Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Yesterday-- dumbing down, Today-- rising up

Care made a great comment about accountability, and I wanted to share this article. It was posted on a message board that I read, and I really think that this shows what CAN and SHOULD happen-- athlete or not. From the San Bernardino "The Sun:"

Arroyo Valley's king of court on way to Tulsa
John Murphy, Staff Writer
Article Launched: 04/03/2008 12:08:00 AM PDT

Arroyo Valley basketball star Joseph Richard was his league's Most Valuable Player.

He made first-team All-CIF.

He is The Sun's Player of the Year.

But the real question heading last Saturday was ... would he be named Sir Knight?

People already familiar with San Andreas League basketball already know Richard the basketball player.

He was the 6-foot-6, 230-pound kid who averaged 15 points and 14 rebounds per game.

He ignited Arroyo Valley crowds with his powerful slam dunks.

He is headed to Tulsa University on a basketball scholarship.

What they probably don't know is Richard's involvement with the Socialite Club of San Bernardino. And how Richard attended with his family and his "fair maiden" a Beautillion last Saturday at the Orange Show.

The event is a male version of a debutante ball, and is something Richard has been working toward for more than a year.

"It helps young men develop life skills," said Richard's mother, Bessine. "I'm a single mom, so I've always encouraged anything Joseph could do to learn positive things from other men."

To that end, Richard learned ballroom dancing, entered an oratorical contest, visited churches and participated in a Black history parade. He has maintained lofty grades, has done community service and has been a stellar citizen.

Bessine said it was about more than the Beautillion and the event's overall prize of being named "Sir Knight" - which is similar to Prom King, but a lot more weighty.

"Joseph is always careful what he says and does," Bessine said. "He knows other kids look up to him. He talks to his own siblings about being responsible and getting good grades."

Richard has a brother (Kameron, 13) and two sisters (Cherrelle, 17 and Casandra, 13) who also attended the Beautillion, Richard's big night.

There will be other big nights ahead for the former Hawk star.

In little more than a week, April 11, he will turn 18. Then comes graduation. Then will come his matriculation to Tulsa two weeks after graduation, to possibly take some summer classes and begin working out.

Richard, intelligent and articulate, is excited about the next stage of his life.

"I'm looking forward to it," he said. "I've lived in California all my life and I'm looking forward to a new experience and playing basketball at a higher level."

Richard was pursued by UC-Riverside, UC-Santa Barbara, Lehigh, Air Force, Army and Colorado State. His 3.6 grade point average and 1,600 SAT score didn't hurt him in the least.

But Richard enjoyed his visit to Tulsa so much that he canceled at least one trip he had set up.

"The people were nice," he said. "I fit in well with the team - it was like it was in high school. And I liked the way coaches operated and their enthusiasm. They liked my character and leadership."

Opposing coaches also appreciated Richard, and not just for his ability.

"He is a very strong player," Cajon coach Randy Murray said. "We prepared for him more than anybody else. Sometimes that meant he didn't have great stats against us because we were focusing on stopping him. But if we're taking practice time out to stop you, that's pretty high praise."

Added former San Gorgonio coach Ty Stockham: "He was hard-working and very mature for his age. He was very team-oriented. I didn't seem him play this year, but in talking to Scott (Smith, the Arroyo Valley coach), he said Joe signed early with Tulsa and could have coasted, but still allowed his strong, successful qualities to come out. That's one of the reasons Arroyo Valley achieved as much as it did this year."

The Hawks won an SAL co-title - its second consecutive league championship - and made the CIF-SS Division II-AA semifinals, losing a heartbreaker to Colony 47-46 at Pacific.

Arroyo Valley also made the semis in 2006-07, and also advanced to the CIF-State tournament.

Richard said Tulsa envisions him as power forward or small forward. He knows he will have to improve his medium-range and outside shot. In fact, he's already working on that, under the tutelage of former Tulsa player Hassan Booker, who lives in Los Angeles.

Though Richard's time to leave is drawing short, he is not worried, saying his sense of excitement "overrides any nervousness."

Bessine Richard isn't overly anxious either, knowing the fine values she instilled in her son will continue to bolster him.

"Joseph always enjoyed basketball from early on," Bessine said. "But I always told him that without education, he was nowhere. I'm very proud of him and I know he'll continue to do the right thing."

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