Dealing with Barriers to NCAA Eligibility: The kwalifī Strategy?

I’m NOT sayin’ it’s a racist organization, but….

Historically speaking, from 1906 through the early 1970‘s the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) sanctioned and supported Apartheid-like Jim Crow segregation among it’s member institutions. For the better part of seven decades, the NCAA perpetuated a system which, more or less, formally excluded people of color from widespread participation. A few exceptional Black athletes like, Paul Robeson (Rutgers), Jackie Robinson (UCLA) and Jesse Owens (Ohio State) slipped through the segregationist cracks in the northern and western parts of the country. In the South, however, big-time college athletics was the exclusive purview of white people.

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Following a massive and sustained struggle for respect, dignity and basic Human Rights during the 1950’s and 1960’s, overt and blatant segregation waned considerably. By 1971, Blacks, heretofore excluded from collegiate athletics at Kentucky, North Carolina, Alabama, Florida, Texas, Mississippi, South Carolina, Clemson, North Carolina State, Louisiana State and other powerhouse football and basketball programs, became all the rage. Between 1970 and the early 1980’s Black student-athletes became a dominant force in mainstream collegiate athletics. Simultaneously, Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) suffered as they steadily lost the most talented Black athletes to wealthier predominantly white institutions.

What was the response of the NCAA to this rapid “tanning” of the high profile revenue generating sports? For some white University Presidents, Athletic Directors and University Donors it must have seemed like an invasion…

Something had to be done… But what?

They couldn’t just contract with Donald Trump to build a “HUGE” wall around football and basketball locker rooms… Nonetheless, they needed a means of stemming the rising tide of Black bodies flooding Basketball and Football programs across the nation…

The problem was that formal segregation was no longer acceptable in America circa 1982-83. It was no longer politically viable to resurrect and reinstall “White Only” signs that had been removed 15 years earlier… A more nuanced and subtle means of denying access was needed. They devised on strategy centered on the development and implementation of “initial freshman eligibility rules.”

I’m NOT sayin’ it’s a racist organization, but….

These eligibility rules were, and remain to this day, discriminatory against Blacks. John Chaney and John Thompson, II throughout much of the 1980’s and early 1990’s, passionately campaigned against what they referred to as  intentionally “racist” eligibility rules. Following eligibility reforms in 1989, Chaney, Temple University’s Hall of Fame Head Coach, unequivocally stated, “The NCAA is a racist organization of the highest order… 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.”

John Chaney

In response to the same reforms, Georgetown University’s John Thompson, II noted, ”I think it’s sort of ironic when they began to integrate the South athletes were the ones used to pave the way, and they were used under the pious assertion that ‘we’re helping these poor kids… Now, apparently someone has said, ‘Enough,’ so they don’t need the kids anymore. They’re using the same rationale they used to get them in to begin to keep them out. I guess it’s a situation where we’re like shoes and clothes. We’re not in style anymore.”

John Thompson

John Thompson, II

These legendary Black coaches used their positions of prominence to consistently and fervently denounce the NCAA’s racist actions. Since then, every four or five years, the NCAA has implemented increasingly stringent initial eligibility standards. Each set of reforms disproportionately impacting Black student-athletes in a negative manner. The most recent 2016 reforms have, once again, led contemporary prominent Black coaches to openly question the disparate racial impact.

I’m NOT sayin’ it’s a racist organization, but….

The National Association for Coaching Equity and Development (NACED), a group led by Texas Tech coach Tubby Smith, Georgetown coach John Thompson III (son of John Thompson, II) and former Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt, recently issued a statement to The Associated Press observing that the standards disproportionately target minority and less affluent students in “an unintended consequence beyond acceptability.”

Whereas Chaney and Thompson, II contended that the NCAA acted with malice and fully intended to harm Blacks, the contemporary Black coaches recognize the same harmful impact but chose to consider it “an unintended consequence.” The raw, unfettered and direct accusations of racist behavior on the part of the NCAA put forth by Chaney and Thompson, II stand in stark relief to mild objections of “unintended consequences” emanating from Tubbs, Hewitt and Thompson, III.

John Thompson, III

Nonetheless, today’s coaches are voicing objection… “That dream could be taken away after six semesters in high school,” John Thompson III said. “So for someone that’s a late bloomer, someone that the light bulb doesn’t go on until later, now it’s too late. And just the disproportionate number of minorities that’s going to affect, the number of people in general that’s going to affect, is not good.”

The 2016 rule changes, coupled with a 2007 rule that allows for only one course from prep school to be applied to an athlete’s transcript, will have a major impact on the number of Black athletes that will be eligible to compete as freshman, especially in the NCAA’s two biggest moneymakers: football and men’s basketball.

A recent NCAA report found that 43 percent of men’s college basketball players, 35 percent of football players and 15 percent of Division I athletes overall who were competing as freshmen in 2009-10 would not have qualified under the new standards. Whether it’s intentional as argued by Chaney and Thompson 25 years ago or “unintentional” as posited by Tubby, Thompson, III and Hewitt, the end result is clear.

A disproportionate number of Black males are going to be excluded from collegiate competition.

I’m NOT sayin’ it’s a racist organization, but….

If I wanted to identify a scheme that would disproportionately harm Black student-athletes I would set the minimum SAT score, with a minimum GPA, at 900. As you can see on the above chart, there is a persistent “performance gap” between racial/ethnic groups on the SAT exam. Asians excel, whites do well and ONLY Blacks have average SAT scores below the 900 cutoff point.

In the “real world,” the “average” white student with a 2.3 GPA will be eligible and the “average” Black student with a 2.3 GPA will be ineligible.

This a perfect scheme… if the aim is to limit opportunities for Blacks while appearing race-neutral.

I’m NOT sayin’ it’s a racist organization, but….

How can Blacks counter this scheme that will, undoubtedly, have racist and discriminatory impact?

While it is certainly interesting to note the evolution of the responses from Black coaches, it really does not matter if the NCAA is intentionally or unintentionally trying to decrease opportunities for Blacks? We must deal with the simple fact that they are decreasing opportunities for Blacks.

The inevitable outcome will be fewer eligible Black student-athletes.

So… What are our strategic options? What should Blacks do about it?

The Black Cager has been discussing this very question with prominent and influential members of the Black youth basketball, AAU/Grassroots and educational communities. Although a lot of different ideas emerged during these conversations, there was a recurring theme in all the discussion.

“We have to EDUCATE the young student-athletes.” Over and over, it was concluded that the best thing we could do was to provide student-athletes and their parents with easy to understand and accessible information regarding the rule changes.

Kamal Yard, Philly Pride/Triple Threat

The Black Cager has had strategic discussions with Kamal Yard, Eric Worley, Rodney Veney and Amauro Austin (Philly Pride/Triple Threat AAU/grassroots organization). They immediately embraced and acted upon the strategy. Rob Brown and Aaron Burt (Team Final) agree that educating families and student-athletes is the most useful tactic at this point. Lonnie Lowry (Team Philly) continues to be a staunch supporter of educational efforts by the Black Cager. Terrell Myers (WeRone Hoops) has also embraced the educational outreach strategy.

Terrell Myers and Sedee Keita

Others have embraced and incorporated the educational outreach strategy as well. Littel Vaughn Charles Monroe consistently make sure they incorporate NCAA eligibility education in every event/league they organize. Philly’s High School Coaches have been very proactive with regard to getting information out to the families. John Mosco (Archbishop Wood), Paul Ramczuk (Archbishop Carroll), Rob Moore (Constitution), Andre Noble (Imhotep), Jazz Williams (West Catholic), Kenyatta Bey (Audenreid), Larry Yarbray (Chester), Pervis Ellison (Life Center Academy), Carl Arrigale (Neumann-Goretti), Chris Clahar (Parkway, CC) and Clyde Jones (Penn Wood) have demonstrated a strong commitment to working with families to increase opportunities for their players to access high learning institutions.

The Black Cager has consulted with Paul Gripper (Team Phenom), Vincent Robinson (The Robinson School) and Sam Rines (Rise Academy) on numerous individual cases. These guys fight the fight and walk the walk with their players. They win some, they lose some… But they always try to arm the players/families with accurate information as early as possible. Lou Daniels, Betty Givens, Mo Howard and Claude Gross are always available to provide counsel and guidance. They treat every kid as if he/she were their own.

But…

Even with all of these efforts we are just scratching the surface of an enormous problem affecting tens of thousands student-athletes of color. This is a national, perhaps even international, issue.  Many African, Latin American and European student-athletes have also been experiencing great difficulty meeting eligibility requirements.

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All agree that we need interventions capable reaching tens of thousands of families. Hence, after consulting with all of the above members of the youth basketball community, we have developed the kwalifi smartphone app. kwalifī is a simple and powerful app for tracking progress toward meeting NCAA Division I, Division II and NAIA scholarship eligibility requirements. It allows parents, students and coaches to take ownership of the eligibility process. Core course grades, sliding scales, core course GPA calculations are made easy to understand. No more depending on counselors. It is simple, easy to understand and very useful! Specific steps are outlined to help student-athletes meet NCAA and NAIA requirements.

Bay and Josh

Josh Selby and Bay Frazier

Moreover, with the assistance of people like Rodney Veney, we have discussed ways to ensure that every Black kid has access to the kwaifi app with Bay Frazier (Carmelo Anthony’s Manager), Rich Paul (LeBron James’ agent), Curtis Symonds (retired BET Executive) and Kevin Chiles (Publisher, Don Diva Magazine). As we develop marketing distribution strategies, The Black Cager welcomes input from all concerned parents. players, coaches and others committed to improving the educational opportunities for Black student-athletes. This is merely one step in a struggle to ensure our young people continue to have access to educational opportunities commensurate with their academic and athletic abilities.

Rich Paul

Rich Paul, Klutch Sports Group

We have to EDUCATE the young student-athletes… If you have any thoughts, ideas or suggestions as to how we can do a better job of pursuing this strategy please shoot us an email at blackcager@gmail.com. If you know of youth organizations or schools that will benefit from the kwalifi app, let me know!

Delgreco K. Wilson
The Black Cager

Kwalifi logo

 

 

Philadelphia Youth Basketball: Social, Educational and Emotional Development

On October 8, 2015, Philadelphia Youth Basketball, Inc. started a new dialogue…

A wide range of basketball stakeholders were present. Claude Gross represented the Sonny Hill League. Don DiJulia, Saint Joseph’s University’s Athletic Director was reunited with his Sweet 16 backcourt of Rashid Bey and Terrell Myers. Fran Dunphy and Steve Donahue, respectively, represented their Temple University and Pennsylvania University basketball programs. Kamal Yard (Philly Pride), Myers (WeROne), Eric Worley (Philly Triple Threat) and Bey (Team Final) represented three of the more prominent and influential AAU/Grassroots programs in the region. Justin Scott, Arcadia University and Rudy Wise II, Rosemont, held it down for the small colleges. Camden was represented by Tyrone Pitts and Larry Yarbray was flying the Chester High flag.

Pitts, Bey, Dunph, Claude, Scott

Tryone Pitts (Penn), Rashid Bey (SJU), Fran Dunphy (Temple), Claude Gross (Sonny Hill League), Dr. Scott Brooks (Missouri)

What was most interesting about this gathering was the fact that the game of basketball was never mentioned over the course of more than 2 hours. The discussion focused squarely on how the Philly basketball community can develop, harness and leverage social capital that can be utilized to further the social, educational and emotional development of young people or “our guys” as Dr. Scott Brooks described them.

Held in the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania, the “Roundtable Discussion” was led by Dr. Brooks, Professor of Sociology at the University of Missouri. Dr. Howard C. Stevenson, Constance Clayton Professor of Urban Education at the University of Pennsylvania and Stephanie A. Tryce, J.D., Assistant Professor of Sports Marketing were also in attendance.

Kenny Holdsman and Eric Worley outlined their vision and plans to build a state of the art, basketball-based youth development center in the heart of North Philadelphia. Holdsman passionately posited that when you create opportunities for young people to develop their potential as students, athletes, and responsible engaged citizens, the individual and the community will thrive. Basketball, for Holdsman and Worley, is more than a game. Their efforts are undergirded by extensive research demonstrating that sports foster growth and development physically, academically, and socially.

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Towards that end, Holdsman noted that they have begun building a professional organization and initiated fundraising efforts to construct a $25 million state-of-the-art, basketball-based youth development center in the heart of North Philadelphia. This 120,000 square foot facility will have 8 indoor and 8 outdoor courts including a 2,000 seat indoor competition court. It will also feature an education wing with a library, classrooms, computer lab, and a community engagement center.

Take the PYB Tour!

Worley explained that they simply could not wait for construction to be concluded to begin serving Philadelphia’s young people. As a result, in a couple of weeks they are initiating the PYB School Partnership Pilot Program. Through this pilot program, PYB will provide programming in eight-week intervals (fall, winter & spring) for middle-school aged students at four school partners located in the North, Northwest, and Southwest regions of the city. Programming will be held at the location of the four school partners twice a week during after-school hours and every Saturday at Temple University and/or another Philadelphia area college or university. The program will focus on academic support, homework help, study skills, time management, tutoring, high school selection, leadership, character development, health and nutrition, family engagement, and basketball skill-building and competition. All participants will receive basketball uniforms.

Dunph and Claude

Fran Dunphy & Claude Gross

Claude Gross shared stories from his experiences over the past 55 years with the Charles Baker and Sonny Hill Leagues. Gross explained that the Hill league was never about producing NBA basketball players. Rather it was always about producing middle class young men that could provide for themselves and their families and become positive contributing members of society.

Finally, there was a magisterial presentation by Dr. Brooks, a protege of Philly Schoolboy legend Claude Gross. While pursuing a Ph.D. in sociology at the University, Brooks spent four years coaching under Gross in the Sonny Hill League basketball. The result of his research was an extremely insightful and nuanced book, Black Men Can’t Shoot (University of Chicago Press). For those interested in gaining a better understanding of the multi-layered intersections of urban education and scholastic sports, it is a must read.

Black Men Can't Shoot

In his presentation, Dr. Brooks deftly described what he saw, heard, and felt working with the young black men in the Hill league. His discussion of the manner in which the Claude Gross, Fred Douglass, Vince Miller, John Hardnett, Tee Shields and others utilized their social networks and expended their social capital was both informative and captivating.

Stephen Pina, a sports attorney with ASM Sports exclaimed, “that was the best talk I’ve heard… Dr. Scott is able to convey his academic work in a very ‘REAL’ manner.” Kamal Yard said, “He articulated everything I have been saying and thinking for the past 10 years.” Rashid Bey reported, “I thought about that presentation all night.”

Perry, Terrell, Rashid

Perry Clark, South Carolina Assistant Coach, Terrell Myers and Rashid Bey

There will be subsequent “Roundtable Discussions” sponsored by Philadelphia Youth Basketball, Inc. and Black Cager Urban Sports Media. Updates will will be available on this website.

The Declining Significance of Sonny Hill and the Resulting Loss of Social Capital

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Sonny Hill at the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame

Founded in 1968, the Sonny Hill Community Involvement Basketball League uses basketball as a foundation for teaching life skills. For thirty years or so, the Sonny Hill league reigned as the undisputed best summer high school basketball league in America. The Holcombe Rucker League in Harlem is also highly regarded. But, the talent in Hill League was unsurpassed. Gene Banks (Duke), Lewis Lloyd (Drake), Clarence Tillman (Kentucky/Rutgers), Mo Howard (Maryland), Pooh Richardson (UCLA), Nate Blackwell (Temple), Dallas Comegys (DePaul), Lionel Simmons (LaSalle), Kobe Bryant (NBA), Rasheed Wallace (North Carolina), Rip Hamilton (Connecticut) and Alvin Williams (Villanova) are just a few of the great scholastic players that laced ‘em up in the Hill League.

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Gene Banks

The concentration of talent was incredible. You could walk in McGonigle Hall on Temple University’s campus and catch the incredibly strong Rico Washington (Weber State) battling the powerful low-post force, Brian Shorter (Pitt) on the blocks. If you were more attracted to guard play, the wizardry of Michael Anderson (Drexel) was on full display as he went against consummate Philly point guard Howie Evans (Temple), the blindingly quick Bruiser Flint (Drexel) or the explosive Steve Black (LaSalle). Summer basketball in Philadelphia was truly something to behold.

The Sonny Hill League was an outgrowth of the Charles Baker League. In 1960, Mr. Hill founded the Baker League as place for professional basketball players to work on their craft during the off-season. The four-team league that began playing outdoors on the concrete court of of North Philadelphia eventually grew to attract some of the biggest names in basketball. Over the years, Wilt Chamberlain, Guy Rodgers, Hal Greer, Billy Cunningham, Bill Bradley, Earl Monroe, Darryl Dawkins, Joe Bryant and World B. Free were regulars in the Baker League.

Wilt

Wilt Chamberlain

It’s all gone!

The Baker League no longer exists and the Sonny Hill League is a just shell of what once existed.

Recently, I received a phone call early one morning from St. Joseph’s coach Phil Martelli. He asked, “Del what happened to the Hill League… I’m reading the box score from a college league playoff game and I only recognize one name – Biggie Minnis.” The Hill league no longer attracts the best high school and college players in the area. There can be no denying the fact… The Hill League has fallen off… That conversation with Martelli stuck with me for a few days. I brought the topic up with Bruiser Flint, Ashley Howard and Geoffrey Arnold. They coach at Drexel, Villanova and St. Joseph’s respectively. I asked each the same thing Martelli asked me: What happened to the Hill League?

The focus of the conversations was on  two distinct questions: 1) Why did the Hill League become insignificant? And, 2) What have we lost as a result?

There is a consensus that the rise of AAU and shoe company teams contributed mightily to the demise of the Hill League. However, the more interesting question becomes: Could the outcome have been any different?

Brian Shorter

Brian Shorter

Mr. Hill’s tenacity and drive enabled him to form and maintain a youth sports league that is nearing it’s 50th year of existence. Perhaps, these same traits rendered him a unable to adapt and become more flexible when the AAU movement crept into Philadelphia. Rather than accommodate the schedules of the biggest AAU tournaments, Mr. Hill forced players to choose. Over time, the lure of jet travel across the country, stays in fine hotels and playing in front of 200-300 college coaches was too much for Philly’s best ballers to resist. Gradually, more and more began to play exclusively for prominent local AAU programs like Team Philly (Adidas), Team Final (Nike), WeRone (Under Armour) and Philly Pride (Under Armour).

The kids, however, being from Philadelphia needed an outlet to settle their neighbor “Ball-Beefs.” Rahim Thompson’s popular Chosen League has emerged to satisfy that thirst for local school yard competition in the summer. Thompson, ingeniously, decided to work around the schedules of the biggest AAU tournaments which take place during NCAA live periods. In this way, he has been able to have the very best scholastic players in Philadelphia participate in his league. The Chosen League has surpassed the Hill League as the place to see the best local players during the summer months.

chosen league

Philly Schoolboy Legend Rysheed Jordan in the Chosen League

What have we lost? The best answer I could come with is: We have lost a great deal of “Social Captial”.

For Mr. Hill and his colleagues Claude Gross, Tee Shields, Fred Douglas, Vince Miller and James Flint the Sonny Hill League was about far more than just basketball. The Sonny Hill League Community Involvement League is an organization that not only includes roughly four dozen youth basketball teams, but also features career-counseling and tutoring programs.

It’s been that way since the beginning… “During that summer of ’68, gang warfare was a big problem all over the country,” Hill said. “Kids were dying. Neighborhoods were being torn up. So I decided to put my name on a league that would get some of kids who would be in gangs to focus their efforts on basketball… I talked to people all over the city. We got truces established. If a kid was found crossing a rival gang’s turf and he said he was going to play in the Sonny Hill League that got him a pass. At first it was a diversion for those kids. Now over the years we’ve grown into a program that gets kids off the streets, gets them learning and gets them a chance to lead productive lives.”

That’s Social Capital!!

lionel-simmons

Lionel Simmons

The basic premise of social capital is that social networks have value. Social capital refers to the collective value of all “social networks” [who people know] and the inclinations that arise from these networks to do things for each other [“norms of reciprocity”]. Through the Sonny Hill League, Philadelphia’s Basketball community was awash in social capital. Shit… were were wealthy in that regard.

Social capital emphasizes a wide variety of quite specific benefits that flow from the trust, reciprocity, information, and cooperation associated with social networks. Social capital creates value for the people who are connected and, at least sometimes, for bystanders as well. Think of all the trust people had in John Hardnett, Claude Gross and Tee Shields. Think of all the information the administrators of the Sonny Hill League possessed and shared with participants and bystanders.

The Sonny Hill League fostered and facilitated information flows (e.g. learning about scholarships, learning about coaches looking for players, exchanging information about players with college coaches, etc.). This was social capital.

The Sonny Hill League established norms of reciprocity (mutual aid). Alums to this very day do for one another. For example, I have called on Lionel Simmons to help kids pay for SAT prep materials and tutoring. The Sonny Hill League network connected folks who were in similar in-groups. The League facilitated connection among individuals.

Rasheed

Rasheed Wallace

The Sonny Hill League facilitated a broader “Philadelphia” identity and solidarity among Philly ballers. The Sonny Hill League helped translate an “I” mentality into a “we” mentality.

When the group of men keep an eye on one another’s players in the streets, that’s social capital in action. When a tightly knit community of youth coaches recommend players from other teams for scholarships, that’s social capital in action. Passing the hat to get up money to get a kid down south for school was social capital in action. Social capital can be found in friendship networks, neighborhoods, churches, schools, bridge clubs, civic associations, and even bars.

The Sonny Hill league has declined in significance. Philly’s basketball community is poorer as a result. We have lost a great deal of social capital.

The elite shoe company sponsored AAU programs will take care of the best 50-60 players… The Sonny Hill League would take care of 800.

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.

Working Together for HS Student-Athletes: Scholastic Sports Think Tank

A recent analysis of data over the past two years revealed some very interesting findings. Of all of the freshman that accepted scholarships to play basketball in the Atlantic 10 (A10) Conference over the past two years – 2013 and 2014 – 52% would NOT have been eligible if the 2016 NCAA eligibility guidelines were already in place.

Through analysis of SAT test score data and discussions with concerned HS Principals, HS coaches, AAU coaches, parents and student-athletes it was determined that Black student-athletes in the mid-Atlantic Region (NY, NJ, PA, DE & MD) were particularly at-risk of not meeting the new guidelines. Another area that may experience significant problems is Jackson, Mississippi.

We have decided to form the Scholastic Sports Think Tank (SSTT) to:

1) Disseminate information and increase knowledge of NCAA, NAIA and JUCO initial eligibility guidelines: The NCAA will implement several significant and increasingly stringent freshman eligibility guidelines. These guidelines will take effect on August 1, 2016.

2) Increase understanding and provide access to innovative interventions designed to help student-athletes meet the new eligibility requirements: Through accessing innovative interventions, we aim to help student-athletes access the tools necessary to meet eligibility requirements. We aim to get student-athletes to think outside the box for solutions.

Scholastic Sports Think Tank - About Us-page-0

For many of our youth, athletics is the means to accessing higher education. SSTT will work to help our youth understand what they need to accomplish in order to be eligible for athletic scholarships.

Look for announcements for FREE full-length practice SAT exams and transcript reviews.

Dead Men Ballin’: Class of 2016

”I think it’s sort of ironic when they began to integrate the South athletes were the ones used to pave the way, and they were used under the pious assertion that ‘we’re helping these poor kids… Now, apparently someone has said, ‘Enough,’ so they don’t need the kids anymore. They’re using the same rationale they used to get them in to begin to keep them out. I guess it’s a situation where we’re like shoes and clothes. We’re not in style anymore.”
John Thompson, Former Georgetown Coach, 1989

“Let the white man say it: There’s no question in my mind that [the NCAA] is racially motivated, subconsciously or consciously, only because this is the only sport, and these the only people that have such stringent rules put on them. No other sport and no other group of individuals have ever been under the microscope like these people.”
Sonny Vaccaro, Nike, 2002

“The NCAA is a racist organization of the highest order… 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.”
John Chaney, Former Temple Coach, 1989

“That dream could be taken away after six semesters in high school… So for someone that’s a late bloomer, someone that the light bulb doesn’t go on until later, now it’s too late. And just the disproportionate number of minorities that’s going to affect, the number of people in general that’s going to affect, is not good.”
John Thompson, III, Georgetown Coach 2015

“This is not about reducing standards. This is about, this isn’t fair. Why are you telling a kid after his junior year of high school that you are less desirable to get a college scholarship? Or, if the light comes on late, why can’t I go to prep school?”
Paul Hewitt, Former George Mason Coach 2015

Shit ‘bout to get very real… It’s gonna be a bloodbath…

On the first day of school in September, thousands of talented and ambitious Black scholastic student-athletes across America will become ineligible for athletic scholarships to attend NCAA Division 1 colleges and universities.

On that first day of school, the moment the bell rings for homeroom on the initial day of their senior year, they will officially be done… toast…

Dead Men Ballin!!

We’ve been here before… The relationship between Blacks and the NCAA has been adversarial and contentious for more than a century. History never repeats itself exactly, so it would foolish to view the period of Black inclusion from the late 1960s to the present strictly through the prism of the past. Nevertheless, no real understanding of the shit the NCAA is currently pulling is possible without an appreciation of the long-standing struggle that followed the dismantling of rigidly racist/white-supremacist structures that prevailed from 1906 to around 1970.

In a manner very similar to South Africa, the United States developed from it’s inception a unique racist white-supremacist socio-economic structure and political apparatus. As a matter of fact, the NCAA was established on March 31, 1906, exactly ten years after American Apartheid was formally sanctioned with the landmark Plessy v. Ferguson ruling by the US Supreme Court. In the Plessy case State laws requiring racial segregation in public facilities were ruled constitutional under the doctrine of “separate but equal”. Jim Crow Apartheid reigned supreme within much of the United States and in NCAA for the better part of seven decades.

duke-team-1966-67

All-White Duke Men’s Basketball Team, 1967

Following the Civil Rights era, the 1970s witnessed the rapid influx of Black male student-athletes in colleges and universities across the country. By the early 1980s, Black males were a majority in football and basketball. After a decade of unfettered Black participation in America’s great collegiate sports programs like Alabama football and North Carolina basketball, the NCAA decided to pump the brakes.

They ran, and continue to run, a play that has proven very successful time after time. The basic scheme was outlined by the legendary Republican political campaign consultant, Lee Atwater, in a 1981 interview. Atwater, architect of President Reagan’s electoral landslides, explained how Republicans win the vote of racists without sounding racist themselves:

You start out in 1954 by saying, “Nigger, nigger, nigger.” By 1968 you can’t say “nigger”—that hurts you, backfires. So you say stuff like, uh, forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff, and you’re getting so abstract. Now, you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites.… “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, uh, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “Nigger, nigger.”

Within the context of a historically racist/white supremacist American culture, this was a brilliant and highly effective strategy. Evil? Yes… But highly effective… It’s still being run by politicians emphasizing things like Voter ID laws and crime… The Atwater strategy is an American as apple pie.

Boogie_Man_Promotional_Poster

Poster for Boogie Man, a documentary focused on Lee Atwater’s Role in GOP politics

So much so, the NCAA took it an ran their version of the play.

By the 1980’s the NCAA couldn’t say “Nigger, nigger, nigger”… So they started talking about academic standards, initial eligibility rules, SAT requirements, core course requirements and all that stuff. All the things they talked about were totally “academic” and a byproduct of them was, Blacks get hurt worse than whites… “We want to establish eligibility standards,” is a hell of a lot more abstract than “Nigger, nigger.”

George Raveling, John Chaney, John Thompson and Nolan Richardson immediately caught on to the Atwater strategy. They used their platforms as highly respected college basketball coaches to call out the racist consequences of the initiatives. Chaney breathed fire… he referred to the NCAA as “that RACIST organization” in response to the rule changes. John Thompson actually walked off the court before a game with Boston College in 1989 in protest of what he considered racist NCAA rule changes.

CHANEY ALLEN ROBINSON

Hall of Fame Temple Coach, John Chaney

Jim O’Brien the opposing coach that night said, ”He’s making a statement that a lot of other coaches feel very strongly about.. ‘He is one person who is in a position to make a little noise about this. We’re talking about one of the most highly visible coaches in the country: the Olympic coach, coaching a team that’s in the top five, one of the best programs in the country. So when he does a lot of people sit up and take notice.”

Thompson and Chaney had the unwavering support of their bosses. ”John Thompson is hired as an educator, first and foremost,” said Frank Rienzo, Georgetown’s athletic director. ”One of his responsibilities is to coach, in this particular instance, the education that he is giving to the students who are entrusted to him has to do with things that are much more important than basketball, it has to do with social justice. ‘This Is a Bad Rule.’”

John Thompson

Hall of Fame Georgetown Coach, John Thompson

Fast forward a quarter century… A new organization of minority coaches last week sharply criticized NCAA eligibility standards set to take effect next year for incoming freshmen, saying they will deny too many athletes the opportunity to to go to college.
The National Association for Coaching Equity and Development, a group led by Texas Tech coach Tubby Smith, Georgetown coach John Thompson III, Texas coach Shaka Smart and former Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt, issued a statement to The Associated Press said the standards disproportionately target minority and less affluent students in “an unintended consequence beyond acceptability.” They are less straightforward and raw than their predecessors, but their aim is exactly the same: Calling attention to the racist consequences of NCAA eligibility rule changes.

Shaka_Smart

Texas Men’s Basketball coach, Shaka Smart

Let me take a few minutes and explain why these coaches are voicing such serious concerns. Why are so many in the Class of 2016, Dead Men Ballin….

Let me show you how the latest manifestation of the Atwater strategy is playing out within the NCAA…

If You Enroll AFTER August 1, 2016, to be eligible to practice, compete and receive athletics scholarships in your first full-time year at a Division I school, you must graduate high school and meet ALL the following requirements:

1. Complete 16 NCAA core courses:
• Four years of English;
• Three years of math (Algebra 1 or higher);
• Two years of natural/physical science (including one year of lab science if your high school offers it);
• Two years of social science;
• One additional year of English, math or natural/physical science; and
• Four additional years of English, math, natural/physical science, social science, foreign language, comparative religion or philosophy.

These requirements have been in place for several years. High school coaches, AAU program directors and guidance counselors have a solid understanding of these requirements.

2. Complete 10 core courses, including seven in English, math or natural/physical science, before the start of your seventh semester. Once you begin your seventh semester, you may not repeat or replace any of those 10 courses for GPA improvement.

Here comes the bullshit… This is where things get very tricky… The “new rules” say “Once you begin your seventh semester” (senior year) you “may not repeat or replace” core grades from freshman through junior years.

Simply stated… First day of senior year you could be done!! Dead Man Ballin’….

The NCAA reviews tens of thousands of transcripts annually through it’s Eligibility Center.

The NCAA knows full well that many Black boys struggle in 9th grade. In cities like Philadelphia and New York the graduation rate for Black males has been as low as 28% in recent years. Most struggle with the transition to high school. They fuck up in 9th grade when they are 14 or 15 years old. However, many realize that their athletic abilities can lift them out of dire situations by the time they are 17 or 18. Many have matured late and began to take education seriously as a junior or senior in high school. Many of the finest football and basketball student-athletes in the country have had to replace or repeat courses they failed or received Ds in as seniors or in Prep School. The NCAA is eliminating this opportunity.

Nigger, nigger, nigger…

3. Earn at least a 2.3 GPA in your core courses.

Last year, the average graduation rate for black players on the 68 men’s teams in the Division 1 tournament was a record 65 percent. To understand what a leap that is, that percentage represents a sharp rise up from 51 percent in 2008 and 35 percent in 2003. Black males are doing better than ever. Indeed, they are doing better than US college students overall. The 2012 graduation rate for all first-time, full-time undergraduate students who began their pursuit of a bachelor’s degree at a 4-year degree-granting institution in fall 2006 was 59 percent. All of these Black male student-athletes that are graduating entered NCAA institutions with a 2.0 minimum requirement in place. Why raise the minimum to 2.3?

Nigger, nigger, nigger…

4. Earn an SAT combined score or ACT sum score that matches your core-course GPA on the Division I sliding scale for students enrolling on or after August 1, 2016.

If student-athlete has a 2.3 GPA he will have to score 900 on the combined Math/Verbal portions of the SAT to meet NCAA eligibility requirements. What are the chances that threshold can be met? As you can see, 39 of 58 (67.2%) Philadelphia public schools have average M/V SAT Scores below 800. Ten Schools (17.2%) have scores between 800 and 899. So… 85% of Philadelphia’s public high schools have average M/V SAT scores below 900. But… an athlete with a 2.3 GPA (C average) is gonna break 900?

Philly Public School SAT Scores

The Charter Schools are not doing much better… As you can see, Philadelphia’s charter schools are struggling to produce adequate SAT scores. Only 1 charter school has an average score that meet NCAA minimum of 900 for a student with a 2.3 GPA. Some charter schools with nationally recognized athletic programs have scores well-below the NCAA minimum score.

Philly Charter Schools SAT scores

Nigger, nigger, nigger…

Programs like Drexel, Villanova and LaSalle have graduated every 4 year player that has come through the program. Why tinker with success?

The Atwater strategy is in full effect… He told us the play they like to run… Will the class of 2016 make the necessary adjustments?

Or, are they Dead Men Ballin?

Philly’s Phinest: Brandon Austin

Brandon trophies

Brandon Austin with Three PIAA State Championship Trophies

He’s the best Philly has to offer… The talent and skill level are undeniable… He’s the man… After winning three straight state championships and being named Class AAA Player of the Year in Pennsylvania, Brandon Austin was a consensus top 50 player in the class of 2013. He had it all… The future seemed secure… He would make a splash in the Big East with Providence and then embark on a long career in the National Basketball Association.

Maybe $100,000,000 or more…

Then came the detours… First an incident at Providence… transfer to Oregon… then another incident at Oregon…

Dream deferred…

Time to pick up the pieces… Forget basketball… It was time to rebuild trust and salvage his reputation…

After considering his dwindling options, Brandon decided to place his fate in the hands of Steve DeMeo, coach at Northwest Florida State College. DeMeo recognized that despite the allegations, Brandon was never convicted of anything… After meeting with Brandon, he felt the young man deserved an opportunity to continue his education and reestablish his basketball career. He gave him a scholarship.

Brandon reported to the campus in the sleepy town of Niceville, Florida ready to demonstrate that he was not the “predator” portrayed in national media outlets. For the past year, he kept his head down, stayed humble and accumulated academic credits. DeMeo says, “Brandon has been great with us. He’s a very respectful young man. He’s done everything we have asked of him off the court and more.”

On the court, Brandon flourished… Finally able to play after a year of allegations, investigations and suspensions, he led Northwest Florida to the Florida State Junior College Championship and the National Junior College Championship. The Raiders finished with a record of 33-2 and Brandon was named Most Valuable Player of the National Playoffs.

NWF Champs

Northwest Florida State after winning Florida State JUCO Championship

While he has been cleared of all criminal charges, Brandon acknowledges that he made some questionable decisions that cost him dearly. “I have been focused on improving my decision-making. I have learned to better assess situations. In the past, I kinda went along with the crowd, no more of that for me.”

The basketball world has taken notice of the fact that he still one of the best players in the nation. Brandon is a long athletic combo guard with tremendous ball skills. He can play the 1, 2 and 3 position. He is an intelligent and smooth playmaker who never seems to get rattled or rushed into making mistakes. In his first year of competition at the collegiate level he showed great poise and maturity. In the semi-finals of the National JUCO Championship playoffs, with 0.6 seconds left, Austin stepped to the line and buried two free throws to send the second-seeded Raiders into the NJCAA Division I title game with a 105-103 overtime win over 19th-seeded Georgia Highlands. He ended the night with a game high 29 points and 13 rebounds.

Brandon_Austin_NW FS

Brandon Austin in National JUCO Playoffs

Offensively, he makes everything look easy. Austin has great imagination and creativity. He has exceptional vision and passing ability. He is an excellent decision maker and appears to have the ability to develop into an NBA point guard. His drive and kick is an effective element to his offensive arsenal. His length and long wingspan gives him the ability to disrupt passing lanes and shots, as well as giving him extra length to get to loose balls and get shots off.

Austin has good form on his shot and a quick release. He is very good at running the pick-and-roll, well ahead of most college guards. Brandon is capable of creating and hitting midrange shots with a nasty handle, using crossovers and fakes to rock defenders off balance. He has dedicated himself to improving his conditioning. He has worked on his body and is showing better upper body strength.

Most importantly, Brandon Austin is a winner. After winning 3 straight High School State Championships, he led his JUCO squad to the Florida State and the National Championships in his first year of collegiate competition.

Big 10, AAC, Big West, ACC, MEAC and SWAC teams have shown interest in Brandon. Some want to see him have another incident free year at Northwest Florida State. Others are willing to have him come on board immediately. Brandon can graduate with an Associate’s Degree this summer.

“I just wanna focus on finishing strong academically. I’ve never had any problems with my books in college. But, I have made some questionable decisions off the court and away from the classroom. My Mom, Lonnie Lowry (Team Philly), Warren Green (mentor) and my counselor Dr. Abby Baker have helped me make better decisions. I am grateful for the opportunity Coach DeMeo and Northwest Florida State gave me. When we won the Championship, I was happier for the school and my coaches than I was for myself.”

Brandon FT

Whatever path Austin chooses to follow, it seems like a safe bet that team will win a lot of games and he will stay out of trouble.

Perhaps, one of the City 6 will step up and give Mr. Austin a chance to finish his education at home… After all, he is Philly’s Phinest!

Bruiser, Dunph, Dr. G, Phil, Jay… give him a call…

Pussy Is Undefeated!! Youngfellas, Please Take Notes…

Pussy got a better record than Floyd Mayweather. Undefeated every win by KO.

Charlamagne Tha God

Pussy is undefeated…

Some things you learn from your parents… Some things you learn in school… Some things you learn on the streets… Your friends, especially during that awkward transitional period known as puberty, will try to teach you a thing or two…

But, some of the most important lessons in life can only be learned through experience. It’s taken me half a century to come to this realization. Please allow me to give you a few of examples of shit I have come to understand, on my own, over the years.

I was born exactly 50 years ago, January 12, 1965. I came into a world and a nation characterized by strife and conflict. Unbeknownst to me, from the moment I drew my very first breath, my life was directly impacted by European colonialism and the resulting international conflicts.

White Americans and their European 1st cousins rule the world…

Life taught me this important lesson very early on. While I was learning to sit up, hold a bottle, crawl and eventually walk… The United States was heavily involved in a protracted conflict with the communist government of North Vietnam.

As a boy focused almost exclusively on how Ultra Man would overcome the evil monsters and awed by the strength Bam-Bam displayed in the fictional city of Bedrock, I had no way of knowing North Vietnam had run the French Colonialists out of their homeland in 1954. Looking back as I begin my second half-century, it kinda makes sense that the Vietnamese wanted to govern themselves.

ultraman

Ultra Man

Who doesn’t? What people in this world want to be ruled by foreign powers?

George Washington, James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and the rest of the American Founding Fathers wanted the exact same thing and, for that, they are revered and celebrated.

One can almost imagine Alexander Hamilton or Ben Franklin loudly saying “FUCK King George!” The founding Fathers were rightly pissed about the lack of American representation in English Parliament. They really resented direct taxes levied by the English Parliament on the American colonies without their consent. Over time, they came to the conclusion that King George and the rest of England could “fuck off.” They created self-governing provinces, they circumvented the British ruling apparatus in each colony by 1774. Finally, in July 1776, they said “we out!”

We all know the narrative… It’s been drilled into us from Day 1… King George and England were the bad guys. Washington and the other Founding Fathers seeking self-governance and independence were the good guys.

As I came into the world, active US combat units were being introduced into Vietnamese Arena. By the time I was four, in 1969, more than 500,000 U.S. military personnel were stationed in Vietnam.

vietnamChildren running during Vietnam War

The North Vietnamese, like Jefferson, Adams and Franklin 180 years earlier, sought independence and self-determination.

“Fuck the French… We out!”

My toddler brain was only capable of caring about Ultra Man and 1 soldier, Private James Earl Wilson, my father. He was drafted and sent to fight for “his country” I was told.

When he came home, his foot was gone.

That’s how I learned Europeans rule the world… During my formative years, all I knew was that war took my father’s foot. War was bad… Actually, war was really fucked up.

 

To me, Muhammad Ali made perfect sense when he said, “I Ain’t Got No Quarrel With The VietCong… No VietCong Ever Called Me Nigger.” My Pop ain’t have no skin in that game. Yet, he came home without his foot. He made a helluva sacrifice for “his country” and the dying remnants of the French Colonial empire.

This process helped me become an “experiential learner.” That is, it helped me improve my ability to learn a lot of shit on my own.  Experiential learning is a process through which people develop knowledge, skills, and values from direct experiences outside a traditional academic setting. Basically, it’s the shit you pick up and understand on your own.

For example, my teachers in high school and college never explained why George Washington was a revered “freedom fighter” and Nelson Mandela was a “despised terrorist”….

Some shit, I came to learn, you just have to pick up through experience and observation…

Over the past 5 decades, I have learned a lot of things outside the classroom.

White Flight is real…

Every February for as long I can remember, Black school children across the country are reminded that Crispus Attucks was the 1st American casualty in the the Revolutionary War, Frederick Douglass fought against slavery, Jackie Robinson was the 1st Black player in Major League baseball, Rosa Parks refused to give her seat on bus to a white man, Dr. King gave a great speech during the March on Washington and the Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme Court in 1954 ruling ended segregation in American public schools.

WKNnettie.jpgNettie Hunt and her daughter Nikki on Supreme Court steps in 1954

However, my experiences taught me a very different lesson… Every day, I got on buses with 200-300 other Black Darby Township students and we rode right past two predominantly white high schools to get to our predominantly Black high school…

While my history textbooks told me that school segregation was formally declared unconstitutional in 1954, my daily experiences from 1977-1982 taught me something very different… Segregation was very much alive… the Court ordered only that the states end segregation with “all deliberate speed.” This vagueness about how to enforce the ruling gave segregationists in Delaware County the opportunity to organize resistance. Their stall tactics worked for a full three decades.

Finally, after 30 years “all deliberate speed” arrived in the Southeast Delco School District… After, attending schools that were more than 90% Black from K-11, I spent my senior year as a distinct minority in the “desegregated” and newly formed Academy Park High School.

When it opened in 1982, the newly formed Academy Park HS was about 70% White and 30% Black… Today the school is about 70% Black and 30% White…

White flight is very real…

Again, my teachers and textbooks said one thing, my experiences taught me something very different…

This brings me to, perhaps, one of the most important lessons I have gleaned from 50 years of learning shit on my own. Like the examples cited above, the books don’t cover this one. Nonetheless… It’s extremely important.

Young fellas… Pussy is undefeated…. Please take notes!

In this corner some very famous, powerful and wealthy men like Mike Tyson, Bill Clinton, Tiger Woods and most recently Bill Cosby….

And… In the other corner… pussy…

The resulting losses have been breathtaking, monumental and widely covered by the media… pussy has registered some incredible ass whoopings.

As you transition from High School to college, know that this lesson is not discussed in classrooms, you will not be assigned research papers on the topic, books on the subject won’t appear on syllabi… Yet… Eventually, you will come to know it’s the truth…

Of all the lessons Ol’ Heads try to impart on young fellas, this may be the hardest to teach. I have concluded, for many, this lesson can only be absorbed through experiential learning.  Unfortunately, most of us have to experience the body shots, upper cuts, left hooks and right crosses first hand.

One very recent high profile case serves as a classic example…

Over the past decade, David H. Petraeus, a retired four-star general served as commander of American forces in both Iraq (2007) and Afghanistan (2010). After that, President Obama appointed him to lead the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in 2011.

Plainly stated, Petraeus was da fucking MAN! He was running shit!!

He was at the forefront of presidential campaign speculation….

It all came crashing down when pussy whooped his ass…

Iraqi FreedomGeneral Petraeus during a briefing at the Pentagon

On January 9, 2014, the New York Times reported that the F.B.I. and Justice Department prosecutors have recommended bringing felony charges against Petraeus.

Essentially, they are saying he was “pussy whooped” and it caused him to lose sight of his role and responsibilities…

According to the feds, he provided classified information to a lover while he was director of the C.I.A. The Justice Department investigation stems from an affair Mr. Petraeus had with Paula Broadwell, an Army Reserve officer who was writing his biography, and focuses on whether he gave her access to his C.I.A. email account and other highly classified information.

Of course General Patraeus is presumed innocent of all charges until they are proven in a court of law… I have no idea if he committed any crimes… That is for Attorney General Eric Holder to determine.

What we know for sure is that pussy kicked his Ass… 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10… He’s out!!

Petraeus admitted as much in a statement as he resigned from the CIA, he stated “after being married for over 37 years, I showed extremely poor judgment… Such behavior is unacceptable, both as a husband and as the leader of an organization such as ours,” Petraeus said, referring to the C.I.A. “This afternoon, the president graciously accepted my resignation.”

Man down!!

Petraeus was at the pinnacle of power and prestige within the American Government. His future was wide open… Several laudatory chapters in American history books already secured, he was headed for a legitimate run for President… No more… This story plays out over and over again..

Who can forget that day in December 2009 when the immensely proud and intensely private Tiger Woods stood before the world and admitted, “I have not been true to my values and the behavior my family deserves… I have let my family down and I regret those transgressions with all of my heart.”

tiger-woods-02-jpgTiger Woods Apologizing on National Television for “transgressions” during marriage

Virtually unbeatable on the fairways and greens, Tiger suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of…. Pussy.

Down for an 8 count, dazed, trying to make it to the end of one of the late rounds… President Clinton resorted to the following verbal gymnastics while trying to extricate himself from a relentless assault featuring devastating body shots:

“It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is…. Now, if someone had asked me on that day, are you having any kind of sexual relations with Ms. Lewinsky, that is, asked me a question in the present tense, I would have said no. And it would have been completely true.”

That Georgetown education provide Bill with some ammunition, but in the end it wasn’t enough.  He took the L like millions of other men that came before him.

bill_clinton_denies_monicaBill Clinton denies having “sexual relations” with White House intern, Monica Lewinsky

Young fellas… Pussy is about 973,864,899,034 – 0… More importantly, most of the victories have been secured by way of knockout…

I started thinking about all of this because one of my favorite young bucks, Brandon Austin, is on the ropes… He’s staggering, almost out on his feet… Like Holyfield in the third round of the Bert Cooper fight… He’s holding onto his opponent trying to prevent further immediate damage… On the surface, it looks like pussy’s gonna get another body…

Looks, however, can be deceiving…

When one examines the facts, it becomes apparent that he’s ahead on the scorecards and has gathered himself. Brandon stands a good chance of getting out of this thing alive, he can’t win… But a draw remains in the realm of possible outcomes.

The public’s perception of this particular contest, unfortunately, has been shaped by a series of less than favorable stories in national media outlets.  News purveyors such as the Huffington Post, regularly describe Brandon Austin as “a sophomore accused of sexually assaulting women at two other colleges he attended in the past year.”

On July 28, 2014, the Huffington Post reported that “Austin and two other basketball players were accused of gang raping a female undergrad at the University of Oregon in March. The case did not lead to the district attorney’s pressing charges, but the university did suspend the three indefinitely from the team as players and for up to 10 years from the school as students.”

BRANDON-AUSTIN-PROVIDENCE-facebookBrandon Austin

While condemning the behavior of the players, the story had to acknowledge that “the case did not lead to the district attorney’s pressing charges.”

Yet, a month earlier the same media outlet led with the following headline “Oregon Finds 3 Basketball Players Guilty Of Sexual Assault, Will Remove Them From Campus.”

Huh? Which is it?

Is it possible to simultaneously have no charges filed and be found “guilty”?

Yes… Yes… Yes… Austin has been “accused of sexually assaulting women” at two colleges. But, why not place emphasis on the investigation following the accusations and the resulting outcomes?

A Sexual assault is any involuntary sexual act in which a person is coerced or physically forced to engage against their will, or any non-consensual sexual touching of a person.  By all indications, he had sex with women at two colleges.

Like billions of other men, he likes Pussy…

But, he has NOT sexually assaulted anyone… At least, that’s what the prosecutors and grand jury determined in each instance.

In Providence, the evidence regarding Brandon’s involvement was submitted to a Grand Jury.

The findings are as follows:

“After presentation of the evidence to the Grand Jury with respect to Brandon Austin, it was determined there was legally insufficient evidence to ask the Grand Jury to consider charges against Austin.”

There it is… Plain as day… No charges! Yet, the media insists on finding, crafting, subtly creating a way to label him “guilty.”  Where are the arch-defenders of the process? I’ve seen so many of them on my television… I’ve read their op-eds… I’ve listened to them on talk radio…

In the aftermath of the grand jury decision NOT to indict NYPD police officer Daniel Pantaleo for murder following the strangulation death of Eric Garner, the DA, politicians and much of the mainstream media hailed the fairness of the process.

Staten Island DA Daniel Donovan stated, “No one likes to serve on juries, but they upheld their civic duty and they sat for nine weeks, and they’re the only people that heard all the evidence, and they’re the only people that deliberated…. I think we should respect their decision.”

When revealing the grand jury decision NOT to indict Officer Darren Wilson, St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch declared, “The duty of the grand jury is to separate fact from fiction. After a full, impartial and critical examination of all the evidence and the law and decide if that evidence support filing of criminal charges…”

So… we are told, grand jury decides if there was the commission of a crime. In Providence, the grand jury reviewed the evidence and determined there was no crime.

Bandon’s cases, like others tossed by grand juries across America, is settled. Nothing to see here… Move on…

In Oregon, the Lane County District Attorney concluded that there was “Insufficient evidence to prove charge(s) beyond a reasonable doubt… the conflicting statements and actions by the victim make this case unprovable as a criminal case.”

Again, Brandon was cleared by the legal system. No charges were even filed in either case. He beat all criminal charges…

Despite sensationalistic headlines declaring him “Guilty,” Brandon has NEVER been convicted of any criminal acts.

On the scorecard, Brandon is ahead 2 round to none.  But, all the Ol’ Heads know how this story ends… We all know that Pussy is undefeated…

Legally speaking, the grand jury cleared him in one instance… District Attorney cleared him in another…

As Americans have been repeatedly told after other prominent grand jury and prosecutor decisions NOT to prosecute… “I think we have to respect their decision.”

He has been cleared of all criminal charges, but like General Petraeus, Tiger and President Clinton his reputation has taken a beating.

He’s in his corner right now… He’s listening to his corner men… The cut man is on standby…

I just wish I could find a way to let him, and other young bucks, take advantage of the things I have learned over the course of the 50 years I have spent on this earth… Some things, I wish they didn’t have to learn from experience.  At the top of that list is the fact that…

Pussy is undefeated.

Now Appearing in NYC: Langston Galloway

“Start spreading the news

I am leaving today


I want to be a part of it


New York, New York”

Frank Sinatra, New York, New York


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

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

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

We wanted to experience a truly special week.

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

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

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

Larry and LangLangston and his 1st coach, Larry Galloway

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I gotchu!” was his simple reply.

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

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

He just shows you….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lang just wanted to do better… just because…

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

Lang SneakersLarry and Langston Galloway with thousands of donated shoes

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

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

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

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

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

Lang nets

Langston Galloway after 2014 A10 Championship Game

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

PA, NJ and DE College Hoops Power Rankings

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

Three things I know for sure…

1. Villanova is the best team;

2. DJay Newbill is the best player;

3. Shep Garner is the best rookie….

Let’s get the league games started!!