NOT SURE HOW many kids care for chemistry, but it's going to decide the Public League basketball championship.

Not the kind of chemistry that comes before math or after history. We mean the not-completely-tangible kind that every team, hopefully, finds a way to achieve.

Almost every strong team in the Pub features some to many to an outrageous number of transfers - big surprise, right? - and it'll be interesting to see how holdovers react to newcomers. Maybe the mindset will be all for one, one for all? Or perhaps a guy or three will keep muttering, "Heck with these new dudes. They're takin' my light."

With not enough balls to go around, and with seven-eight players expecting to star, one Pub power experienced major internal problems last season.

The league has retained the divisions-based-on-talent-level formula so look to A to produce the overall champion.

Math, Civics & Sciences Charter boasts three D-I signees in frontcourters Jeremiah "Lump" Worthem (Robert Morris) and Quadir Welton (Saint Peter's) and guard Britton Lee (also Robert Morris). Lee and Shafeek Taylor are transfers from Roman Catholic while another member of the savvy seven, Louis Myers, strolled in from Southern.

Imhotep Charter has Providence-bound guard Brandon Austin, banger Nigel Grant and another quality guard in Deryl Bagwell, once a Panther and back again after a quality junior season at Northeast.

The three-headed charter monster also features Philadelphia Electrical & Technology, which is headlined by 6-9 Jai Williams (Saint Joseph's) and a pair of guards, Hakeem Baxter and Steven Griffin (formerly of Father Judge).

Imhotep and PET are Class AAA schools while MC & S is A. The latter's best push should come from Roberts Vaux, which boasts superguard Rysheed Jordan. Three of his top playmates also rode the transfer winds.

There appears to be no favorite among the AA schools.

Though John Bartram and Frankford are in the strongest division, there are rumblings that Martin Luther King, in Division C, is primed to make noise among the AAAA schools.

The Cougars' new coach, Sean Colson, a Franklin Learning Center product, played briefly in the NBA. Once the word got around that he'd be guiding King, players arrived from everywhere.

The league has shrunk from 66 teams allllll the way down to 65. FitzSimons closed and Hope Charter dropped its team while Maritime Charter decided to row, row, row its basketball boat into the Pub.

Aside from Colson, these are the new coaches: RJ McDaniel, Boys' Latin; William McKant III, Douglas; *-Joe Gifford, Edison; Chris Lauber, Franklin Towne; James Washington, Maritime; Terrence "Nip" Cook, Mastery North; Antoine Joseph, Mastery South; Ira Stern, Northeast; *Tim Castanza, Palumbo; Walt Stepnowski, Parkway Northwest; *Jeff McKenna, Roxborough; Cliff Breese, Rush; *Doreen Coleman, Southern; Kevin Lockett, Swenson; Lorrel McCook, University City; *John Creighton, Washington.

Those with asterisks were head coaches at other Pub schools.

The most "famous" newcomer aside from Colson? We'll go with Cook. In January 1998, he totaled 20 points and five assists as Murrell Dobbins Tech stunned Simon Gratz, 54-46, thus ending the Bulldogs' amazing run of 107 consecutive Pub regular-season wins.