In the most recent state boys basketball rankings, the No. 1 team in all four classifications is either a Philadelphia Public League or Catholic League school. But a closer look at a number of the top teams in Philadelphia shows they benefit greatly from players who transfer schools.
PIAA rules state that students are not allowed to transfer for athletic intent, but it makes you wonder if anyone cares in Philadelphia athletics. While the WPIAL has tried to take a stand for years against transfers for athletic intent, numerous players transfer regularly in Philadelphia without challenges. They say it isn't for athletic intent, but some players are even quoted as saying athletics is one of the reasons they transferred. Still, it's rare when an athlete from a Philadelphia area school has to go to the PIAA because his transfer was challenged.
Some schools in Philadelphia closed after the 2012-13 school year and players had to transfer to different schools. But a number of the top teams have many transfers from other schools.
Here are some examples of the transfer epidemic in Philadelphia:
* Archbishop Carroll is the No. 1-ranked Class AAA team in the pennlive.com ratings and many believe the No. 1 team in the state, regardless of class. Austin Tighman transferred from a school in Delaware, Josh Sharkey transferred from Abington Friends, Samir Taylor from Episcopal, Nyseir Brooks from Imhtoep and Ryan Daly from State College.
* Math Civics and Science is No. 1 in Class A and benefitted from Mike Watkins (Penn State recruit) transferring from Bartram and 6-6 forward Terquin Mott from Life Center, N.J.
* Martin Luther King, No. 6 in Class AAAA, got two Math, Civics & Science players, Tyheem Harmon and Jabri McCall, 6-foot-8 Jahmir Taylor from Delaware Valley and 6-7 Rasool Samir from Imhotep.
* Imhotep, No. 3 in Class AAA, got Sean Lloyd from the Haverford School.
* Chester isn't in the Catholic or Public League, but is a perennial power in the Philadelphia area. Mahir Johnson transferred to Chester from Glasgow High (Del.) and his teammate, Tyrell Sturdivant (6-7 forward), came with him.
Some of these transfers aren't just ordinary players, either. Some are Division I college prospects.
So, come late March, look to see some of these teams making deep runs in the PIAA playoffs -- with the transfers playing major parts.
Heading into this weekend, there were six undefeated teams in WPIAL girls basketball. Oddly enough, one of them was Brentwood.
The Brentwood girls are one of the biggest turnaround stories in the WPIAL. Only two seasons ago, the Spartans were 1-20. In three seasons from 2009-12, Brentwood was 8-52.
Brentwood hasn't played the stiffest competition so far, but for the Spartans to be undefeated is rather impressive. Their defense has been excellent, giving up only 30 points a game. Monday night should tell exactly how good Brentwood is as the Spartans play host to defending WPIAL and PIAA Class AA champion Bishop Canevin.
Thirty-six years ago, the Belle Vernon boys won a WPIAL championship in the largest classification. The man who coached the Leopards to the title will be honored before Tuesday night's game against Thomas Jefferson.
Don Asmonga was Belle Vernon's first basketball coach in 1965 and won 297 games in 23 years. His 1978 team featured Tom Parks and John Russell. Belle Vernon won three playoff games at the Civic Arena that year to win the title.
There would have been no championship if it wasn't for Russell's late-game heroics in the quarterfinals, when he made a driving shot with one second left to give Belle Vernon a 63-62 victory against Wilkinsburg, a team that featured a future NFL player (Walt Bowyer).
Many of Asmonga's former players will attend the ceremony.
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* Heading into Friday's games, there were three boys basketball teams in Class AAAA or AAA that were averaging more than 76 points a game. All three were in Class AAAA Section 3 -- Hampton at 83.9, New Castle at 80.8 and North Allegheny at 79.2. Those three were undefeated and all play each other in the next nine days.
* There is an inspirational basketball story at Citrus Hills High School in Perris, Calif. Joe Richard is a 6-4, 170-pound senior forward who averages 5 points and 8 rebounds. Those are modest statistics, but consider that Richard plays with a prosthetic right leg. His right leg had to be amputated when he was 15 months old.
* The WPIAL football committee met Friday to discuss realignment of conferences. The league will release makeup of new conferences in the next few weeks.
For more on high school sports, go to "Varsity Blog" at www.post-gazette.com/varsityblog. Mike White: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1975 and Twitter @mwhiteburgh.