Time For Public League To Get Tough And Outlaw All Transfers

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By Roy & Harv Schmidt

While nothing that occurs in the Chicago Public League surprises us any more, the recent wave of activity surrounding the high school basketball scene in the Windy City during the past two weeks has been more than we can take. From the Troynell Adams saga to the rash of fights at games to Wayne Blackshear's recent decision to transfer from Curie to Morgan Park, the situation is out of control. There is no question that something needs to be done, and once again we believe that we have the answer--in fact it is the ONLY answer--when it comes to fixing the problem.

In a blog that we wrote just after Thanksgiving, we expressed concern about the potential danger of AAU coaches becoming high school coaches. We said that it could lead to an increasing number of transfers with the top-tier players all wanting to play for the school where their AAU coach is at. In addition, we also noted that it was an issue that the Illinois High School Association and the Chicago Public League need to address immediately.

Sure enough, what we noted in November has already come to fruition, as Wayne Blackshear, one of the top high school basketball prospects in Illinois from the class of 2011, has decided to leave Curie and transfer to Morgan Park. In all due respect, it didn't take a rocket scientist to see this coming. With that being said and without mentioning any names, anyone who is in the know when it comes to high school basketball and the Public League knows the people who are behind Blackshear's decision.

Before we go any further, it is important to sort out fact from fiction in the Blackshear case. First of all, we knew that we would hear some type of excuse from someone in the Blackshear camp as to what prompted the transfer, and the first one came yesterday from Kevin Thomas (Blackshear's stepfather) when he said that he was worried about his son's daily commute to Curie on account of the recent violence that has occurred. Sorry, but that is baloney and an easy way to skirt the real issue. We have been to Curie numerous times to see games and the bottom line is that the area around Curie is probably less violent than the one at Morgan Park. Anyone who questions this only needs to be reminded of an instance last season in which some of the players on Simeon's team were jumped by other students as they were walking to the team bus after a game at Morgan Park.

There really is only one factor that drove Blackshear's decision to transfer and it is a simple one at that. Others won't tell you this, but we have it from two reliable sources that the people who wanted Blackshear at Morgan Park told Blackshear's mother that if he didn't make the move he would not land another high major D1 scholarship. This is funny considering that Blackshear is rated as one of the top three prospects in Illinois from the class of 2011 by just about every recruiting service out there and already sports scholarship offers from two quality high major programs in Illinois and Texas. It is therefore no wonder that Carolyn Blackshear (Blackshear's mother) was brainwashed into thinking that her son has no choice but to transfer to Morgan Park and as a result is taking steps to establish residency within the Morgan Park school district. As we think everyone can see, there is no question that the transfer is being made solely for basketball reasons.

Blackshear's transfer is quite similar to the situation that occurred eight years ago involving Najeeb Echols, who transferred in mid-season from Whitney Young, then spent a week at Leo and after learning that he would never be eligible there, transferred to Morgan Park. Ironically, Echols ultimately ended up being declared ineligible to compete at Morgan Park as well, and was on Morgan Park's bench in street clothes throughout the 2001 Class AA state finals, in which Morgan Park ended up with a third place trophy. The one notable difference between the two cases is that Echols, unlike Blackshear, was nothing close to being a student, which makes the Blackshear situation even more bizarre.

In light of all of this, we have come to the conclusion that there is only one solution to ending all of the garbage that exists in the Chicago Public League when it comes to transfers and recruiting involving high school basketball players. Calvin Davis, the Director of Athletics for Chicago Public Schools, needs to implement a new rule which permanently outlaws all athletic transfers within the Chicago Public League. If any athlete transfers schools for any reason whatsoever (it doesn't matter what the circumstance), he automatically forfeits his right to compete in high school athletics. Yes, we know it sounds harsh, but we are convinced that it is the ONLY way to eliminate the sleaze and the unsavory influence of handlers and others who simply think that they rule the roost when it comes to basketball in the Public League. Hopefully, it would send a loud and clear message that going to high school is about getting an education, not solely about playing basketball or any other sport.

Davis is saying that he will make a ruling regarding Blackshear's eligibility at Morgan Park in ten days and with it being a high-profile case there are several factors that he needs to take into consideration. However, with the way the rules are currently set up governing transfers in the Public League, we see no way that Davis could prevent Blackshear's transfer from taking place, nor would he be able to declare Blackshear permanently ineligible.

In all likelihood, under the current Public League by-laws Blackshear would probably have to sit out a year at Morgan Park and would be eligible beginning the second semester of his junior year (right around this time next season). Which leads to our next point: does Blackshear even realize how much time he will end up losing as the result of this decision and how it could end up affecting his recruitment as well as his future development? Obviously those people who influenced the transfer move don't care, as they are already building for next season at Morgan Park.

With that in mind, and as we have hinted at in the past, anybody with any ounce of integrity also has to be worried about the dangerous precedent that could be set as the result of Blackshear's transfer. Again, without pointing fingers at any individual in particular, remember the AAU team that Blackshear plays for. That is why we believe that unless someone in a position of authority prevents it, that there is a good bet that more players (most all of them high-profile) could attempt to transfer to Morgan Park as well, in fact we are almost willing to guarantee it. One player who has already been rumored to be among the candidates is Mike Shaw from De LaSalle, who along with Blackshear is one of the top prospects in the state from the class of 2011.

And then there are the possible ramifications that Blackshear's transfer could end up having with respect to his recruiting. There is no question that with Blackshear now at Morgan Park instead of Curie, it very much changes the recruiting landscape with respect to the college programs that are contenders for Blackshear's services. In fact we know two schools who have been recruiting Blackshear from the beginning whose chances are now probably diminished greatly.

The individual that we feel badly for and who did absolutely nothing whatsoever to deserve the fate that befell him was Curie head coach Mike Oliver, a good person who does things the right way. Oliver has handled Blackshear's decision with class, saying that he and the rest of his players have accepted it and that it is time to move on. That being said, did he really have a choice?

All of which cries out for an appeal to Calvin Davis. Again, for anyone who thinks that our proposal to outlaw all transfers is extreme, simply remember that Davis already acted in a most extreme fashion when it came to dealing with the increased violence that has been taking place in gyms throughout the Public League, as he decided to ban all visiting fans from attending Public League basketball games. We would argue that this decision is an even more controversial one because 1) it is difficult to enforce and 2) it runs the risk of infringing on the rights of innocent fans. However, if it results in providing a permanent solution to the problem, then so be it.

It is the same thing when it comes to putting an end to the transfer problem. Simply put, it is time for some law and order. By disallowing any athletic transfers whatsoever, it sends a loud and clear message that priorities are going to be put in order and that basketball (or any other sport) is not the end-all when it comes to a student's success at a Chicago Public League school. The one person who is capable of implementing this and making it a reality is Davis. Therefore, we are making one last request. Mr. Davis, you are the one who can clean up this mess once and for all. Let's make it happen!

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17 Comments

This situation has brought to the forefront an issue that has been brewing for sometime. It is within the right of a parent and the choice of that player to attend and be allowed to transfer to any school that they desire.The choice of top football schools, wrestling, soccer, gymnastics and tennis are never questioned. When 10 year olds are sent to florida to play tennis the issue is addressed as for the benefit of the child. As for the rule that you propose i think it is ridiculous to impose sanctions on a child for leaving. We must remember that these young black men are amateurs and they have a constitutional right to attend the school of their choice regardless of the reasons. the behind the door moves can appear to be improper but until that coach and aau coach are charged with an impropriety then we are rendering judgement without a trial. The insinuations of the Irving family should be backed by facts if not then please give a full article of apology.

Roy & Harv Respond:

We are afraid that you don't know what you are talking about. Transfers in other sports have been questioned numerous times, it's just that they aren't as noticeable (at least not in Chicago) because none of these sports are as high-profile as basketball. The only thing that you are correct on is when you say that people need to remember that these kids are amateurs. That is exactly right. HOW ABOUT TELLING THAT TO THE PEOPLE IN QUESTION who prompted Blackshear's transfer and are treating the whole thing as if it were NBA free agency? (Blackshear's new coach at Morgan Park even made that comparison himself so that should tell you something right there). And it seems like you need to brush up on your knowledge of the constitution. NOBODY has a right to coerce and brainwash others into making a decision. And we can assure you that Wayne Blackshear and his family didn't make this decision on their own. As far as we are concerned it is the equivalent of someone holding a gun to someone else's head. Good thing for you that this isn't a court of law, because these are the facts and they are indisputable. Therefore, if you are looking for an apology, you are going to be waiting a heck of a long time.

Mr. Davis is under a lot of pressure right now. Not only has he have to deal with the recent violence acts after CPS games and this transfer deal with the the kid from Curie but he just had to give up $500,000 to Lamont Bryant.

I agree with you both about ending all transfers inside the Public League. It's not only the coaches who are killing the CPS, its the AD's as well. Dorthy Gaters is costing them a half a million dollars. The AD from MP has been there for years, she knew how the Irvin's worked. Both should of made better decisions but they are also two who think they are above the system.

Blackshear picked a prefect time to transfer, I am not saying it was the right decision because the coach from Curie is a much better High School coach than Irvin, but it's the right time because he can force to sue the CPS if he wanted to because he has good reasons. It's not rather he will win or not, it's a fact that the CPS does not want to spend more money on lawyers. They are already spending money on boasting security for after games. It cost money to put more police officers on the streets. That's overtime pay.

I don't agree with the decision to transfer at all I just feel sorry for Mr. Davis right now. His stress level has to be on 10.

Kids like Terry Johnson Jr. should not be allow to transfer 3 times in 4 years. Great kid, great family but it was ONLY for basketball. He has great grades also and there was no need to transfer. The only situation should be allowed is when it is out of the kid's control.

Roy & Harv Respond:


Mark,

Great points!

This is something that has been brewing in the CPS for years, dating back to Nick Anderson who was at Prosser and then decided to transfer to Simeon unexplicably. The connections that develop between some of these coaches and the administration allow the rules to be bent for some and not for others. It is a tragedy because we should be searching for whats in the student's best interest. I also think that its pathetic for some coaches to steal others school's best players to compensate for their lack and or inability to coach lesser players up. Im sure Coach Oliver put time into improving his game and teaching him how to expand his game.
Makes you wonder what type of incentive is provided to encourage not only the kids, but the parents to actually consider making a move like this. Lets not forget that the parents have the final say and it is them who should be blamed. Im sure Blackshear just wants to play basketball and have fun and didnt expect this type of media attention to be paid to him transfering. It is something that needs to be stopped. It will reveal the true quality of coaches in the CPS.

Great article!! I totally agree that the family of individuals involved with influencing this child, I choose not to dignify them by mentioning their name, represent the epitome of what is wrong with amatuer basketball in this country. Just like you, I've watched this clan operate in the City for the past 25 years. They ingratiate themselves to these unsuspecting children and their parents (usually single black mothers) with promises of scholarship offers.

Unfortunately, due to the fact this this game been bought and sold, this family's services are in high demand. You routinely see them nestled up with college recruiters/coaches. You routinely see them huddled up with high-ranking CPS officials, including Calvin Davis. In fact, they receive VIP treatment at CPS sporting events. The point I'm making here is that their influence in children's lives is not only tolerated but sanctioned by individuals who are paid to protect the interests of these kids.

I agree that the transfer rule needs to be looked at in order to protect these children from the likes of these types of unscrupulous individuals.

P.S. I commented on the Troynell Adam's saga. And I'll say it again; although every individual involved is totally responsible for his or her actions, we at some point have to acknowledge that this 'institution' is rotten and thusly attracting rotten individuals to it.

We have to look at what happen at Leo last year with Simpson and Goins. Coach Cannon handle the situation with class and style and the truth of the matter is getting rid of those young men also meant you got rid of their parents and agents that came with them. This may be good for Mike Oliver. Curie does not need the add ons of Wayne and his family.

Good Luck Wayne, better yet, good luck Morgan Park.

This is a state wide problem not just the public league. Marty Hickman who runs the IHSA is some what to blame. the rule is simple 1 transfere and you can play but it cant be for sports reasons and you must prove residency but when you have kids who have 3 and 4 transferes it falls on the governing body to make sure this stuff stops.Look at what happened to Gary London at Hales, he had a power house and his asst. coach left for Seton and took 3 players with and all of a sudden Coach Stevenson is loaded and Seton is the best in 2A.And of course that had nothing to do with basketball but it was an academic decission. Its ruining high school basketball and the IHSA better look in the mirror because its turning ugly real quick

Roy & Harv Respond:

You are absolutely right. It is a statewide problem and Marty Hickman needs to implement the same rule outlawing all transfers that we suggest for the Public League.

AAU is one of the problems that face the young men playing basketball today. But the real problem is that are they getting an education or are they just going to class (if that). Hoping to get a shot at the NBA and all that money!!!!!!! But we all know that the kids of today are just being used by the Coaches ( both AAU/ High school) College coaches ( not all but the number increases each day) Shoe companies looking for another M J ( which I believe one of his sons transfered from one school to attend a Chicago school. Trips that HS teams are going on 54,000 plus I wonder who got the air miles for this.
Basket ball is a BIG BUSINESS and players are being used. Bring back the rules set my Coach Robert (Bobby) Knight Freshmen in college should not play the first year, players must stay in school for two years, and no one gets drafted until his class graduates same as the NFL.

These new jack Public League/AAU hybrids are really taking this stuff TOO seriously. Don't make this stuff such an integral part of your identity! Mike Olver is a good coach who happens to run a disciplined program.I'd rather my son play for him.

Agree, for the most part, with your story insomuch as SOMETHING needs to be done. Not sure your solution is the one, but kudos for throwing one out there rather than just criticizing. However, in the interest of factual reporting, you may want to correct the following statement...

"...Davis already acted in a most extreme fashion when it came to dealing with the increased violence that has been taking place in gyms throughout the Public League, as he decided to ban all visiting fans from attending Public League basketball games."

CPS hasn't "banned all visiting fans"...they've actually put the onus on each school/principal to have a list of "approved" spectators at road games. Obviously the intent is to keep out trouble as opposed to ALL fans. Careful with the sensationalism, Pulitzer!

Roy & Harv Respond:

While your point is duly noted, there was never any sensationalism intended on our part. Calvin Davis initially said that he was considering banning ALL visitors from attending Public League games. While we believe that he had no choice but to implement the plan that he has in place now, we are still not sure that it can be thoroughly enforced.

ITS AN ABSOLUTE JOKE! BUT MARK MY WORDS MIKE SHAW IS NOT GOING ANYWHERE. HIS PARENTS ALREADY HAVE STATED THAT THIER SON WILL NEVER GO TO A PUBLIC SCHOOL. HIS BROTHER IS A DELASALLE GRAD AND THE FAMILY HAS A HISTORY WITH COACH WHITE. NONE THE LESS THE IRVIN CLAN STILL IS IN ATTENDANCE AT ALMOST EVERY DE LA SALLE GAME AND HAS THREATENED THE COACHING STAFF NUMEROUS TIMES THAT THEY ARE GOING TO PULL MIKE SHAW OUT OF DE LA SALLE. WHO DO THEY THINK THEY ARE? IT IS OUT OF CONTROL, THEY DO NOT CARE ABOUT HIS GRADES OR ANYTHING ELSE. COACH TOM WHITE CONTINUALLY WORKS WITH SHAW IN THE CLASSROOM, DO YOU THINK NICK IRVIN WOULD DO THE SAME? THE SAME NICK IRVIN WHO HAD TROUBLE STAYING ELIGIBLE WHILE HE WAS PLAYING AT ST MARTIN AND THEN CARVER. THE SAME NICK IRVIN WHO COULDNT QUALIFY FOR A FOUR YEAR SCHOOL AND HAD TO GO TO A JUNIOR COLLEGE BECAUSE HE DID NOT HAVE THE GRADES. THATS THE TYPE OF COACH MORGAN PARK WANTS?
I REALLY HOPE CALVIN DAVIS DOES SOMETHING ABOUT THIS BECAUSE THE NUMBER OF TRANSFERS YEAR IN AND YEAR OUT IS TOTALLY OUT OF CONTROL. BOTTOM LINE IS AAU COACHES

Roy & Harv Respond:

We really hope that you are right on Shaw not going anywhere.

As always a great column/subject and appreciate the opportunity to respond. As a observer of High School B-Ball in IL since 1979, please know the politics of this game will never cease. And although some of the players have changed the game hasn't much (the game outside the lines). Been to many games where those wearing CPS Secuity are known to be in gangs. The royalty treatment of many of these "crooks" won't stop cause it goes all the way to the top (as mentioned above about who frat's with who). So its just another day at the office. Punish the transfers with the current rule, anything else should mean the forfiture of their ISHA elgibility in that sport unless there's a EXTREME circumstance. Keep up the good work, enjoy your column.

Does the Sun-Times take any blame for making this kid (many of these kids) and his basketball career bigger than it should be? Prep Diary as a sophomore in high school? I find it interesting that most of your articles are about individuals and their potential recruitment rather than teams and the actual game of basketball. Sure many of these situations are unfortunate, sad, and ultimately disheartening, but I think the media is complicit in the madness. As I can see Sun-Times AAU coaches are not the only ones making money off of high school kids.

I appreciate your response. I believe the hype goes both ways. Kids, coaches, programs, etc. know that their every move could provoke media attention. Most people like attention, it makes them feel bigger than they really may be. I do not wish to go back to the days where there is little coverage, but I do wish to see a return to school pride, commitment, team, and championships that are made through hardwork rather than bought or cheated for.

THE CHICAGO PUBLIC SCHOOLS ARE ABOUT TO DROP A BIG BOMB
ON THE TRANSFER RULE, AND ALOT OF PEOPLE WON'T LIKE IT,
BUT IT WILL CLEAN UP FUTURE STUDENT-ATHLETES WHO GET
HAPPY FEET TO PLAY FOR A DIFFERENT SCHOOL MIDWAY THROUGH
THE SEASON! CAN YOU SAY DONE FOR GOOD, UNTIL YOU GET
TO COLLEGE!
FIND A SCHOOL, STAY AT THE SCHOOL, GRADUATE FROM THE
SCHOOL WITH HONORS IF POSSIBLE, PLAY AND HELP THE TEAM
SUCCEED AND GO TO COLLEGE, ALL THIS BOUNCING AROUND IS
FOR THE BIRDS!

Roy & Harv Respond:

Phil, you are right on once again. Do you have inside information and know something here that we don't? Boy, we hope so!!

Because the CPS sports system lacks intelligent foresight, I imagine that whatever rule they create will penalize students who are legitimately transferring to another school within the system. The city is big. If a family moves, the kid has the right to attend a school close to home. Will a kid be denied to participate in all athletic extra-curriculars because his/her family moved? What about the coaches who consistently violate current rules set out by the CPL and IHSA? What is their penalty?

Having said all that, residency comes into play. From what I hear, both the suburban and city schools should be concerned about that issue.

Roy and Harv, what school runs a legitimate program? I want to start cheering for them!

City Fan has a good idea! Someone should start a website that lists all the ethical, legitimate high school basketball programs. That way, people can distinguish between the dirty programs that try stealing kids from other schools like Fenger, Hales, Morgan Park, Seton, Simeon, Von Steuben, Young, etc. and the classy schools that run their programs by the book. (I'm not sure of any, so I didn't list any.)

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This page contains a single entry by Roy & Harv Schmidt published on January 28, 2009 7:00 AM.

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