TWO YOUTH BASKETBALL LEGENDS HONORED IN SPRINGFIELD

By Kevin McCaskill Jr.


On Friday evening, 4/30/21, FP SPORTS had the privilege of attending “The Final: A City of Guards Presentation”.


(From left to right: RICKs 5 Coach Rick Marshall; Ed Anderson; Dunbar CC Coach Charles Rucks)


This event was held to honor Charles Rucks and Rick Marshall - two legendary Youth Basketball coaches in Springfield, MA. Rucks ran the basketball program at the Dunbar Community Center. Marshall is the founder of “RICKs 5” [Reachin’ Inner City Kids], a grassroots 🏀 organization that would partner with high schools for summer/offseason leagues. Marshall’s teams were “hand-picked”.


(Charles Rucks)


(Rick Marshall)


The night was framed by City of Guards founder Yusuf Abdul-Ali as a way for Rucks and Marshall “to see their banners while they are still here”.


(Rick Marshall; City of Guards Founder Yusuf Abdul-Ali; Ed Anderson)


The event took place at The Hub in Springfield, MA. There were a limited amount of seats in the venue. COG also live-streamed the event.



“The Final” was hosted by Ed Anderson of Bottomline Sports. Anderson worked with the Dunbar 🏀 program in the ‘90’s and early 2000’s.



The event was a “question and answer”-type format. Anderson would ask questions and then Marshall and Rucks would answer. There was one intermission so people in the venue could relax and indulge in some “refreshments”.



“The Final” generated some great stories and some politically correct answers 🤷🏽‍♂️ 😂.


I learned some new things at this event:

  1. I never knew RICKs 5 was an acronym. I played for Coach Marshall too 😔.

  2. I never knew Mike Martin (Brown Univ. grad and now Brown HC) played at Dunbar.

  3. I didn’t know Coach Marshall and Coach Rucks coached against each other as much as they did.

  4. The older generation of the Western Mass 🏀 community isn’t too thrilled about the current State of Basketball in the Springfield area.

  5. The Springfield area can be a “draw” for people from other places in the Northeast.


Mr. Rucks let us know that Oscar Robertson is the best basketball player ever. That statement came from a story about Rucks seeing Jamual Warren at the University of Cincinnati. Warren is one of the best 🏀 players from this area. He played 2 season with the Bearcats. Of course, “The Big O” also went to Cincinnati.


We did get a list out of “The Final”. Ed Anderson had to cajole the answers out of Marshall and Rucks but they both gave the 4 best Guards in their coaching careers:

(Yusuf Abdul-Ali talks to Rick Marshall during intermission)


RICKs 5 - Coach Marshall:


Chris Jenkins

Will Dawkins

Jansy and Jensen Cruz

Mike Vaz


Dunbar CC - Coach Rucks:


Kevin Crapps

Vishay Davis

Mike Martin

DaJuan Neal*


Coach Rucks mentioned Jammal Holmes, Vishay Davis, Kevin Crapps, and Mike Martin several times throughout the night. I knew that Vishay Davis was a good player. He went to Central. Mike Martin went to Cathedral, now Pope Francis. Those 4 players have left an indelible mark on Coach Rucks and the Western Mass 🏀 community.


“The Final” was a great event. It was good connecting with people I haven’t seen in awhile.



Congratulations to City of Guards and Bottomline Sports for an informative, historical and successful event.






🏀



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*[I don’t know that name personally but if I spelled his name wrong, please let me know 🙏🏽]

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