Anthony Stephens attends all of Cherokee High's basketball practices. He even demonstrates lighting-quick moves that sometimes defy logic.
Stephens is a 5-foot-11 senior with jumps. Big-time jumps.
"Some of the stuff he can do is freaky," Cherokee coach Ron Powell said.
Yet, Stephens, who can dunk the ball despite his small stature, will never play a high school game. Not this year. Not ever.
Stephens said doctors believe he suffers from hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). The genetic disorder caused the deaths of former basketball stars Hank Gathers of Loyola Marymount and Reggie Lewis of the Boston Celtics.
Because of his medical condition, doctors will not clear Stephens to play organized basketball.
So he serves as Cherokee's manager and plays pick-up, non-competitive basketball on local courts.
Nothing too strenuous. Just enough to give him his basketball fix.
During Cherokee practices, Stephens is allowed to help the players in drills.
For him, that's the rewarding part of his day.
The difficult part is sitting on the bench during games.
"He would be our best guard," Powell said, and when you consider the Chiefs have multitalented Richie Tarr in their backcourt, you realize what a special player Stephens would be.
"It's real tough to sit out, but I just have to move on," Stephens said. "I just try to help out in the gym and work on ballhandling and shooting with them. They know the deal. They know that I'm with them."
Stephens said that he was born with a heart murmur and that a cardiologist discovered his HCM symptoms when he had an EKG in eighth grade.
"Your heart muscle is too thick, and blood has [trouble] getting to the heart valve," he said.
"It's killing him not to be out there," Powell said.
But, to his credit, he's making the best of the situation and showing his Cherokee teammates the true meaning of a team player.
Even if he isn't playing.
Bridgeton wants to leave the Cape-Atlantic League and join the Tri-County - and that probably won't happen until 2010-11. Two other Cape schools - Middle Township and Pleasantville - are monitoring the situation and might head elsewhere.
Some of the athletic directors want the Cape to realign based on the strength of their programs and aren't happy to be in leagues with parochial heavyweights.
This is a development that is far from reaching its simmering point.
West Deptford senior football player Mike Carbone is going to make some college team very happy, said his highly respected coach, Clyde Folsom.
"He's the best linebacker I've had in my 27 years of coaching," Folsom said.
Carbone, who is also a standout guard, is considering Monmouth and Albany.
Some coaches think Eastern's 6-1 junior guard, Bobby Harris, is the best player in the Olympic Conference's American Division, and, based on the depth of talent in the division, that's high praise.
Harris scored 18 points in the Vikings' two-point loss to Lenape Thursday night.