Media Day is Here for City Series Hoops

Mapping the Season
Posted on 11/19/2018
Image of Basketball(Michael Beaven writing for Beacon Journal)

The annual City Series Basketball Media Day on Thursday included the usual conversations about hoops, school, the weather and so much more.

“I think it’s appropriate that we kick off the winter sports with wintry weather conditions outside,” Akron Public Schools Athletic Director Joe Vassalotti said with a laugh as an icy rain and snow mixture fell outside.

“Fortunately, we are inside [the Akron Education Association building] and warm.”

Kenmore-Garfield coach Yontami Jones and Buchtel coach Brian Neugebauer said they also feel fortunate to be alive as Jones is battling cancer and Neugebauer is recovering from a heart attack. Both plan on coaching their respective girls basketball teams this season.

“God is healing me,” said Jones, who has been dealing with cancer since December. “I am thankful to God to see another day. ... I am feeling great. I feel normal now.”

Senior Alexis Radcliff and sophomore I’anna Lopp joined Jones at the luncheon. Jones said she is taking medication and also making sure she gets her rest. She is back playing volleyball and basketball recreationally.

Neugebauer is also taking medication, resting and adjusting to a diet change since he had 100 percent blockage of his left artery near his heart that required surgery in September.

“You can do things to help prevent heart attacks, but I was going to have one regardless because of my family history,” Neugebauer said. “I had 100 percent blockage. They called what I had the ‘widow maker.’ They put in a stent, and I immediately felt better. Now, I am on medication and work out and rehab for it at Akron General. ... I have lost 15 pounds and I feel a 100 percent better.”

Buchtel’s girls team will be led by senior Imani Jackson and junior Javaan Rogers.

Buchtel boys basketball coach Matt Futch brought senior Jonathan King and sophomore Ronnell “Tae” Perie II on Thursday. Twin brothers Chris (6-foot-5) and Cordel Livingston (5-10) are intriguing freshmen.

“Chris is ranked No. 1 or No. 2 in the country in his class, and he had a really good summer playing two grades up on the AAU level, and then he played with USA Basketball,” Futch said. “We are hoping to get news in the spring that he is going to make the squad at his age level. He is the only person from Ohio right now who was invited.

“A lot of people from this area want to make comparisons to LeBron James because he is 6-5, he is athletic and he is a freshman. I talked to LeBron this summer because he worked out a couple of times with Bron, and I knew once Bron went over to Las Vegas to go check him out when he was out there for a camp that everything was going to go from there in terms of the notoriety.”

Ellet boys coach Mark Fisher was accompanied by Jesse Nance and Jarmond Hogg at the luncheon, and girls coach Tina Wallace brought Alyssa Martin and Sarah Mason to the occasion.

East was represented by coaches Brian Dawson and Darryl Anderson Sr. and players Derveonte’ Russell, Billie Johnson, Iyana Murray and Careya Pace.

Others in attendance included Kenmore-Garfield boys coach Murray L. Hooten III and players Carlos Rodriguez-Ray and Brandon Evans; Firestone coaches Dave Milo and Theresa Clere and players J’Vionne Ingol, LaFette Johnson, Si’Ayera Boone and Jayda Wallace; and North coaches Marc Smith and Shermaine Meadows and players Jason Johnson, Andre Yeager, Lexus Morehouse and Akilah Primm.
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