When it comes to basketball, Philadelphia and New York have had some classic battles over the years. Well, there will be another one when these two cities face each other on Sunday, January 1, New Year’s Day in the fifth annual VILLA Classic, which showcases the top high school basketball teams from both cities. The games will be played at two local venues.
The tip-off will begin at Ben Franklin High School, 550 North Broad Street. The first game features Constitution High against Cardozo from New York City at noon. The second game will be Imhotep Charter and South Shore from New York at 3:45 p.m. Vaux will battle Boys and Girls High from New York immediately following the second contest.
After that, the high school basketball action will shift to Widener University, East 17th Street and Melrose Avenue in Chester for two games. Friends’ Central will play Wings Academy from New York at 6 p.m. In the final contest, Chester High will face Christ the King from New York at 7:45 p.m.
Fans will have an opportunity to see some of the best scholastic players from both cities. Constitution High has three outstanding players in 6-foot-6 senior Savon Goodman and 6-foot-2 senior Daiquan Walker. Imhotep Charter won the Public League and PIAA state championship last year. Imhotep’s key players are 6-foot-2 senior Khyree Wooten and 6-foot-6 junior Brandon Austin.
Vaux also has a terrific young player in 6-foot-4 junior Rysheed Jordan who has a lot of talent. Amille Jefferson is regarded as one of the top 24 high school players in the country. Jefferson, a 6-foot-8 senior, plays for Friends’ Central. Rondae Jefferson is a major player for Chester High. Jefferson, a 6-foot-5 junior swingman, led the Clippers to the PIAA Class AAAA state title last season. Jefferson’s older brother Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson plays basketball for Temple.
Omar King is a terrific player for Christ the King. He should be a player to watch in this great rivalry.
Herb Douglas recently celebrated his birthday. This just wasn’t any birthday party. He became 90 years old on March 9, 2012. Douglas had a big bash in his hometown of Pittsburgh at the Senator John Heinz History Center. He had a number of sports legends at this party. Douglas said Joe Cosgrove, chairman of Pentec Health, and Randy LeTang, president, Wellbridge Capital, sponsored the event.
Douglas, who resides in the Wynnefield section of Philadelphia, has become the oldest African-American Olympic medalist. In 1948, he won a bronze medal at the Olympics in London. That’s where the Olympics will be held this summer.
Douglas has been quite a pioneer throughout his life. In 1942, he teamed with William Morton, Clarence Doak and Howard Mitchell to make Xavier University (New Orleans, La.) the first HBCU (historically Black college and university) to win a relay at the Penn Relays. The team captured the 440-yard relay in 41.7 seconds.
After two years, he left and came home to help his father, who was blind and had a parking garage business. Right after World II in 1945, he went back to college. He decided to attend to the University of Pittsburgh. He played football and set a school record in the long jump (24-4.88) which lasted 23 years.
Douglas joined Schieffelin & Company (now Moet/Hennessy USA) in 1963 where he became the third African-American to reach the level of vice president of a national company.
Temple-Syracuse to headline inaugural Gotham Classic
Two of the top college basketball programs in the country, Temple and Syracuse, will headline the field of the inaugural Gotham Classic, which culminates with the two teams facing each other at New York’s Madison Square Garden on Dec. 22. Temple, the sixth winningest Division I program with 1,790 wins, returns two starters from last year’s team in junior guard Khalif Wyatt (17.1 ppg) and junior forward Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson (9.3 ppg).
The Owls, who posted a 24-8 record in a 2011–12 season highlighted by the Atlantic 10 Conference regular season championship and a fifth straight NCAA appearance, also will return fifth-year senior forward Scootie Randall and junior forward Dalton Pepper, both of whom red-shirted last season.
Syracuse, which made its eighth NCAA Elite Eight appearance in 2011–12, ranks fifth on the NCAA wins list with 1,844 victories. The regular season Big East champions return three starters from a team that posted a 34-3 record. The Orange lead the all-time series with Temple, 16-13, but the schools have not met on the court since Temple defeated Syracuse, 65-54, in the NIT third place game at Madison Square Garden in 2002.
The format for the inaugural Gotham Classic sees both Temple and Syracuse playing three games on campus beginning Dec. 15 before taking on each other at Madison Square Garden. The other three teams in the event will travel to both Syracuse and Temple before facing each other, with one game at home and the other on the road.
The Phoenix Club of Philadelphia announces 2012 Phoenix Awards winners
Maurice Watson Jr., Boys’ Latin standout and Kahleah Copper, Prep Charter star, have been named winners of the 2012 Phoenix Awards. The Phoenix Club of Philadelphia was established in 2008 by Michael G. Horsey, a local certified public accountant, to recognize the “most outstanding” senior male and female basketball players in the Public League.
Khalif Wyatt has always been a big shot maker. Wyatt came to Temple with that ability three years ago. The 6-foot-4, 210-pound junior put on a show tallying a game-high 22 points on 8-for-12 shooting including 3-for-5 from three point range to help Temple post a major upset over Duke (ranked No. 3 ESPN/USA Today, No. 5 Associated Press) before a soldout crowd of 20,420 at Wells Fargo Center and a national television audience.
“I know this was a big stage,” Wyatt said. “Everybody knows Duke is one of the most historic programs, if not the most historic program [in college basketball]. As a basketball player, if you don’t get excited to play at the Wells Fargo in front of all those people and against Duke, I mean you don’t need to play basketball. As a basketball player, I’m just excited that it was a good opportunity in front of me, and I wanted to take advantage of it.”
Wyatt had a lot of preparation for games of this magnitude. During his scholastic days at Norristown, he led his school to the PIAA Class AAAA District title as a senior. As a junior, he guided Norristown to a 33-2 record before losing to Chester High in the PIAA state championship game. Wyatt lost that game to the Clippers, which had Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson, who is now his Temple teammate. By the way, Hollis-Jefferson played pretty well in the huge victory over the Blue Devils. He had 17 points and six rebounds. Wyatt credits Owls head coach Fran Dunphy for getting the team ready to battle Duke.
“Coach Dunph had us well prepared,” Wyatt said. “The guys stuck together. Rahlir is probably my best friend on the team. He really stepped up today. It’s just great to see him play that well. I’m just as happy for him as he is for me.”
Wyatt is playing with a lot of confidence. He’s averaging 14.8 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.7 assists a game. Wyatt plays in one of the most talented backcourts in college basketball. He plays with 6-foot-4 senior Ramone Moore (16.9 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 3.8 apg) and 6-foot-4 senior Juan Fernandez (12.6 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 4.2 apg). The Owls’ backcourt has a lot of experience, giving them a major advantage over most teams. In college basketball now, the game is controlled with the play from the guards. Temple has that on its team.
Wyatt has gradually developed into a terrific player over his college career. He started to receive a lot of attention last season. He averaged 10.1 points a game coming off the bench. His efforts as a reserve earned him the honors of Atlantic 10 Conference Sixth Man of the Year.
“It seems like I’ve been going through steps every year,” Wyatt said. “My freshman year I didn’t play at all. My sophomore year I started off slow and made my way up to sixth man and finishing games helping the team win. Now, this year I’m keyed on. Plus, Ramone and Juan trust me. They trust me with the ball. The main thing is Coach Dunph trusts me. He and the staff are just trying to win.”
The last time Temple defeated Duke was January 26, 1996. Wednesday was a great evening for basketball in the city with Temple, La Salle, Saint Joseph’s, Penn, Drexel and the Philadelphia 76ers all winning. Temple will open Atlantic 10 Conference, playing at the Liacouras Center against Dayton on Saturday, January 7, at 4 p.m.
When Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson isn’t playing basketball for the Temple Owls, he’s usually watching his brother Rondae Jefferson play for Chester High’s powerhouse basketball team. Rondae is one of the best high school players in the country.
In fact, Rahlir was there when Rondae had a spectacular dunk where he threw the ball up against the backboard, caught it and slammed it home in a game during the Christmas holidays. The play made ESPN SportsCenter’s Top 10 plays. It was No. 2 that day. He received national attention for that play.
“I was there,” Hollis-Jefferson said. “I got to see it live. It was way better live than what you saw on TV. He was able to make a good play. He lobbed it to himself on the backboard and threw it down.”
Rahlir, a 6-foot-6, 215-pound senior, has been throwing down for the Owls. He’s averaging 8.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 3.2 assists a game. Hollis-Jefferson has been a solid player throughout his college career.
Like his brother, Rondae, he was a huge star at Chester High. He led Chester High to a PIAA Class AAAA state championship as a junior. Hollis-Jefferson led the Clippers to a big state title win over Norristown, which had Khalif Wyatt, who is now a teammate of Hollis-Jefferson at Temple.
Hollis-Jefferson is one of the veteran players for the Owls. He has helped them become one of the best teams in the Atlantic 10 Conference.
“We have a lot of senior leaders,” Hollis-Jefferson said. “We have Scootie (Randall), Khalif (Wyatt) and T.J. (DiLeo). Scootie leads by example. He’s our leading rebounder. Khalif is our leader on offense. He helps our offense. T.J. comes in off the bench. They do what they do. I just try to get better and do what I do best. I try to do a little bit of everything.”
Temple has been really tested this season. The Owls have faced some of the best teams in the nation in Duke, Kansas and Syracuse. They beat the Orange a month ago in a nationally televised game in New York City’s Madison Square Garden.
“Games like that really help us when the tournament comes around later in the season,” he said. “We’ve played these games in places other than our own gym. We’re playing against some great teams, too.”
March should be busy for Rahlir and Rondae. They’ll both be playing a lot of basketball during that month. Meanwhile, they’ll be watching each other play as much as possible.
“He’s been to a few of my games,” Rondae said. “He gets out when he can. He plays a national schedule. I enjoy seeing him. I’m one of his biggest fans.”
Before Chester High heads to the PIAA tournament to defend its Class AAAA state title, it has a big game with Catholic League power Neumann-Goretti on Feb. 10 on ESPN2. Rondae was a member of the 2011-12 USA Basketball Development National team. He will play his college basketball for the University of Arizona next season.
Rahlir will lead the Temple Owls against Saint Louis in an Atlantic 10 Conference matchup on Saturday, Jan. 12 at the Liacouras Center. The tipoff is 6 p.m.
Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson really appreciates all the things his mother, Rylanda Hollis, has done for him throughout his life. Hollis-Jefferson wanted to show his appreciation bny including her last name with his name. His mother has attended a number of his Temple basketball games. Hollis-Jefferson, a 6-foot-6 junior, thought the name change would be a nice tribute to her.
“It was in honor of my mom,” Hollis-Jefferson said. “I wanted to use her last name, and my hard work shows what she did for me. She comes to almost every game. Whenever she can get to a game, she gets there. If she can’t get there, she’ll send somebody to watch the game.”
Hollis-Jefferson has given his mother as well as a number of Temple basketball fans a lot to see over the last two years. The former Chester High star has been a solid contributor each season. As a freshman, he averaged 3.8 points and 2.6 rebounds a game. In his sophomore year, he tallied 5.6 points and 5.3 rebounds a game. Hollis-Jefferson is averaging 8.4 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.2 assists a game this season.
His name has changed, and his game has improved. He credits his success to playing in Sonny Hill’s Hank Gathers College League and summer basketball workouts in Chester. The hard work has made a difference in his level of play.
“I played in the Sonny Hill League,” Hollis-Jefferson said. “We won the championship. T.J. DiLeo (Temple teammate) was on my team. It was fun winning the championship. It was tough winning that last game, but we pulled it out. I really worked on my game over the summer. I worked out at the Boys and Girls Club and Chester High School. It was good seeing Nasir Robinson (Chester High, Pittsburgh) Russell Johnson (Chester High, Robert Morris) and everybody during the summer.
“I want to try to do everything I’m doing now a little better than last year. My role is basically the same as last year. I try to give the team some scoring, rebounding and defense. I try to look for the open man.”
Hollis-Jefferson has led the Owls to two NCAA tournament appearances in his career. He feels this year’s squad has the potential to make another trip to the tournament.
“We have a real good chance to do some good things,” he said. “We just have to keep trying to get better. We have a lot of talent on this team. We have plenty of experience. We just have to keep working each day.”
Hollis-Jefferson knows a little something about winning basketball games. As a junior, he guided Chester High to the PIAA Class AAAA championship. He played some outstanding basketball for the Clippers. As a senior, he averaged 17.6 points and 10 rebounds a game. He received first-team All-State honors.
Now, he has a younger brother, Rondae Jefferson, who plays for Chester High School. Rondae is a 6-foot-6 junior who led the Clippers to the PIAA Class AAAA state title last year with an amazing 31-1 record. He is regarded as one of the top high school players in the country. Rylanda watches a lot of basketball between Temple and Chester High.
“Rondae is doing really well,” Hollis-Jefferson said. “He’s accomplished a lot over the last year. My mom is proud of both of us. She goes to his games as well as mine.”
Temple (3-2) will host Central Michigan (4-2) on Saturday, December 3 at the Liacouras Center. The tip-off will be at 4 p.m.
Anthony Lee, Temple’s sophomore forward, is one of the top young players in the Big 5 as well as the Atlantic 10 Conference. Lee, a 6-foot-9, 230-pounder, averages 11.3 points a game. He is the Owls’ leading rebounder, averaging 7.7 boards a game.
Lee has been a huge factor in helping Temple (16-7 overall, 5-4 A-10) in its efforts to finish the season on a high note heading into the conference tournament with hopes of landing another NCAA tournament berth.
Although Lee is a great basketball player, his skills aren’t limited to just playing the game. The Columbia, Md. native also has some musical talents. He is a gospel rap performer and is featured on a song with up-and-coming rapper/producer Marty of HiDef Music Productions, LLC.
Their song, “Ball”, was used during Temple’s pregame warm-ups in 2010-11. Joshua Martin aka Marty and Calvin Wilson are the owners of the studio HiDef Music Productions, which produced the song. “Ball” is part of the mix-tape “The Breakup,” produced in October 2010. Lee performs under the name “Young Polo.”
“I just want to give a shout out to my man Joshua,” Lee said. “It was nice to have the song played in warm-ups.”
Like most people involved with gospel music, it all begins in the church. Lee is no different.
“I had people that came to my church,” Lee said. “My dad had brought them in, and through the power of God there lies a change. They decided to do gospel rap. They were doing secular rap at first. So, it was actually something I was interested in. After that happened, we started doing songs. I wanted to be a part of it. Stuff like that, I’ve enjoyed it and just wanted to continue it.”
Lee is very familiar with the gospel rap industry. He has followed a number of the groups that are in the music business.
“There are a lot of well known artists that do gospel rap, and they’re starting becoming main tream,” he said. “It’s something I’ve always done. It’s a real good message with a purpose. I really don’t have as much time to do it. But it’s something I always wanted to do.
“I’m a fan of Kirk Franklin, Mary Mary and all those people. That’s my passion. It’s something I like to do. You know, to balance it out. I would like to do both. Right now, I’m just chilling and focusing more on basketball. I’m going to let that come, because I know I can always do that.”
Lee is a broadcasting major. He plans to have a career in the media.
“I would like to be a TV personality,” he said. “Once I get that done there are a lot of possibilities. I do a lot of motivational speaking as well.”
Lee seems to have a good foundation. He’s been able to succeed on and off the court. He credits his familywith much of his success.
“I got a good support system around me,” he said. “I have my parents, my family and all the people who have supported me from far away and who have known me since I was little. They’ve always kept me grounded. I just really appreciate them being in my life.”
Temple will host Duquesne on Thursday, Feb. 14 at at 7 p.m. at the Liacouras Center. All these games are crucial for the Owls as they make their way toward March and the conference tournament. Lee feels very confident about what the team can do coming down the stretch.
“I think we have a good point guard (Will Cummings),” he said. “We got a great shooting guard with Khalif (Wyatt). We have Scootie (Randolph) and Rahlir (Hollis-Jefferson). I’m just trying to fill in and do the things I can do to help us keep winning games. Every game is big in this conference. We have Butler and VCU in our conference. So, it’s very tough when you’re trying to get to the tournament.”
Lee seems to have a stroke of harmony in blending basketball and music.
NOTES: Khalif Wyatt has been named Atlantic 10 Player of the Week and Big 5 Player of the Week. Wyatt averaged 22.5 points a game, leading Temple as the Owls’ top scorer in a pair of one-point victories. He had 25 points, dished out four assists, made two blocks and two steals in 89-88 win over Charlotte. He hit a late free throw that gave Temple a four-point lead, allowing the Owls to survive a three-pointer by Charlotte. Wyatt followed that with 20-point performance in 72-71 win over Dayton.
Lincoln University could make some noise in the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) tournament this week. The Lions (17-9) are CIAA Northern Division champions. The CIAA tournament, the oldest Black college tournament in the nation, will begin Tuesday, Feb. 26 in Charlotte, N.C. at the Time Warner Cable Arena.
By winning the division, Lincoln receives an automatic bye and will open conference play in the quarterfinals on Thursday, Feb. 28. In addition to Lincoln, Winston-Salem State and Livingstone are among the top teams in the CIAA. The championship games for the women and men will take place on Saturday, March 2. The women’s championship game will begin at 6 p.m. The men’s title game will be at 8 p.m.
Kenny Sharpe has been a key player for the Lions. Sharpe, a Chester native, was selected to the all-conference team. The 6-foot-3 senior averages 15.4 points and 4.3 rebounds a game.
Lincoln’s women’s team will play Johnson C. Smith in the first round on Tuesday. The Lady Lions are led by 5-foot-8 senior Tahlar McIntosh, an all-conference selection.
Villanova to begin 2013 football schedule Aug. 30
Andy Talley, Villanova head coach, has announced the 2013 football schedule. The Wildcats will play an 11-game slate, including eight Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) games and three non conference contests.
The season will start Aug. 30 with a game at ACC member Boston College. This will be the first game between the Wildcats and Eagles since the 1980 season. Villanova will play at Fordham on Sept. 7 before having a bye week on Sept. 14.
The home and CAA opener is set for Sept. 21 against Stony Brook. This will be a rematch of last year’s first-round NCAA playoff game. Stony Brook will be the first of three consecutive home games. The Wildcats will host Penn on Sept. 28 and William &Mary on Oct. 5.
Following the three-game home stand, Villanova will play four of the next five games on the road. The Wildcats play back-to-back road games at Towson on Oct. 12 and at New Hampshire on Oct. 19, before returning to the Main Line to host Maine during homecoming weekend on Oct. 26.
The November portion of the schedule begins with road contests at James Madison (Nov. 2) and at Rhode Island (Nov. 9). Villanova will have a bye on Nov. 16, before concluding the regular season with the annual Battle of the Blue game against arch rival Delaware on Nov. 23.
Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson named Big 5 Player of the Week
Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson has been named the Big 5 Player of the Week. Hollis-Jefferson set new career highs in points (23) and rebounds (18) in helping Temple to an 82-74 win over La Salle and a share of the Big 5 championship. He made 9-of-14 shots from the field and also dished out a game-high five assists against the Explorers. In a victory over Charlotte, he had eight points, five rebounds, three assists, three blocks and three steals.
Scootie Randall knows Temple will have its hands full against North Carolina State, a powerhouse team from the Atlantic Coast Conference on Friday, March 22. Nevertheless, Randall, the Owls senior forward, would like to grab a big win over the Wolfpack and make a huge impact in the NCAA tournament.
Temple (23-9), seeded No. 9, will face North Carolina State, seeded No. 8 (24-10), at UD Arena in Dayton, Ohio in the East Region. The game will begin at 1:40 p.m. on TBS. Randall, a 6-foot-6, 225-pounder, is averaging 11.8 points and 6.1 rebounds a game for the Owls.
“We got five seniors,” Randall said. “I think we have a chance to make a run in the tournament. I think it takes time and we’re here. This is an opportunity to redeem ourselves from Friday.”
Temple dropped a 79-74 decision to Massachusetts in the Atlantic 10 Conference quarterfinals. Randall had 12 points on 5-for-11 shooting that game. Randall, former Communications Tech star, is one of five seniors including Khalif Wyatt (19.8 ppg), Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson (8.9 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 3.5 apg, 1.8 spg), Jake O’Brien (9.3 ppg) and T.J. DiLeo (3.0 ppg). These players have plenty of experience.
He knows this is an important time for college basketball. The Wolfpack are coming off a pretty good year. NC State has some talented players such as 6-foot-9 junior forward C.J. Leslie (15.2 ppg, 7.7 rpg), 6-foot-8 senior forward Richard Howell (12.8 ppg, 10.7 rpg) and 6-foot-5 junior guard Lorenzo Brown (12.4 ppg, 4.3 rpg).
“I was actually watching them play the other day and they play really hard,” Randall said. “They like to get up and down the floor. Leslie is a phenomenal athlete. They just work hard. I think it’s time for us to work hard. We just have to come out and compete.”