Wanna Recruit Philly? Hire One of These Guys!

Real shit I’ve heard in recent months…

From a PAC 12 Head Coach, “Yo man… we gotta get tougher! Who should I be recruiting in Philly?”

From a Patriot League Head Coach, “I really FUCKED UP passing on Ryan Daly (pictured below)… We could have really used his toughness this year!”

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From a C-USA Head Coach, “I love Philly guards… Anybody like Kyle Lowry coming up?”

From a Big 10 Head Coach, “Close the door… real talk… How the FUCK did Charlie Brown (pictured below) end up at St. Joes?”

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These types of interactions are a daily occurrence…

One thing for sure… Philadelphia’s basketball community is complex, challenging and, at times, highly dysfunctional. Successfully recruiting Philly is badge of honor in the college coaching ranks. A lot of coaches can’t get it done…

Shit ain’t easy in the BIG markets…

Philly, Chicago, New York/North Jersey, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Houston, North Carolina, Los Angeles and Detroit… Each area has it’s own set of unwritten rules and traditions…

Make mistakes at your own peril… One bad move can KILL a program recruiting-wise in the region…

Violating these unwritten rules can result in a program and it’s staff being ostracized for years! Gotta know know what to do… Who to see… What to say… When to say it…

In every major market across the country, one will hear local basketball HS/AAU coaches explicitly say, “We don’t FUCK with them… They can’t get NONE of our kids…”

These HS/AAU coaches HOPE you will relay the message to the program in question… They want the college coaches to know they “don’t FUCK with them…”

In most cases, the coaching staff at a particular program has either mistreated one or more of the beloved local schoolboys or they have, in some way, disrespected some of the more important local HS/Grassroots coaches.

Like Run said… “It’s Tricky!”

So…while the sports world is once again focused on HIGH MAJOR Head Coach hiring and firing, we want to take a deep look from a different perspective… The Head Coaching carousel is widely covered by National sports media… When Cuonzo decided to head to Missouri everybody knew within minutes… Same thing with Romar’s termination at Washington…

Far more interesting to the Black Cager, is the following scenario:

Say… a head coach is hired this spring and he wants to recruit Philly… Or, a coach has an opening on his staff and he feels a need to penetrate the Philly market… What should he do? How does the program establish a foothold in the area? How does the staff avoid those nasty Philly potholes?

Here’s my suggestion: Hire somebody from the area that knows what FUCK they are doing!

Let me provide a concrete example…

Take a program like Bowling Green University Men’s Basketball… Bowling Green located in Wood County, Ohio…

Where the FUCK is Wood County, Ohio? I still don’t know…

There’s no significant history of Bowling Green successfully recruiting Philadelphia… How does a program like that reach into Philly and get some quality kids?

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That’s exactly the situation faced by Michael Huger (pictured above) when he was hired as the Bowling Green head coach in April 2015. In May 2015, Huger hired Kevin Noon as Director of Basketball Operations. A year later, he promoted him to Assistant Basketball Coach.

Noon (pictured below) is an unassuming and quiet guy from the Greater Philadelphia Region (Cherry Hill West graduate). He’s also extremely bright and a relentless worker. Noon played at Rider where he walked on to the team as a senior after serving as a team manager for three seasons. Following his senior year, in which he posted the highest GPA in the MAAC, Noon was awarded the Richard H. Bubacz Award for leadership, sportsmanship, and scholarship.  He graduated Manga Cum Laude from Rider in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in English writing. Great hire!

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Next thing you know…

Daequan Plowden (pictured below) one of the top players in the Philadelphia Public League committed to play at Bowling Green in November…

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Then…

Matiss Kulackovskis (pictured below) one of the top players in the Philadelphia Catholic League committed to play at Bowling Green in February…

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Bowling FUCKIN’ Green! Where the FUCK is Wood County again?

Coach Noon is a clean slate… No basketball enemies… Just an earnest hardworking college assistant coach that was given a chance. As an alum and former staffer at Rider, he has keen awareness of the fertile nature of the Philadelphia region… He’s seen Mike Ringgold (Roman Catholic), Brandon Penn (Robeson), Danny Stewart (Neumann-Goretti), Novar Gadson (Bartram), Junior Fortunat (Roman Catholic), Anthony Durham (Abington) and others have success at the collegiate level. He knows how to relate to Philly… He knows how to talk to Philly…

In a very short period of time, Noon has helped Bowling FUCKIN’ Green become a player in the Philadelphia region!

Who’s next? Who will be given an opportunity like the one that Huger gave to Noon?

Who is the next Horace Owens? Geoffrey Arnold? Ashley Howard? Aaron McKie? Mark Bass?

Who should Head Coaches be interviewing if they want to recruit the talent laden Philadelphia Catholic, Philadelphia Public, Inter-Ac, Del-Val and Suburban One Leagues?

Who can land players from K-Low Elite, Team Final, Philly Pride, WeRone and the Jersey Shore Warriors?

Black Cager held a roundtable discussion and considered 25-30 guys that could help a college staff right now. Participating in the discussion were Delgreco Wilson, Amauro Austin, Kamal Yard and Paul Gripper. While I appreciate the input from my Black Cager colleagues, the blame for any errors and omissions lies with me… The final list was my call…

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Sean Colson (pictured above)… An extremely successful high school coach, Colson has taken a moribund Martin L. King, HS program and built it into one of the top 3 in Philadelphia’s Public League. He can be found at or near the top of the standings and playing for the Public League Championship every year. He is also one of the top grassroots coaches in the region. Two years ago, his Philly Pride 17U (Under Armour Association) featured Charles Brown, Jr (SJU, A10 All-Rookie), Stevie Jordan (Rider, MAAC All-Rookie), DeAndre Hunter (Virginia), Jaekwon Carlyle (Hampton), Tyere Marshall (Rider) and Lapri Pace McCray (Putnam Science-Prep). Colson’s teaching ability is evidenced through his role as a national trainer for Under Armour which allows him to work with elite scholastic players at Steph Curry’s Camp and Under Armour All-American camp. Colson is a proven basketball coach and skills trainer. He would be an asset for any program looking to establish relationships and recruit in Philadelphia.

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Matt Griffin (pictured above)… In his first year heading the storied Roman Catholic program, Griffin quickly established his coaching bona fides in the highly competitive Philadelphia Catholic League. Despite losing 3 Big 10 players, Griffin kept the Cahillites in the running and had them, once again, in the Final Four at the Palestra. He spent time at St. Joseph’s Prep working under Speedy Morris. Perhaps, more importantly, he’s spent a lifetime sitting at the dinner table with his father, former St. Joe’s and Siena Head Coach, John Griffin and his brother, Bucknell assistant, John Griffin, Jr. Griffin is a highly organized and highly motivated coach. He’s demonstrated an ability to get kids to play extremely hard while maintaining their composure.

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Kyle Sample (pictured above)… An old youngbuck, Sample has been coaching with Team Philly/K-Low Elite for more than a decade. During that period, they have produced more than 70 players that have received college scholarships. One of the more highly respected young coaches in Philadelphia, Sample consistently established very strong relationships with players and parents in their program. He is also able to work with coaches and administrators in other Grassroots programs as well. A true gymrat, Sample finds time to work with players ranging from elite D1 prospects to novice players being introduced to the game for the first time. He treats everyone with the upmost respect.

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Donnie Carr (above right)… One of the most well-liked members of Philadelphia’s basketball community, Carr was a legendary schoolboy and Big 5 player. Currently a non-coaching assistant at Hartford University, he has relationships that extend throughout Philadelphia and beyond. Carr has experience recruiting scholarship level players at the Division 2 level from his stint on R.C. Kehoe’s staff at Holy Family. He coached some of the very best players in the Philadelphia region while working with Nike Team Final on the EYBL circuit. There is not a gym or home in Philadelphia where Carr wouldn’t be welcomed with open arms. This Claude Gross protege is the perfect blend of old school tradition with new school awareness. The addition of Donnie Carr would bring instant credibility to any college basketball program seeking talent in Philadelphia.

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Jason Harrigan (above center)… The 2016 Daily News Philadelphia High School Basketball Coach of the Year, Harrigan just competed his first year as Head Coach of the O’Hara Boy’s Basketball team. In his final year at Del Val Charter School, Harrigan led his team to playoff victories over powerhouse Neumann-Goretti and Imhotep on neutral court. Known for extensive game preparation, Harrigan is very meticulous in his approach. He has played a crucial role in the development of some of the finest guards in the Public League including Antwan Butler, Semaj Mobley and Makhi Morris. His players exhibit fierce loyalty to Harrigan and he works tirelessly to place them in college. Harrigan is a rising star within Philadelphia’s scholastic coaching ranks.

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David Anwar (above right)… True Philly hoop heads know and respect the name David Anwar. Casual hoop fans might ask: Who? You see Anwar, a Philadelphia native, has toiled in the hinterlands of Arkansas, Nebraska and Texas… Arkansas-Fort Smith earned a 101-29 record with Anwar on the bench, including a pair of top-seven national finishes in 2001 (fifth) and 2002 (seventh). He then moved on to join the staff at Texas El-Paso (UTEP) before going to Nebraska. For the past 5 seasons, Anwar has been on the staff at North Texas. Incredibly well connected, Anwar would bring a wealth of knowledge to any Division 1 program. Over the years, Anwar has made sure his recruits graduate on time. He is one of the most honest and trustworthy guys in the business.

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Aaron Burt (pictured above)… As the Coach of the Nike Team Final 17U (EYBL) program, Burt has gained an immeasurable amount of experience working with high major and mid major basketball prospects. He is able to help young men understand that they have a specific role to play within an organization with big goals. The importance of that skill cannot be overstated. In an era where every kid and parent is thinking “one and done” Burt is able to adeptly balance individual aspirations with organizational goals. His relationships with HS coaches at the top Philadelphia High School basketball programs and his experience coaching McDonald’s All-Americans and future NBA players makes him an outstanding candidate for any college assistant opening.

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Randy Monroe (pictured above)… Been there… Done that… If you are trying to mitigate risk in your hire, if you want someone with extensive experience… Hire Randy Monroe! He was an Assistant at the D2 level in the PSAC (Cheyney), at the D1 level in the A10 (La Salle), in the SEC (Vanderbilt) and in the America East (UMBC). As a D1 Head Coach, he led UMBC to an NCAA Tournament appearance in 2008. Highly respected by everyone in Philadelphia Scholastic/Grassroots basketball circles, Monroe is the clear choice if experience is the deciding factor.

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Brian Daly (pictured above)… While he’s been a D1 assistant in the Patriot League (Boston) and the Big 10 (Penn State), he’s probably best known as Ryan Daly’s Dad these days. Daly is highly regarded by everyone in Philadelphia. He was awarded the prestigious Markward Award as the best player in the Philadelphia Catholic League in 1989 while playing for Monsignor Bonner. He competed collegiately at St. Joseph’s University. As a HS coach, he developed a reputation for caring about the academic and social well-being of his players. An excellent communicator, Daly is able to help parents understand and navigate the recruiting process. His relationships with Philadelphia’s basketball community served him well at both Boston University and Penn State. Both programs witnessed a surge in Philadelphia recruits while Daly was on staff. Most importantly, Daly is laser focused on making sure his players matriculate. Whenever, he decides to jump back in, he should be high on the list of anyone seeking a Philly-based assistant coach.

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Jazz Williams (above center)… Quietly, Williams has established himself as one of the premier young basketball coaches in the region. For a few years, he was the only Black head coach working in the Philadelphia Catholic League. Williams has an excellent rapport with young men and their families under his tutelage. Currently, he is on the coaching staff at The Haverford School and K-Low Elite (Adidas Guantlet). Williams has been extremely valuable in helping young men transition into a highly competitive academic institution. A very intelligent and thoughtful young man, Williams would be an ideal assistant coaching candidate in the Ivy and Patriot League programs or any program committed to placing educational development on par with athletic competition.

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Bobby Jordan (pictured above)… If a Head Coach wants to get in every gym and become acquainted with everyone in Philadelphia, then he should hire and walk in with Jordan. Currently, serving as the Athletic Director at Girard College, Jordan is a Bruiser Flint protege. He played for Flint, at Drexel, after graduating from Roman Catholic. Jordan is high-energy and extremely engaging. A true “hoophead” he will discuss middle school girls basketball just as quickly as high major college men’s college basketball. He has an extensive network of acquaintances and confidants that keep him tapped directly into the artery of Philadelphia’s basketball talent. Passionate about Philly hoops, Jordan consistently works hard to help kids even when he has no skin the game. This makes him a very attractive assistant coaching candidate for those that need to make an immediate impact on the recruiting trail in the Philadelphia region.

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David Butts (above left)… Every year young people develop new ways of communicating… The slang changes… The greetings change… The technology changes… It can be very challenging to keep up. Within Philadelphia’s coaching community, Butts may have the best handle on what the kids are thinking, saying and doing. He is immersed in grassroots community. Butts knows what the kid’s aspirations are… He knows what they are trying to achieve through basketball… He’s able to engage and communicate with Philly’s young players in way that is truly admirable. He’s currently an Assistant Coach at Rosemont College just outside Philadelphia.

Of course, there are others equally, if not more qualified, to recruit Philadelphia. But these guys have excellent jobs or are just starting on their respective gigs. But hey… It don’t cost nothing to reach out… Andre Noble (Imhotep Head Coach) is the most decorated coach in the Public League over the past 20 years. Jamie Ross (Frankford Head Coach) has been a part of three state championship teams in recent years. Skip Robinson (WeRone Coach) is an integral part of an emerging grassroots dynasty. Larry Yarbray (Chester Coach) fields ultra competitive squads year in and year out. Mike Scott (Paris JUCO, TX) has quietly emerged as a top flight recruiter in a superb JUCO conference. Marvin Stinson (Audenreid Assistant) has helped build a strong Public League program and continues to run one of the premier middle school grassroots programs (Bottom Ballers) in the Mid-Atlantic Region. Lou Daniels (Manor JUCO Coach) has done an exceptional job in his first year as a Head Coach after assisting at Scotland Prep. Al Crockett (K-Low Elite Coach) is recognized as one of the top developers of basketball skills in Philadelphia. Terrance “Nip” Cook (Mastery Charter North) is building a powerhouse Public League program and developing scholarship players. Justin Scott (Arcadia Coach) is one of the premier small college coaches in the Greater  Philadelphia Region. Ellis “Chuck Ellis” Gindraw is the founder of “Chuck Ellis Workouts” and long-time small college assistant.

Wanna recruit Philly? Hire one of these guys!

Seriously…

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DeAndre Hunter, Charles Brown & Sean Colson: It’s that Philly Pride!

Philly is a hoops mecca… For some, Philly is THE hoops mecca… The case for the top spot is strong. A brief perusal of the record books reveals the impact Philly ballers have had on the game. Wilt Chamberlain and Tom Gola led the charge for Philly in the 50’s. Earl “The Pearl” Monroe scorched college basketball in the 60’s. Gene Banks, Lewis Lloyd and Mike Brooks carried the city in the 70’s. Rico Washington, Pooh Richardson and Lionel Simmons held it down in in the 80’s. Rasheed Wallace, Marvin O’Connor and Eddie Griffin represented in the 90’s. After the turn of the century, Maureece Rice, Wayne Ellington, Maalik Wayns and Kyle Lowry emerged.

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Wilt Chamberlain

In the contemporary era, grassroots/AAU hoops has superseded high school basketball in importance. Hoop heads interested in understanding the development of elite scholastic players have to pay attention to “Summer Ball.” In the not too distant past, the Sonny Hill League was a the focal point of summer hoops in the city… No more… No more…

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Earl “The Pearl” Monroe

If you want to know what’s going on with elite scholastic hoops, you have to follow AAU/grassroots hoops. Perhaps, the biggest story of this summer has been the rapid ascent of two Philly Pride (Under Armour Association) players, Charles Brown, Jr. and DeAndre Hunter.

At the conclusion of his high school career at George Washington HS, Brown had zero (0) Division 1 scholarship offers. In fact, he had verbally committed to Division 2 West Chester University. After the first two Under Armour sessions, he had over 15 D1 scholarship offers from schools such as VCU, Rhode Island Quinnipiac, George Mason, Drexel and James Madison. He was drawing interest from high major programs like Oklahoma State, Arizona State, Wisconsin, Maryland and Alabama.

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Gene Banks

Brown committed to St. Joseph’s University. He cites his relationship with Assistant Coach Geoff Arnold as the primary factor determining his choice. According to Brown, “Coach Arnold told me when he first saw me that I was a division 1 basketball player and that meant a lot to me at the time.” His father Charles, Sr. played on the great Overbrook teams of the late 70’s with Tony Costner, Ricky Tucker and Steve Black. So, the family has always been familiar with the St. Joseph’s program and the campus.

But… How does a kid go from zero (0) offers to over fifteen (15) in just a 4-6 week span? AAU/grassroots basketball… that’s how…

The Black Cager talked to Charles’ Philly Pride teammate and his Coach Sean Colson to gain some insight into this particular program….

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Marvin O’Connor

Black Cager: DeAndre… So far this summer you guys have had a really good run. About a month ago you knocked off highly regarded WE R 1 and about two weeks ago you defeated Team Final. I want get your thoughts about the AAU season thus far and see how you feel about those two wins in particular.

DeAndre Hunter: I feel like we’ve been playing really good. Beating those two teams, that are supposedly better than us, shows that we are just as good or even better than most of the teams in the country.

Black Cager: I agree… I agree with that and I would also add that when you take a look at what the local Under Armour teams have been able to accomplish it’s very impressive. Trevon Duval, Quade Green, Sedee Keita and Nysier Brooks who recently committed to Cincinnati (Big East) play for WE R 1. Then you also have you and Charles Brown who recently committed to St. Joseph’s (A10) playing for Philly Pride. One could argue that the Under Armour circuit, at least in our region, is equal to or ahead of the Nike and Adidas circuits. How do you feel about playing on the Under Armour circuit?

DeAndre Hunter: I feel like the Under Armour circuit is just as competitive as any other circuit. I understand the Nike people feel like their circuit is better because they have most talented or most ranked players. But, I really feel like the Under Armour circuit is just as competitive as any other brand.

Black Cager: About your college recruiting… How are your grades? I know you attend a highly competitive academic high school, Friends Central. How are making out academically? Are you on track?

DeAndre Hunter: Yeah… I’m good. On my last report card, I had one C. The rest of my grades were Bs and up so I’m in good shape.

Black Cager: That’s really good… Have you formulated any idea where you would like to play college basketball? Do you want to stay in Philly? Do you want to go far away? Does the geographic region matter at all? Are your trying avoid the cold? Do you want go where it’s warm year-round? Do you have a strategy or are you just taking things as they come?

DeAndre Hunter: I’m just taking it as it comes. It doesn’t matter if I stay local or go somewhere far away. I just want find a program where I’m comfortable and I can play right away.

Black Cager: Where do you see yourself playing at the college level, 2, 3 or even the 4?

DeAndre Hunter: Probably the 3 position… I gotta get bigger and strong though.

Black Cager: Now… I’m gonna really put you on the spot.. Who do you think are the best non-college or pro basketball players in the Greater Philadelphia region? I’ve had an on-going discussion with some of my friends in the local basketball community and the same names always come up are Tony Carr (Team Final/Roman Catholic HS), Quade Green (WE R 1/Neumann Goretti HS), Lamar Stevens (Team Final/Roman Catholic HS) and you. Although, recently a lot of people have started to include Charles Brown in that upper echelon of local talent. Who would say are the best 2 or 3 players in the area right now?

DeAndre Hunter: The three best players… Myself, Charlie Brown, Tony Carr…

Black Cager: That’s it?

DeAndre Hunter: Best players? In my class, yes… Me, Charlie and Tone Carr..

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DeAndre Hunter & Charles Brown

Black Cager: I like that… I really appreciate the honest response… One last question, as you sort through this college selection process, are you dealing with this yourself? Are you bouncing things off Kamal, your HS coach, your Mom? If a college coach was reading this interview and he wanted to get your attention, what would be best way for him to go about it?

DeAndre Hunter: He should call me, my brother, Kamal or my AAU coach (Sean Colson).

Black Cager: DeAndre… I really appreciate this and I look forward to following you guys in Atlanta as you pursue the UUA National Championship.

Sean Colson is a Philly baller. He played at the University of Rhode Island and Charlotte University. He also played in the NBA with the Atlanta Hawks and the Houston Rockets. A basketball lifer, Colson also played in the USBL, CBA and overseas in Italy, France, Turkey, Poland, Ukraine, Latvia, Lebanon, Kuwait and Venezuela. In short… he has been there, done that…

For the past three years he has shared his considerable basketball knowledge and expertise with Philly kids as a coach with the Philly Pride AAU/grassroots program and Martin L. King HS in Philadelphia’s Public League. He also conducts the highly regarded “Sean Colson Workouts.”

The Black Cager spoke with Colson about Brown, Hunter and Philly Pride…

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Sean Colson

Black Cager: What’s up Sean? I just talked to DeAndre… I talked to Charles Brown a few days ago… I’m gonna put you on the spot… I know about a month ago, you guys knocked off WE R 1 and couple of weeks ago you beat Team Final. In the Philly grassroots basketball, those are some big games and they were some big wins. What does that say about Philly Pride as an AAU/grassroots program right now?

Sean Colson: Well… for the last three years, not just this year I’ve been with this team… I coached them as 15u, 16u and now 17u and we’ve gotten better every year. So, we are just trying to build our program and make competitive on the national level. We are not really comparing ourselves to nobody else, we’re just trying to beat everybody we play… Everybody… WE R 1 and Team Final are really good programs… But we not trying be the best program in this area, we want to be the best in the country. We are trying to put our guys in position to get a lot of scholarships. We want to help them get to the right schools. We want people to know that when you play for Philly Pride you get better. In other programs, some guys get scholarships, but they don’t necessarily get better. We want to be known as a program where when you come here… Your game gets better and you get better as a young person.

Black Cager: I can appreciate that… Speaking of getting better, I would say that over the past 2 months people knew about DeAndre but lately he’s been getting a lot of national recognition. And, then you have Charles Brown… About 3 months ago people viewed him as a Division 2 player. Then there was a period where he was one of the hottest kids in the country. His recruitment went from 0 offers to over 15 scholarships in a matter of weeks. What does that say about his development and why was he able to demonstrate so much more skill playing for you guys than he did playing for his high school team?

Sean Colson: Sometimes I feel like people try to make that comparison… But, I feel like the George Washington coaches did right by Charles. I just feel like Charles has gotten better… I don’t feel like it’s fair to say the George Washington guys didn’t know how to use him or use his talents. I just think they got eliminated early. In fact, in February we (Martin L. King HS) took them out of the playoffs. Right after the season, Charles and his Dad came to work with me. That was in February. He’s been in here every day, just working. His father was very direct, he said look I think my son can get better and I think you are the guy to do it. I know you work with DeAndre, I know you work with a lot of people… But, can you just please take my son and do what you can with him. Charles has the right mindset… I mean he just came in here and worked… His skills have really developed because he’s been working. Looking back, some of the blame has to be placed on Charles. Maybe he wasn’t working as hard while he was in high school. Now, he’s really working hard. Yes, I demand it, but he’s really working hard. Getting to play everyday against DeAndre and some of the college guys has helped him. A lot of times it’s just me him, his Dad and DeAndre just working, working, working… I mean I was a pretty good player… I played in the NBA and I was a good player and I feel like my skills and just the knowledge of the game has rubbed off on Charlie. All of that has really helped his game take flight right now.

Black Cager: He’s gonna take a year and try to get his body together at St. Thomas More Prep School (Connecticut). What do you foresee for Charles playing in the Big 5 for St. Joseph’s?

Sean Colson: I think he’s gonna have an excellent career. Charlie… is.. honestly, he kinda like a steal to be honest with you. Because, he’s really developing. He has the frame of a pro 2 guard. Everyone doesn’t have the skills, but he definitely has the frame. He’s 6’6”, athletic, long arms, really can shoot the ball and plays defense. Even that part of his game, I don;t think he did a great job at Washington on defense. They played zone a lot the time. When he played man-to-man I don’t think he really cared. But, when he came here, I’m on him every single day about defense in the workouts, practices and games. Charlie has really taken pride in being a stopper. He wants to be a stopper. I don;t think he thought like that in high school. That’s an area where I will take some credit because we’ve really worked on that part of his game. But, I don;t want to discredit George Washington and their coaches because I don’t think it the case that they didn’t do enough. It’s just that me Charlie click… Just like me and DeAndre, we click… A lot of guys, they will listen to me where they might not listen to other people or take their advice. They know the things I’ve accomplished as a player and coach. They respect the players I’ve trained like Amile Jefferson and Khalif Wyatt. They see that if you train with me you get better. That’s an important part of it, we have good chemistry.

Black Cager: I think trust is an important part of the equation and that’s what you are conveying. Speaking of DeAndre, I’ve gotten to see him play quite few times this summer. It’s really hard for me to look at his game and say that another kid in this area is better. But he doesn’t get that recognition. A big part of it is that is probably because he plays in the Friends League. Where do you see him in comparison to the other top players in South Jersey, Philly, Delaware? And. what do you see for him at the next level?

Sean Colson: People play different positions and thing like that… But, I’ll say this… People say someone is the best… It’s a few really good players out there… There’s Tony Carr, Quade Green and some other good players here in our area like Lamar Stevens. But, I wouldn’t take nobody over DeAndre… me, personally… All those guys have come to my workouts, except Lamar. I know everyone… I love everybody… I want every one of them to do well. But, me personally I wouldn’t take anyone in this city over DeAndre Hunter. That’s just how I feel. And, I feel like he’s only getting better. I’ve had him with me for the last 3 1/2 years and he’s getting better every day. He picks everything up and wants to get better. That has actually rubbed off on Charles as well. He sees that every day. You know Charlie asked himself: What’s the reason DeAndre has gotten that much better over these past 3-4 years? He comes here and he says if that’s the guy that has helped DeAndre get that much better, I wanna get like that and even better. That has helped Charlie as well. The trust factor…

Black Cager: I followed your career… Me and you we communicate on social media a lil’ bit… I pay attention… I saw you finishing up you own academic course load. I know you are doing an outstanding job at the high school level. I know you are of the few guys that excel on both the HS level and on the AAU/grassroot circuit. What’s the future look like for Sean Colson? Would like like to get on an NBA coaching staff? Would you like to coach in college? What are you trying to do with this thing going forward?

Sean Colson: For me… I wanna build Martin L. King up. We’re good right now. In my three years, we’ve won Public League Championships, we’ve been to the State Championship game. These are things that have never been done at King, especially on a AAAA level at this school. So, we’re just trying to get guys to get to college. We want guys to get D1 or D2 scholarships. For me, that’s the joy that I have. I love to see everybody getting better. Through the Sean Colson workouts, I get to work with kids that go to all the different schools. Even though they are in different HS programs they still come to me to get better. I’ll take whatever is in store for me. I would like to be a college coach. Maybe I’ll be an NBA assistant or scout. I really like working kids out. I was just at the John Lucas camp working guys out and training some really good players there. Next week I’ll be at the Under Armour All-American camp. I love working people out, developing talent and getting guys better. That’s kinda what I am known for. But… I feel like I’m a strong X and O guy as well. I really like coaching. For me, I’ll take whatever falls in my lap. I’m just working. If it’s an NBA assistant job that would be great. If it’s joining a college staff that would be great. If it’s taking Sean Colson workouts to the next level where it’s national like John Lucas, that would be great. Luckily, I feel like I’m doing well and I have a few options. I’m not just a one trick pony. Whatever I think is best for Sean Colson and my family that’s what I’m gonna pursue. But right now, I feel like I’m getting a lot of blessings and I’m just happy everything is working out.

Black Cager: I just want say that Philadelphia’s basketball community is much better off having you as involved as you have been over the last three years. I have a lot of respect for what you have been able to accomplish. It’s tough at a school like King. The other schools have a lot of things they can use to attract the kids like outstanding academic reputations, locations like Roman Catholic is in Center City and Haverford is up on the Main Line. You are grinding it out right here… around the way in a public school facility. For that I give you a lot of credit. As well as all the work you Kamal Yard, Rodney Veney and Amauro Austin put in with this grassroots thing. Big respect man… we’re looking forward to seeing how Philly Pride does in the nationals. You ready to go on record? Y’all gonna take this thing from WE R 1 or what?

Sean Colson: Well… It’s not just about WE R 1… I know they are in 1st place and we are in 2nd place but they are a lot of good teams in the Under Armour Association. We’re trying to go down there and do well. But first, we have couple other things going on… Like I said we have the Under Armour camp. DeAndre’s in it… Charlie might be in it… Then we have Elevate Hoops at Philly U which is gonna be a big event. Then we go to Atlanta and then to Las Vegas… We’re just taking one step at a time… We gonna try to represent Philly like we always do and try to win it for sure.

Black Cager: Appreciate the time and we look forward to following Philly Pride.

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.

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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.

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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?

Yo man… y’all really NEED AAU guys: An Open Letter to College Coaches

Coach… Coach…. I hear it all the time. “Why do I have to call his “guy”? Why does he listen to him? I’m paying his bills… I’m the one that gave him a scholarship… It’s because of me that he’s on national TV 25 times a year…” A lot of college coaches hate AAU/grassroots guys. It’s no secret. Y’all despise the close relationships players have with AAU/grassroots coaches. In your eyes, they are trying to “come up” off the kids. Y’all resent the powerful influence that that AAU coaches have on the recruiting process. Y’all wish you didn’t have to deal with these street savvy dudes.  It really bothers you that they can tell players to leave school early.

Nonetheless, the fact remains that in many, if not most, instances a player’s truest allegiance, his strongest alliance is with his AAU coach. This really gets under your skin and that of a lot of other college coaches. You want waaaaay more control over the players.  I get that.

Philly Pride Triple Threat Poster-page-0Rysheed Jordan, Philly Pride & Triple Threat

No disrespect Coach, but you’re DEAD WRONG on this one! You just don’t get it…. AAU/grassroots guys are not “THE” problem, they are not even “a” problem. In low income neighborhoods throughout America’s inner-cities, these guys are making positive life altering contributions to the lives of young Black men in desperate need of guidance and direction.  Yeah… yeah… I know Curtis Malone was just convicted for second time on drug-related offenses and sentenced to 100 months in federal prison last May.  So what Coach?  That’s just one man in one program.  Truth be told, despite Malone’s transgressions, he helped many who players from the “hood” who would have fallen through the cracks if not for his assistance.

Yo man… y’all really need those AAU/grassroots dudes.  Without them, a lot of these kids would have absolutely no shot at making it to college.

With all due respect coach, you don’t understand the crucial role AAU/grassroots coaches actually play in helping players deal with growing up in places like Philadelphia, Paterson, Newark, Brooklyn, Chicago, Baltimore, Washington, DC and Houston. Young Black boys are immersed in woefully under-performing, dysfunctional and underfunded public schools during the day. After school, their home lives feature poverty, hunger, substandard housing and in some extreme cases, homelessness. On a daily basis, they confront persistent frustration associated with parental abandonment and/or incarceration.  AAU/grassroots coaches use basketball as a means of helping these boys remain engaged in high school and accessing higher educational opportunities.  If a select few can make money playing basketball it’s a blessing.

A lot of effort is required to produce a college ready young Black man in contemporary American inner cities.  Shit doesn’t just happen.  Coach, by the time you show up looking for tough “Philly” guard or a “super athletic” wing, literally thousands of hours have been invested by AAU/grassroots coaches into developing a young man prepared to deal with all aspects of collegiate life.

Playaz Poster-page-0Isaiah Brisoce, Playaz Basketball Club

AAU/grassroots coaches, especially in low-income urban areas, are filling a void. In many cases, they are fathering the fatherless. Without these guys, many of the young men you are trying to recruit wouldn’t even finish high school. They would be lost in the streets, like many of those who came before them.  The 80’s wasn’t that long ago.  Try to remember Coach.  The parents of current recruits came of age during the War on Drugs (1980-present) and they begat descendants who live, survive and play ball today in poverty stricken, hard scrabble urban centers. Some of the boys you’re recruiting are “crack babies.”  Most of them are products of what polite society refers to as alternative marital and familial forms.

Many came into being through “promiscuous” sexual relationships or long ago severed “common-law” marriages. Some are the “illegitimate” children of fathers with other families and quite a few have been “abandoned” by the biological fathers.  Fortunately, AAU/grasroots coaches step in, step up, embrace and try to help raise these young men. The players intrinsically understand and appreciate the role these men play in their life, even if you don’t or won’t.

JaQuan Newton-page-0JaQuan Newton, Team Final

My main objective here is to help you understand that relationship. I really want you to realize the AAU/grassroots coach is NOT the bad guy.

Let’s put this situation in a historical perspective. Think about how the parents, especially the fathers, grew up.  Beginning in 1980, under President Ronald Reagan, the situation for the urban poor began to worsen dramatically.  In the 1980s, while the number of arrests for all crimes had risen by 28%, the number of arrests for drug offenses rose 126%. While Nancy Reagan told Americans to “just say no”, her husband’s “War on Drugs” evolved into a War on Black males. According to the the US Department of Justice, from 1990 through 2000, “the increasing number of drug offenses accounted for 27% of the total growth among black inmates, 7% of the total growth among Hispanic inmates, and 15% of the growth among white inmates.”

The “war” resulted in an unprecedented amount of casualties in urban Black communities. Coach, think about it…. these are the same communities producing many of the elite basketball players today. In 1994, the New England Journal of Medicine noted that the “War on Drugs” resulted in the incarceration of one million Americans each year. The overwhelming majority of these prisoners were Black males. In 2008, the Washington Post reported that of 1.5 million Americans arrested each year for drug offenses, half a million would be incarcerated. In addition, one in five black Americans would spend time behind bars due to drug laws.  These are the fathers, the uncles, the cousins and the older brothers.

Mississippi Basketball Association Poster-page-0Mississippi Basketball Association, Jackson, Mississippi

With so many Black men in prison, on probation or on parole, who is gonna raise the boys? Who Coach?  Who’s gonna step up?  Well, in too many instances, no one is raising the boys.  To a large extent, that explains why less than half of the Black boys in America’s major cities graduate from high school. In Philly and NYC only 28% graduate from public high school in 4 years. Of the more than 50% that don’t graduate, more than a third are in jail or prison. Only 26% of Black male HS drop outs are gainfully employed. It’s real out here coach. We ain’t got time to be pointing fingers because you don’t like the way guys handle their business.  AAU/grassroots coaches are a literally saving lives. Most importantly, they do it because others won’t or can’t.

Coach, you do understand that being incarcerated wasn’t the only consequence of the War on Drugs.  Time after time, federal and state policies imposed collateral consequences on those convicted of drug offenses. So even when their fathers, grandfathers, uncles, cousins and big brothers are released from prison they are still very much limited by their drug-related convictions. To this day, they are subjected to restrictions and conditions that are not applicable to those convicted of other types of crime. As result of the War on Drugs, millions of Black men face restrictions in obtaining various professional licenses, ineligibility for public funds including welfare benefits and student loans, loss of voting rights, ineligibility for jury duty, and deportation for immigrants. How are they supposed to rebuild their lives?  How are they supposed to take care of their families?  It’s real out here coach.

I respectfully submit, that it just ain’t fair.  The deck was stack against their fathers.  In 1986, the U.S. Congress passed laws that created a 100 to 1 sentencing disparity for the possession or trafficking of crack cocaine when compared to penalties for trafficking of powder cocaine. This law was blatantly discriminatory against minorities, mostly blacks, who were more likely to use crack than powder cocaine. As a result, persons convicted in federal court of possession of 5 grams of crack cocaine received a mandatory of 5 years in federal prison. On the other hand, possession of 500 grams of powder cocaine carries the same sentence. Do you know how many of the family members of the players you recruit got caught up in this mess?  A whole helluva a LOT…

AAU/grassroots coaches are fighting and struggling to keep these young men from following the crime riddled path of their oldheads. But Coach, you’ve gotta understand that this battle is not easily won. Crime statistics show that—in the United States in 1999—compared to non-minorities, African Americans were far more likely to be arrested for drug crimes, and received much stiffer penalties and sentences. Statistics from 1998 show that there were wide racial disparities in arrests, prosecutions, sentencing and deaths. African-American drug users made up for 35% of drug arrests, 55% of convictions, and 74% of people sent to prison for drug possession crimes. Nationwide African-Americans were sent to state prisons for drug offenses 13 times more often than other races, even though they only supposedly comprised 13% of regular drug users.

Now coach… you are recruiting the sons, grandsons, nephews, cousins, Godsons, young brothers and youngbuls of Black men that came of age during this era. Of course, to some degree the trails and tribulations of the elders have shaped the behaviors and outlooks of the progeny? If we compare the young Black males of the 1980’s and the contemporary young Black men you are recruiting, we find alarming similarities. Indeed, in many ways things are worse.  Basketball is all too often the saving grace.

We R 1 Poster-page-0

Derrick Jones, WE R1

Coach, in many cases, the AAU/grassroots coaches are the only thing standing between the players and the participation in illegal street crime. That’s why so many AAU/grassroots coaches keep the kids extra close to them. That’s why they allow them stay in their homes. That’s why they informally “adopt” them. That’s why their wives put up with 6’8” 235 lb dinner guests almost every night. The families of the AAU/grassroots coaches know how precarious the situation is for many poor inner city males.

AAU/grassroots coaches understand the odds.  Most of the time, they are from the “hood.”  In many cases, their linguistic skills aren’t polished and refined.  Don’t mistake that for ignorance.  These guys are very adept at using basketball to beat the staggering odds. Quite frankly Coach, rather than complaining about the AAU/grassroots guys, you should be grateful that their kids that are recruitable athletes. The peers of the recruits not in the AAU program would never gain admission to your school.  You know and I know most Black males in urban school districts don’t graduate in four years. We also know the overwhelming majority of young Black men have absolutely no shot at meeting NCAA eligibility standards.

So, let’s keep it 100, as the kids say, coach… Most players in urban areas need an AAU/grassroots coach to help him understand what’s expected of him and keep him on track. You might say: Why not the guidance counselor or the assistant principal? After I finish chuckling…. I would note that, in many cases, they are gone. Their jobs have been eliminated.  We must face the truth Coach, as a society, we have more or less given up on funding urban education. In 2013, the Philadelphia school system laid off 3,783 employees, including 676 teachers and 283 counselors. Along with teachers and counselors, those losing their jobs included 127 assistant principals and 1,202 aides who monitor the cafeteria and playgrounds.

So you see, in many ways urban black male athletes attending public schools are set up for failure. AAU/grassroots coaches enable kids to have shot at college. They are the ones that find tutors for the SAT. They are the ones checking the grades. If they weren’t there the pool of qualified recruits would be much, much smaller.

In 2016, the NCAA will establish a 2.3 gpa and a 900 SAT score as a minimum requirement for freshman eligibility. As you can see on the chart below, 39 of 58 (67.2%) of Philadelphia’s public schools have average SAT scores below 800. Only 9 of 58 (15.5%) have average scores above 900. All nine of those schools are special-admit magnet schools. There aren’t too many elite athletes at those schools. Young Black boys attending neighborhood schools are pretty much screwed. The system is structurally determined to result in ineligible Black male athletes.  They will have to score 200-250 points above the average score for their respective schools to meet minimum NCAA standards. Coach, you are gonna need the AAU/grassroots coach more than ever.

Philly Public School SAT scores

They have been doing it for years.  I have a lot of faith in their ability to continue getting guys through the NCAA eligibility center labyrinth.  AAU/grassroots coaches help impressionable, very “rough around the edges” young men deal with life situations face by the urban poor. They offer a guiding hand as the young men as they deal with the daily experience of inexorable pressure, unsolvable problems and overwhelming frustrations. If they give a kid a ride to your campus, you should find a way to help out his program. Buy a couple directories at his tournament. If he brings kids to your campus at your request, break him off a “lil sumthin.”  Gas and tolls add up.

Coach… you have stop complaining that AAU guys are “in it for the money.” At the elite program level, there is some money to be made. Some guys do alright. The tournaments themselves bring in some revenue.

EYBL LOGO

Let’s look at 2 typical “Big AAU” events. The first will cost, say, $550 for a team to register with play in the 14-under, 15-under, 16-under and 17-under divisions. The second will cost $650 and will be open to teams that play 15U-17U. Major events average between 40 and 60 teams per age division. “Big AAU” events also charge between $175-$300 for coaches packets that provide information on the players to college recruiters.  Event organizers can generate significant revenue. Joy of the Game’s Chicago summer classic charges $495 for boys teams from 15U-17U. Boys from 9U-14U pay $350. Adidas Super 64 in Las Vegas charges $700 per team.

Some program charge fees to participate. AAU basketball does not come cheap. Depending on the team, families can expect to pay $400 to $4,000 per summer to play, including uniforms. In many cases, that does not include transportation to and from practice or games, hotel rooms, food, gas or admission for those not playing. Most programs offer financial assistance for players who need it, but normally it only covers the cost to join the team, not the peripherals.

But, Coach you know a LOT of the programs in the “hood” get by on the “muscle.” They can’t possible get $4,000 from a Mom on public assistance, living in Section 8 housing. Ain’t gonna happen, no way no how. These guys will have 50/50 raffles and a “fish fry” to raise enough money to travel hundreds of miles in cramped vans so you can see his kids play.

Coach… y’all really need to stop calling AAU/grassroots coaches “greedy” and money-hungry. Too many of you complain that AAU/grassroots guys are in it for the money.  They rightfully resent that accusation.  Stop… Just stop! The AAU guys know that Coach K made $9,682,032 last year. They know that’s $806,836 per month. It’s not a secret that Rick Pitino made $5,758,338 last year. Calipari came in at $5,511,381 and Bill Self earned $4,960,763. Overall, they know that 32 college coaches made more than a million dollars. They know about the private jets, the 3 company cars and the country club memberships. They really don’t understand the allegation that they are “pimping” players.

under-armour logoIn most AAU urban programs, coaches feed players. Coaches clothe players. Coaches even pay medical expenses for players with no insurance. Coaches pay for SAT test Prep.  Coaches pay for educational testing.  I know some of the best programs have sponsorship deals with Nike, Under Armour and Adidas. Others rely on Aunt Sadies’s fried whiting, collard greens and candied yams moving every other Friday night.

Coach, in many instances Daddy is locked up. Even if he’s not locked up, he’s not involved. Momma doesn’t understand the process. She’s just grateful that the AAU coach is involved with her son. She’s seen her nephews, cousins and the neighbor’s boys hustling, playing with guns, getting locked, dropping out of school, making babies and being unemployed. She’s worried about the guys on the street and she’s worried about the boys in blue.  Momma saw what happened to Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown, Oscar Grant, Eric Garner, Amadou Diallo and score of other young men armed with their Black skin.

Through basketball, she hopes her son can maintain a level of focus and complete high school. The AAU coaches reinforce the importance of attending and completing school.  He’s an asset.   Through basketball, she’s hoping that her son can access higher education. She knows she can’t pay your school $40,000 -$60,000 per year for her son to attend. The AAU coach has been there. He’s helped her when her son started talking back. He’s kept him off the street. She knows he’s safe with the AAU coach.

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She’s grateful for the 3,4 or 5 pair of sneakers per year. Coach, I know you can’t relate, but $125-$175 is a LOT of money to some people. Before her son began playing AAU/grassroots basketball, he never left his hometown except for an occasional long drive down south for a family reunion or funeral. Momma appreciates the opportunities for he son to visit Las Vegas, California, Chicago, Houston, Miami, Atlanta and Charlotte. His friends “around the way” don’t get those opportunities. The boy knows he can’t count on his father. His Momma and her Momma have told him for 17-18 years, “that man ain’t sh*t.”  But, her son is special. The AAU/grassroots coaches made that happen.  Straight up Coach… y’all NEED those AAU guys…..