By Roy & Harv Schmidt
When we came across a recent internet report calling Fenger "the best team in the Chicago Public League that no one knows about," stating that they will give Whitney Young a run for their money because they will be adding Michael Haynes and several other transfers to their roster and saying "you heard it here first" we nearly lost our breakfast at the time. Why? Because we have every reason to believe that it won't happen.
First of all, contrary to how it is being portrayed, none of the information concerning what is happening basketball-wise at Fenger is breaking news. We have been well-aware since the middle of the summer that there is a new basketball coach at Fenger and that he is trying to stack his roster with as many talented transfers as possible in order to be competitive.
Secondly, those in the know will immediately realize that none of this should come as any surprise. That is because everyone knows the track record of Fenger's new coach. He is the same coach that ultimately resigned at Julian and had to forfeit a majority of his team's victories as a result of not meeting appropriate eligibility standards as deemed necessary by the Chicago Public League. And now it appears as though he is trying to build a team at Fenger in exactly the same manner that he did while at Julian. We can assure everyone that Public League administrators are well aware of this. More on that later.
But first let's examine the situation involving 6'6 class of 2009 prospect Michael Haynes, who the new Fenger coach believes is going to be his prized player this season. Haynes left Washington High School this past spring before the school year was complete. Once that happened, immediate speculation arose as to where Haynes might end up. At first, it was believed that Haynes might transfer to Hillcrest and that is actually where he wanted to go. However, it was later learned that if he did attend Hillcrest, in all likelihood he would not be ruled eligible.
Then during the summer rumors started surfacing that Haynes would transfer to Blair Academy, a prep school in New Jersey. This was because he had developed a close relationship with Tony Bergeron, who many believed was the leading candidate to become the new head coach at Blair Academy at the time. When Bergeron decided to not take the job, arrangements fell through.
The point here is that ever since Haynes left Washington for all practical purposes he has become a "free agent" in the world of high school basketball and there is no question that the new Fenger coach knows this. Now for the part that gets us to no end. The argument that is being raised as to why Haynes should be eligible at Fenger is that because there were a number of race riots at Washington last year that their students would be able to leave and transfer to any other school of their choice.
Before we go any further, let us point out that we are not saying that there wasn't racial tension (or that there no longer is) at Washington. Nevertheless, this might be the most ludicrous line of defense that we have ever heard in order to get a basketball player eligible. First of all, if the riots really were that bad, then why didn't administrators simply shut down the school altogether? Secondly, what kind of precedent would be set if any student in the Chicago Public League (most notably basketball players) were allowed to pack up their bags and transfer to any school of their choosing any time something similar to this were to happen? What it would create is utter chaos and the transfer situation with respect to high school basketball would be even more out of control than it already is. That is why we have every reason to believe that this argument will not hold up when it comes time for Public League administrators to rule on Haynes' eligibility at Fenger.
In addition to Haynes, the new coach at Fenger is also trying to import two players from Africa to play at the south side school, a situation that is virtually identical to what he tried to do at Julian, which as we indicated earlier ultimately led to his resignation. Again, we can guarantee that Public League administrators are well-aware of everything surrounding this situation, as they have thoroughly done their homework. That is why we have it from extremely reliable authorities that when the time comes, it is a virtual given that the Chicago Public League will rule Haynes, the two African imports and anyone else trying to transfer to Fenger ineligible. When that happens, remember where you heard it first!
... Another unfortunate circumstance was the one involving 6'5 class of 2011 prospect Jacob Williams, who was expelled from St. Patrick for an incident involving another student's IPod. Contrary to what has been reported elsewhere, this incident WAS NOT a misunderstanding, which in essence is why Williams is no longer at St. Patrick. He is now at Bartlett High School, is already attending classes there and in all likelihood will be ruled eligible to play basketball. Not only that, but we are willing to bet that Williams will be staying at Bartlett because if he were to leave upon the completion of this school year and then go back to St. Patrick (assuming they would let him back) he would not be eligible to play basketball there next season.
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