “I was in seventh grade when we got evicted from our house,” Pitts said. ”You can imagine the feeling I had. You come out of your house and see your things lying on the sidewalk. That feeling that hit me that day was something that I’d never like to come back to me again. From then on, I was kind of determined to succeed.”

eviction pic

Belongings on sidewalk following eviction

Addressing a group of children and community organizers at a Philadelphia Youth Basketball Foundation event, McKie conveyed the same feeling. “I came home one day and we were evicted. All I can remember is that there was a big padlock on our door and we no longer lived there. I’ll never forget that feeling.”

Pitts and McKie came of age in the 1980‘s. Cities like Philadelphia and Camden were in the throes of the crack epidemic. North Philadelphia and Camden had long been poor, highly segregated neighborhoods in which a majority of individual adults were either unemployed, had dropped out or never been a part of the labor force. Most of their peers were dropping out of school and many were entry level “lookouts” or “hand to hand” participants in the booming illegal street drug game.

But not these guys…

Pitts and McKie embraced sport as a way to help them develop and become productive citizens by learning life lessons. Despite growing up in the midst of despair and chaos, they were able to develop positive social sphere through sports. Basketball participation offered countless opportunities for socialization activities such as team work, fair play, respect for others and personal discipline.

Forced to deal with evictions and all that goes with that process, Pitts and McKie used basketball to develop coping mechanisms for anxiety, stress, and other factors that make up a low income urban Black male adolescent’s life.

Camden

A street in Camden, New Jersey

They leveraged basketball for access to education…

For McKie and his Temple running mate, Eddie Jones, it was a close call. Both were declared ineligible as freshmen by the NCAA. As reported by the Philadelphia Inquirer in July 1990, “Sources close to the program said that Eddie Jones, a highly touted 6-foot-6 swingman from Pompano Beach, Fla., and Aaron McKie, a 6-4 shooting guard from Philadelphia Public League champion Simon Gratz, had scored less than the required 700 of a possible 1,600 on the Scholastic Aptitude Test or 15 of a possible 36 on the American College Test.”

Time out…

Think about this for a minute… In 2013, the average SAT score at Simon Gratz High School was 682. Keep in mind that in 1994, four years after McKie and Jones sat for the test, the nation’s SAT scores were “recentered.” In other words means that every child in America got something like 100 free points added to his score. So… the current Gratz HS average of 682 is equivalent to 582 when McKie actually sat for the exam. That’s an indicator of how poorly the academic program at Gratz prepares students for college entrance exams.

Gratz kids ain’t supposed to make it… Shit… only 26% of Black males graduate in four years from Philadelphia’s woefully under-performing public schools.

Collage Poster-page-0

The NCAA has spent thirty years closing the window of opportunity for guys like McKie and Jones. They were fortunate to have John Chaney in a position to give them an opportunity to play collegiate basketball. For that, McKie is eternally grateful…

“This is the university that gave me an opportunity at life when no one else wanted to,” McKie said. “I was a Prop 48 coming in … I’m forever grateful to Temple … I was able to get my degree in 4 years.”

Pitts made the transition from the hardscrabble streets of Camden to one of the most competitive and highly regarded business schools in the nation. He has been able to apply his business education and improve the lives of Camden residents. His firm has been responsible for the construction and/or renovation of thousands of units of low-income and market rate housing. He employs hundreds of Camden residents in high paying construction jobs.

kwalifi - Dion Waiters Poster-page-0

Recognizing the importance of education, Pitts also co-founded the Arline Institute which provided small-group tutoring to over 6,000 low-income students attending under-performing public schools.

According to Pitts, “Attending Wharton allowed me to develop the skills necessary to apply the theories needed to overcome challenges in places like Camden. It helped me be in a position to make a positive impact.”

Basketball was the gateway for these success stories. When they had nowhere to live, they had their teams. They had their youth coaches. They had the structure that basketball provided. It helped them avoid the fate that befell so many of their contemporaries.

Kwalifi Poster - Rens-page-0

 

A Real NCAA Rule Change Casualty

Today, I received a text message from a good friend of mine. He’s highly regarded high school basketball coach. Over the years, he has sent numerous players to some of the best college basketball programs in the nation. He’s known as a stern taskmaster that does things the right way. He’s asked the Black Cager to address his parents and players in the past. We’ve always been happy to oblige.

kwalifi Poster - Bruiser Flint-page-0

Today, he needed help. He needed me to talk to a parent. He asked if I could spell it out for Mom.

Her son, “Javonte” (not his real name) is a “Dead Man Ballin”!!

At 6’8″ 240 lbs, he is a beautiful physical specimen.  He is a high level athlete with a smoothness to his game.  On the court, Javonte has a chance to be very special.  He just turned 17 and is already playing at a very high level for high school. Possessing text book form with feathery touch and excellent release, Javonte grew up around the game. His older brothers were All-State players. As a result, he shows a feel for the game that cannot be learned on the fly. With a strong handle, he is adept at creating shots for himself and can spot up or pull up off the dribble. He is very good at creating offense for his teammates.  Javonte has a tremendous basketball body with a big frame, wide shoulders, enormous hands and long arms.

Big East, Big 10, ACC, Atlantic 10 and SEC coaches have been drooling at the thought of Javonte joining their program. They have been constantly hitting him up on twitter, instagram and snapchat.

None of them have seen his transcript…

Bad Transcripts-page-0

Mom refused to take the coach’s advice. When he transferred in prior to the start of his 11th grade year, the coach told Mom, “Your son has dug a big hole for himself… it’s gonna be tough.”

He had spent his freshman and sophomore years at a Catholic High School. During that period he had taken and completed 12 core courses. His grades were 6 D’s and 6 C’s. He had a 1.5 core GPA.

Coach, very much aware of the 2016 rule changes, stressed the importance of getting straight A’s going forward. Coach hoped the kid would at least get mostly A’s with a few B’s. Kid proceeded to fail English and get a D in Algebra as a Junior.

Coach pleaded with Mom and the kid to go to summer school before 11th and again before 12th grade. Coach explained over and over again that he needed to get those D’s off his report card.

“D’s are GPA killers!”

He would say over and over, to no avail. Mom and her boyfriend wanted the boy to play on the Nike EYBL circuit and summer school would get in the way…

On the first day of school in September, when the homeroom bell rang, the NCAA had him in their sights….

Sniper lens pic-page-0

When the teacher, taking attendance for the first time, called his name…

“Javonte, Javonte?”

The finger was on the trigger… Once he raised his hand and responded…

“Here….”

He was done… Dead Man Ballin’…

His senior year had officially commenced. With that, the poor grades on the transcript depicted above were “locked in”.

He cannot retake or replace any of those grades in an attempt to raise his core GPA to the new 2.3 minimum.

His refusal t0 follow the directions of his coach cost the family anywhere from $200,000 to $300,000 in scholarship funds.

Scholarship Values-page-0

Like a cop after an accident in the middle of the night… Like a military chaplain after a young man steps on a land mine…

It was my responsibility to let his mother know that her son is a Dead Man Ballin’…

Before he plays a single game in his senior year, he is ineligible for a Division 1 athletic scholarship…

This fucked up situation is playing out in High Schools and homes in Black communities across the country… Unnecessarily so!!

Kwalifi logo

The Re-Emergence of Black Consciousness Within the Sports Community

Kwalifi - Black Boys Prison Poster-page-0

The term ‘Black Consciousness’ stems from the great Black sociologist W.E.B. Dubois’ development of the concept of the ‘double consciousness.’ Seeking to make sense of the Black American experience a century ago, DuBois coined the term in an Atlantic Monthly article titled “Strivings of the Negro People.” It was later republished and slightly edited under the title “Of Our Spiritual Strivings” in his famous book, The Souls of Black Folk. Du Bois describes double consciousness as follows:

It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity. One ever feels his two-ness,—an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.

The history of the American Negro is the history of this strife — this longing to attain self-conscious manhood, to merge his double self into a better and truer self. In this merging he wishes neither of the older selves to be lost. He does not wish to Africanize America, for America has too much to teach the world and Africa. He wouldn’t bleach his Negro blood in a flood of white Americanism, for he knows that Negro blood has a message for the world. He simply wishes to make it possible for a man to be both a Negro and an American without being cursed and spit upon by his fellows, without having the doors of opportunity closed roughly in his face.”

Black consciousness among athletes reached it’s zenith in the 1960s.  Perhaps, the most glaring example of Black social consciousness during that era took place on June 4, 1967 at 105-15 Euclid Avenue in Cleveland, Ohio. On this glorious day, Jim Brown (Cleveland Browns), Bill Russell (Boston Celtics), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (UCLA), John Wooten (Cleveland Browns), Jim Shorter (Washington Redskins), Willie Davis (Green Bay Packers), Curtis McClinton (Kansas City Chiefs), Sid Williams (Cleveland Browns) and Bobby Mitchell (Washington Redskins) met with Muhammad Ali and then held a news conference in support of his refusal to be drafted into the U.S. Army in 1967.

african-american-athletes-at-news-conference-af400c2cb31b07a9

Prominent Black Athletes Supporting Muhammad Ali, June 4, 1967

Twenty years later, John Chaney and John Thompson boldly and brazenly exhibited their Black consciousness by condemning the NCAA’s naked attempt to “close the doors of opportunity to poor Black student-athletes.

“The NCAA is a racist organization of the highest order,” said John Chaney on January 12, 1989. “On this day, it instituted a new punishment on black kids who have already been punished because they are poor. Any time the NCAA, which is 90 percent white, considers the youngsters in Division I basketball and football, it discriminates, because 89 percent of the kids are black. I wonder what message they are sending. It’s another hardship for black kids made by white folk.”

CHANEY ALLEN ROBINSON

Hall of Fame Coach, John Chaney

A couple of days after John Chaney excoriated the NCAA, John Thompson, then coach at Georgetown, walked off the court before a Big East Game against Boston College. Thompson said that he would not coach in an N.C.A.A. sanctioned game ”until I am satisfied that something has been done to provide these student-athletes with appropriate opportunity and hope for access to college.”

There can be no doubt that Chaney and Thompson were conscious. They obviously felt their two-ness. They are both American  and Black. In their public pronouncements one can almost literally see their “two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.”

These days we are bombarded with stories of urban Black student-athletes and student-athletes from Africa being declared ineligible by the NCAA. They window is closing… Just as Chaney and Thompson noted nearly 30 years ago, the NCAA has “instituted a new punishment on black kids who have already been punished because they are poor.”

Fortunately, there has emerged a level of consciousness among some prominent Black members of the basketball community. Accompanying this increased consciousness, has been some innovative and exciting efforts to lift up young Black students and student-athletes. Athletes are helping younger Blacks understand what they have to accomplish and they are working to provide the necessary tools.

The greatest example of contemporary Black consciousness among athletes has to be LeBron James giving kids from Akron — ones with challenging backgrounds like his — the chance to go to college for free. Jame has partnered with the University of Akron to provide a guaranteed four-year scholarship to the school for students in James’ I Promise program who qualify. The scholarship will cover tuition and the university’s general service fee — currently $9,500 per year.

The developers of the kwalifī smartphone app are trying to empower and increase the level of consciousness among high school student-athletes and their families. They want to put famileis in position to take advantage of scholarship opportunities. The kwalifī smartphone app makes it easy to track individual progress toward meeting NCAA and NAIA eligibility requirements.

kwalifi - Dion Waiters Poster-page-0

The kwalifi app has been embraced by some of the most prominent and influential members of the Black basketball community. In cities like Newark, NJ, Philadelphia, PA, Baltimore, MD, Washington, DC and Houston, TX socially conscious Black men are working to increase awareness of NCAA rule changes. Conscious Blacks in the basketball community are working to increase the level of awareness among those coming after them.

Seton Hall great Marcus Toney-El (NJ Playaz), Vincent Robinson (Robinson School) and Roland Whitley (NC State) are leading the charge in Northern New Jersey. Kamal Yard (Philly Pride), Rodney Veney (Philly Pride), Amauro Austin (Philly Pride), Eric Worley (Philly Triple Threat), Charles Monroe (All-City Classic) Paul Gripper (Team Phenom), Steve Pina (ASM Sports) Lonnie Lowry (Team Philly), Terrell Myers (WeRone Hoops) and Aaron Burt (Team Final) are educating Philadelphia area student-athletes and parents about the new rules. In Baltimore, Nick Myles (St. Frances) and Rod Harrison (Mount Zion Prep) are trying hep Black kids access college scholarship opportunities.

kwalifi - Klutch Sports Group pics-page-0

Rich Paul, Klutch Sports Group – LeBron James’ Agent

Curtis Symonds has embraced the kwalifi movement after a spectacular career as a Senior Executive with ESPN and BET. He is working to increase awareness of the rule changes in Northern Virginia, Washington, DC and Prince George’s County, MD. Former McDonald’s All-American Jawann McClellan is working with Houston families.

There is widespread consensus that the recent rule changes will have disparate negative impact on poor Black and African student-athletes. The is also widespread commitment to helping families take control of their eligibility process. The kwalifi app is a tool that empowers individual student-athletes.

kwalifi - Frazier Management pics-page-1

Josh Selby and Bay Frazier, Frazier Sports Management – Carmelo Anthony’s Business Manager

Social consciousness is re-emerging amongst Black athletes. The kwalifī app is THE tool for conscious student-athletes and their families.

Kwalifi logo

www,kwalifi.com