St. Joe’s vs Temple: A BIG Big 5 game… Can You Still Say That?

I am a fan of Big 5 basketball. Subconsciously, I approach every matchup looking for streamers to rain from heavens after the first made basket for each team. For young readers unfamiliar with the tradition, once upon a time, during Big 5 games after each team’s first made basket, fans would throw streamers of their team’s colors onto the playing surface.

The NCAA banned this traditional practice in 1985. Ostensibly, because they thought it was dangerous. I actually think they banned it because they couldn’t figure out a way to monetize it.

The NCAA can always be counted on to do some nut shit…

For 67 years, Philadelphia’s Big 5 — LaSalle, Pennsylvania, St. Joseph’s, Temple and Villanova — have waged a unique Philly college basketball round robin. Nowhere else in America will you find five Division 1 basketball programs in on metropolitan area competing so intensely for a “made up” title. The Big 5 is not a league or conference. Winning the Big 5 doesn’t lead to an NCAA appearance… It doesn’t improve your national rankings.

For nearly 7 decades, the reward has been the winners ability to talk shit to the losers for the next 12 months… In other words, it meant a lot!

Like so many things from my childhood era, the Big 5 is different these days. They don’t play all the games at the Palestra on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania. The programs have abandoned college basketball’s cathedral in favor of campus arenas… Better chance to win at home.

On Tuesday, yet another interesting and dare I say it… BIG… Big 5 matchup will take place at the Liacouras on North Broad Street.

Why? Why, one might ask would you categorize this as a BIG game? After all, both programs are several years removed from national prominence.

The game is BIG because somethings gotta give… To varying degrees, Aaron McKie and Billy Lange are lurching toward the point where they have to shit or get off the toilet.

Aaron McKie

McKie is now in his 4th season after taking the reigns from one of his mentors, Fran Dunphy. His record, 41-44 (.482) overall and 20-29 (.408) in the AAC, has been lackluster by Temple standards. Two Temple coaches, Harry Litwack and John Chaney, are in the Basketball Hall of Fame. Temple currently sits 5th in all-time victories trailing only certified blue bloods Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina and Duke. Viewed from a historical perspective, McKie is off to a rather inauspicious beginning.

Nonetheless, there has been steady improvement in the Owl program under McKie. He has finished 10th, t-8th and 4th the past three seasons… Gotta keep moving up… He has some talented young players in the fold. The Owls have also demonstrated a willingness to fight for some of the top talent in the Greater Philadelphia region. Hysier Miller is from South Philly. Zach Hicks is from Camden. Jalil White and Taj Thweatt played for Wildwood Catholic. Khalif Battle is a Trenton native. McKie and his staff are beating the local bushes. West Catholic’s Zion Stanford joins the fold next season.

Billy Lange

Lange is also in his 4th season leading the Hawks. He succeeded Phil Martelli who coached at St. Joseph’s for 24 seasons. Lange’s record, 25-64 (.284) overall and 10-38 (.208) in the A10 has been atrocious. Hawk faithful had become accustomed to, more or less, regular post-season appearances. Martelli led Saint Joseph’s to seven NCAA Tournaments and 6 NIT (13 total post-season) appearances in 24 seasons as head coach.

Up to this point, Lange has made very zero progress toward returning the Hawks to contention for post-season tournament appearances. St. Joseph’s has finished t-13th, 13th and t-12th past three seasons. Like McKie, Lange has had some success in local recruiting. Neumman-Goretti’s Jordan Hall has moved onto the NBA after just 2 seasons on Hawk Hill. Roman Catholic alum Lynn Greer III has taken over the point guard position. Camden High graduate Rasheer Fleming is one of the more intriguing freshman in the mid-Atlantic region. Substitute guard, Quin Berger played scholastically at Westtown.

Lange also successfully recruited Philadelphia natives, Rahmir Moore, Chereef Knox and Dahmir Bishop each of whom has transferred to other programs. Next year, three more highly regarded Philly prospects are scheduled to arrive at 54th and City Ave. as Shawn Simmons, Anthony Finkley and Xzayvier Brown begin their collegiate careers.

Both teams need a win in the worst way.

Tuesday’s contest is a rubber match for Lange and McKie. In their first meeting on December 10, 2019 at the Liacouras Center, McKie’s Owls literally beat the shit down the legs of the Hawks by 47 points (108-61). It was one of the most lopsided Big 5 games I have ever witnessed over the past 40 years.

Hard dunk after strong dunk after powerful dunk… As Buddy Ryan would say, The Hawks “lifted their skirts” early…

With Covid-19 wreaking havoc on schedules, they Owls and the Hawks would not play each other in 2020.

Lange would exact revenge on December 11. 2021 in the cozy confines of Hagan Arena. Jordan Hall, 26 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals put on a magnificent performance as the Hawks smacked the shit out of the Owls by a final score of 68-49.

The McKie-Lange scorecard stands at 1-1.

Erik Reynolds

So what should we expect on Tuesday? St. Joseph’s is gonna rely heavily on Erik Reynolds, II to generate some offense. I would anticipate Temple’s defensive stopper, Jalil White, to be nose to nose with Reynolds for much of the evening. White is a strong, long, athletic wing with exceptional lateral quickness. For this years Temple squad, he basically has one job… Stop the best muthafucka on the other team from scoring. White does it rather well.

Lynn Greer III has provided a steady hand at the point guard spot for the Hawks. He is a big, strong point guard with solid ball-handling and passing skills. In this, his first real season of collegiate competition he has struggled mightily with his shooting. He is shooting just 36.4 from the floor and a paltry 13.3% from behind the 3-point line. He also needs to cut down on the turnovers. Greer had 6 last game and is averaging over 4 per contest. He will square off against another Catholic League point guard. Hysier Miller is a throwback pass-first point guard for the Owls. Still finding his way, Miller has a stranglehold on the point guard spot for the Owls. While scoring over 7 ppg, he is dishing 4.8 apg while limiting his turnovers to just 2.1 per game.

Khalif Battle and Damian Dunn

Temple’s dynamic scoring duo of Battle and Damian Dunn contribute anywhere from 35 to 45 points almost every game. They will be a tough matchup for Cam Brown and Reynolds on the defensive end of the floor. Kacper Klaczek and Rasheer Fleming will have to chase Temple marksman Zach Hicks off screens all night. Hicks has shown hat he is capable of hitting 3’s in bunches.

Transfer center Jamile Reynolds has been very good at times for the Owls. He has provided them with a legitimate low-post offensive presence as well as solid rebounding. St. Joseph’s center Ejike Obinna, on the other hand, has struggled and his production is down considerably across the board when compared to last that of last season.

So who wins?

Well… I don’t foresee another blowout either way. St. Joseph’s should be motivated coming off a dreadful 17 point loss in a buy game to visiting Fairleigh Dickinson. Temple bounced back from an opening night loss to Wagner in a buy game to knock off Villanova. Can the Hawks duplicate such a feat? Naaaaah… Temple’s will try mightily to limit Reynolds’ offensive production. I just don’t think the Hawks have enough firepower to win at Liacouras this year.

I like Temple by 8.

It’s Early… Why Give a Fuck?

All hoop heads face the same dilemmas in a world of limitless viewing options. Which college teams to follow? Which college games to watch? Which college players to track?

Jack Clark, NC State transfer

Here I make explicit the teams I try to monitor and why… Every day, I look for boxscores and check the standing for these programs.

The Black Cager give a fuck list…

ProgramLeagueRecordWhy it matters to Black Cager Sports
AuburnSEC6-0, 0-0Bruce Pearl is a friend of Black Cager Sports. Asst. Coach Ira Bowman is a Penn alum. Super talented freshman Chance Westry is on the roster.
Maryland Big 106-0, 0-0Kevin Willard is in his 1st year with Donta Scott, Hakim Hart and Julian Reese headlining. Big 10 basketball in the DMV.
Miss. StateSEC6-0, 0-0Darryl Scholfield disciple David Anwar is 1st year Asst. Coach with the Bulldogs. Philadelphia native is one of the nation’s elite recruiters.
St. John’sBig East6-0,0-0Mike Anderson is clearly influenced by Nolan Richardson… St. John’s gets on your ass… They pick you up when you arrive at the hotel… Shoes Vetrone is a top assistant. Big East basketball in NYC.
Kansas StateBig 126-0, 0-0Jareem Dowling is an asst. coach
Penn StateBig 106-1,0-0Micah Shrewsberry has something brewing… Seth Lundy, Andrew Funk, Jameel Brown and Demetrius Lilly are on the roster. Mike Green, Adam Fisher and Mike Farrelly are on staff. Big 10 basketball in central Pennsylvania.
NC StateACC6-1, 0-0Jack Clark starts for the Wolfpack.
Virginia TechACC6-1, 0-0Christian Webster is an asst.coach.
KansasBig 126-1, 0-0Joe Dooley is on staff.
MichiganBig 105-1,0-0 Juwan Howard is head coach. Phil Martelli is asst. coach.
FordhamA105-1, 0-0Keith Urgo is head coach.
MiamiACC5-1, 0-0Isaiah Wong and Wooga play for the Hurricanes. DJ Irving is an asst. coach.
TowsonCAA5-1, 0-0Rahdir Hicks ia a PG.
FGCUASUN5-2, 0-0Pat Chambers is my guy. Dahmir Bishop and Blaise Vespe are my youngbuls. Shep Garner is on staff.
RutgersBig 104-1, 0-0Freshman Derek Simpson is currently starting PG. Paul Mulcahy and Caleb McConnell are close to coming back. Big 10 basketball in central New Jersey.
UMassA104-1, 0-0Frank Martin is my guy… Sool Diggins is my youngbul. My guy, Taquan Woodley, is away from the team for personal reasons.
BryantAmerica East4-1, 0-0Phil Martelli Jr. is an asst. coach
Kentucky SEC4-2, 0-0Began involvement in college basketball with Bruiser Flint at Coppin State and UMass with John Calipari. Lance Ware is on the roster. DJ Wagner, Aaron Bradshaw and Justin Edwards will be on the roster next year.
HofstraCAA4-2,0-0Aaron Estrada is a muthafucka… Currently averaging 22.6 ppg, 4.4 rpg and 4.2 apg… Christian Tomasco, Khalil Farmer and Griffin Barrouk are on the roster. 
ColgatePatriot4-2, 0-0Matt Langel has emerged has one of the finest basketball coaches in the nation. Colgate has finished 1st in each of the past 4 years and 2nd five years ago. A likely target for high major programs going forward. 
St. BonaventureA104-2, 0-0Anquan Hill is on the roster. Sean Neal is an asst. coach.
MarquetteBig East4-2, 0-0Stevie Mitchell starts for the Golden Eagles. 
ProvidenceBig East4-2, 0-0Ed Cooley is had coach. Ed Croswell, Cliff Moore and Jared Bynum play for the Friars.
Seton HallBig East4-2, 0-0Shaheen Halloway is head coach. Corey Lowery is an asst. coach.
LongwoodBig South4-3, 0-0Graham Bousley is on staff.
WagnerNEC3-2, 0-0Donald Copeland is in his 1st season as Head Coach. Scott Rogers and Pete Lappas are asst. coaches. Wagner beat Temple at Temple.
American Patriot3-2,0-0 Mike Brennan is Head Coach. Matt Delaney is on the roster. American beat Georgetown at Georgetown.
PrincetonPatriot3-2, 0-0It’s Princeton
George WashingtonA103-2,0-0 Chris Caputo is head coach. Dwayne Lee is an asst. coach.
VCUA103-2, 0-0Ace Baldwin is PG. Jimmy Martelli is on staff.
DePaulBig East3-3, 0-0Tony Stubblefield is head coach. Bino Ranson is an asst. coach.
Drexel CAA3-3, 0-0Zach Spiker is in his 7th year at the helm. His record at Drexel stands at 79-106 (.427) overall and 36-63 (.364) in the CAA. He led the Dragons to the NCAA tournament in 2021. Will Chavis is a top assistant. Justin Moore, Kobe Magee, and Luke House are on the roster.
GeorgetownBig East3-3, 0-0Now in his 6th year, Patrick Ewing’s record is 71-87 (.449) and 26-63 (.292) in Big East play. Abysmal performance for a once mighty Georgetown program.
Cal St BakersfieldBig West3-3, 0-0Mike Scott is an asst. coach. Kaseem and Kareem Watson are on the roster
Penn IVY3-4, 0-0Seventh year head coach, Steve Donahue is 95-80 (.540) and 44-34 (.564) in the Ivy League. 
AlbanyAmerica East3-4, 0-0Dwayne Killings is head coach. Bob Jordan and Ryan Daly are on staff. Da’kquan Davis, Tairi Ketner, NyMire Little and Aaron Reddish are on roster. 
HowardMEAC3-5, 0-0Kenny Blakeney is Head Coach. It’s Howard.
Coppin StateMEAC3-5, 0-0Sam Sessoms is the PG. Justin Steers in on the roster.
La SalleA102-3, 0-0Fran Dunphy in Head Coach. Donnie Carr is an Asst. Coach. Jig Brickus and Khalil Brantley are in the backcourt.
St. Joseph’sA102-3, 0-0Billy Lange is in his 4th season as had coach. His record is 24-63 (.274) and 10-38 (.208) in the A10. Lynn Greer III, Rasheer Fleming, Quin Berger and Christian Winborne ar on the roster. Xzayvier Brown, Anthony Finkley and Shawn Simmons arrive on Hawk Hill next season. 
TempleAmerican2-4, 0-0Fourth year coach Aaron McKie’s record is 38-44 (.470) and 20-29 (.408) in the AAC. Hysier Miller and Zack Hicks are starters. Zion Stanford arrives next season.
VillanovaBig East2-4, 0-0Kyle Neptune is following the greatest coach in Big 5 history. He’s hit potholes Wildcat fans didn’t know existed. The ‘adjustment period’ for NovaNation. Eric Dixon, Chris Arcidiacono, Jordan Longino and Nnanna Njoku are on the roster. It’s Nova…
St Francis (PA)NEC2-4, 0-0Zahree Harrison is a Philly PG. Myles Thompson, Gestin Liberis and Wisler Sanon II are on the roster.
TulsaAmerican2-4, 0-0Yaphett King is an asst. coach
Morgan StateMEAC2-5, 0-0Kevin Broadus is head coach. Khalil Turner is a starter.
RiderMAAC1-4, 0-0Kevin Baggett is head coach. Geoff Arnold is asst. coach. Allen Powell, Ajiri Ogemudo-Johnson, Tariq Ingraham, Allen Betrand and Anthony McCall are on the roster
Delaware StMEAC1-4, 0-0Stan Waterman is head coach. Horace Owens is asst. coach. Aaron Lemon-Warren, Ray Somerville, Kareem Ewell, Jevin Muniz, are on the roster
MerrimackNEC1-5, 0-0Jaylen Stinson is the PG.
Florida StateACC1-6, 0-0Jalen Warley, Naheem McLeod and Jeremiah Bembry are on the roster.

Black Cager Sports Providing NIL & Financial Education to 2022 Fall Classic Participants

The road to the college basketball in the mid-Atlantic region goes through Black Cager. In addition to counseling and advising top players like Zack Hicks (Temple) and Anquan Hill (St. Bonaventure). A substantial number of the mid-Atlantic region’s players participating in NCAA Division 1 and Division 2 basketball have taken part in at least one Black Cager Fall Classic, a premier showcase for elite high school basketball talent held this year in Allentown, Pennsylvania.

Current NBA rookies Jalen Duren (Pistons), Jordan Hall (Spurs), Collin Gillespie (Nuggets) and Izaiah Brockington (Pelicans) are Fall Classic alums. College Stars Ace Baldwin (VCU), Jamir Watkins (VCU), Donta Scott (Maryland), Hakim Hart (Maryland), Eric Dixon (Villanova), Nnanna Njoku (Villanova), Taquan Woodley (UMass), Rahsool Diggins (UMass), Hysier Miller (Temple), Jay Heath (Arizona State), Ricky Lindo (George Washington), Justin Moore (Drexel), Lucas Monroe (Penn), Aaron Lemon-Warren (Delaware State), Christian Tomasco (Hofstra), Lynn Greer III (St. Joseph’s), Naheem McLeod (Florida State), Jermiah Bembry (Florida State), Dahmir Bishop (FGCU), Blaise Vespe (FGCU), Jaylen Stinson (Merrimack) and Jalen Carey (Rhode Island) are just a few of the scholarship recipients the tournament has produced.

With advent of Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) legislation and policy changes, student-athletes are in position to earn levels of compensation their predecessors could only dream about. Black Cager Sports recognizes the need to help high school participants better understand the NIL marketplace. Black Cager Sports wants to help high school athletes navigate “the new normal”.

Toward that end, EVERY one of the more than 700 student-athletes participating in the 2022 Fall Classic will be eligible to participate in the Black Cager NIL Cyber-Symposium on Thursday, October 13, 2022 at 7:00 pm.

This panel will discuss the current state of name, image and likeness (NIL) a year into the “new normal.” This panel will examine the challenges faced by athletes, athletic departments and conferences as they navigate the continually changing landscape. The panel will discuss financial opportunities, legal and regulatory landscape of NIL, and the changes that have occurred since the NIL marketplace opened last year. 

Additonally, EVERY one of the more than 700 student-athletes participating in the 2022 Fall Classic will be eligible to participate in the eight (8) week Black Cager Fall Classic First Generation Investors (FGI) Program.

Through the FGI Program student-athletes will learn about finance & investing. Topics include:
a. Personal finance (banking, credit, etc.)
b. The stock market
c. Portfolio management
d. The Power of Compounding

Black Cager participants completing the 8 week program will make investments using real funds ($100) provided by generous FGI donors.

The Black Cager Fall Classic, in addition to being a premier scholastic basketball event, has evolved into an immersive multi-week educational, professional development experience and gathering place for college bound high school athletes and some of college sports’ most important stakeholders to share cutting-edge ideas, discover new interests, and learn how to maximize NIL opportunities to build their brands and amplify their voices.

Whether it’s hearing from the some of the foremost college athlete endorsers, being inspired by their favorite pro-athlete turned business mogul, or having the opportunity to collaborate with like-minded professionals who want to shape the future of college athletics, high school student-athletes participating in all aspects of the Fall Classic will be equipped with the knowledge and relationships necessary to leverage their influence to create a better future for themselves and their communities.

Contact:

Delgreco Wilson, Founder

Black Cager Fall Classic

blackcager@gmail.com

The Black Cager Fall Classic: A Small College Recruiting Paradise!

What about the little guys?

In 2019, the NCAA took care of the BIG BOYS… Division I coaching staffs fly across the lower 48 states attending their choice of NCAA-certified high school and travel team events. The BIG BOYS have made these NCAA ‘live periods’ a significant part of their annual recruiting cycle. 

When the NCAA added two June weekends exclusively for high school competition. They fundamentally altered the recruiting cycle. During those weekends, hundreds of high schools participate in massive events throughout the country and college coaches evaluate prospects playing with their high school teammates.

When John Calipari, Jay Wright, Tom Izzo, Bill Self enter a gym, they suck all of the air out of the room. High school players, parents and coaches become instantly enthralled. Six-foot four inch high school power forwards and centers begin to harbor irrational hopes of landing a scholarship and suiting up for Kentucky or Kansas.

It is next to impossible for D2, D3 and NAIA coaches to capture the attention of young men that will certainly land at their level, if they are to play college basketball.

Small colleges need their own elite scholastic events where they are the BIG BOYS in the room. That event is the Black Cager Fall Classic. The prestigious Black Cager Fall Classic will take place October 8th and 9th at two gymnasiums in Allentown, Pennsylvania. The previous five Fall Classic events (2017-2021) were held at facilities located in the the Greater Philadelphia region. The event has attracted some of today’s top collegiate basketball players during their high school years, including Donta Scott (Maryland), Jay Heath (Georgetown), Ace Baldwin (VCU), Jalen Carey (Rhode Island), Hakim Hart (Maryland), Seth Lundy (Penn State), Eric Dixon (Villanova) and Rahsool Diggins (UMass).

This year, 72 teams will play 72 games. While there will certainly be plenty of high major, top 100, prospects, the field will also feature hundreds of D2, D3 and NAIA prospects. Small College coaches are invited to attend and bring their entire staffs to evaluate some of the finest talent on the eastern seaboard.

Teams are traveling from Canada, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. They are coming because Black Cager Sports will work diligently to help small college coaches connect with the parents and coaches of prospects they identify as suitable for their programs.

Black Cager Sports understands the fiscal constraints that small college programs work under, thus we have priced admission and the coaches packet at a reasonable thirty dollars ($30.00) for the entire weekend. We want small college coaches to attend and recruit participating players.

Coach… You gotta come out… We got dudes!

Black Cager Fall Classic Returns in October

July 30, 2022

CAMDEN, NJ — The prestigious Black Cager Fall Classic will take place this October at two gymnasiums in Allentown, Pennsylvania. The previous five Fall Classic events ran from 2017 to 2021 at facilities located in the the Greater Philadelphia region. The event has attracted some of today’s top collegiate basketball players during their high school years, including Donta Scott (Maryland), Jay Heath (Georgetown), Ace Baldwin (VCU), Jalen Carey (Rhode Island), Hakim Hart (Maryland), Seth Lundy (Penn State), Eric Dixon (Villanova) and Rahsool Diggins (UMass).

The move to Allentown was facilitated by Jason Boggs and Marlon Thomas from the East Side Youth Center in conjunction with Toomey Anderson, Athletics and Activities Coordinator for ASD. The Fall Classic is one of the most eagerly anticipated pre-season scholastic showcase events on the East Coast.

Maryland Commit, Jahnathan Lamothe and Rutgers Freshman, Derek Simpson in 2021 Fall Classic

“The Black Cager Fall Classic has evolved into one of the premier high school events of the season, and while the event continues to grow year over year, we realize there’s more talent to be celebrated in other parts of the region, especially in Lehigh County where the popularity of high school basketball is extraordinary,” said Jason Boggs, East Side Youth Center. “By bringing the event to Allentown, more players from Berks and Lehigh counties will be afforded the opportunity to showcase their skills on the Black Cager stage, while the event can continue to grow in new communities.”

The Fall Classic, entering its 6th year with a history of sold-out crowds, will continue to serve as a preseason hub for some of the top east coast teams and national talent. Games are slated for October 8-9.

Ruben Rodriguez, Reading HS in 2021 Fall Classic

The event has showcased several NBA players over the years, including 2022 NBA lottery pick, Jalen Duren, Denver Nuggets rookie Collin Gillespie and Jordan Hall who was recently signed by the San Antonio Spurs.

Collin Gillespie, Denver Nuggets (NBA)

All Black Cager Fall Classic events will be played in accordance with health and safety regulations set forth by Lehigh County ordinances at the time of play.

About Black Cager Sports
Black Cager Sports Media, established in 2013, is one of the premier sports media outlets on the Eastern seaboard. Black Cager is a Black-owned and operated blog website and digital media company headquartered in Camden, New Jersey that produces content on collegiate and scholastic sports and pop culture. Founded by Delgreco Wilson, it began as a sports blog in 2013 and began live-streaming sports talk shows and live games in 2018. Black Cager was instrumental in the founding of the Philadelphia Black Basketball Hall of Fame in 2017. The publishing division was launched in 2021 with publication of highly acclaimed WIRED DIFFERENTLY: My School Journey by Maryland basketball star, Donta Scott. The company has achieved consistent growth due to its unique, raw and engaging style of sports coverage.

For more information, please contact blackcager@gmail.com

Trying to Takedown Camden High’s Basketball Program: A Hitman, His Cronies and their Sucka Shit!

A free and independent press is a necessary condition for the intellectual freedom and democracy that supposedly exists in the United States. In America, we supposedly have access to a wide range of competing news sources. In reality, we have a press that is far from free and unbiased. Control of mass media outlets is concentrated in a few privileged hands with clear agendas. How we perceive the world is largely determined by those who control the means of mass communication and their agendas can often be easily revealed with just a few scratches on the surface of their spurious arguments.

Take for example the recent intentional, premeditated effort to undermine the reputation, credibility, and character of the coaches, parents and players in the Camden High School basketball program. New Jersey Advance Media conducted a six-month investigation of the Panther high school basketball program. The finished product, a so-called “Special Report” was published on June 21 at 10:00 am with the following headline: “Camden celebrates a hoops rebirth. But critics wonder: Did they cheat their way to a championship?” Kevin Armstrong is the investigative reporter responsible for the malicious piece.

Camden HS, Group B State Champions, Photo Credit: April Saul

According NJ.com, Armstrong joined the NJ Advance Media staff in January. His arrival coincided with the onset of the six-month investigation. Seems like, maybe, he was hired specifically to perform the task of taking down Camden High basketball.

The special report reads like a smear campaign targeting Dajuan Wagner, the Wagner family, Camden school district administrators, basketball coaches, players and parents. Supposedly the free press matters because it uncovers the truth. Investigative journalists are trained to analyze and explain complicated issues. They play an important role. Without mass media outlets such as newspapers, radio shows, blogs, etc, the average American would have little to no knowledge of what’s going on around them. Most people lack the time and resources to investigate issues and stories that affect them and impact their communities. In theory, that’s where journalists come in.

So exactly what was the issue affecting New Jersey residents and impacting New Jersey communities that Armstrong spent six-months investigating?

After reading his piece several times, I have concluded that the core issue is as follows:

How has a HS basketball team hailing from what Armstrong describes as “a city of violent crimes and vacant lots after decades of factory abandonment, economic stagnation, corruption, white flight and arson” beat the shit the down the legs of NJ opponents for 3 straight years?

Aaron Bradshaw ’23, ranked 11th in the nation by Rivals.com

For some, the excellence and dominance Camden High has displayed on the hardwood the past three years is a problem that must be resolved.

Armstrong’s detailed descriptions of Camden City paint what can only be described as a decidedly dreary and gloomy picture. In his special report, he highlights “boarded-up houses” and “derelict brick edifices scheduled for demolition.” He seems to be preparing his readers for the question at the core of his report: Why would elite HS basketball players from six towns spread across five counties venture to Camden to play high school basketball for the Panthers?

For Armstrong, these decisions are not rational. Indeed, he goes so far as to openly question if these transfers were legal. It’s a two-fold assault… On one level, he’s arguing the parents are neglectful. By emphasizing the deteriorated state of some of Camden’s infrastructure, Armstrong implies parents are sacrificing their child’s educational development and, perhaps, placing their physical safety at risk. Moreover, and more importantly, he is unfairly labeling everyone associated with the meteoric rise of the Camden basketball program over the past three years a cheater.

So, exactly, how does he formulate his assertion that Camden cheated? Armstrong argues that “school officials seemingly made sports-driven enrollment decisions en route to the championship.” The “evidence” he provided included the fact that “five of Camden’s top six scorers do not reside in the city of 73,000 people… and are the only out-of-district students in the school.” Now, at first glance, these may appear to be unconventional and unique circumstances. But, the plain and simple fact is they are neither unconventional nor unique.

DJ Wagner ’23, member of USA National 17U team

Indeed, the NJ Department of Education (NJDOE) sponsors an “Interdistrict Public School Choice Program.” According to the NJDOE website, “New Jersey’s Interdistrict Public School Choice Program enables approved choice districts to enroll K-12th grade students who do not reside within their districts without cost to their parents. The program increases educational opportunities for students and their families by providing students with school options outside of their district of residence and giving parents the power to select a school program that best serves their child’s individual needs.”

So… Every year, the state of New Jersey provides students with out of district school options and gives parents the power to select a school that best serves their child’s individual needs. That’s good stuff… Really good stuff… No one objects out of district placements unless the students happen to be elite Black basketball athletes and their parents happen to determine that Camden public schools best serve their child’s needs. If that happens… It’s a BIG fuckin’ deal… So much so that a huge media outlet, like NJ.com which had an average of 12.1 million unique monthly visitors consuming a total of 70 million page views per month in 2018, must identify and retain the services of a journalistic “hitman” like Kevin Armstrong and provide him with the resources necessary to conduct and exhaustive six-month investigation.

Fuck outta here…

According to the NJDOE, “The Public School Choice Program benefits students and parents, as well as the choice districts. Choice programs might have smaller class sizes, increased instructional time, and a school culture more conducive to a student’s success in school. Many choice districts have established specialized and innovative programs and courses that focus on areas such as the arts, math and technology, and are open to students who meet the eligibility requirements of the special programs. Opening enrollment to students outside the district can bring in more students interested in taking advantage of these special programs and courses, allowing both the programs and students to grow and flourish.”

I agree with the NJDOE. I am a staunch supporter of school choice… While the Camden School District is not part of the DOE program, I assume the logic underlying the decisions of the parents of young men on the Camden basketball program is the same as that underlying the decision of parents taking advantage of the school choice program.

Cornelius “Boog” Robinson, holds 9 Division 1 scholarship offers

However, Armstrong, NJ Advance Media and NJ.com made very different assumptions when assessing the decision-making of Camden basketball parents. Instead of assuming the out of district transfers “benefit [Camden basketball] students and parents, as well as choice districts” like the thousands of other students exercising similar options, Armstrong presented this information to Colleen Maguire, Executive Director of the NJ State Interscholastic Athletic Association. Upon receiving Armstrong’s report, Maguire “said she will begin a review to determine whether rules have been broken.”

Here comes the bullshit…

From my perspective, Armstrong appears to be a “hitman” hired to use the byzantine set of NJSIAA rules to have the Camden High State Championship vacated and prevent the Panthers from an almost inevitable repeat next year. Camden has lost exactly one (1) game to a New Jersey opponent over the past three years. As noted by Armstrong, they beat NJ public school opponents by an average of nearly 40 points per game.

They can’t take it anymore. They are tired of getting the shit beat down their legs.

They can’t do anything about it on the court. So, they have resorted to smear campaigns disguised as special reports and NJSIAA investigations.

Powerful voices have chimed in and publicly sullied the name and reputation of Camden’s administrators, players, coaches and parents. Armstrong cites a quote from former NJ governor and youth sports advocate Richard Codey where he emphatically states, “All the adults are cheating, everybody knows it and nobody seems to care.”

After getting the shit beat down his legs by 41 points (93-52) in the Group 2 state final, Central High coach Shawn McCray exclaimed, “Are there really rules? You find the loopholes and get it done. That’s too much work for me.”

Rasheer Fleming ’22, now a freshman at St. Joseph’s University in the A10 Conference

Armed with a rather weak case in their effort to eliminate Camden from NJSIAA competition, the hitman mades a concerted effort to besmirch the reputation of Dajuan Wagner and the Wagner family. There can be no other logical reason for including a recap of fight Dajuan was involved in 21 years ago. It seems Armstrong wants his readers to internalize and adopt a perception of Dajuan as violent and menacing. This depiction is a far cry from the quiet, unassuming and gentle man known to everyone in Camden.

The hitman also chose to refer to a night 22 years ago when William Wesley took Wagner to a strip club after he scored 100 points in a game. Again, this incident took place 21 years ago. What is the relevance to the 2022 state champions? There is none… But, the goal is create a distorted perception about Dajuan and his family… Sucka shit… That’s what it’s called ’round my way.

Cognizant of the fact that many will remain ambivalent and some will view teenage fights and a visit to a strip club as a something akin to a right of passage, Armstrong decided to include references to the trial and conviction of Dajuan Wagner’s stepfather Leonard Paulk. The hitman noted that “Paulk was convicted and sentenced to life in prison.” What he failed to do, however, was to explain how the legal troubles of Wagner’s stepfather from 18 years ago are related to the 2022 Camden High School basketball team.

Paulk’s arrest and conviction are included as part of the hitman’s sustained effort to shape and reinforce a decidedly negative perception of Dajuan and the Wagner family… Period.

After attempting to painstakingly disparage Wagner and his family, the hitman set his sites on Rick Brunson, coach of the Panthers for the past three seasons. The hitman wrote that, “In 2014, [Brunson] was accused of sexual abuse but was acquitted.” Why… What purpose does the inclusion of this allegation serve? Judge James Booras ruled the state was “unable to meet the burden of proof required” to convict Brunson for the April 2014 incident. Furthermore, during the trial Brunson’s defense team questioned why the woman waited 10 days before contacting police and claimed the woman was seen on video laughing with Brunson after leaving the massage room.

He beat the case… In America, you are innocent til proven guilty. Right? Brunson is innocent… Period. This incident is a non-incident and is included as a salacious sidebar.

Nonetheless, the hitman understood that inclusion of this allegation could further his effort to characterize the Panthers as a lawless program.

Rick Brunson, former Camden HS coach

Next up on the hitman’s list was Pervis Ellison. His “crime”? Pervis “fundraised aggressively” according to the hitman. The hitman also took quick shots at William Wesley and John Mirenda, CEO of Greentree Mortgage. Mirenda is called into question because he’s “listed as treasurer and financial director for Scholars Elite.” Why is that problematic for the hitman? Because right after Dajaun was drafted and signed a $7.4 million dollar rookie contract Greentree provided him with a $258,000 mortgage for a West Deptford house for his mother.

What da fuck does a 20 year old mortgage deal for an NBA lottery pick have to do with the 2021-2022 Camden HS basketball team?

Nothing… Absolutely nothing…

The hitman was just throwing a whole lotta shit on the wall and hoping some of it sticks.

Hitmen are noted for their persistence and Armstrong is no different. He carefully stalked his prey. He described what he witnessed while on a stakeout, “on a Tuesday in May. Two schoolchildren dribbled until their yellow bus picked them up around 8 am. Soon after, Bradshaw walked out of Juanny’s house and Perkins followed him. They got in a red Chrysler, which Perkins drove to school.”

Da’ fuck? The hitman’s staking out the homes of HS basketball players…

His six-month detail completed, the hitman submitted his special report, NJ.com published it.

The investigation has commenced…

Unable to beat ‘em on the court. Governor Codey and a few competing coaches have retained the services of NJ Advance Media and NJ.com to knock the mighty Camden Panther program out of contention. Armstrong’s defamatory piece was just the first public salvo in what will surely be a relentless campaign to prevent the Black kids from the poor, but exceedingly, proud city of Camden from beating the shit down the legs of their New Jersey opponents.

I can’t wait to see next season’s versions of the mighty Panthers…

U want Da High?

“Hell no” is apparently the response from some influential folk in NJ scholastic athletics.

Check rock… Stop Bitchin’!

Penn State Lands Demetrius Lilley (Lower Merion/Philly Pride)

September 24, 2021 – Camden, New Jersey – In March of 2020, in a piece titled “The Big 10’s (Successful) Attack on Philly Mid-Majors!” I shared former Big 10 Commissionser Jim Delany’s thoughts about the Big 10 annexing Rutgers, Penn State and Maryland. Delany stated how significant the mid-Atlantic presence is to the Big 10’s long-term plans. “I don’t think people should evaluate this in the short term. But in a 25-year or 50-year period, I think they’re going to be very competitive. They are added value. “If you don’t venture out,” Delany said, “you never gain anything.

Newly installed Penn State basketball coach Micah Shrewsberry has demonstrated that he plans to venture out to Philly. Under Shrewsberry’s predecessor, Penn State established a solid recruting foothold in Philadelphia. Former Head Coach Pat Chambers and his top assistant Keith Urgo repeatedly come into Philly and landed some of the best players. Newbill (Public League), Carr (Catholic League), Stevens (Catholic League), Garner (Catholic League), Watkins (Public League) and Brockington (Catholic League) played very well for the Nittany Lions.

The Chambers regime left Seth Lundy (Catholic League), Sam Sessoms (Friends League) and John Harrar (Central League) on the Nittany Lion roster.

One had to wonder if Coach Shrewsberry and Penn State would continue to aggressively recruit Philadelphia. Moreover, assuming they wanted to, it was fair to ask if they would be able to continue grabbing top shelf Philly prospects.

Well… The answer is yes and yes.

With the commitment of Demetrius Lilley (Lower Merion/Philly Pride) to Penn State, joining Jameel Brown (Westtown/Team Final) Penn State has effectively demonstrated a commitment to recruiting Philly.

Jameel Brown is ranked #148 by Rivals. According to Rivals, Lilley is the #31 center.

Black Cager Fall Classic Returns with Local and National Power House Programs Set to Compete

September 3, 2021 (Camden, NJ) – Black Cager Sports is proud to announce the return of the Fall Classic Pre-Season Basketball Tournament. Some of the nation’s finest scholastic squads will hit the courts at Charger Nation for the two day event from Saturday, September 18 to Sunday, September 19.

“We feel this year may be the best version of the Fall Classic since we started in 2016. The quality and the depth of the basketball talent is exceptional and will lead to exciting games as some of the best high school players on the eastern seaboard have the chance to showcase their abilities. Many of the players have offers from BIG 10, SEC, ACC, AAC, A10 and Big East programs,” said Delgreco Wilson, Founder of Black Cager Sports.

Duece Jones, Trenton Catholic Prep Academy sophomore PG

Most importantly, this years Fall Classic is sponsored by Black Cager Academic Advising. As a result, every participating school will receive 2 free NCAA Eligibility/Transcript Evaluations. The academic evaluation reports helps student-athletes, parents, AAU coaches and college coaches make more informed decisions during the recruitment process.

An academic evaluation report from Black Cager Academic Advising will:
• Identify the academic documents being evaluated
• Include our statement of progress toward NCAA eligibility
• Include your Core Course Grade Point Average and total Core Credits
• Describe our evaluation methodology
• Be certified by the evaluator (with certification stamp and signature)
• Be emailed and/or mailed in an ‘evaluation sealed & stamped envelope’

The iconic Fall Classic pre-season tournament has hosted many future high major college superstars over the years. Since it’s establishment in 2016, the Black Cager Fall Classic has welcomed in the next generation of top East Coast ballers. The most recent wave of talent has included Kentucky sophomore forward, Lance Ware, Villanova freshman forward, Nnanna Njoku and Temple freshman point guard Hysier Miller. Other Fall Classic Alums include Collin Gillspie (Villanova), Rahsool Diggins (UConn), Jaylen Stinson (JMU), Jahmir Brickus (La Salle), Lynn Greer III (Dayton), Seth Lundy (Penn State), Ace Baldwin (VCU) and Bernard Lightsey (Lincoln).

There are remaining slots for this year’s event. We also hope to have a few of the top girls teams participate.

Derek Simpson, Lenape Senior PG, Rutgers Commit

Some of the the top players include:
Jahnathan Lamothe (#44 Rivals c/o 2023, St. Frances Academy, Undecided)
Javon Adams (c/o 2022, Olympus Prep, Undecided)
Anthony Finkley (c/o 2023 West Catholic, Undecided)
Kaseem Watson (c/o 2022 West Catholic, Undecided)
Kareem Watson (c/o 2022 West Catholic, Undecided)
Zion Stanford (c/o 2023 West Catholic, Undecided)
Bryce Lindsay (c/o 2022, Bishop Walsh, Undecided)
Derek Simpson (c/o 2022 Lenape, Rutgers Commit)
TJ Robinson (c/o 2024 Bishop Walsh, Undecided)
Kobe Magee (c/o 2022 Executive Education, Drexel Commit)
Michael “Deuce” Jones (c/o 2024 Trenton Catholic Academy, Uncommitted)
Jeremiah Bembry (c/o 2022 Executive Education, Undecided)
Cortez Johnson (c/o 2022 St. Frances Academy, Undecided)
Daniel Alcantara (c/o 2022 Reading, Undecided)
Ruben Rodriguez (c/o 2024 Reading, Undecided)
Justin Moore (c/o 2022 Archbishop Wood, Undecided)
Jacob Beccles (c/o 2022 Constitution, Undecided)
Jahiem Bethea (c/o 2022 MCS, Undecided)
Robert Wright III (c/o 2024 Neumann-Goretti, Undecided)
Kaafiq Myers (c/o 2024 Neumann-Goretti, Undecided)
Niame Scott (c/o 2023 Conwell-Egan, Undecided)

The Fall Classic welcomes several new teams to tournament:
• Bishop Walsh HS (MD)
• Players from Gwynn Park HS (MD)
• Lenape HS (NJ)
• Muhlenberg HS (PA)
• Conwell-Egan HS (PA)

Locally, this season’s event welcomes three of the top teams in the state of Pennsylvania, including 6A State Champion Reading HS, Philadelphia Catholic League Champion Archbishop Wood, District 1 power Plymouth-Whitemarsh as all perennial state title contenders Neumann-Goretti and Constitution.

Reading HS 2021, State Champions

The 2021 Fall Classic will run four sessions – with morning and afternoon sessions featuring four games each on both days of the event.

“We are very excited to have our basketball program to participate in a tournament that has become an East Coast tradition,” said St. Frances Academy Head Coach, Nick Myles. “The opportunity to play against some of the top talents in the Mid-Atlantic region will prepare us for the long season ahead.”

Black Cager Sports has partnered with Charger Nation, a regional sports management company, to manage all event operations. Charger Nation has worked with many of the regions leading basketball organizations and teams including Catholic, Private and Public school programs. Charger Nation has managed hundreds of grassroots and AAU events.

For more information on the tournament, follow @BlackCagerFallClassic on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

About Black Cager Sports
Black Cager Sports aims to raise academic outcomes through athletics for high school participants throughout the Mid-Atlantic Region. Black Cager sports has touched the lives of more than 200 young people, over the last decade, boosting the graduation and college acceptance rates of its members to about 95%. Many program participants credit the program’s encouragement, tutoring, and guidance with setting them up for success in college admissions and beyond. “They were the first people to actually sit me down and say, ‘Hey, you can do it. This is exactly how you can achieve your goals. You can go to college,’” says Taquan Woodley, a class of 2021 alumnus.  “They really believed in me before I even believed in myself.”