High marks


Tyreece Brown never got much attention as a high-school basketball player. The George Washington High grad played one season and failed to earn All-Public or All-City recognition.

Now 19, the late bloomer has a Division II basketball scholarship to Fayetteville State University in North Carolina.

"It’s rewarding because most people who play high-school basketball don’t get a scholarship," Brown said. "I stayed in the gym every day, and the hard work paid off in the end."

The local athlete is one of four CCP basketball players to receive a Division II scholarship. Fellow South Philadelphian Abdul-Rahim Scott, of the 1300 block of South Hicks Street, accepted a scholarship to Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania, while teammate James Cooper, of 19th and Christian, will head to Division III Chestnut Hill College. All three athletes played a key role in helping CCP finish 29-5, which was a strong follow-up to last year’s Pennsylvania State Junior College championship.

For Brown, these accomplishments are especially rewarding, as he never had the opportunity to win any sort of championship in high school. The local athlete quit George Washington’s basketball team following junior year to concentrate on academics.

He still found time to practice his ball skills in the Chew Development League, where CCP men’s basketball coach and South Philly resident Robert "Dondi" DeShields saw him play. Shortly thereafter, the guard was approached about enrolling and playing for the Center City-based squad.

Now a mature college player, Brown said he understands the game better than when he arrived, and DeShields had much to do with it.

"He didn’t take any nonsense," said Brown, who was one of the Colonials’ top offensive threats. "Any coach that cares helps you."

The next challenge will be bringing that winning tradition to Fayetteville State, a program that finished 11-17 last season. Win or lose, the local athlete knows he’ll at least get to play in front of big crowds, as the Central Interscholastic Athletic Association’s postseason tournament ranks third in attendance, behind only the Atlantic Coast and Big East Conference championships. It was one of the many factors that drew Brown to the school.

"I went to the best available situation," he said. "The arena is packed every night, and I just love the school."

The guard is hoping the next two seasons will pave the way to a professional basketball career. Despite that he’s attending a Division II school, the scenario isn’t out of the question. Orlando Magic guard Darrell Armstrong is a 1991 grad of Fayetteville State who averaged 9.4 points and 3.9 assists per game last season.

"Every coach says I have a lot of potential," Brown said. "These days, it doesn’t matter what division you go to; if you can play, they’ll find you."

Fayetteville was one of the schools Scott was considering, along with Delaware State, Virginia State and Slippery Rock. When it came to a decision, the 6-foot-7 forward decided to pick a school where he can help make an impact. That makes Slippery Rock the ideal fit, as the program finished 8-17 last season, including a 2-10 mark in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference.

Scott, who plans to major in business management, said the school’s high graduation rate and good job-placement program also attracted him. With the basketball program, he said patience is going to be key, as he hasn’t experienced too many losing seasons during his career.

The 22-year-old, who took off two years of college to serve in the Air Force Reserves, won a New Jersey state championship at Camden High alongside current NBA player Dajuan Wagner. In his two seasons at CCP, Scott helped the Colonials record a 48-12 mark and win a state championship. The forward plans to pass some winning pointers on to his new teammates.

"You have to take it one game at a time," Scott said. "Every game, you have to look at your mistakes and try not to make them again."

There is a good chance the local athlete will become the team’s leading scorer. Slippery Rock averaged 61.2 points per game last season, which ranked last in the PSAC. Only one player averaged over 11 points, while the rest of the team averaged 7.5 points or less. After averaging 16 points and 10 rebounds a game, Scott is expected to help in this area.

"That’s right up my ally to have the green light," said the athlete, who would like to play basketball overseas after he graduates.