Afternoon News Report; Feb. 1, 2012

NATIONAL SIGNING DAY

Six young men from our area — South Lenoir’s K’Hadree Hooker, Kinston’s C.J. Bradshaw, Angelo Keyes and Shaheed Swinson, and Ayden-Grifton’s Kariym Gent and Brandon Whitaker — signed their national letters of intent to play college football today.

My take: First off — many kudos to Sports Editor Ryan Herman, who was seemingly EVERYWHERE this morning, reporting on these signings. I’m really looking forward to seeing his story/stories in Thursday’s Free Press.

I concur with what Herman said on his Twitter feed — this is an extremely special day for those young men, who have worked their tails to get to this day. I’m also happy for the parents who have helped their children get to this point in their lives!

DON CORNELIUS DEAD AT 75

Don Cornelius, the iconic creator of “Soul Train,” is dead of what appears to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. He was 75.

My take: And another icon of my youth is gone. I’ll never forget Saturday afternoons of “American Bandstand” and “Soul Train” — as many of you in my age bracket also remember.

Until I discovered Sting in 1983, Prince in 1984 and Bono in 1988, Cornelius was the coolest music celebrity I followed.

A final note — there is hardly anything more sad to me than a teenager or older person committing suicide. I’m not saying it’s acceptable for a middle-aged person to do it, but for someone young (who hasn’t truly experienced life) or someone old (who has fought the battles but decided they can’t go another day) to kill themselves is quasi-tragic to me.

BEAUFORT TIES FOR FIRST IN NATIONAL CONTEST

In a contest that had virtually all of ENC voting for it, the coastal city of Beaufort ended up tied for first with a New York town for the title of “America’s Coolest Small Town.”

My take: And that’s a bit bogus — Beaufort actually won the contest by 0.2 percentage points but it was declared a tie? Good for Beaufort in c0-winning the contest, but the person/people making that decision for a tie are the same people who want to give everyone a trophy for winning.

If it finished as a tie, so be it … but Beaufort won the damned thing. Give ‘em their award.

The iPod shuffle

Spaceship — Kanye West feat. GLC & Consequence

99 — Toto

Hot Stuff — The Rolling Stones

Exit — U2

Mother — Tori Amos

P.S.: Check out my brother’s new blog by clicking here. Not only is my brother Darrell the better-looking of the two of us, he’s also more athletic (although he can’t beat me on the basketball court!) and now he’s a better writer, too. Sigh.

Seriously — please check out his blog. Darrell is very sharp and his observations are top-notch, especially when he FINALLY admits U2 hasn’t lost their “it” factor.

P.P.S.S.: While I’m busy pimping, please check out the outstanding coverage of two regional media companies who are really on top of National Signing Day.

Nick Stevens and his legion of soldiers and soldierettes are working their tails off in the Triangle area getting NSD stories online at highschoolot.com. They are, frankly, knocking it out of the park today, so give ‘em a read.

Also, Randy Capps and the boys at the Fayetteville Observer are hosting chats and good stuff all day, so check them out, too.

Morning News Report; Nov. 3, 2011

STATE SNAGS ANOTHER GOOD RECRUIT

T.J. Warren, a former Raleigh Word of God star who also played at Durham Riverside, verbally committed to N.C. State yesterday. He’s currently at a prep school in New Hampshire.

My take: Other than the fact he’s been at three high schools/prep schools in the past year, a good get for new State coach Mark Gottfried, who is putting together quite the first class for the Wuffies.

JEREMY MAYFIELD ARRESTED ON METH CHARGE

Former NASCAR star Jeremy Mayfield — already on suspension for alleged drug use — was arrested Tuesday night at his home in Catawba for possession of methamphetamine.

My take: Oh, how the “mighty” have fallen. It appears he had all sorts of stolen items in his house at the time of the arrest, too, and charges are pending for those.

Meth — it’s not a good thing, kids.

JUSTIN BIEBER … IS A BABY DADDY?

That’s what the rumor is, although the young Bieber is denying it.

My take: Disturbing on so many different levels.

The iPod shuffle

Can’t Nobody Hold Me Down — Puff Daddy & The Family featuring Mase

On The Run — Pink Floyd

Takin’ Care Of Business — Bachman Turner Overdrive

Legs (Remix) — ZZ Top

Enter Sandman — Metallica

P.S.: I made an appearance on The Reece Gardner Hour this week, where Mr. Gardner wanted to discuss the battle the HB is going through; if you’d like to check it out, please click here. And as always — THANK YOU for the prayers for her. She appreciates it immensely, as do I.

Reece and I also talk about the City Council race and other local issues. Also, stay tuned later this afternoon for this week’s Free Press High School Football Podcast with Ryan Herman, which features FOB Brian North and highschoolot.com/WRAL CBS-5′s Nick Stevens this week. . Trust me — you’ll enjoy it.

Morning News Report; Oct. 27, 2011

TELEP ON RECRUITING’S UNDERBELLY

College basketball recruiting’s best analyst — ESPN’s Dave Telep — has an informative and exposing piece at the Worldwide Leader’s site on the state of basketball recruiting.

Important note — to read the whole thing, you need to be an ESPN Insider … but trust me: it’s worth the price of the membership to read this article.

My take: In fact, it’s too bad it’s an Insider piece, because there is information there that needs to be read everywhere.

What intrigued me is that Telep — who is recognized as being the best in the business at the moment — basically admits it’s impossible for any program to be clean in this day and age. And yes, that includes Duke, UNC and the rest of the so-called “clean” programs out there.

Telep admits the recruitment of LeBron James opened his eyes — not by colleges, but by Nike and adidas.

This is probably the best piece I’ve ever read on the ins and outs of college recruiting. Take 15 minutes and give it a read.

BEAVIS & BUTT-HEAD RETURN TONIGHT

One of the greatest shows in television history returns tonight when “Beavis & Butt-head” returns to MTV with new episodes after 14 years.

My take: Yep … the DVR is set to tape the comeback.

Heh heh … I said “comeback.” Heh heh.

NO CONTROVERSY WITH GRONKOWSKI/PORN STAR

While most NFL stars had boring times during their bye weeks, New England Patriots tight end (heh heh, “tight end”) Rob Gronkowski had a photo taken with porn star Bibi Jones that was blown up on Twitter. Here it is, with another shot of Ms. Jones:

(Click on the images for better viewing)

There was no controversy, though; evidently, Gronk didn’t know who Ms. Jones was and has been embarrassed by the attention garnered by the event.

My take: It is funny that he carries a jersey with him everywhere, though, isn’t it?

The iPod shuffle

Ride Wit Me — T.I.

Miuzi Weighs A Ton — Public Enemy

She — Green Day

Speak To Me/Breathe — Pink Floyd

Mediate — INXS

P.S.: If you’re one of our Pink Hill bloggees, check out the stories and podcasts for the four mayoral candidates by going here. Justin “The Kid” Hill and Jon Dawson worked hard putting these and the town board stories/podcasts together (which will be in tomorrow’s FP/Kinston.com), so if you’re a Pink Hillian (is that a word?), take a few minutes and become better informed.

Morning Sports Report; Aug. 20, 2011

HATCHER STILL PERFECT FOR MARLINS

Kinston’s Chris Hatcher made his second appearance as a Florida Marlins pitcher in last night’s game at San Diego — and he’s still perfect. He pitched the sixth inning of a 4-3 loss to the Padres, giving up his first MLB hit and walk, but no runs were scored against him.

My take: He pitched in a blowout victory in his MLB debut and in a close one in his second game. I’m interested to see how the Marlins are going to use him — but wouldn’t it be something if he were handed the closer’s role? Florida has suffered a plethora of injuries this season and he’s shown some good stuff this year between Double-A and the majors.

KINSTON’S JONES FEATURED IN NATIONAL REPORT

Kinston wide receiver Jevonte’ Jones was featured in a nice piece on national football recruiting guru Tom Lemmings’ JuniorRank.com website. In the article written by Dan Hilbert, Jones talks about the injury that knocked him out last season and his desire to play at the D-1 level.

Jones’ top three schools are N.C. State, Georgia Tech and Georgia.

My take: I covered the Kinston game last night and was duly impressed with his size (he seems much taller than his listed 6-foot height, but he’s a physical specimen. It would be pretty cool to have Jones join South Lenoir’s K’Hadree Hooker and North Lenoir’s Maurice Morgan at N.C. State next year, wouldn’t it? Talk about a Lenoir County connection in Raleigh!

FRIDAY NIGHT RECAP

In last night’s area games, Kinston sloughed past scrappy Jones Senior, Greene Central scored two late fumble recovery TDs to win at North Lenoir, South Lenoir whipped Spring Creek and Ayden-Grifton spanked Riverside-Martin in Williamston. For the yardsticks for last night’s four local games, click here.

My take(s):As mentioned above, I covered the KHS-JS game — and it wasn’t nearly as close as the 28-13 score indicated. Too many Kinston mistakes (six lost fumbles!) and plenty of Trojans heart kept that game infinitely closer than it should’ve been.

GC might be a bit improved, but I’ll be surprised if the Rams are better than 3-8 this season.

Sounds like North Lenoir caught some of the fumbleitis that Kinston had last night.

Not surprised by the South Lenoir result. If the Blue Devils can be just moderately good on offense this year, Hooker and that stout South Lenoir defense could get that program its first playoff victory this year. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Blue Devils go 7-4 or 8-3 this season.

Ayden-Grifton has one of the best coaches in ENC in Paul Cornwell — the Chargers will be solid again with only Goldsboro challenging them in the Carolina 1A.

The iPod shuffle

Free Fallin’ — Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers

Suspicious Minds — Elvis Presley

Mama Said Knock You Out — LL Cool J

Found Out About You — Gin Blossoms

Look What The Cat Dragged In — Poison

Afternoon News Report; June 23, 2011

OD LEADS TO NEAR-DROWNING

A Lenoir County teenager is in “grave” condition at a Greenville hospital after nearly drowning while high on a morphine-like substance.

My take: This story has been bouncing around the interwebs the past couple of days, but we didn’t want to do anything with it until we had details. Good luck to Katyln — she and her family have our prayers from TFP.

MAN ROBS BANK FOR HEALTH CARE

A Gaston County man tried to rob a bank for a dollar last week so he could get free prison health care. Our sister paper, the Gaston Gazette, has done a fantastic job covering this — here is their latest report, although you can catch up on all the stories at the site.

My take: Yep … times are bad. And quite honestly, while this is a bit extreme, it’s not a terribly flawed plan.

NBA DRAFT IS TONIGHT

The NBA holds its annual draft tonight, with the common thought that Cleveland will take Duke’s Kyrie Irving at No. 1, with Minnesota set to take Arizona’s Derrick Williams at No. 2. After that, though, it’s a crapshoot.

My take: And “crap” may be the key word there. In most seasons, Irving would be lucky to be a lottery pick, but with so many top-flight players choosing to stay in college (see: UNC’s Harrison Barnes and John Henson), the pickin’s are slim this year.

Which makes you feel worse for the Cavaliers, who have No. 1 and No. 4 this year. Any other year and Cleveland would have two huge pieces and starters for years to come. However, the Cavs will be lucky to get two serviceable players with the lack of depth in this draft.

The iPod shuffle

Return To Innocence — Enigma

The Tide Is High — Blondie

Millionaire — Kelis featuring Andre 3000

The Safety Dance — Men Without Hats

Sweetness Follows — R.E.M.

P.S.: South Lenoir’s K’hadree Hooker, one of the South’s top-recruited football players, was in the office to talk with sports editor Ryan Herman. Here’s a picture of the two (with Free Press health reporter Jane Moon trying to sneak into the frame):

Click on the photo for a better view. And yes, I shared with him what a great school the University of Virginia would be for his education.

Morning News Report; April 27, 2011

WHITE HOUSE RELEASES OBAMA BIRTH CERTIFICATE

After years of wrangling, accusations and general ridiculousness, the White House has finally released President Obama’s birth certificate.

It shows that, indeed, the president was born in Hawaii and isn’t an illegal alien like Donald Trump’s hair has attempted to shove down our throats.

Click here to get a gander at it: 042711 obama birth certificate.

My take: I hope this seriously puts an end to this foolishness.

If you dislike Obama because of his politics, bankrupting our country or even because you’re a racist, that’s on you. But don’t you — honest to God — think that if there was something substantialto this, it would’ve come out in the lead-up to the 2008 election? Especially since the president had the Clinton smear campaign lined up against him?

It’s time to let this go, because all it does is continue to embarrass us in the world’s eye. If you don’t want him as your president again in 2012, vote him out. But he’s done what everyone has asked him to do — so let this episode go.

And if you think Trump would be a better president than Obama … then may God have mercy on your soul.

HARROW ANNOUNCES TRANSFER

Well, I hinted it on here last week … and it’s come to pass: Rising sophomore guard Ryan Harrow has announced he will transfer from N.C. State. He will not transfer to another ACC school, and it appears Georgia and Kentucky are atop his personal list.

My take: This makes no sense to me — Harrow had the starting job locked up for next year (and probably the rest of his career in Raleigh, too).

I got to know him and his coacha bit at the Glaxo — and he’s a great young man and a tremendous talent. However, he showed he is a bit sensitive to criticism (as evidenced by his tweets and Facebook reactions last season and in the postseason).

This will hurt State as the Pack has no bonafide point guards on its roster.Never fear, though, Wuffies — you have a really, really good PG coming inFall 2012 when Tyler Lewis of Forsyth Country Day (who is coached by former Kinston star Craig Dawson).

POSSIBLE CREDIT CARD INFO STOLEN BY PLAYSTATION HACKERS

The PlayStation Network has been down for over a week; it was originally announced that hackers had shut it down.

Now it’s been revealed the hackers may have stolen credit card information kept within the system. There are more than 77 million PSN accounts.

My take: Wowzer … and I’m one of them.

Scary times — and another reason I ALWAYS hesitate to give critical financial information over the interwebs.

The iPod shuffle

Love Walks In — Van Halen

Cuts Like A Knife — Bryan Adams

Pimp Juice — Nelly

Let’s Get It On — Marvin Gaye

Bad — U2

P.S.: Check out this really good story by WRAL’s Erin Summers on Apex Middle Creek basketball coach David Kushner, who is battling MS. I’ve gotten to know Coach Kushner over the past few years at the GSK and have found him to be one of the good guys who truly loves his players and isn’t one of the new breed of “look at me” coaches. Good luck in this battle, Coach.

Grant Hill’s response to Jalen Rose

I haven’t had a chance to see ESPN’s 30-for-30 documentary about Michigan’s Fab Five, but evidently former Duke star Grant Hill didn’t enjoy being called an Uncle Tom by Jalen Rose. Here’s Hill’s response to Rose in a letter to the New York Times.

My take: I haven’t seen it yet, but I intend to view it soon, especially after seeing Hill’s heated response.

My favorite line was Hill’s final one: “I am proud I never lost a game against the Fab Five.”

Awesome. Really, all he had to say was, “Scoreboard!”

Afternoon News Report; Feb. 3, 2011

FARMER -N-DELL SETTLES WITH STATE

The owner of Farmer-N-Dell has settled a case with the state for allegedly falsifying tax records and many other offenses.

My take: As usual, excellent reporting by our Wesley Brown, who has led the area with his work on this subject.

As for the case itself, seems like a pretty light punishment for the egregious claims against FND, doesn’t it? Evidently, the FND folks have some pretty damned good lawyers.

FORT HOOD MASSACRE COULD’VE BEEN AVOIDED

A disturbing new bi-partisan report reports that the Fort Hood massacre in 2009 could’ve been avoided as the douchebag who killed 13 and injured 32 others should’ve been kicked out of the Army.

My take: Yes, it’s Monday morning quarterbacking … but I hope the Army has learned a lesson from this sad event.

FSU, ALABAMA,AUBURNCLASS RANKED NO. 1

Remember my whining about college football recruiting yesterday? Yep, I’m an idiot — while Florida State had the No. 1 recruiting class according to ESPN(Alabama according to rivals.comand Auburn according to scout.com), my beloved Cavahoos of the University of Virginia actually had a top-25 class this year under Mike London (top 25/ESPN).

My take: Combined with last night’s upset win over Clemson, a good day to be a Cavahoo fan yesterday!

The iPod shuffle (send me your iPod shuffle)

Gin And Juice — Snoop Dogg & Dat Ni**a Daz

Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds — The Beatles

Shiny Happy People — R.E.M.

Express Yourself — Madonna

Been Around The World — Puff Daddy & The Family featuring The Notorious B.I.G. & Mase

Pop Goes The Weasel — 3rd Bass

The Bad Touch — The Bloodhound Gang

School’s Out — Alice Cooper

Mr. Wendal — Arrested Development

Doll Parts — Hole

P.S.: Want to know how I’m REALLY doing? Check out our good friend Jon Dawson’s column in today’s Free Press. Yep … I owe that boy one, that’s for sure.

Afternoon News Report; Feb. 2, 2011

SECURITY PROBLEMS AROUND FAIRFIELD

Security concerns around Fairfield Recreation Center have escalated to the point that the Kinston Department of Public Safety is encouraging area residents to organize community watch programs.

My take: And that saddens me. I have spent hundreds, if not thousands, of hours at Fairfield in the past eight-plus years and have watched as the area has slowly declined — despite the hard work of Scott Alston, Thurman Pate, Darrell Kierzek and other Parks and Recreation workers.

EGYPT BECOMING MORE VOLATILE

The situation in Egypt is becoming more and more dangerous by the minute; even CNN’s pretty-boy reporter, Anderson Cooper, and his crew were attacked today by the roving gangs in Tahrir Square, the epicenter of the activity. I didn’t link the video here, but take two minutes and watch the video on the above link.

My take: Scary. I’m not one of those apocalyptic types, but … these are certainly scary times over near the Promised Land.

HAPPY NATIONAL SIGNING DAY!

Yep, it’s that day of the year when all the recruiting junkies get together and put unrealistic expectations on groups of17- and 18-year-old kids who have proven nothing other than the fact that they can dominate lesser players surrounding themselves — National Signing Day.

Forget all the Triangle wannabe coverage — follow Sammy Batten over at the Fayetteville Observertoday; the FO (easily the best college coverage in North Carolina, BAR NONE) has the absolute best recruiting coverage in North Carolina (and thanks to our good friend Randy Capps for reminding me!).

My take: I’m just bitter because my Cavahoos haven’t had a top 25 class for a while … so enjoy yourselves, you college football geeks.

Another reason for my bitterness; I follow several college feeds and reporting sites on Twitter — and it’s totally blown up. From midnight to noon, I had more than 400 (!) updates on my feed. You recruiting geeks are insane.

The iPod shuffle (send me your shuffle!)

The Longest Time — Billy Joel

Tequila — The Champs

Faithfully — Journey

Jungle Love — The Time

Cedars Of Lebanon — U2

Mambo No. 5 — Lou Bega

Fireman — Lil Wayne

Johnny B. Goode — Chuck Berry

Tearin’ Up My Heart — ‘N Sync

Revolution — The Beatles

P.S.: Check out Kinston Mayor B.J. Murphy’s guest column that appeared in today’s Free Press. While I don’t think there was nothing earth-shattering in it, I thought it was a solid piece. I appreciate a mayor who takes the time to put himself out there to share his thoughts on what is going on in his town.

That’s why I’m flabbergasted at the anonymous (well, they think it’s anonymous!) postings by the commenters on his column. Frankly — and honestly — the mayor in Kinston has no real power, but Mr. Murphy has been out on point on several issues, including power rates in Kinston by organizing meetings with other ENC mayors. His efforts are putting heat on Electricities and the powers-that-be more than you realize.

But if Mr. Murphy isn’t out there screaming and yelling, some folks aren’t happy. It’s easy to write behind what you think is an anonymous name and say things you’d be terrified to say with your name behind it. Maybe it’s something we need to change (and soon) at Kinston.com …

Maurice Morgan commits to Wolfpack

Congratulations to Maurice Morgan of North Lenoir, who has verbally committed to play football at N.C. State University. From PackPride.com:

LaGrange (NC) North Lenoir athlete Maurice Morgan was hoping for an offer from NC State and received it over the weekend. It didn’t take Morgan long to reach a decision after securing the offer. “I’ve committed to NC State,” said Morgan. “I called the coaches last night and told them I was verbally committing. They offered me a scholarship on Sunday, and I thought about it for a little while and decided it was the right time to do it.” Morgan had a solid junior season playing tailback, wide receiver, safety and special teams for North Lenior. He rushed for nearly 700 yards in limited reps, but athletically he projects as a wide receiver or safety on the next level. NC State is recruiting Morgan as an athlete.He also held an offer from East Carolina before selecting the Wolfpack. “I like the facilities a lot at State,” said Morgan. “Plus, I really get a long with the coaches. They are all cool. I liked them when I went up to camp at State.” Pack Pride will have more from Morgan on his decision in the near future so stay tuned!  

Free Press Sports Editor Ryan Herman will have a full story in tomorrow’s paper and online at freepresspreps.com.

My take: I’ve known Maurice since almost the day I got to Lenoir County — he was one of my first Kinston/Lenoir County Parks and Rereation Department student-athletes of the week years ago and I’ve watched as he’s grown into one of the great young men in our city. He interns for the Kinston Indians and the Parks/Rec Department and is going to do a great job in Raleigh.

Join me in congratulating Maurice.