Archive for January, 2012

By Justin Byerly

Madison Jones, a six-foot point guard out of Ravenscroft HS in Raleigh, NC recently informed that he is getting the most interest right now from Georgia Tech, Tennessee, Seton Hall, Nebraska and Richmond.

Mike Kobani, a six-foot-nine inch forward for Caldwell Academy in the class of 2013 is averaging 17.5 points per game, 12.1 rebounds and almost 1 assist this season. He is getting interest from Coastal Carolina University, High Point University, Virginia and Villanova.

Erik Hopkins, a six-foot-four guard out of Columbia (SC) Keenan is getting some interest as of late from Western Carolina University, Wofford College, Tennessee State and Presbyterian College.

Tracy Gathings, of Ben L. Smith HS (Greensboro, NC) recently has been receiving interest from Virginia Military Institute along with Gardner-Webb. Tracy is six-foot-five and is averaging around eighteen points per game.

Sharwyn McGee of Upper Room Christian Academy in Raleigh, was recently offered a scholarship by Jacksonville (Fla.) University. McGee is a six-foot-five forward. His strengths are rebounding, scoring the basketball, defensive pressure, great athleticism, and needs to work a little on his three-point shot.

VJ King (8th Grader) of United Faith (Charlotte) recently scored sixteen points, had two rebounds, and two assists in a win over Central Park Christian over the weekend.

AJ Clark, a five-foot-ten senior point guard out of Western Alamance HS (NC) is averaging nearly twenty-eight points per game this season to go along with seven rebounds and six assists. He is getting most of his looks from Division Two schools and a little interest from Navy. He recently scored 23 points and grabbed ten rebounds in win against Burlington Williams HS.

Qua Neal of South Rowan HS (NC) is averaging nearly twelve points per game this season and in a win over North Iredell had eighteen points and six assists with eight rebounds on Friday (1/27)

Sindarius Thornwell, one of the top players in the class of 2013 in the nation out of Lancaster HS (SC) scored twenty-one points, grabbed nine rebounds and had seven assists in a win over Spartanburg HS Friday (1/27)
He has offers from nearly every school in the SEC and ACC.

Derrick Copeland, a six-foot point guard out of Kannapolis AL Brown HS had twenty-two points, two steals and five assists on Friday.

Mike Brown, a six-foot-three guard out of West Charlotte HS who has signed with Western Carolina University, had fourteen points, ten rebounds, four steals, and six assists in a win over Mooresville HS Friday.

Kennedy Meeks, a six-foot-nine center out of West Charlotte HS scored ten points in the win Friday also. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Head Coach Roy Williams was in attendance for the big man. He holds offers from almost every major program except for Duke and North Carolina.

Maurice Howard of Saluda HS (SC) went for fifteen points and five assists in a win on Friday.

Connor Burchfield, a six-foot guard out of CarolinaPreps.com number one ranked 3-A school Concord (NC) HS had Twenty points in a win over Asheville Roberson HS on Saturday (1/28). He is getting interest from Davidson (N.Car) and others.

Darren Black, a five-ten guard out of Concord HS (NC) is getting interest from Xavier University, Pittsburgh University, South Carolina, Wake Forest, Virginia Tech and a host of others. He went for eleven points in a win on Saturday (1/28) over Asheville Roberson HS.

Demarcus Lewis, a six-foot-three guard out of Barea HS (SC) went for fifteen points against Wade Hampton HS (SC) and fourteen points against Greenville Southside HS this past week. He is getting interest from North Carolina A&T University as of late.

Rayshawn Speas, out of North Forsyth HS is getting interest from UNC-Pembroke as of late. The class of 2012, is averaging nearly nine points, seven rebounds, and three blocks per game. He had ten points in a thriller of Asheboro HS Friday (1/27).

Darius Bryant, a six-foot-one inch guard out of Calhoun Falls Charter (SC) recently scored seventeen points in a win on Friday (1/27). He is getting little interest as of late but may be flying under the radar for some schools. His strengths are his ball handling, getting into traffic, and defense. Needs to work more on his ability to use his left hand.

Tyshun Flowers of Hickory Christian Academy (NC) recently had seven points and two assists Friday (1/27)

Cory Magwood of Wade Hampton (Varnville, SC) has been a scoring machine in his last few games. He recently scored twenty-four points, nine rebounds and four assists in a loss on Friday (1/27). Charleston Southern recently came to one of his games. The class of 2012 guard is also getting attention from Georgia Southern, Jacksonville University, High Point University, Furman University, and Gardner-Webb. He is averaging nearly twenty eight points per game this season.

Taylor McCurry of Asheville Enka HS, a six-foot-four inch forward, recently scored twenty seven points Friday (1/27) in a loss to Asheville HS. McCurry leads WNC in scoring this season at nearly twenty-nine points a game.

Deveron Roberts, of Asheville (NC) HS recently scored twenty-five points in a huge win over Asheville Enka HS in MAC Conference play. The two-sport star and quarterback for Asheville HS is getting interest from Western Carolina University, among others. One of the quickest guys I have seen in WNC this year.

Drew Combs, a five-foot-ten point guard out of Wilmington Ashley HS recently went for thirty-two points in a double-overtime loss Friday (1/27). He also poured in eight assists in the loss. He is getting interest from Lincoln Memorial (Div. II) who came in to see the game.

Curtis Webb, an all-state guard out of Dorman (SC) HS recently surpassed to the one-thousand point mark in a win over JL Mann Friday (1/27). He scored seventeen points and hit three three- point shots in the win. As of late he has been getting interest from Limestone College and a few others.

Jevon Patton, of Gastonia Highland Tach recently had twenty-five points, ten assists, seven steals, and five rebounds in a 63-61 win on Friday (1/27). And he surpassed the one-thousand point mark on. 1/24 as he went for thirty-one points in a win.

Clarence Williams of Druid Hills (Ga.) HS had nine points, seven rebounds, three blocks and one steal for the big man on Friday (1/27). He has been getting contact recently from Western Carolina University.

Brandon Goodwin of Norcross (Ga.) HS dropped seventeen points, had five assists, and five rebounds in a win Friday (1/27). Brandon recently was offered a scholarship by Gardner-Webb University. He also has interest from Florida Atlantic University, VCU, Tennessee, Wofford and Appalachian State University.

Diondre Pratt of Anson HS scored thirty-three points on Friday (1/27) while also grabbing five rebounds. He had twenty-four points and six rebounds on 1/14. He holds offers from Lincoln Memorial, Chowan College and Johnson C. Smith in Charlotte.

By James Blackburn

Jordan Tolbert
Photo: TexasTech.com

Game Scouted: Kansas State @ Texas Tech
Box Score
Kansas State wins 69-47

Jordan Tolbert (F, 6’7”, FR)

Stats
6-8 FG, 6-9 FT, 10 rebounds, 4 PF, 3 blocks, 18 TP

Strengths

Very active- full of energy- high motor- scrappy. Long- runs the floor hard- plays very hard throughout game. Good active shot blocker. Tremendous bounce- big time athlete and leaper. First time he touched the ball on offense (several minutes in b/c State was fronting the post and Techs guards struggled to get it to him) he dunked it. Did a good job of fighting for post position and drawing fouls and getting the State bigs in foul trouble trying to defend him inside fronting him. Good rebounder on both ends- leads team in that category with 6.3 a game. Keeps the ball alive on offensive end. Had a big alley-oop dunk off an out of bounds play in first half. Free throws looked solid tonight- solid stroke- good arc- soft touch- shooting 70% for year from line. Stronger than he looks. Highlight reel dunker. Showed a nice slide dribble to the middle into a high extending right hook. Doesn’t show frustration when teammates can get him ball- keeps playing hard and battles. Rarely misses close range shots but when he does- he gets his own rebound. Strong finisher- dunks everything.

Weaknesses

Gets caught out of position defensively- getting beat back door/watching the ball and losing man/ late recovering- freshman mistakes. Struggles to get through, around screens- gets screens too easy. Tends to be over anxious at times which leads to him getting into foul trouble- picked up 2 offensive fouls in first 12 minutes of first half. Stands too tall and doesn’t get low enough defensively when playing perimeter defense.

Overview

One of the few bright spots on a very young and struggling Tech team. Athletic and hard working freshman who leads team in PPG (12.5) and RPG (6.3) while playing only 23 MPG. You have to love his aggressiveness, energy, and intensity. He goes after all the loose balls, tries to block everything, and wants the ball. As he gets more experienced he will become learn how to be a better defender with defensive rotations and positioning. Played tonight with back to basket mostly- but showed signs that he could be a good P/R player at next level. Techs guards really struggled with TO’s tonight and had a hard time getting Tolbert the ball in the first half even though he did a good job pinning his man- did a better hob in second half. Has a high ceiling- even though he only played 10 minutes in first half because of foul trouble- there was a lot to like about Tolberts game. Will need to make the move to the perimeter at next level. Even though he stands up too much defending the perimeter- he has the quickness and athleticism to guard a 3 at the NBA level. He has the ability and want and will to defend- the positioning and other things will come. The struggle is not going to come on the defensive end, but on the offensive end- has not shot a 3 all season and never handles the ball. Somewhat of a tweener- undersized at 6’7” to be primarily back to basket player- but has great length, athleticism, and strength. I can see him being a first round pick in a year or 2, to play the 3 or may be the 4 in the NBA. With his work ethic I can see him developing a jump shot (seeing his FT stroke- he can develop a perimeter shot) and ball handling. Future NBA draft pick.


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NBA Injuries Pile Up

In a shortened season that seemed to race right back into form, the NBA has suddenly found itself with the problem of many stars missing games due to injury.

2012 All-Florida Showcase presented by Home Team Hoops

*Online registration will begin Feb. 1

Main Gym:
Monarch High School
5050 Wiles Road, Coconut Creek, FL

Contact:
Brandon
954-234-8536

- All-Florida Showcase And Elite Skills Camp, March 10-16, 2012. There will be divisions for Middle School, High School/Unsigned Seniors and games will be played in multiple gyms due to the expected amount of players attending! Every player will be evaluated, professional video and photos will be taken, scouts and coaches will be in the building evaluating. So be sure to mark your calendars for March 10th!

- Showcase will include a dunk contest, a top 40 game and a top 20 game.

- Elite Skills camp will continue into the week March 12-16

Top Players Set To Attend:

Chris Walker (6’9 Forward; Top 5 Overall In The Country; Class of 2013)

Joel Berry (6’2 Guard; Top Sophomore PG In Florida; Class of 2014)

Demarcus Croaker (6’3 Guard; Top 10 In Florida; Class of 2013)

Kasey Hill (6’1 Guard; Top 3 PG In The Country; Class of 2013)

Malik Price-Martin (6’8 Forward; Top 5 In Florida; Class of 2013)

And more to be named.

By Marcus Shockley

Twitter Athletes
Photo Credit: Flikr/andypiper

It’s been a growing topic for some time, but last week when Yuri Wright, a high school football recruit who was expected to play football for the Michigan Wolverines, lost his scholarship over several things he said on Twitter, it brought the issue to the forefront in a very real way. Following the story breaking into a national recruiting tale, he was also kicked out of Don Bosco Prep School and has suddenly become the poster child for how NOT to use social media.

It’s not surprising that some recruits would run into problems; in a world where I’ve seen adults texting while driving 70 mph on a highway at night, as a culture we are still struggling to handle how to turn our electronic communication off, and more importantly, how to keep our digital mouths shut.

Social media has become an important part of the recruiting landscape, and it’s easy to point to the players who get burned or misuse it. I rely on social media to help track down recruits, coaches and current players and I see both types of use. I think the vast majority of players, even high school players, completely understand the ramifications. However, just in case, here’s a quick guide on how social media should be used by high school recruits.

1. Don’t say anything you wouldn’t say in public.

You’d think this was the most obvious one, but it isn’t. Some players post just about everything that happens to them on Twitter or Facebook. There’s a fine line here; There’s a lot that can be said, even in public, that’s perfectly acceptable. The problems arises when Twitter is used to air personal grievances, opinions or information. Honestly, I don’t pay much attention to obviously personal tweets or posts, but you have to remember that some fans watch and listen to everything a recruit says. When a high school recruit tweets something about a school, for example, fans try to read if the recruit is indicating he’s leaning one way or another. This isn’t entirely unexpected, because sometimes players announce their intentions over social media.

Just be careful not to blurt out anything you wouldn’t want the world to know. It’s an environment where what you say will get noticed, and not always in a good way.

2. Twitter is a broadcast platform, not a text messaging system.

Twitter is great for quick, open messages to scouts, other players or friends. For many top recruits, they often leave their original high school and play at least one year at a prep school, which means they can play national competition. It also means leaving their friends behind, or at least, some distance away. Twitter and Facebook help bridge the communication gap, so that either a player or an old friend can reach out and let each other know that they are trying to catch up. But here’s the rule: once contact is made, then the conversation needs to be taken “offline”, meaning to another type of communication, whether it’s a phone call, texting or chat. The important thing is that the whole world shouldn’t be privy to your entire conversation.

3. Watch those photos & retweets

If you retweet a racy/lurid/disgusting photo, guess what? It shows up on your profile. And that photo of you at a buddy’s apartment, where’s he’s holding up two bottles of fine spirits? That’s a huge no-no. The reality is that you have to be aware that you can get labeled as a person colleges don’t want to recruit, because it looks like you might have bad judgement.

Yuri Wright lost his scholarship to Michigan for two reasons. First, he tweeted slurs and racist comments that the school wanted no part of. Secondly, he showed a pattern of incredible lack of judgement. It’s true that someone’s online personality may not actually represent who they are, but over time bad posts and tweets paint a picture of someone, good or bad.

Coaches and programs learn that people rarely change their patterns. A player who sulked a lot and missed practices in high school will usually continue to do so in college. Make no mistake, if a college coach is interested in you, they will follow up and try to find out what type of person you are. Some coaches complain that the player’s tweets/posts don’t match the real person, and not in a good way. But you certainly don’t want to have an image of problem player before the coach has even checked. You really have to understand that EVERYTHING you say and do on your Twitter timeline is being monitored by someone, probably someone you don’t expect.

4. You don’t need to broadcast every thought.

I used to follow a college basketball player on Twitter who professed that she wanted to be a sports reporter/writer. She had contacted me about writing for us, and I was considering it. Even though we are focused on men’s basketball, of course we are looking for anyone who has good insight, and we’ve had contributions from female writers in the past. You would expect that her tweets would be similar to a lot of college players; tweets about early morning workouts, disappointing losses or frustrating college classes.

However, none of those tweets came across. Sometimes she would tweet about an NBA game or mention practice, but normally her timeline would be full of where she intended to party after class, how late she was out, and spats with other women over Twitter. Often she would erupt with a barrage of vulgarity-laced posts about her latest failed relationship, which seemed to be about once a week. Finally, I just stopped following her because it felt like she wasn’t serious about anything except getting high and arguing. I have no idea if she is as much of a train wreck as she claims to be, but for someone who wants to work in the media, she really needs to learn how to manage her image. It’s simply better to say as little as possible than saying the wrong thing.

Just remember that every Tweet is a headline; the power of social media is a great tool if used correctly, but it can and will burn you if you misuse it.

MLK Classic Rundown

By Marcus Shockley & James Blackburn

Theo Pinson Wesleyan Basketball
Theo Pinson is currently ranked as the #2 sophomore prospect in the nation by some publications

The MLK Classic in Greensboro, NC is one of the more elite gatherings of high school teams in the nation, this year bringing in teams like storied Oak Hill, Quality Education Academy and Wesleyan Christian Academy.

Some of the standout players of the day:

Aaron Rountree (F, 6’8″, 2012) – Greenfield HS (Clinton, NC), a Wake Forest commit, showed off much of his versatility. Rountree is the type of player that isn’t a pure post player and isn’t a pure wing, but does some things in each of those roles and brings a lot of energy to the floor. He’s long and athletic and turned in one of the best performances on the day. We last scouted Aaron at the CP3 Elite Guard Camp.

Diante Baldwin (G, 5’11″, 2013) – High Point Christian Academy , showed incredible ability under the bright lights with the game on the line. Baldwin is deft in traffic and plays well in the open floor, cutting through the lane with reckless abandon. We last scouted Diante at the Adidas Phenom 150 camp. Has an offer from Appalachian State.

Tyler Lewis (PG, 5’11″, 2012)- Oak Hill, committed to NC State. By now, it should be well known what Lewis brings to the table, having played several games on national television with Oak Hill, but he’s still proving that he can play at the elite level without question. He’s known for flashy passes and no-look shiftiness, but the reality is that it’s not all show with Lewis; he will find whichever teammate is open at any time. We last scouted Lewis when Oak Hill played QEA earlier in the season and when the team took on Miller Grove.

Jordan Adams (SG, 6’5″, 2012) – Oak Hill, committed to UCLA. Jordan looks like he’s gotten back in season shape and was running the floor better; smooth with a good ability to slash across the lane, Adams is primarily known for being a deep threat. He has a pro jump shot and is as consistent as ever.

Brandon Bolden (C, 6’11″, 2012) – Quality Education Academy, committed to Georgetown. Bolden is athletic and has a great second bounce off of the floor. He wants to block everything and is a factor with his height and both ends of the floor. Still raw offensively but definitely a high major big.

Montay Brandon (G, 6’7″, 2012) – Wesleyan Christian Academy, committed to Florida State. Brandon didn’t have a great shooting performance but his size and ability to play at the perimeter make him a tough stop for smaller guards. Big time bounce, good ballhandling and solid potential headed to the ACC.

Theo Pinson (SG, 6’5″ 2014) – Wesleyan Christian Academy Undeclared. Although most recruiting publications don’t rank sophomores, some have ranked Pinson as the #2 sophomore in the nation behind Andrew Wiggins, who we scouted last May at the Jordan Brand Classic. Pinson has the build to play the off guard and is explosive in transition. Can shoot from deep and if he keeps working, should have a bright future.

Christian Hairston (SF, 6’7″, 2013) – Greensboro Day School Undeclared. Hairston is a smooth forward and has great awareness on the floor, definitely a player to keep up with and already has some offers. Explosive and a good defender, closes out fast on the shooters and can slash to get his own shot.

Christian Hairston basketball
Christian Hairston is an unsigned prospect with big time potential.

James Ford (SG, 6’4″, 2012) – Quality Education Academy Ford is a big time prospect that hasn’t been on the radar as much as he should be, but this year teams are starting to take notice. He can shoot from deep, get to the rim and has all of the skills to play at the next level. Getting interest from Clemson, College of Charleston, Duquesne, Georgia State.

Shannon Hale (PF, 6’8″, 2012) – Christ School Committed to Alabama. A smooth forward, Hale makes the game look easy. He has a good high release on his shot and defends well on the ball.

Jerome Hairston (PG, 6’2″, 2012) – Christ School Committed to Towson. Showed slick ballhandling and highlight passes, Hairston showed he has some mixtape moves with the ball in his hand. Surprise talent of the day.

A.J. Hammonds (C, 7’0″, 2012) – Oak Hill Committed to Purdue. A big force in the paint, Hammonds is a half court center who can be a brutal defender in the lane, making guards and wings regret they attempted to slash to the hoop.

Sam Hunt (PG, 6’0″, 2013) – Dudley HS (Greensboro, NC) Showed he could compete at a high level as his team took on Oak Hill. The game wasn’t close, but Hunt poured in 23 points and showed his ability to score and defend on the perimeter.

Josh Level, (SG, 6’5″, 2014) – Christ School A guard with good size and vision. Level squares up on his shot, is a big time leaper and good defender. A lot to like about his game.

JaQuel Richmond (PG, 6’0, 2014) – Wesleyan Christian Academy - solid, quick point guard who throws bullet passes and runs the offense with purpose. Has an ability to get to the rim against elite competition and still has two more years to improve.

Reed Lucas (SG/SF, 6’4″, 2013) – Greensboro Day School Deceptively athletic wing who has a good first step and likes to slash to the basket, but also can shoot from range.

More Notable Players:

Colton Bishop (PG/SG, 6’1″, 2014) – Forsyth Country Day

Darryl Davender (PG, 5’9″, 2013) – Body of Christ Academy

Mike Murray (PG, 5’9″, 2012) – Norfolk Christian Academy

Reggie Dillard (SG, 6’3″, 2013) – Greensboro Day School

Jackson Kent (SF, 6’7″, 2013) – High Point Christian Academy

Tracy Gathings (SF/PF, 6’5″, 2012) – Ben L. Smith HS (Greensboro, NC)

Ibrahim Diallo (C, 6’9″, 2015) – Quality Education Academy

Joshua Woodward (PF, 6’6″, 2012) – Wesleyan Christian Academy

Jonathan Hood (G/F, 6’4″, 2012) – Body of Christ Academy

Tevin Findlay (G, 6’4″, 2012) – Quality Education Academy

Jordan Robinson (PF, 6’8″, 2014) – Quality Education Academy

By: James Blackburn

Cameron Moore UAB basketball
Photo Credit: TheSportsBank.net

Game Scouted: UAB @ Southern Miss
Box Score

Southern Miss wins 59-55

Cameron Moore (F, 6’10”, SR)

Stats
6-11 FG, 13 TP, 1 block, 8 rebounds

Strengths
Does not shoot a lot of threes- but hit a 3 on a baseline OB early in first that did not look bad at all-only perimeter shot taken this game. Strong upper body/physical. Good base/center of gravity. Athletic- not an incredible high flyer- but above average athlete for size. Good athletic shot blocker- especially from weak side (averages 3 blocks a game). Gets deep/solid post position- stays bodied up with his defender-Southern Miss was forced to front him. Pretty good rebounder- but there were several boards in the game that he should have had- good rebounder none the less- better defensive rebounder then on offensive end. Effective hook shot over left shoulder. Good screener-head hunts- gets his shooters open by setting hard, wide screens off the ball. Not a great passer- but did have a big assist out of double team for lay up with about 5 minutes to go with a close score. Really wants ball in post.

Weaknesses
Missed a breakaway dunk early in the first half- tried to go for the reverse highlight dunk instead of just finishing. Not a good passer out of post- doesn’t kick out of double team, or triple teams. Tends to lose track of his man at times on defensive end. Must improve P/R defense and the ability to show and slow PG down turning the corner and then was slow getting back to man- half the time he half-heartedly shows-not enough to really slow the PG down and the other half he just hangs back. Needs to improve finishing ability- with his length and strength- shooting only 49% from field for season. More of a highlight reel shot blocker then a interior defensive presence- Southern Miss was getting a lot of paint shots and buckets with Moore in the game and Moore did not seem to alter very many at all- caught him with his hands by his side way too much- needs to be more active on the defensive end this game. Must improve FT shooting. Must improve hands.

Overview
Came to UAB originally as walk on. Has improved dramatically every year- testament to his work ethic. Conference USA Preseason Player of Year. Playing in the wake of his Grandmother’s death earlier in the week. Good rebounder- boxes out and is athletic- but he doesn’t have great hands- has hard hands- several times this game he should of pulled down a board and ball just bounces off- ball just went right through his hands on several other occasions. Once he does get the ball- he secures it and keeps it. Came into today’s game averaging a team high 36 mpg, 15.5 ppg, and 10 rpg. Also leads team with 46 blocks for the year. Must improve on the defensive end of the floor- granted Moore has a good reputation on the defensive side of the floor- but did not display much this game. This was the first time I have seen him play this season. Moore is definitely a pro- not necessarily in the NBA- but I wouldn’t rule that out. Would be an excellent candidate for D-League. A player with his size, athleticism, strength, and an above average back to the basket offensive game will have his fair shot to make an NBA roster. In my opinion he will definitely get multiple invites for individual workouts with teams, and I think he deserves and will probably make an NBA summer league roster. From there it will depend on his performances but I would not be surprised if he makes a final roster as an undrafted FA. I can see him playing the PF or even a somewhat undersized Center at next level- as a 3rd post option off the bench. NBA ready size/strength/body. Showed the ability to play some perimeter defense this game- will have to continue to work on shooting consistency- especially from FT line. Much more effective on the interior on both ends of the floor then on perimeter.

The Martin Luther King Effect

By Marcus Shockley

Martin Luther King

Part of being an effective sports scout and sports writer is the ability to be objective. As the fans curse the referee from the stands and call for his head on a pike, an objective observer might see that the player was indeed shuffling his feet; when the fans cheer a no-look pass, an objective observer might see that the player hurled a dangerous bomb from the corner when he had a timeout in his pocket and a two point lead. Objectivity is the name of the game, which means not playing favorites and not being a cheerleader for any team or player.

However, when it comes to Martin Luther King, Jr., I do not apologize for a lack of objectivity; I am a fan, and MLK is one of my heroes in a world with very few of them. I’d like to believe that I could be as brave as Dr. King, but I doubt I am and I doubt I ever could be; I doubt that many of his original followers were, either; a great leader does exactly that, lead and give strength to those who may not have it, and that’s what makes them unique. Without Dr. King to lead the charge, how many would have decided to join the movement?

I’ve visited the Martin Luther King center in Atlanta and I’ve visited the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis. I recommend that every US Citizen does the same; I do not know how any human who feels compassion cannot visit these memorials and not be moved at the core of their being. The first time I visited MLK, I also visited the Ebenezer Baptist Church where Dr. King preached, and the church looks just as it did when he gave his sermons there. As you walk among the empty pews, daylight filters through the windows and Dr. King’s voice booms through the wood and stone, from speakers tucked away that give the effect that his voice is resonating from everywhere at once.

It is incredibly powerful.

As I stood and looked at the lectern where he stood and spoke to his flock, and heard his voice as he spoke of a world where we could live together, I realized that he did it. He did achieve his dream. Are we “there” yet? Well, no. Humans will continue to try and find ways to discriminate, but the ocean of change that has occurred since Martin Luther King’s day can be considered nothing short of resounding success.

In short, he changed the world, and not in the hyperbolic description that we love to engage in with sports, but in reality. The world is different.

So what does this have to do with basketball, or sports? Well, besides the obvious, that many African-American players could not even participate in professional leagues until Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in 1947 with the Brooklyn Dodgers, there’s a treasure trove of related ripples where Dr. King’s success changed the world, and here’s a few of those ripples. Some of these are juxtapositions of what once was; some are changes that were part of the wave that Dr. King joined.

1. The Renaissance Big Five – The Best Pro Team You’ve Never Heard Of

Harlem Rens

Of course you’ve heard of Jackie Robinson, and you might even know that the first African-American basketball player to be drafted in the NBA was Nat “Sweetwater” Clifton in 1950. Clifton entered the NBA with two other African-American players, Earl Lloyd and Chuck Cooper. But long before Clifton played his first game for the Knicks, the Renaissance Big Five, a.k.a. the New York Renaissance, was a dominant all-black team that played during the 1920s and 1930s in the Renaissance Casino and Ballroom in Harlem, NY.

The Big Five was loaded and regularly played all-white teams, and not scrubs. In 1925, the “Rens” beat the Original Celtics, who were the dominant white basketball team of the day. In fact, the Rens won 88 consecutive games during their 1932-33 season, and yes, you read that correctly – they won 88 in a row in one season.

The Original Celtics are not linked to today’s Boston Celtics, but they were no pushovers – during the 1923 season, the Celtics had compiled a record of 193-11-1 (you could actually have a tie in basketball in those days). To put it mildly, the Rens were not just a bunch of gym rats or weekend warriors. They were legit, but they could only prove it when they played white teams. In today’s post-MLK world, basketball players of any race have a shot at playing in the NBA, as long as they are good enough. The Rens slick passing and movement is echoed in the play on every court in existence today, no longer hidden from the mainstream sports world.

2. Washington versus the Redskins

George Marshall redskins

In 1961, 14 years after Jackie Robinson stepped onto the infield for the Dodgers, the Redskins were the only professional football team without a single black player on their roster, prompting the famous quote from sportswriter Sam Lacy, who called the ‘Skins the “lone wolf in lily-whiteism.” George Marshall, the owner of the team, had never signed an African-American player and, truthfully, had no intention of ever doing so.

This prompted action from the Kennedy administration, and Stewart L. Udall, Secretary of the Interior, warned the Redskins front office that significant efforts to desegregate the team had to be made of federal prosecution could be forthcoming. Udall was emboldened by the swelling civil rights movement and went after Marshall.

Now, let’s pause a moment and consider the heavyweight of professional football that is, and was, George Marshall. He was one of the three founding fathers of the NFL along with George Halas (Bears) and Art Rooney (Steelers). He is in the Hall of Fame for some of his incredible business magic and vision concerning the game of football. After moving his team from Boston to D.C., under his hand the team won six division titles between 1937 and 1945. He invented the football championship and the player draft. He invented the halftime show. In many ways, he created much of the NFL that we know today.

He was a giant, but he was extremely racist, and very visible to an administration that had been elected on a pro-civil-rights platform, and they put pressure on Marshall to make changes. The media went after Marshall as well, especially Lacy, who stated “This column has never advocated suicide, but in GPM’s case, it would be readily forgiveable.”

However, Marshall’s stance began to lead to poor performance on the field, only winning a single game in 1960, and that also opened the door for public opinion to shift against him. In 1961, Udall determined that the stadium in D.C. that the city had been built with large amounts of public funds and therefore he issued that unless the “Paleskins” changed their ways, they would not be allowed to play in their home stadium. This caused an eruption of insults and mudslinging between Marshall and Udall, and the American Nazi Party paraded outside of the stadium with signs like “Keep Redskins White!” (an incredibly dense insult that no doubt was lost on it’s purveyors), but ultimately, after months of antagonism and embarrassment for the other owners, NFL commissioner Pet Rozelle lowered the boom on Marshall, and he relented. It’s not clear what Rozelle said to Marshall in their meeting, but to stop the steel-spined racist who’d fought civil rights his entire life in one conversation makes one wonder exactly what, and how, it was said.

Has the world changed? Yes.

3. Before Jackie Robinson Broke The Barrier, It Had To Be Built

Jackie Robinson

So I’ve mentioned Jackie Robinson’s 1947 achievement a couple of times, but lost in most of sports history is the fact that Robinson wasn’t actually the first player to play alongside whites in professional sports. In the early 1920s, a few black players were on rosters of NFL teams all the way until 1933, when the owners decided to ban African-American players. But five years before Robinson, the National Basketball League had two teams, the Toledo Jim White Chevrolets and the Chicago Studebakers, who signed African-American players to fill their rosters. The league remained integrated, and when it merged with the NBA in 1950, five years before Dr. King led the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the NBA also became integrated. The NBL has no relation to the current league in Australia of the same name.

The roots of the integrated NBL go deep in the current NBA. Five of the current NBA teams were originally NBL teams: The Minneapolis Lakers (now the Los Angeles Lakers), the Rochester Royals (now the Sacramento Kings), the Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons (now the Detroit Pistons), the Buffalo Bisons/Tri-Cities Blackhawks (now the Atlanta Hawks), and the Syracuse Nationals (now the Philadelphia 76ers).

This isn’t to say things were all wine and roses for black players in the professional sports ranks at this time; many clubhouses were segregated and Jim Crow laws were still a blight on the country, some of the effects are still felt today. But the truth remains that African-Americans have as much right to the legacy of pro basketball as anyone, and it was the pressure of the civil rights movement that helped all of the changes that eventually came to pass. It was this environment that fostered the young reverend and created a world where he knew he had to join in and lead the charge.

There are many heroes of the civil rights movement. Average, every day citizens who fought for their own rights and demanded to be treated with justice and equality. Those heroes made it possible for the world we have today, where no one would ever consider telling a U.S. player who was African-American, Jewish, Hispanic, Asian or any other nationality or race that they couldn’t play pro sports because of their race. It’s not a perfect world. There’s still racism. But Dr. King’s dream has come a long, long way.

I’m a fan of Dr. King’s dream.

Today’s highlights feature a matchup between Mt. Tabor HS (NC) and Davie HS (NC), a game with multiple players who are prospects to play at some level of collegiate basketball.

Player Highlights:

Cody Martin (SG/SF, 6’6″, 2012) a fluid player with a decent first step and the ability to pull up from mid range. Reportedly has offers from NC State, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest. Twin brother Caleb Martin also has the same offers but is currently sidelined with a broken foot.

Matt Madigan (PG/SG, 6’4″, 2013) quick with the ball and can play effectively at the PG or SG spot.

Nate Jones (PG/SG, 5’11″, 2012) explosive guard with elite hops and deep shooting range.

Shannon Dillard (SF/PF, 6’5″, 2012) nimble leaper who can wow with reverse dunks and shot blocks, but very strong rebounder as well.

Deion Robinson (PF, 6’4″, 2012) incredibly consistent around-the-basket player who rarely, if ever, makes mistakes.

Ty’Quan Bitting (C, 6’7″, 2013) long shot blocker who is improving quickly. Runs the floor well and is a factor in the paint.

Lepreece Lynch (SG/SF, 6’4″, 2013) deft scorer who has a deep well of moves to get buckets. Can finish inside, mid range or deep.

Nate Jones defends Matt Madigan on the perimeter
Nate Jones defends Matt Madigan on the perimeter

By James Blackburn

Wake Forest Logo Virginia Tech logo

Wake Forest wins 58-55
Box Score

Note
CJ Harris hit go ahead 3 to win the game for Wake.

Scouting Reports

Virginia Tech

Dorenzo Hudson (G, 6’5”, R-SR)

Strengths

Great size- NBA ready body. Good shooting form- good follow through- but struggled with his shot today. Showed a NBA ready 1 dribble pull-up. Fills his lane well on the break- can finish above rim in transition.

Weaknesses

Fades a bit on his jump shot. Settled for jumpers instead of attacking at beginning of game. Was out of position several times defensively today. Must improve ball handling- get his dribble tighter.

Overview

Really struggled with his shot and with his offensive game in general today. Is second on team in scoring with 11.8 ppg. Was quiet and was out of sync offensively most of this game. Has an NBA ready body to play the 2G and is athletic enough and strong enough to play the 3, but does not have the overall skill set needed to play at the next level. May receive a couple of workout invitations, but is most likely to end up overseas for rest of his playing career.

Erick Green (G, 6’3”, JR)

Strengths

Smooth. Versatile scorer. Excellent in transition- good passer- keeps eyes up- looks to attack and score in fast break situations. Good defender. Great pull- up shooter- everything is in sync- shoulders square, footwork, follow through, shooting motion, elevation. Utilizes ball fakes. Has a nice floater. Solid player all around. Good size for PG position.

Weaknesses

Needs to improve body language to a degree- is too easy to tell when things are going well or poorly with him. Gets out of control at times and turns it over or tries to do too much.

Overview

Very solid performance from the junior from Virginia today. Hit shots when it counted at the end in crunch time when his team needed a bucket. Carried his team through out game and kept team in game. Is first on the team in points (15.8) and assist (3.2). Has an opportunity to make the NBA if he keeps working. At this point I would say he is deserving of workouts and possibly a summer league roster spot, but it would be in his best interest to test the waters and return to school for his senior year to continue to polish up his PG skills. Although he is a good passer, I would say he is more of a combo guard than a PG at this point- needs to continue to improve play making skills to get to NBA level.

Wake Forest

Tony Chennault (G, 6’2”, SO)

Strengths

Very quick- has the ability to break man down off dribble and get to rim. Aggressive and loves to attack rim. Does a good job of turning the corner on P/R. Fast coast to coast with ball in hands- good in transition when he stays under control. Strong upper body. Strong, hard worker. Creative finishing moves around basket. Good rebounder for size. Fearless and a competitor.

Weaknesses

Gets too much in a hurry at times- needs to slow down, get under control. Over penetrates as an undersized guard at times and gets caught/ gets in trouble. TO prone. Needs to improve shooting consistency. Must improve play making skills as a PG.

Overview

Up and down game for Chennault today. Was injured most of last season with broken foot. Fully healthy this season and has started every game. Lightning quick- more of a scoring guard than a true PG. Hit a big 3 with 3 and half minutes left and his team was struggling to find offense. Will continue to monitor his game, but at this point I would not consider him an NBA prospect, but definitely has the speed to that would carry to next level.

Ty Walker (C, 7’0”, SR)

Strengths

Good shot blocker- very active- excellent second jump. Plays above the rim- very athletic. Influences and blocks shots- protects the paint. Good FT shooter. Nice shooting touch for 7 footer. Runs the floor well.

Weaknesses

Raw offensively. Must develop a back to the basket game and a go-to move. Must get stronger and finish with contact. Rebounding is an area where he could improve on.

Overview

Missed 9 games at beginning of season because of school issued suspension. Very raw and has potential. A senior that has yet to really improve his overall game since coming on campus- still has raw offensive game and with his athletic ability you find yourself just wanting more production from him. May receive some invites from NBA teams for some workouts because of size, athleticism, and ability to run the floor, but I don’t see his NBA experience going much further than that.