On Friday, April 22 – High school basketball legends Schea Cotton & Lenny Cooke gave an exclusive in-store panel discussion at the Microsoft store in New York City. Hosted by writer and co-host of CBS Sports Radio’s Brown & Scoop, Brandon Robinson, the once NBA hopefuls were unapologetically honest about their basketball scouting experiences coming out of New York City (Cooke) and Los Angeles (Cotton). If you didn’t know who they were before, it’s a must you know them now; they represent a reality for most high school and college athletes who don’t go on to make it in the big leagues, but although their successes cannot be measured by NBA standards, they’re stats continue to make them legendary.
Riding around in big cars with the likes of Rocafella’s Jay Z as a St. Johns University expectant, and having MTV camera crews visit his home was just the beginning for a young Cooke, a Brooklyn, New York native whose time in the NBA would soon emerge – or so thought. Ranking higher than the then future NBA heroes like Lebron James, Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony, in 2001 Cooke was the most talked about high school basketball player in the country. Released at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2013 – The Lenny Cooke Movie highlighted Cooke’s unforeseeable story of although having all the distinctions of one of the greatest to play in the NBA, Cooke unfortunately never got his chance to play on the big court with those he came up with.
Coming out of Los Angeles, Schea Cotton played for one of the top basketball programs as a high school student and was relentless to make it to the NBA, and would have, but however due a series of events, and a few years of playing overseas, Cotton still did not reach that NBA player status. With gangs and such being his biggest distraction of evils trying to diminish his good name, Schea kept it funky when saying, “I kept my head in the lab (the gym) in order to avoid the evils of the world.” But even with keeping his head on the prize at all times, the NBA was just not in his cards. Cotton’s story will be told in a documentary titled Manchild: The Schea Cotton Story expected out some time in 2017, the 20th anniversary following his high school graduation.Despite never getting the chance to play in the NBA as expected, both Cotton and Cooke use their unfortunate experiences of not making it to inspire and mentor today’s youth about the disappointments that may occur, while still uplifting and encouraging them to “keep God first (Cooke)” and “keep oneself diversified on all fronts (Cotton)”. Things may not go as expected, but riding the wave of life is still a blessing- no less, and all experiences should be set as precedents’ for another something, that of which can still be great.