New York High School: Jordan Washington

The Catholic High Schools Athletic Association's message was heard loud and clear.

After the league advised its players to not play in Saturday's Battle for the City, which had billed as a game between the best of the Public Schools Athletic League and the CHSAA, only five Catholic league players showed up for the event. At least 20 CHSAA players had been slated early in the week to play in the game.

Instead of a strictly CHSAA team, a team constructed of CHSAA and PSAL players was thrown together, and that team fell to the PSAL All-Stars, 110-91, on Saturday at Baruch College.

THE HISTORY: The CHSAA advised its players not to play for fear of the game being unsanctioned as well as rule that says underclassmen cannot play in All-Star games unless there is a tryout. The five players who showed up were all seniors.

Event organizer, Funsport Inc. CEO Rickey Rivers, said that he talked to the NCAA about the contest and was told it did not need to be sanctioned since there would be no college coaches attending. He also said there were no problems with seniors playing in the game since they're allowed two All-Star Games.

The CEO, who at one point asked if CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens President Ray Nash was there, also disputed that an underclassmen's eligibility would be in danger if they played.

"I called the NCAA compliance office when I put together this event and went though all the things, had my checklist in order, I knew exactly what was needed to pull of this event because I've done these things several times," Rivers said. "The things they used against me were not valid points, and that was the point I think I was a little disturbed about."

HOW THE GAME WAS WON: The PSAL team jumped out to an early edge, leading 56-42 at halftime, and cruised to a win.

Pathways Preps junior center Jordan Washington earned MVP honors for his 22-point effort while Boys & Girls forward Leroy "Truck" Fludd had 16. Satellite Academy senior guard Stanley Cepedes led the CHSAA/PSAL team with 21 points.

"It was a lot of fun," Washington said. "There were some top players in the country and I knew I had to come out here and play ball."

ONLY FIVE FROM THE CHSAA: The five players were the CHSAA were Xaverian guard Brian Bernardi, Mount St. Michael guard Malik Gill, and St. Raymond's trio of guard Myron Hickman, and forwards Daniel Dingle and Kerwin Okoro.

Hickman, a late addition, didn't agree with the CHSAA.

"Basically I felt like what they were doing was kind of wrong, telling some of the top kids in the CHSAA they can't play," Hickman said. "I wanted to help out Rickey and I've known him for a long time and that kind of played a factor as well, and I didn't want his event to turn out not to be a good one so I came."

THE OTHER GAMES AND EVENTS: The Blue team defeated the White team, 82-56, in the "Future Game" featuring top freshman and sophomores. Boys & Girls freshman Jamie Killings scored a game-high 30 points in a win.

Okoro won the 3-point shooting contest while Fludd took home the slam dunk crown.

MOVING FORWARD: Rivers envisions this event continuing and said he would make some tweaks if he were to do it differently, including not using the league names.

"I'm very happy for how it turned out. I expected there would be a little bit of turbulence despite everything that was said and going on around it," Rivers said. "At the end of the day, it was a fun event and what I expected it to be. Fun for the kids and celebrating New York City basketball, some of the best kids on display, that's what you want to see."

Pathway's Washington has tough choice

March, 30, 2012
Jordan Washington doesn’t know where he'll be in the fall.

The top-rated junior recruit in New York City could be back at Pathways Prep, looking for a third straight Public Schools Athletic League Class B boys basketball title. He could also be at a prep school, looking to better himself academically for his future Division I team.

It's a difficult decision the junior is not looking forward to.

"It's a tough situation," Washington said.

While the 6-7, 261-pound center is leaning toward staying at Pathways Prep for his senior year, the need to improve his grades to remain eligible for college basketball might take him away from his Queens school that has been home to him since sixth grade. Washington has offers from Pittsburgh, Louisville, Villanova, St. John's and others.

"I don't want to leave," Washington said. "I've established a home there."

Washington, who averaged 21.7 points and 14 rebounds in league games this season according to the PSAL, admits his eligibility for college is a concern. This past season, the center flunked off the team and missed 10 of the team's 16 league games, although he did return later in the year. He's not sure if he would meet the NCAA Clearinghouse standards right now.

The junior stressed that this decision has nothing to do with trying to play for a bigger program. Pathways plays in the lowest level of basketball in New York City but Washington said he already has received plenty of looks and will continue to do so as he plays with his AAU team, New Heights.

The center mentioned New Heights as a possibility to help him academically. The program offers tutoring and SAT prep, as well as other academic supports for its athletes, according to athletic director Kimani Young. Young said they are working closely with Washington and Pathways Prep to help the junior.

Young believes it would be in Washington's best interest to stay at Pathways Prep, instead of heading to a prep school for one season, as it's more beneficial to transfer to a school as a younger student than as a senior.

"He's kind of missed the boat. If you were asking two years ago, that would have made sense," Young said. "He's so far down the line that he needs to just finish out there and graduate and then move on from that point."

Pathways Prep coach Harold Peaks, who said after the Class B title game that there is an "80-20" chance that Washington played his final game with the school, told his star player to make a pros and cons list to help with the decision and then gather input from a wide array of people to make an educated decision.

Peaks believes there are positives to both staying and leaving Pathways, saying that leaving could help Washington get prepared for the college life by assimilating into it earlier.

"I just think the decision is so difficult," Peaks said. "I wouldn't want to be in his shoes. It's a very difficult situation. I think that he's thinking about the familiarity of the school and it's hard to leave something you're so accustomed to, compared to what are going to be the different structures and routines. It's a huge decision."

Washington's future might still be a few months away from being decided, but one thing is for certain. If he finds himself back in Queens in the fall, he'll be ready to to defend the title.

"We're trying to go for a three-peat if I come back," Washington said.

Boys PSAL A and B finals roundup

March, 18, 2012
The PSAL A and B finals for both the boys and the girls was held at City College of New York in Harlem on Sunday. Here is the roundup for the boys games.

Boys A: Brooklyn Collegiate 56, Mott Haven 53: Holding on to a slim 54-52 lead with less than 10 seconds to play, Brooklyn Collegiate freshman Davere Creighton thought he cost his team the game when he fouled Mott Haven’s Jessey Okeagu.

Fortunately for Creighton, Okeagu missed one of his shots, leaving Collegiate with a one-point lead. When Creighton was fouled on the ensuing rebound he felt like he had a chance to make his mistake up to everyone. Luckily for him, Collegiate practices their free throws – a lot.

“Everyday at practice we shoot free throws,” Creighton explained. “We go 10-for-10 and if we miss a certain amount of free throws you have to run four suicides each. Nobody likes running in practice.”

Creighton made both his shots which gave third-seeded Brooklyn Collegiate a 56-53 lead and the score held up as it won the PSAL A city title at CCNY Sunday.

It was amazing that the game even got to that point as Mott Haven came out with guns blazing in the first quarter. Okeagu scored seven points that quarter, Robert Lloyd six as top-seeded Mott Haven jumped out to a 26-11 lead early.

A big second quarter by Brooklyn Collegiate turned things around. Ervin Mitchell and Jahlil Tripp each had six points as Mott Haven led 32-27 at the half. Mitchell led Brooklyn Collegiate with six more points in the third to give his team a 44-40 lead headed into the final quarter.

“We've been down like that a lot,” Collegiate coach Jacob Edwards said. “I almost had a heart attack at that time though. I was like, all you have to do is get a rebound and squeeze it.”

Mitchell picked up his 1,000th career point for Brooklyn Collegiate, finishing with 1,021 after he scored 24, and was named MVP for the game. His teammates, Tripp and Adrian Williams, had 15 and 11 points respectively. Okeagu had 14 points for Mott Haven and Lloyd had 11.

Boys B: Pathways College Prep 67, Newcomers 50: Jordan Washington was likely playing in his final game in the PSAL and Pathways head coach Harold Peaks wanted to take advantage of it. Peaks wanted to win back-to-back B championships and he was going to lean on Washington to do it.

“At halftime we were up by just two and every other word out of my mouth was Jordan,” Peaks said. “It was, do this to get Jordan the ball, do that to get Jordan the ball, exploit Jordan because they didn’t have anybody who could guard him.”

The plan paid off as Washington scored 18 of his 28 points in the second half as he led Pathways to a big second half and a 67-50 victory over Newcomers to win the PSAL B division city title at City College of New York in Harlem on Sunday.

Washington has another year of eligibility, but his coach said there is an 80-20 chance that he will move on to a more competitive prep school next year. He already has offers from Louisville, Villanova, Seton Hall, and Cincinnati.

It was a 17-point victory, but it wasn’t necessarily an easy victory. After a big first half in which No. 1 Pathways led 21-10, No. 3 Newcomers really started putting pressure on Pathways and battled back behind six points from Larry Baez and four points from Giovanni Pissioni and trailed just 28-26 at halftime.

“They were pressing us and I had seen them three times during the year and I never saw them do that,” Peaks explained. “We didn’t know what we were going to do. Also, when their kid (Cristian Zapata) got three fouls, I think my guys kind of went, ‘ahh, now we got them’ and eased up a bit too much.”

Class A & B tournament preview

March, 25, 2011
While Christ the King, Boys & Girls, Murry Bergtraum and Nazareth will represent New York City in the AA Tournaments at the New York State Federation Tournament of Champions, there are plenty of New York City league teams competing upstate for hardware this weekend. Here’s who to look for in the smaller divisions.

Boys Class A: Long Island Lutheran will meet Jamesville-Dewitt in one semifinals, while two New York City teams will mix it up in the other semifinal when Midwood takes on St. Mary’s. This grouping has plenty of Division I starts, as Long Island Lutheran features Villanova-bound guard Achraf Yacoubou, Jamesville-Dewitt has top junior DaJuan Coleman, Midwood is led by Bryan Smith, who is drawling local mid-major interest, and St. Mary’s has Queens native Chavaughn Lewis, who is drawing mid-major interest.

Boys Class B: It’s all about Collegiate here. The Ivy school will be trying to win its fourth straight federation crown. In the semifinals, it meets John S. Burke Catholic, while the other semifinal is again a New York City league tilt between Pathways Prep and Salesian. Pathways Prep features one of the best big men in the city in sophomore Jordan Washington, who had 23 points and 20 rebounds in the city final.

Girls Class A: Two New York City teams meet for the right to advance to the final against Peekskill. The CHSAA champ Archbishop Molloy will meet PSAL champ Wings Academy Friday afternoon to advance to the title game. The Stanners had an up-and-down season before rallying to win the Class A title, while Wings was the best girls team in the PSAL “A” division all season.

Girls Class B: Two New York City league teams will enter this bracket on opposite sides. On one side, PSAL champ Scholars Academy will meet Irvington. Scholars Academy completed an impressive season with its PSAL title. On the other side, Long Island Lutheran of the Ivy league will face St. Mary’s, the CHSAA champion from Buffalo. Long Island Lutheran has stud guard Boogie Brozoski.

Class B title game recaps

March, 20, 2011
Girls Class B Final: No. 1 Scholars Academy 60, No. 2 Bedford Academy 42: In just its second year as a varsity team, the Scholars Academy girls basketball team won a Public Schools Athletic League title as it blasted Bedford Academy in the Class “B” final. The Seawolves (19-0) gave up just one point in the second quarter as they raced away with the game.

“We told them if we came could come out strong in the first three minutes of the third quarter and blow it open we could basically put them away,” said Scholars coach Janet Kleiner, who previously coached at Springfield Gardens until 2008 when “things didn’t work out” for her at the school, particularly with its administration.

Rebecca Moers earned MVP honors after scoring a game-high 17 points for the Seawolves. Freshman Jessica Glaz added 15 points while senior Fallon Mullen and sophomore Taylor Gallagher each contributed nine points. Brianna Perlmutter paced Bedford Academy with 17 points.

“It’s like a dream,” Moers said about her team advancing to the New York State Federation Tournament next week. “We said in the beginning of the year, imagine if we go to states and now the fact that we are going to states, it doesn’t feel real.”

Boys B Final: No. 2 Pathway Preps 59, No. 1 Frederick Douglass Academy III 52 (OT): In an exciting game that came down to the final minute of overtime, Pathways Prep emerged as the PSAL Class “B” champion. The Trailblazers (25-3) overcame a 38-29 deficit entering the fourth quarter to win their first title in school history.

“This means that our program is actually coming to fruition,” Pathways coach Harold Peaks said. “Pathways didn’t want a program to win championships, we wanted a program to help build young men and I think this will help them understand that you can overcome adversity and there was a lot of adversity in this game and this is a life skill.”

The game went to overtime after a dramatic final minute of regulation. With Pathways leading 50-48, a turnover by the Trailblazers led to a jaw-dropping dunk by Moussa Kone to tie the game. After the ball was tipped out of bounds with 0.5 seconds left, Pathway nearly won the game on a catch-and-shoot in the lane but Anthony Jacobs shot rimmed in and out.

In overtime, Pathways sophomore center Jordan Washington took over, scoring six of his game-high 23 points as the Trailblazers raced out to a 56-50 lead. Washington, who also had 20 rebounds, won the MVP honors.

“It felt so great to help my team out man,” Washington said. “They believed in me, they passed me the ball, the freshman Izaha (Jackson) passed me the ball….I appreciate everyone for coming to the game, it was a very hard game and a tied game going into overtime and we almost made that last shot on the tip-in and we played hard and we’re very coachable.”
Perry Dortch had asked Ben Chobhaphand to stay away from Denzel Thomas. He heard the rumblings that Chobhaphand, the boys basketball coach at Forest Hills, had been talking to Thomas, who played for Dortch at Francis Lewis in Queens. Dortch made sure to speak to Chobhaphand and Dortch thought everything was cool.

Then the first day of the 2010-11 school year rolled around.

“One of my players came to me and said Denzel’s not here,” Dortch said. “First day of school, I’m ready to meet the players and Denzel’s not here. Where is he? Forest Hills. I was like this can’t be happening. I looked it up with the secretary at my school and sure enough he is enrolled at Forest Hills. I couldn’t believe it. It was a freaking joke.”

Public Schools Athletic League basketball coaches believe that Chobhaphand’s recruitment of Thomas, along with his attempt to get Pathways College Prep sophomore Jordan Washington led to Chobhaphand’s suspension Tuesday. Chobhaphand, along with George Washington baseball coach Steve Mandl, was suspended for a year for violating the league’s recruiting policy after a league investigation substantiated allegations.

“I’m glad the league followed through,” Dortch said. “Maybe it’s going to set a precedent and not let this type of stuff happens. I think it’s out of hand.”

Coaches in the PSAL are not allowed to recruit players at other high schools. The league’s rule states: “It is the policy of the Department of Education that no school through any of its officers or by any other means shall directly or indirectly induce any student to sever connections with his/her school or to transfer schools for athletic purposes.”

Thomas, who now attends Queens HS of Teaching according to Dortch, played for Francis Lewis’ junior varsity team last season. Francis Lewis plays in the Queens “A” Division while Forest Hills is in the Queens “AA”.

In early July, Dortch heard from his players that Chobhaphand had been coming to watch Thomas play AAU ball and spoke to him about the matter. Before Thomas eventually transferred to Forest Hills, for reasons unknown to Dortch, the Francis Lewis coach wrote letters to the commissioner of the PSAL and Forest Hill’s athletic director to notify them that Chobhaphand was actively recruiting one of his players. After finding out about the tranfer, Dortch called and e-mail the PSAL to let them know what had happened.

Chobhaphand did not return any calls for this story.

Even though his role may have played a part in Chobhaphand’s suspension, Dortch had some sympathy for the Rangers coach.

“I feel bad for this guy. I feel bad that so many people had to be negatively affected,” Dortch said. “He hurt me and my program and also hurt me as a colleague because I spoke to him man-to-man ‘leave him alone, please.’ ‘Don’t worry about it, I’m not going to talk to the kid.’ It’s almost an addiction for some of these guys. They can’t help themselves. I feel bad for Ben, I honestly do, and I hope he learns from this.’

While this incident took place this summer, Chobhaphand’s well-known flirtation with Washington occurred two years ago. Washington, now a 6-6, 270-pound sophomore center for the Trailblazers who is being actively recruited for college ball, had been recruited all through middle school, which is within PSAL guidelines, according to his coach Harold Peaks.

Washington eventually was accepted to Pathways College Prep, a school in the Queens “B” division, but that did not end Chobhaphand from trying to lure Washington to Forest Hills. Peaks had been told about the continued recruitment and wrote a letter to Chobhaphand and the PSAL asking for it to cease. He said that the letter ended the recruitment and he has not heard anymore of it and calls this incident “common knowledge.”

He added that coaches in the lower division feel that the pressure to win in the AA level of high school basketball is so high that it could possibly push a coach to recruit players from other teams, and players end up leaving the lower schools to try and play at the AA schools whether they are good enough to play at the level or not.

“I just think that as educators and that’s what coaches are, the primary thing we try to let the kids know is that we are going to follow rules,” Peaks said. “And if the PSAL is going to enforce rules that they have set forth, we can’t be angry with that.”

“The win at all costs attitude for some high school coaches leaves to me believe that this would be happening before Ben,” Peaks said. “And probably after Ben.”

While Chobhaphand ended up getting caught and punished for his actions, coaches from the league maintained this is not an isolated incident in the league and there are others in the league who are guilty of the same violation.

“I’ve been around for 10 years and if you ask other coaches they know who does it and who gets away with it,” Thomas Edison coach John Ulmer said. “That’s the way it is.”