The Philadelphia 76ers haven’t had much to cheer about this season. The Sixers have a 15-39 record and quite frankly have been playing some terrible basketball. If the team has anything to get excited about, it’s Michael Carter-Williams, the Sixers’ outstanding rookie. Carter-Williams will be one of the top players to watch in the Rising Stars Challenge on Friday, Feb. 14 in New Orleans during the NBA All-Star Weekend.
There will be 18 first and second-year players displaying their talents in this game. Carter-Williams, who was the 11th overall pick by the Sixers in last spring’s NBA draft, is averaging 17.1 points, 6.4 assists, 5.4 rebounds and 2.2 steals a game. He leads all rookies in scoring, rebounding, assists and steals. He is looking to become just the third player going back to 1950-51 to lead rookies in points a game, rebounds a game and assists a game, joining Oscar Robertson (1960-61) and Alvan Adams (1975-76).
In league history, the only rookies to average at least 17.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 6.0 assists for an entire season are Robertson, Magic Johnson (1979-80) and Steve Francis (1999-00). The last players to average at least 17.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, 6.0 assists and 2.00 steals in a single season were Chris Paul and Dwyane Wade in 2008-09.
In addition to Carter-Williams, he will be joined by fellow rookies Steven Aadams (Oklahoma City), Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee), Pero Antic (Atlanta), Trey Burke (Utah), Tim Hardaway, Jr. (New York), Victor Oladipo (Orlando), Kelly Olynyk (Boston) and Mason Plumlee (Brookyln).
The sophomore class includes Harrison Barnes (Golden State), Bradley Beal (Washington), Anthony Davis (New Orleans), Andre Drummond (Detroit), Terrence Jones (Houston), Damian Lillard (Portland), Jared Sullinger (Boston), Jonas Vaianciunas (Toronto) and Dion Waters (Cleveland).
This is the third consecutive year rookies and sophomores will be mixed together on teams.
The Catholic League playoffs should provide the fans with a lot of excitement. They’re going to see some of the best basketball players in the Philadelphia area. Chris Clover is definitely one of them. Clover, a 6-foot-4 junior guard from St. Joseph’s Prep, averaged 22.0 points a game. He’s the second leading scorer. St. Joseph’s Prep will visit La Salle on Friday, Feb. 14 at 7 p.m.
Clover is one of the rising stars in the league. Two years ago, he played on a St. Joseph’s Prep team which lost to Neumann-Goretti for the league championship.
The matchup with La Salle should be an interesting one. La Salle’s top players are Dave Krmpotich and Najee Walls.
Speaking of Neumann-Goretti, the Saints are loaded again. N-G has a number of great players such as 6-foot-3 senior Ja’Quan Newton, 6-foot junior Lamarr Kimble, and 6-foot-1 senior Troy Harper. The Saints are the defending league champions. Newton is one of the best guards in the country. He’s averaging 21.8 points a game. He will play his college basketball at the University of Miami.
Harper is a guard who can really get to the basket. He has great leadping ability. He’s averaging 12.7 points a game. He will be playing Division I basketball at Campbell University next year. Kimble is another bright young star in the city. He’s a terrific ballhandler and has a nice touch from the perimeter.
Roman Catholic has one of the best backcourts in the city. Shep Garner, a 6-foot-2 senior, is averaging 12.2 points a game. The All-Catholic League standout should have the Cahillites in the hunt for a title. Garner will play his college basketball for Penn State. Garner’s teammate Rashann London, a 6-foot-2 senior, can handle the ball, penetrate and hit the open man. He’s averaging 15.4 points a game. London is Roman’s leading scorer.
Archbishop Carroll should be a strong contender for the league championship. Carroll will entertain Archbishop Wood at 7 p.m. on Friday. The Patriots have 6-foot-6 junior Derrick Jones, 6-foot-9 junior Ernest Alfakpui and 6-foot-1 Austin Tilghman. Carroll has one of the biggest teams in the city. Their height should be a huge factor in the postseason. Jones is one of the top juniors in the nation. He’s being heavily recruited by several major colleges such as Syracuse, Kentucky and Kansas. Jones is averaging 14.1 points a game.
Alfakpui is magnificent post player. He averages 10.2 points a game. He does a nice job of complimenting Jones up front. Tilghman can get the ball to the big men around the basket. He can also score the basketball. He averages 10.6 points a game.
Archbishop Wood’s strength is in the frontcourt. The team is led by 6-foot-5 senior Pat Smith and 6-foot-4 Luke Connaghan. Smith leads Wood in scoring tallying 15.8 points a game. Connaghan is averaging 12.3 points a game.
SMU will visit Temple on Feb. 16 with a national ranking and plenty of Philly flavor. The Mustangs are ranked No. 23 in the country. The team’s last appearance in the AP Poll was on March 12, 1985. A big reasons for SMU’s success has been the play of Markus Kennedy who grew up in West Philly and played at Villanova during the 2011-12 season before transferring to SMU.
The Mustangs have been quite a story in Dallas, Texas, where the school is located. SMU has posted wins over Cincinnati, Memphis and Connecticut. Kennedy is looking forward to coming home and playing against the Owls at the Liacouras Center at 2 p.m.
“It’s exciting,” Kennedy said. “I’m pretty pumped for it. It’s my first time coming back since I left Villanova. It’s going to be a good feeling. We have a goal to continue to play well. I’m going to have a lot of family and friends there.”
Kennedy, a 6-foot-9, 245-pound sophomore, is averaging 11.9 points and 7.3 rebounds a game. The Mustangs forward played a lot of basketball in the city. He gives plenty of credit to Marcus and Markieff Morris, twin brothers who played for Prep Charter and are now members of the Phoenix Suns. He also played AAU basketball for the Hunting Park Warriors.
“I was born and raised on 60th Street in West Philly,” Kennedy said. “I played a lot of basketball in North Philly. I would have to say my mentors were the Morris twins. They kind of showed me the game. They always made sure everything was all right for me. They made sure I was trying my best and working my hardest.
“The Hunting Park Warriors were my squad. We had some good players like Jerrell Wright [La Salle] John Johnson [Penn State] and Erik Copes [George Mason]. We had a lot of guys. We had a pretty good team.”
Kennedy plays for former Sixers head coach and Hall of Famer Larry Brown at SMU. Brown has two assistants Eric Snow and George Lynch who played on the Sixers 2001 team that went to the NBA Finals.
“It’s great playing for him,” Kennedy said. “I mean all the stories you hear about him as far as how good a coach and a teacher he is. It’s all true. He’s remarkable as a teacher. It’s still overwhelming some times I sit back and think about playing for a legend and making history. It’s all happening so fast and it’s all fun. I’m just enjoying the moment.
“Eric Snow and George Lynch played on that team which played for the championship. They bring so much insight from the NBA to college. You got to soak it up and take it in because they didn’t play 14-15 years for no reason. They know what they’re doing.”
The Mustangs are 19-5 overall and 8-3 in the American Athletic Conference. Kennedy hopes SMU can make a strong run in the NCAA tournament.
“We got a goal and that’s to get to the Final Four,” Kennedy said. “The Final Four is in Dallas. It could be great if that where we end it. That’s what we’re working towards.”
James Bell named Big 5 Player of the Week
The Philadelphia Big 5 has selected James Bell from Villanova as its player of the week. Bell continued his outstanding play by notching 27 points and eight rebounds in a victory over Xavier. He followed that up with a 20-point, six-rebound performance in a win over Seton Hall. He made 17-of-25 shots in those two games including 10-of-17 from three-point range.
La Salle to battle Saint Joseph’s at Tom Gola Arena
La Salle and Saint Joseph’s will battle in an Atlantic 10 Conference game at Tom Gola Arena on Feb. 15 at 11 a.m. The Explorers forward Jerrell Wright has been playing some terrific basketball. He averaged 18.5 points and 7.5 rebounds a game. Langston Galloway has played extremely well for the Hawks. Galloway had a game-high 24 points to help Saint Joseph’s defeat VCU last week.
Walter Pegues had the ability to play a number of different positions for Central High’s football team. Pegues has played wide receiver and running back in his scholastic career. His versatility will serve him well at the next level. Pegues, a 5-foot-9, 160-pound senior, will play his college football for Indiana University of Pennsylvania. IUP, a Division II football power, is a member of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC).
“I’m definitely happy with my decision,” Pegues said. “They have a good program. Indiana University of Pennsylvania is in a good conference. They’re recruiting me as a slot receiver, kick returner and punt returner. IUP had a good season with a 9-2 overall record. I’m looking forward to playing for them.”
Pegues was one of the top running backs in the city. He had 151 carries for 1,187 yards. He rushed for 14 touchdowns. He also had 12 receptions for 219 yards. And when he wasn’t running and catching the football, Pegues was returning punts and kickoffs. As a junior, he was a wide receiver for the Lancers. He had the skills to get down the field and run good pass routes. He made a smooth transition to running back.
“We had Hakeem Ellis and Jesse Gillis last year,” Pegues said. “They were two good running backs. I played wide receiver. I think the experience should help me in college. I’ve had a chance to play a lot of different positions. I’ve learned a lot over the years. Coach (Rich) Drayton (Central head coach) has really helped me, too.”
Drayton feels Pegues will be a solid contriubutor at IUP. He believes the All Public League standout is a very knowledgeable player.
“He understands what he has to do,” Drayton said. “He’s a great competitor. He played running back for us. We had to keep the ball in his hands. But I think playing wide receiver will help him down the road. It allowed him to work on his route running. They recruited him as a receiver and return specialist.”
Pegues is a very talented athlete. Right now, he’s running on Central High’s indoor track team. In the spring, he will be running outdoors. Track and field will help him with his football skills.
“I’m running indoors,” Pegues said. “I’m working on my speed. I’m running the 200 (meters). I’m also doing the long jump and triple jump. I’m going to the state championship. I’m going to run in the spring. I plan to run the 4x100 and 4x400 (meter relay teams). I think track is going to really help me as far as my quickness on the football field.”
Pegues has performed extremely well on and off the field. Last spring, he was honored at the 17th annual Eagles Top Achiever Awards at the NovaCare Complex Auditorium. Pegues was recognized by the Eagles Youth Partnership and Philadelphia Futures for his academic excellence. He has already selected his major for college.
“I’m going to major in communications,” Pegues said. “I would like to work in radio and television.”
Pegues is headed in the right direction.
The African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas has certainly made a huge impact over the years. St. Thomas is the first African-American Episcopal Church in the country. The church was founded in 1792 by people of African descent to bolster personal and religious freedoms along with self-determination.
The church grew out of the Free African Society — an organization started in 1787 by Absalom Jones, Richard Allen and other individuals to help the Black population in Philadelphia. The Rev. Absalom Jones became the first African-American Episcopal priest and the first rector of St. Thomas. The church embraces the values of Jones, that includes leadership, morality, spirituality, equal rights, education, humanitarianism and other interests to the members.
These qualities have been the hallmark of the church’s success and longevity. The Rev. Martini Shaw became the 17th rector of St. Thomas in 2003. Shaw provides the members with a Sunday service that is uplifting, positive and allows them to go out and make a difference in the community.
“We try to live out our vision,” Shaw said. “Our vision is being a Christ-centered community of faith, which the gospel is taught through our services on Sundays. We try to do that and live by that. We come together on Sunday to worship and we leave on Sunday to serve.
“In order to serve, you got to worship. You’re empowered, you’re given strength, knowledge and energy for folks to really go out into the community to reach others and proclaim the faith and the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
St. Thomas is located at 6361 Lancaster Ave. (formerly St. Paul’s Overbrook) in the city’s Overbrook Farms section of the city. The church originally located at 5th and Adelphi streets, now St. James Place, and dedicated on July 17, 1794. The other locations include: 12th Street below Walnut; 57th and Pearl street (uniting with the Church of the Beloved Disciple); and 52nd and Parrish streets.
The church places a strong emphasis on the Eucharist to show a great deal of appreciation for the Lord. This religion has evolved through the years from the Angelican/Episcopal high church worship experience to one that concentrates on the evangelical Afrocentric belief.
“We come together on Sundays to give thanks to God,” Fr. Shaw said. “One of the things about the church we celebrate the Eucharist every Sunday and every Wednesday. The Greek word for Eucharist is to give thanks. We come together every week to give thanks to God for bringing us through the year. It’s an opportunity to give thanks.”
St. Thomas has quite a legacy with community outreach and humanitarianism, which was established by its founders. Historically, St. Thomas’ clergy and parrishioners have played major part in the abolition/anti-slavery/underground railroad movements. They were involved with the equal rights movement during the 1800s. In addition, St. Thomas has been active in the civil rights movement, NAACP, Union of Black Episcopalian, Opportunities Industrialization Center (OIC), Philadelphia Interfaith Action and The Episcopal Church Women.
St. Thomas has done a great job of upholding the knowledge and presence of African Americans in the Episcopal Church. The church has an outstanding tradition with their membership through a number of ministries like Men’s Fellowship, Young Adult and Youth Ministries, Church School, Health Ministry, Caring Ministry, Christian Formation, Jazz Ensemble, Chosen 300, Shepherding Program, Chancel Choir and Gospel Choir.
Speaking of the gospel choir, the group was selected as “the best church gospel choir” during the New York Regional Finals in the Verizon Wireless “How Sweet the Sound” (HSTS) competition. The event took place at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, brought the St. Thomas Gospel Choir together with five talented choirs from Harlem, N.Y.; Newark, N.J.; Rochester, N.Y.; New Haven, Conn. and Brooklyn, N.Y.
As a result of winning the competition, the gospel choir was presented with a $10,000 check and received an all-expenses paid trip to compete in the national finals.
The gospel choir is celebrating 22 years of music ministry group has made a lot of public appearances including the induction and seating services of the Rev. Katherine Jefferts Shori, the first female Presiding Bishop for the Episcopal Church of the United States. The past nine years the gospel choir has performed with the Philly Pops. They’re had music included by Philadelphia’s and St. Thomas’s own Oscar nominated producer and director, Lee Daniels in his movie, “The Woodsman,” recording three CDs (fourth is being planned). The gospel choir performs every second and fourth Sunday during service at St. Thomas.
The church has plenty of activities to help provide a well-rounded experience like the scholarship program, Boys Scouts, Music Committee and Women’s Day Committee. These activities and others allow members to utilize their skills in a way to support the various groups in the church.
The Boy Scouts have given the youth an incredible opportunity to learn discipline, responsibility, leadership, guidance and direction. In 2006, the Boy Scout Troop 133 of Overbook took a 4,200-mile trip to Alaska. They spent seven days at Camp Lost Lake. The camp is approximately 60 miles from Fairbanks.
The scouts ages 11-18 had to raised $20,000. The youngsters sold popcorn to help with the expenses of the trip. The troop generated $4,000 in sales. They had car washes and bake sales, too. The scouts received donations from community groups as well as members of St. Thomas. The church made it possible for the scouts to make the trip. The church has a long history of helping people reach their goals by working together.
Sources: www.aecst.org, St. Thomas 220 Anniversary Celebration Program and the St. Thomas church bulletin.