The Basketball Roller Coaster

How a Coney Island Kid Prepares for the Ride of His Life

Otis Telfair laughs and says, "You'll know tonight." Then he tells the group that Bassy's and Jamel's mom, Erica, is preparing breakfast: fish and grits.

Finished with their circuits, Bassy, Jamel, Zeke, and Lance sit on a bench. "Hey, pretty girl," Bassy says to a toddler making her way to the nearby swings. After a short riff on Jay-Z and cell phones, he heads upstairs for breakfast. Then, it's on to business.

Professional and college players have known about the John Jay summer run for years. Monday through Thursday, players gather at the midtown gym for drills and scrimmaging. Arnie Jacobs, a fiftysomething gym rat, leads the workouts, as ex-Knick Mark Jackson and Kenny Satterfield of the Denver Nuggets practice shooting with Amal McCaskill of the Portland Trailblazers.

Soon the scrimmage starts, and Bassy takes the floor. He's facing Smush Parker, a former Fordham star currently in camp with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Bassy quickly starts to work on Parker. First, he creates space with his crossover and drains a 20-footer.

On the next possession, Bassy gets the ball at the top of the key. With Parker guarding him closely, he fakes a pass to Jackson and then flicks a no-look pass to McCaskill, who finishes with a dunk. A few minutes later, he nails a three-pointer in Parker's face. ("He's a special player," Jackson says later.)

Less than a minute goes by before Bassy drops another crossover on Parker, double pumps, and hits a layup.

Parker averaged 16 points a game in the Atlantic 10, but Bassy is dismantling his game piece by piece. If the pundits at ABCD saw Sebastian Telfair today, they'd rechristen his pedestal with bottles of Kristal.

After another three-pointer, Bassy takes a seat. He's torched Parker for 10 points in 10 minutes. "He's one of the greatest talents I've ever seen," Jacobs says. "He keeps destroying my gifted people."

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