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Schea Cotton and Lenny Cooke Discuss HS Hoops, Disappointments At NYC’s #CottonCookeUnedited

In the last twenty years, the names Schea Cotton and Lenny Cooke carried much weight in AAU hoops.

In the last twenty years, the names Schea Cotton and Lenny Cooke carried much weight in AAU hoops.

The two shined in an era where the preps to pros culture was the norm. Manhattan was bumping and jumping on Friday (April 22) when the high school basketball legends came together for the first time in an exclusive and 'UNEDITED' panel at the Microsoft Flagship Store. There they discussed their journeys, after the stardom, starting over and telling the world, "what happened," in a discussion moderated by Brandon “Scoop B” Robinson, host of CBS Sports Radio’s Brown and Scoop and a writer who has covered the two extensively.

Cotton, now 37, was the cream of the crop in the late 90s. Mentioned nationally among top players like Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, Baron Davis, Jermaine O’Neal and Stephen Jackson, the former high school All-American was a star at Saint John Bosco and Mater Dei. Cotton averaged 24 points and 10 rebounds, leading Mater Dei to a 36–1 record. After a myriad of red tape issues with the NCAA over questions of SAT testing, he was unable to play for Long Beach State where he’d have joined his brother, nor would he be able to play at UCLA where he’d have been teammates with Baron Davis.

Following that controversy, he had a prep school stint at St. Thomas Moore High School in Connecticut. Cotton, an explosive combo shooting guard/small forward would end up going to Alabama where he played out of position at power forward. Cotton declared for the 2000 NBA Draft where he went undrafted. After playing professionally overseas for 10 years, Cotton now trains the next generation of kids and also travels around the country speaking to the next generation about the importance of making good choices. “Basketball is something that I did, it's not who I am,” Cotton told the crowd at the panel.

“For these kids today, I tell them to go to class. Take care of your books.”

In 2001, Lenny Cooke, a Brooklyn, NY native, was a man among boys. A 6’6 slasher who in high school scouts ranked ahead of the Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James, New York Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony and Miami Heat's Amar’e Stoudemire was a stats stuffer at Northern Valley High School in Old Tappan, NJ. Cooke averaged 25 points, 10 rebounds, two steals, and two blocks and looked primed to make a splash in the NBA. But just two years later, Cooke found himself playing ball not for an NBA team, but for the Shanghai Dongfang Sharks.

During an ABCD camp high school basketball tournament run by Sonny Vaccaro in Teaneck, NJ, Cooke’s AAU team went head to head with LeBron James’ team. Cooke’s team had the lead and possession of the basketball. James stole the ball, scored on a fast break and won the game, in a play that introduced the world to the Akron, Ohio born baller who was later featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated with the cover titled, “The Chosen One.” Many believed that that play was a turning point for Cooke’s career. "LeBron deserves all that he got because he worked at it,” said Cooke. “I didn't. I went off of talent."

Cooke, now 33 lives in Virginia and is involved with hoops in some capacity, coaching at high school camps. "My name is Leonard Cooke, not Lenny,” Cooke said at the panel. “I am more than basketball. I'm a dad and I want to travel the world and inspire kids." Ironically enough, he enjoys cooking, a craft he picked up while playing overseas. He plans to go back to school, get a degree and coach basketball.

Currently, Cotton’s documentary, Manchild, The Schea Cotton Story: A Dream Deferred, has been making its rounds in screeners across the country. Cooke was the subject of a documentary directed by brothers Josh and Benjamin Safdie who travel back in time and takes you through the life of a guy who had it all at an early age. SLAM Magazine, Parade Magazine and ESPN specialty shows like “The Life” were where Cotton and Cooke would get their shine in an age that existed before platforms like Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube. Both think that things would be different had those things existed back then. "If there was social media when I played I'd be in a mansion overlooking the ocean,” said Cotton.

"If there was social media when I played I would have a million followers,” said Cooke.

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Jermaine Dupri Says Jay-Z Didn't Advise Him To Turn Down NFL Deal

After Bryan-Michael Cox and DJ Funkmaster Flex made separate claims that Jay-Z advised Jermaine Dupri to turn down a deal with the NFL, the record producer, songwriter, and rapper sat down with Big Tigger on Atlanta's V103 Wednesday (Aug. 21) to deny the claims.

Dupri said his deal with the league was to "curate a series of free shows held at Atlanta's Centennial Olympic Park" and the event would happen before the Super Bowl. In 2018, the rapper took to his Instagram with the official post.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Jan 26th lets go!!!!! @atlsuperbowl53

A post shared by Jermaine Dupri (@jermainedupri) on Oct 26, 2018 at 8:20am PDT

"He and I never had a conversation where he told me 'don't do what you're doing," the So So Def producer said. "What our conversation was, 'You know what side I'm on, I understand what you're doing.' That's what the conversation was."

Here's a quick timeline of the alleged rumors:

Cox joined a Twitter live stream with LoolaTV on Wednesday (Aug. 14) to make the claim that Jay-Z advised Dupri to turn down an NFL partnership. "We're also talking about a guy who single-handedly picked up the phone and called Jermaine to tell him not to do it ... not even a year ago."

I'm Live via https://t.co/KJikcZcXvl @LoolaTv https://t.co/8UBOZkVKnS

— Bryan-Michael Cox (@bryanmichaelcox) August 14, 2019

Hot 97 DJ Funkmaster Flex posted on Monday (Aug. 19) to confirm Cox's story:

I JUST GOT OFF THE PHONE WITH JERMAINE DUPRI... HE CONFIRMED THAT WHEN HE WAS WORKING WITH THE NFL LAST YEAR HE DID GET A CALL FROM JAYZ ASKING HIM.. “HOW DEEP ARE U IN WITH THE NFL?” EXPRESSING... “THAT MIGHT NOT BE A GOOD IDEA”

FUNKFLEX

— Funk Flex !!!!! (@funkflex) August 19, 2019

 

Watch Dupri's full interview below.

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Kawhi Leonard Donates One Million Backpacks To Students In Los Angeles

Kawhi Leonard partnered with the L.A. Clippers and Baby2Baby, to give away one million backpacks to students in multiple school districts around Los Angeles. The charitable undertaking, announced Tuesday (Aug. 20), is the largest in Los Angeles Unified School District history and is aimed at reducing some of the finical stress faced by low-income families during the school year, NBA.com reports.

“My goal this year is to make a meaningful contribution both on and off the court,” said Leonard who is a native of Morenoa Valley, California and recently joined the Clippers after winning a championship with the Toronto Raptors. “This felt like the right way to get started. It was important to me to make this announcement in my hometown of Moreno Valley at my former Elementary School, but the benefits this program will have across all of Los Angeles makes today even more special.”

The backpacks will be donated to every student in Moreno Valley Unified, Inglewood Unified and Los Angeles Unified School districts.

In 2018, approximately 80% of LAUSD's K-12 students came from low income families, were homeless, or in foster care. Over the last eight years, Baby2Baby has dispersed more than 70 million basic necessities to children at underserved schools, homeless shelters, foster care, hospital and those affected by natural disasters.

“There are a lot of families throughout the L.A. region working hard every day to earn everything in their lives. This program is our effort to extend a hand to make heading back to school a little easier,” added Gillian Zucker, President of Business Operations for the Clippers. “Our deepest appreciation goes out to Kawhi Leonard and Baby2Baby’s incredible network of ambassadors who walk the walk when it comes to using their platforms and voices to provide real solutions to impact the everyday lives of the people around us.”

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Stephen Curry To Sponsor Golf Team At Howard University

While the regular NBA season is on vacation until the late fall, Stephen Curry is still keeping his mindset in sports mode with this latest news. According to The Washington Post, the three-time NBA champion announced a sponsorship that’ll establish a Division I golf team at Howard University. It’s the first of its kind for the HBCU.

“It’s a big opportunity for us to expose students to a game that oftentimes is played as business deals are decided and a game that generations of families can play together,” the Washington, D.C.-based university's President Wayne A.I. Frederick said. There will be a men’s and women’s golf team, which was partly inspired by a conversation Curry had with a student during the screening of Emanuel at the university in January. “To hear somebody as passionate about the game as I was, all the while still pursuing their education at Howard…impacted me,” Curry said.

The father-of-three established an endowed fund that’ll allocate a seven-figure contribution to preserving the golf teams. The donation will be spread out over six years. “No matter where you come from or what socioeconomic background you had, we all were that kid once upon a time that was just excited about finding out who they were as a person through athletics,” Curry said.

Students recruited for the team will also have to complete a volunteer program with Stephen and Ayesha Curry’s Eat. Learn. Play. foundation. The golf team’s formation can span a year from enlisting a coach to filling its roster. Washington D.C.’s Langston Golf Course, which is known as the city's historically black-owned golf course, might serve as practice grounds for the student-athletes.

“I was blessed at a young age that we could afford to play,” Curry said. “I just think about how many kids, especially from underserved communities, have the talent to play but just don’t have the funds or the resources.” Howard University's administration believe the school's Division II golf team ended its run in the 1970s.

[email protected] is here and we are ready for the #HowardUGolf festivities. With his support, today we kick off the first-ever NCAA Division 1 Men’s and Women’s Golf Program at a Howard University. @HowardAD_KD @HUPrez17 pic.twitter.com/2FN8ZLZ7cQ

— Howard University (@HowardU) August 19, 2019

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