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Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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Wednesday / February 21.
  • Dominic Cheek: A Star Emerges from City Streets

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    Since last Friday marked the official start of high school hoops practice in New Jersey, we recommend you check out this tremendous video piece on Dominic Cheek by Collin Orcutt and Michael Preston of the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. Orcutt and his colleagues worked on this piece for several weeks, following Dom through workouts, practices and recruiting at St. Anthony in Jersey City.

    The 6-foot-5 Cheek, a first-team All-State selection last season and likely McDonald’s All-American has visited Kansas, Villanova, Memphis, Rutgers and Pitt, and could decide at any time.

    “Whenever’s the right time, that’s when I’ll decide,” Cheek said.

    “I guess a lot of people will be asking a lot of questions, but whenever is the right time it will happen.”

    **And for a look at the New York City hoops landscape, check out this feature on Brooklyn Boys & Girls, the first of four stories on teams competing in the 2nd Annual SNY Invitational Jan. 23-24 at NYU’s Coles Center.

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    Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle. A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.

    • Dominic seems like a great kid. I’m a huge Kansas fan and after watching that clip I want him more than any other recruit. I hope he picks Kansas but if he doesn’t I wish him the best of luck wherever he ends up. He’s the kind of kid who deserves NBA money and deserves to succeed.

    • CBaller13, you hit the nail on the head. I’m a Villanova fan and I have to agree 100% that he seems like the type of kid that deserves success, and I will be a Dominic Cheek fan regardless of where he decides to go to school.

    • I can not say it enough. I despise these interviews or stories depicting the inner city black kid coming from the broken home and too dangerous to go out but then some savior helps him with sports to overcome all that. This is like modern blaxploitation movies.
      Dont get me wrong, I like to see people making something positive of their lives but does it always have to include the same background picture? Having talked to or knowing dominic, his older cousin and many ppl who come from the inner city urban environment, nobody is looking for sympathy which is what a lot of these so called heart warming stories are gearing towards.
      Why not show us kids like ervin walker who comes from a working class family who overcame being short for basketball standards to make it to a D1 college? Or simply just show dominic as a kid striving for better without the negativity? There are a lot of african american or west indian kids who come from working class families or even single parent families but that dont live in the conditions always depicted. What the people who direct or write in these stories are not getting is that you are creating a mindset that if a kid is african american and didnt come from a broken home or the inner city then that doesnt make him or her newsworthy or even black enough in some circles.
      So at the end of the day, my point is that perception is bigger than reality so why not put a more positive perception.

      • Sharpton,

        1) Don’t be jealous. They’re hackneyed, but Horatio Alger stories sell in America. It’s the reason why politicians often feel the need to concoct backstories that indicate they’ve overcome obstacles.

        2) There is also, well, the talent issue. Walker was a borderline top 150 recruit, while Cheek is a consensus top 15 player.

        Kobe Bryant came from a comfortable background, yet he’s managed to find media outlets that have been anxious to hear his thoughts since he was back at Lower Merion.

        3) It’s mutual exploitation.If Cheek couldn’t play basketall, a CUNY student would be doing a piece on someone else and Wake Forest or even Villanova would never have accepted him. Since Cheek can, he can exploit them to receive a free education and an opportunity to showcase his basketball skills in return for the revenue they receive via ticket sales, apparel, etc. until he runs out of eligibility or sees fit to opt for the draft.

    • ZAG
      I love your blog and read it at least once a day…I’ve respected your honesty and integrity with things such as the Gonzo deal and your insight and true care about high school basketball. But what I don’t understand is how you can just ignore what went on in that video..there are clear violations of the NJSIAA rules on there and you know that…wouldn’t you want to be the one who questions what is going on? Isn’t part of the role of the media to play as independent watchdogs and keep eyes open for corruption? Sure, we aren’t talking about George Bush embezzling money or something like that, but high school basketball is your politics..journalists get paid to ask the tough questions and do the tough stories in order to show the public the truth. I just wish you would have been able to question the act instead of applauding in the audience with everyone else.

    • Hey Dominic – Did you see Tyshawn Taylor’s line last night? Dude dropped 23 points and was dunkin left and right. You should join him next year.

    • I posted this comment above as well.


      Thanks for the comments.

      In speaking to Coach Ben Gamble, this is what he said: “The documentary was done over a long period of time in which the graduate students I think did a very good piece on Dominic and they edited it down to a four-minute segment.”

      I, too, think the piece is quite strong and admire the CUNY students for taking on the project.


    • I really have been looking for a blog like this. I agree with some of the comments that others have made about the cliche inner-city kid making it. I do think it’s for the player, but that it does a disservice to other players who may not be from the projects, but are as good as the project kids. My main example would be someone like Yatta(Sundiata Gaines), he was one of the best PGs in the country that year, but he was overshadowed by Bassy(Telfair) because he was from the “hood”. Don’t get me wrong Bassy was an assasin, but Yatta was just as good. I played with him, Russell (Robinson), and others from 2nd to 5th grade. They were all polished basketball players that didn’t get the press of some of the bigger names.