The Paucity of Black Coaches: Does it Matter?

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

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

Does this matter?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’m here to tell you…

Devil is Liar

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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…and remember… The DEVIL is a LIAR!!

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

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

MorganMeme

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

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

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

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

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

C’mon man… How…..

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

Does high school basketball mean that much to you?

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

You’re fucked up!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You’re fucked up!

Yo Mom… Why you not playing the parental role?

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

He wants to be a baller!

But… Pay attention… I mean… seriously…

Pay attention

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

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Black student-athlete at his desk

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

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

I understand… But… Nothing is free…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If so, you’re fucked up!

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

 

A Tough PHILLY Guard: The Recruitment of Traci Carter

Traci Carter, like so many great and very good South Philadelphia ballers that came before him, studied under the master.  He was a skinny somewhat shy 7th grader when I first encountered him in 2010. There he was in the excruciatingly hot gym at the Marian Anderson Recreation center running and running while Claude Gross was fussing, cussing and, most importantly, TEACHING every moment of the practice. Gross is a Philadelphia schoolboy legend. He was the MVP in 1952 while leading Ben Franklin High School to the Public league Championship. An unflinchingly honest and acerbic man, Gross doesn’t tolerate foolishness or bad basketball. Both are likely ignite a stream of profanity that would make Richard Pryor blush.

Claude and MustfaClaude Gross ‘instructing’ South Philly’s Mustafaa Jones immediately after he hit a game winning shot to defeat St. Joseph’s

Lionel Simmons, Geoffrey Arnold, Donnie Carr, Nate Blackwell, Maurice Lucas, Dion Waiters, Biggie Minnis and Mo Howard are just a few of the players that have benefited from the uniquely delivered instruction and unconditional love offered by Gross over the past six decades. Traci is the latest fruit from the Claude Gross tree.

This particular day, I was there with another of Claude’s proteges, Rashid Bey. Rashid was winding down an illustrious playing career that included being twice named Big 5 MVP, leading St. Joseph’s to the Sweet 16 and playing in Europe for more than a decade. Always restless, Bey was in the gym everyday with Claude’s South Philly ‘Developmental’ and ‘Future’ teams in the legendary Sonny Hill League. These are kids in grades 6-8.

Watching the practice, I asked Rashid “who can play… which one has a chance?”

He immediately called Traci over and introduced us. At the time Traci might have been 5’7″ and weighed maybe 125 lbs.

Traci-Carter-vs-Westtown“This is Del… He’s my guy… you need to stay in touch with him. I think you can play college basketball and he can help you with the academic part.”

Chewing on the collar of his shirt, Traci mostly stared at the floor. We exchanged numbers and, because Claude and Rashid asked me to, I have stayed in touch with him since then. Our conversations very rarely center on basketball. Indeed, I have seen him play exactly two times in six (6) years. Once at the Reebok Invitational Tournament and again last week at Life Center Academy.

Nonetheless, I was never worried about his basketball development. He has always been in good hands, Traci is a child of South Philly. Former LaSalle great Donnie Carr has assumed primary responsibility for Traci’s athletic, social and emotional development. With Donnie, Rashid and Claude in his corner, Traci can’t go wrong. The basketball foundation was simply too strong.

My role over the years has been to badger him and monitor his academic development. A few times a month, I would check in or he would call me. Occasionally we would sit a classroom and together calculate his core GPA. I always wanted to make sure he understood exactly what he needed to accomplish. Traci would text me a picture of his grades whenever he received his report card. I steadfastly attempted to keep him on track academically. It would be challenging because he experienced quite a few bumps in the road outside the classroom. The way he has dealt with the circumstances makes him much more likely to succeed at the next level.

As a freshman at Prep Charter, in South Philly, Carter was expected to be an instant contributor and lead the school back to prominence in the Public League. Before he could play a game, he suffered a knee injury which required surgery… Out for the season…

Tracicarter romanAs a sophomore, Traci expressed a strong desire to be in more rigorous academic setting and play in a stronger basketball program. So, he ended up transferring to Roman Catholic High School. Playing his first year of scholastic basketball, he was named 3rd team All-Catholic while helping Roman Catholic reach the Catholic League semi-finals where they lost to St. Joseph’s Prep.

All was well… Until Carter violated the disciplinary code at Roman and was forced to find a new school…

Genuinely remorseful about his indiscretions, Carter and Donnie Carr reached out to Pervis Ellison, the Head Coach at Life Center Academy. Pastor Dave Boudwin and Ellison agreed to take Carter and he moved to Burlington, NJ. Teaming with Trayvon Reed (Auburn) and Malik Hines (UMass), Traci had a good junior year. His backcourt running mate was Pervis’ son Malik Ellison, another highly rated college prospect. Heading into the summer, Traci was widely considered one to the top 100 players in the country.

Malik & TraciTraci & Malik, Life Center Academy backcourt mates

And then it happened again… Another knee injury… Another surgery… Traci missed the entire summer AAU circuit… He recruiting came to a virtual standstill…

He was despondent. I went to visit him and his leg was immobilized and his spirits were down.

“Traci, you have to remain focused. You have to maintain your discipline with regards to your academic pursuits. Don’t let this injury affect your grades.”

“I got you Del.”

Slowly, but surely he regained his strength. But then his partner went down. Malik Ellison broke his leg. Traci would have to start his senior season without his main man running alongside him. Predictably, Life Center struggled immensely. Eventually, Ellison would return and once again the basketball community began to buzz.

Traci dribblingEvery day, there were different coaches in the gym… Pat Chambers (Penn State), Steve Lavin (St. John’s), Jim Christian (Boston College), Rick Pitino (Louisville), Kevin Ollie (UConn), Chris Mack (Xavier), John Giannini (LaSalle) and Fran Dunphy (Temple) are just few that made it to Burlington for glimpse of the ‘Traci Carter’ Show.

Rebecca Boudwin, an adviser to Life Center students raves about Carter. “He’s been such a wonderful addition to our learning and spiritual community. We love all of our basketball players, but Traci is special. We see how hard he works on and off the court. We’ve seen how he handled adversity. Through it all he has remained focused on his academics. We are extremely proud of Traci.”

With his grades in order and a qualifying score under belt, Carter is set to begin visiting different colleges. He says he wants to take all 5 of his official visits.

TRaci ShepTraci and Shep Garner at Penn State with Coach Chambers

Carter says, “The coaches have been so respectful to me during the recruiting process. I have grown to really like several of them. I feel like I need to go see and feel the campuses in order to make an informed decision.”

As far as official visits, he says will probably go to 5 from among The University of California, Marquette, UConn, NC State, Memphis and Xavier. Unofficially, Carter will take trips to see Penn State, Temple, LaSalle and a few others.

“I just want to find a place where I can continue to learn as a student and a basketball player. I want an opportunity to compete for playing time as a freshman and I want to graduate from college.”

Donnie Carr and the rest of South Philly have done an exemplary job guiding the young man this far, no reason to think they won’t continue making good choices.

Be on the look out for Traci Carter, he’s one tough PHILLY guard!

 

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

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

Jay-Z, “Guns & Roses”

 

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

Rakeem GraduateSyracuse Graduate, Rakeem Christmas

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

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

Stats don’t lie… People do…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1967-alabama-footballAlabama’s 1967 Football Team

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s the RAK!!

Rakeem1Rakeem Christmas, Syracuse

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

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

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

120 and 3…

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

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

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

It’s the RAK!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rakeem and AmiraRakeem and Amira Hamid

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

He admits that road games can be a challenge.

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

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

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

Oh…… Rak’s gotten it done….

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rakeem4It’s the RAK!!

Pussy Is Undefeated!! Youngfellas, Please Take Notes…

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

Charlamagne Tha God

Pussy is undefeated…

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

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

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

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

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

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

ultraman

Ultra Man

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

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

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

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

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

vietnamChildren running during Vietnam War

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

“Fuck the French… We out!”

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

When he came home, his foot was gone.

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

White Flight is real…

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

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

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

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

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

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

White flight is very real…

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

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

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

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

And… In the other corner… pussy…

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

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

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

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

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

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

He was at the forefront of presidential campaign speculation….

It all came crashing down when pussy whooped his ass…

Iraqi FreedomGeneral Petraeus during a briefing at the Pentagon

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

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

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

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

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

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

Man down!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Looks, however, can be deceiving…

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

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

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

BRANDON-AUSTIN-PROVIDENCE-facebookBrandon Austin

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

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

Huh? Which is it?

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

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

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

Like billions of other men, he likes Pussy…

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

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

The findings are as follows:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pussy is undefeated.

spengine.com Mid-Season Philly College Hoops Awards

DJ NewbillDJ Newbill, Penn State University

DJ Newbill, Mid-Season MVP
In the Spring of 2010, DJ Newbill committed to play for Buzz Williams at Marquette. While he flew under the radar as far as national recruit rankings were concerned, those who followed Philly hoops knew exactly how good he was. The “King of North Philly” while leading Strawberry Mansion HS to state prominence, Newbill couldn’t have been happier. Marquette was his dream school and he eagerly anticipated competing in the Big East. The confident young man knew he would make a big impact at the high major level.

Then, at the last minute, like Lucy pulling the football away from Charlie Brown, Buzz shitted on Newbill and gave his scholarship to Jamal Wilson who was transferring home from Oregon. Left scrambling, Newbill settled down at Southern Mississippi where he was an All-Freshman performer for the Golden Eagles. However, after one season he yearned to test his mettle at the highest level and reduce the distance between himself and his family in North Philly.

Newbill transferred to Penn State and suited up for the Nitanny Lions in the Big 10 Conference. After two very solid All-Big 10 level seasons, he the leading scorer in the Big 10 at 21.8 ppg, while grabbing 5 rebounds and dishing 3.1 apg. Penn State is at the top of the standings (11-1) in the Big 10 as Conference play is about to begin.

“This is better than I could have ever imagined,” said Newbill. “I am Penn State… I love everything this university represents. I just want to lead the team to a strong season in the Big 10 and a return to the NCAA tournament. Penn State has given me an opportunity to become a leader on and off the court. I am extremely proud to know that I can live the rest of my life as a Penn State alum. Hopefully, we can continue winning and make some noise in the NCAA Tournament.”

 

Rondae-Hollis-JeffersonRondae Hollis-Jefferson, Arizona University

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson
One of the best players in America does not start for his team. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson leads the 3rd ranked Arizona Wildcats in rebounds (6.5) and blocks (1.0), while ranking second in scoring (11.9), in an average of 25.9 minutes per game off the bench.

In an era of selfish guys that try to “get numbers” every time out, Rondae is a throwback. Hollis-Jefferson does so many things that help his team win basketball games. This tendency was highly regarded in high school and has continued at the high major level. Arizona has continuously resided in the top5 since Rondae’s arrival.

Rondae consistently provides tremendous levels of energy on both ends of the floor, hustling non-stop for loose balls and shutting down the opponents best player in position 1-4.

 

North Carolina State v SyracuseRakeem Christmas, Syracuse University

Rakeem Christmas
The expectations were huge. Rakeem Christmas was a Mcdonald’s All-American four years ago. Many thought he had the potential to go to the NBA after one or two college seasons. His career at Syracuse hasn’t played out the way many prognosticators predicted. Christmas barely played as a freshman. While others may have contemplated transferring, Christmas decided to stay and find a niche within the Syracuse program. His sophomore and junior seasons were Ok but nothing like the superstar projections many made prior to his Carrier Dome arrival.

This year, the 6’ 9” senior is Syracuse’s leading scorer (16.4). “I knew it was my time. We lost a lot of players last year, and coach needed me to step up,” said Christmas. He has stepped in other areas as well. He leads the Orange in rebounding (8.9) and blocked shots (2.44). “I figured this would be a big year for me, so I put in the work this summer to become a better all-around player.” Always a high percentage shooter, Christmas, shooting 60.4 percent from the field,

012112stjohns16nmJayvaugn Pinkston, Villanova University

Jayvaugn Pinkston
A key performer on the best program in the region, Jayvaughn Pinkston is a very strong athlete with well rounded post skills that allow him to prosper on the interior. A former McDonald’s All-American, Pinkston just makes winning plays for the Wildcats time after time.

His scoring is down (10.5 ppg) compared to last year, when he averaged 14.1 ppg. But he remains the go to guy when Villanova need a bucket in crunch time. More often that not he delivers. Pinkston gets it done with b guts, determination and extra-helpings of heart. He has a keen ability to sense when he teammates need him to deliver difference making plays. When he is overmatched by his opponents size and athleticism, he simply goes right through them.

Photographer: Zack Lane, Hofstra University PhotographerAmeen Tanksley, Hofstra University

Ameen Tanksley
Quietly, Ameen Tanksley has emerged as one of the better college players from the Greater Philadelphia Region. He is leading Hofstra is scoring (18.3 ppg) while also snaring 6.0 rpg. After sitting out a year Against a North Carolina State team that had 14,264 in attendance at PNC Arena, Tanksley notched 13 points and 10 rebounds in just 24 minutes.

Tanksley has been in double figures every game this season. He has exceeded 20 points in 4 of the last six outings, including 30 points in a win against Norfolk State. He is shooting 55% from the field and an incredible 56% from the 3 point line. At 7-3, Hofstra is at the top of the Colonial Athletic Association standings.

aaron-walton-moss
Aaron Walton-Moss, 6th Man
Those who understand and appreciate basketball in the region know that Aaron Walton-Moss is a really, really good player. Last season’s national Division III Player of the Year, Walton-Moss is off to another great start. He is averaging 20.7 ppg, 10.8 rpg and 7.9 apg.

He creates his own shots, and shots for others and rebounds the ball. He is one of the best college basketball players in the region at any level.

Spenginelogo

The Best of the Rest rysheedjordanRysheed Jordan, St. John’s University, 14.5 ppg, 4.1 rpg and 3.1 apg

 

JabrilTrawickJabril Trawick, Georgetown University, 7.3 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 2.8 apg

BembryDeAndre Bembery, St. Joseph’s University, 14.9 ppg, 6.7 rpg and 3.0 apg

DamianLee

Damion Lee, Drexel University, 19.9 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 2.3 apg

Ky Howard

Ky Howard, NJIT, 13.2 ppg, 6.4 rpg and 3.8 apg

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