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We take a quick look at the latest happenings in the world of high school basketball in our Quick Shots feature. Student Sports’ returning National Junior of the Year is bothered by recruiting process and prominent grassroots club founder indicted on federal drug charges.
Okafor’s Social Media Dilemma
Jahlil Okafor, the 6-foot-10 center from Whitney Young (Chicago) and last year’s Student Sports National Junior of the Year, isn’t enjoying the recruiting process very much according to his father Chukwudi Okafor.
In a recent ESPNChicago.com story, Chukwudi is quoted as saying persistent rumors about his son and good friend Tyus Jones of Apple Valley (Apple Valley, Minn.) leaning towards Duke as a package deal is taking away the joy of the recruiting process for the Chicagoan big man.
“It’s disappointing. It’s taking the fun out of the process for the two boys,” Chukwudi told ESPNChicago.com. “That’s a shame. Let the kids go through the process. I just want them to enjoy it, not the media, not Twitter, not the coaches, not the AAU coaches.”
As Clark Francis of the Hoop Scoop points on in his new book, “How To Get Recruited,” choosing a college is one of the most important decisions of someone’s life. The process is not always going to be fun and some tough decisions have to be made, especially for a player of Okafor’s caliber.
The powerful emergence of social media in the world of recruiting means there is always going to be rumors, and even baseless opinion, of where top recruits are headed to college. Top-ranked players endure much worse rumors than the basketball community speculating where they’ll heade to college and it’s something the Okafor family will find out — if it doesn’t already know.
Chukwudi is quoted in that article as saying, “they might want to go to Duke, but decide not to go there because everyone is saying that’s where they’re going. I’d hate for that to happen.”
That statement we find surprising. To not attend Duke, if that school is indeed the best choice for Okafor and/or Jones, because of Twitter rumors sounds ridiculous. This situation is a prime example of the coddling of highly-regarded players and using the media to execute agendas that is prevalent in today’s game.
To read the complete article, CLICK HERE.
DC Assault Founder Indicted
In a somewhat shocking development, Curtis Malone, the co-founder of the Washington, D.C.-based DC Assault grassroots program, was arrested last Friday and faces serious charges in a federal drug investigation.
According to the Washington City Paper, which first reported the filing of the federal charges, Malone was arrested after law enforcement officers found approximately one kilogram of cocaine, 100 grams of heroin, one .40-caliber semiautomatic handgun and assorted drug paraphernalia in his residence. Malone was part of a year-long investigation executed by the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Malone’s arrest sent shock waves through the high school and college basketball community earlier this week. It’s unclear how his arrest will affect the grassroots program or recruiting in and around Washington D.C., where Malone was known to yield great influence. By this past Tuesday, a picture of Malone and any references to him on the D.C. Assault’s Web site were removed.
D.C. Assault also has a lucrative shoe and apparel deal with Under Armour after previously being affiliated with adidas. On Tuesday, a representative for the sports apparel company told the Washington Post, “(Under Armour) is not in a position to comment at this time on the allegations against Mr. Malone or our sponsorship of the DC Assault program as we are currently gathering all of the facts and details.”
Malone co-founded the grassroots program in 1993 along with Troy Weaver, now the assistant general manager of the Oklahoma City Thunder. He’s also the stepson of 2007 McDonald’s All-American Nolan Smith, whose mother Monica remarried after her husband, former NBA player Derek Smith, died at age 34 when Nolan was eight years old.
Another former D.C. Assault player and 2007 McDonald’s All-American, Michael Beasley, who grew up with Nolan Smith, countersued Malone and Joel Bell, a Maryland-based sports agent, after a breach-of-contract suit was filed by Bell Sports Inc. against Beasley in 2011.
In 1991, Malone was charged and convicted on charges of possession with intent to distribute and manufacture controlled substances. For more on this developing story, CLICK HERE.
His Royal Airness Still Flying
There was a big Twitter uproar when video of former Chicago Bulls megastar Michael Jordan, arguably the greatest basketball player of all-time, dunking at his annual Flight School basketball camp in Santa Barbara, Calif., went viral.
Now, we think it’s cool to see Air Jordan still dunking at age 50, but it shouldn’t have caused that much of an uproar. After all, Jordan stays in solid shape, is 6-foot-6 and with noted long arms and big hands. In fact, we know of former NBA players older than MJ who can still throw it down.
After MJ’s video went viral, one surfaced of 57-year old Michael Cooper, 1987 NBA Defensive Player of the Year with the Los Angles Lakers, throwing one down. Of course, there is also video of former NBA great Julius “Dr. J” Erving dunking at the end of his highly-anticipated and acclaimed NBA TV documentary that aired earlier this year.
Erving is 63.
We also know former NBA forward and UCLA great Marques Johnson can dunk at age 56. Here’s what Johnson (@olskool888) recently Tweeted about the subject.
“Makes me wonder if Dr. J’s recent dunk was on a regulation hoop. He is 6 years older than me and I know how hard it is. I have maybe another year or two. Tryin to hold on til 60, but looking shaky:)”