Cliff Clinkscales

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Cliff Clinkscales
Clint Haliax d.jpg
Clinkscales in March 2016
No. 12 – Halifax Hurricanes
PositionPoint guard
LeagueNBL Canada
Personal information
Born (1984-03-11) March 11, 1984 (age 36)
Jamaica, Queens
Listed height6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)
Listed weight185 lb (84 kg)
Career information
High schoolSpringfield Gardens
(Springfield Gardens, New York)
Shores Christian Academy
(Ocala, Florida)
CollegeDePaul (2004–2008)
NBA draft2008 / Undrafted
Playing career2008–present
Career history
2008–2009Erie BayHawks
2009Rio Grande Valley Vipers
2009–2010Erie BayHawks
2013Panama City Breeze
20142015Halifax Rainmen
2015–presentHalifax Hurricanes
Career highlights and awards

Clifford "Cliff" Clinkscales (born March 11, 1984[1]) is an American professional basketball player for the Halifax Hurricanes of the National Basketball League of Canada (NBL). A 6-foot-1-inch (1.85 m), 185-pound (84 kg) point guard,[1] Clinkscales has been playing professionally since 2008, appearing in the NBA D-League, American Basketball League, and NBL Canada. Before joining the Hurricanes, he played for the Erie BayHawks, Rio Grande Valley Vipers, Panama City Breeze, and Halifax Rainmen. He was an NBL Canada All-Star in 2014, and subsequently won the league championship in 2016.

A native of Jamaica, Queens in New York City, Clinkscales rose to prominence as a basketball player at a young age, drawing attention from coaches around the country. After his freshman year at Springfield Gardens High School, he transferred to Shores Christian Academy in Ocala, Florida, where his team won the National Association of Christian Athletes title. Consequently, Clinkscales received interest from several major college basketball programs as a three-star recruit. He played with the DePaul Blue Demons from 2004 to 2008 and joined the BayHawks soon after. For his entire college career, Clinkscales had a limited impact as a scorer despite his passing ability, becoming the fifth freshman at DePaul to pass for 100 assists. While most of his statistics stagnated over the years, he led NCAA Division I in assist-to-turnover ratio as a senior. After previously announcing a break from the Hurricanes, Clinkscales affirmed in October 2016 that he would represent the team in the 2016–2017 season.

Early life

Clinkscales was brought up in Jamaica in Queens, New York City with three siblings.[2][3] He was raised by his mother and a family friend, Clarence Washington, rather than his biological father. Washington introduced a young Clinkscales to the game of basketball, with his sister, Kima, teaching him how to dribble.[2][3] Washington admired Clinkscales' interest in the game, commenting, "He was born with a God-given talent... When it comes to basketball, he has an IQ that's just crazy."[2]

Shortly before entering fifth grade, in the summer of 1996, Clinkscales—standing 4 ft 8 in (1.42 m)—was noticed in an ABCD Camp in Teaneck, New Jersey.[2] The camp was designed for college-level basketball hopefuls, but Clinkscales dribbled on the court in between games and drew attention from coaches.[2][4] His performance at the camp led to his national recognition, after he was featured by Slam, was labeled a "prodigy" by the New York Post, and appeared on the TV programs The Oprah Winfrey Show and The Rosie O'Donnell Show.[2] Thereafter, Clinkscales received college recruitment letters from the Kansas Jayhawks and USC Trojans.[5]

High school career

Despite achieving distinction at a young age, Clinkscales soon fell out of the public view. He spent one year in Springfield Gardens High School in Queens and did not play basketball for the team due to poor grades.[5][6] When considering his failure to develop his potential at an early stage, he reflected: "All [of the expectations] would have come true if I could have stayed in New York and played high school basketball."[2] In the following year, he transferred to Shores Christian Academy in Ocala, Florida.[2] The decision to switch schools was made because he wanted to improve his academic performance, and one of his friends knew the new school's basketball coach, Allan Adams.[3] At Ocala, Clinkscales lived with Stephen and Nancy Davidson, who both worked at the academy. Stephen was a pastor and the administrator of the school, and Nancy was an office staff member.[2]

Clinkscales expressed regrets over leaving Queens after Norm Roberts, who had shown an interest in him, was hired by St. John's.[5] While in Ocala, he tried to become better at basketball by doing 200 push-ups every night. He also visited his hometown during school vacations. In his time living in Florida, Clinkscales had a growth spurt and stood nearly at 6 ft (1.83 m), boosting his performance on the court.[2] Commenting on Clinkscales' decision to move to Florida, Clarence Washington said, "Going down there was the best thing that ever happened to him."[2]

At Shores Christian Academy, Clinkscales became a top player on the basketball team, averaging 21 points and 12 assists during his senior year.[2] On January 3, 2004, he recorded 24 points and eight assists, including a layup with four seconds left in regulation, to defeat Trinity Catholic by one point.[7] In another contest that month, Clinkscales notched 31 points and 11 assists in a triple-overtime loss to Gainesville High School, the top-ranked team at the Diamondback Challenge tournament.[3][8] In the Florida Christian Athletic League's south quarterfinals, he posted 40 points and 14 assists to beat Ocala Word of Faith by a 100–32 margin.[9] In the district title contest, he put up 26 points, 15 assists, six rebounds, and three steals.[8] Clinkscales' team won the National Association of Christian Athletes championship behind a 36-win season, and he was named the Ocala Star-Banner boys' basketball player of the year.[2][3] Despite his success at Ocala, the low competition level prevented him from drawing national attention. However, he was in the spotlight playing for the Atlanta Celtics, an Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) program made up of players such as Dwight Howard, Josh Smith, and Randolph Morris. He joined the team because they required a reliable point guard. The Celtics won the Adidas Big Time Tournament, sparking coaches' interest in him once again.[6] Basketball news website The Hoop Scoop named Clinkscales the 47th-best high school player in his class as he entered college.[8] He was rated a three-star recruit by both and[10][11]

US college sports recruiting information for high school athletes
Name Hometown High school / college Height Weight Commit date
Cliff Clinkscales
Ocala, FL Shores Christian (FL) 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m) 165 lb (75 kg) Apr 30, 2004 
Recruiting star ratings: Scout:3/5 stars   Rivals:3/5 stars   247Sports:3/5 stars
Overall recruiting rankings:
  • Note: In many cases, Scout, Rivals, 247Sports, and ESPN may conflict in their listings of height and weight.
  • In these cases, the average was taken. ESPN grades are on a 100-point scale.


  • "2004 Team Ranking". Retrieved September 18, 2016.

College career

"Once I start going again people are going to be like, 'Oh, I remember this kid.' I'm real anxious just to get everything rolling. I just want to let people know that nothing changed. I was just off the scene for a little while but I never stopped working. I just want to show people that I'm better than I was at that young age."[2]

—Clinkscales before his freshman season at DePaul

Louisville, Florida, and Maryland were among the several schools that initially showed interest in Clinkscales as he entered college.[3] Florida State was his preferred choice, and he made multiple unofficial visits to the school.[12][13] However, the team would not offer him an athletic scholarship because of his low test scores. Once he improved his scores, Clinkscales caught the attention of more schools, including Baylor and St. John's. On May 7, 2004, he announced his decision to play for the DePaul Blue Demons, noting that it would soon be a part of the Big East Conference, meaning that he could play at Madison Square Garden. The school's urban environment also prompted him to make the decision.[2][6] Blue Demons head coach Dave Leitao praised the new signee, saying, "Cliff is a true point guard who brings speed, athleticism, and quickness that we will need in our program."[8] Clinkscales entered college with hopes of returning to prominence in the game.[2]


On November 20, 2004, Clinkscales made his collegiate debut with the Blue Demons by scoring one point and recording two assists in 14 minutes against Bowling Green.[14] He soon became popular among DePaul basketball fans, and was nicknamed "The Colonel."[6] On December 6, Clinkscales helped DePaul defeat IUPUI with seven points and a team-high 12 assists.[15][16] The freshman commented, "The best thing I can do is pass. I really don't have to look at them (my team members). I just tell them to be ready."[17] On December 18 he put up 13 assists, along with seven points and three steals, to help beat UIC.[18][19] It was Clinkscales' first career start, as he substituted for Drake Diener.[20] In a win over Old Dominion on January 2, 2005, he replaced Sammy Mejía and scored nine points for his best scoring performance of the season.[6] Clinkscales also recorded six assists and a season-high four rebounds in the contest.[21] He closed the season averaging 2.5 points, 3.4 assists, and 0.9 rebounds in 15 minutes per game.[22] Clinkscales finished the season with an assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.31, the third-best in Conference USA and the best on his team. He also became the fifth DePaul freshman ever to break the 100-assist barrier.[23]


For Clinkscales' sophomore season, DePaul moved from Conference USA to the Big East Conference and also hired Jerry Wainwright as head coach. The team also welcomed incoming freshman, and the reigning Mr. Basketball of Michigan, Wilson Chandler.[24] Clinkscales debuted in a 60–75 loss to Bradley on November 19, 2005. He scored three points and passed for a team-high six assists but also had five turnovers.[25] Clinkscales scored a then-career-best 11 points, as well as four assists and no turnovers, on December 31 vs. FIU. He made two three-pointers and five free-throws in the game, both of which would be season highs.[26] Clinkscales came off the bench to help the team extend their two-point lead with under eight minutes left in regulation to 12 points at the end of the game.[27] On January 21, 2006, Clinkscales posted a season-best six assists in a one-point loss to Providence. Despite spending 38 minutes on the court, he only attempted four field goals.[28][29] For the season, he averaged 3.2 points, 2.5 assists, and 1.1 rebounds in 19.5 minutes per game.[22]


As a junior, Clinkscales regressed statistically.[30] He played four minutes in DePaul's season-opening loss to Bradley on November 11, 2006 but recorded no statistics.[31] On November 17, in a win against Eastern Illinois, Clinkscales finished with a season-high three steals.[32] He recorded his first point on November 20, posting two points and three assists in 13 minutes off the bench vs. Kentucky at the Maui Invitational Tournament.[33] In the following round of the event, in a victory over Chaminade, he had two steals and a season-best 13 assists.[34] Clinkscales came off the bench against Rhode Island at the Ryan Center to score six points, the most in the season, on December 16.[35] He replicated the scoring feat on December 29 vs. Northwestern State, along with nine assists.[36] His team ended up defeating their opponents by 30 points, also pushed by a 40-point performance by Sammy Mejía.[37] Following an early loss at the 2007 National Invitation Tournament (NIT), he capped the season playing 12 minutes per game and averaging 1.4 points, 2.3 assists, and 1.2 rebounds per contest.[22][30]


Heading into the following season, the Blue Demons lacked both leadership and talent at the point guard position. Clinkscales hoped to assume the role as a leader, saying, "I think that's my job. I'm going to do that, regardless 40 minutes or two minutes. I'm going to try to help the guys out, from the bench or on the court."[38] His development impressed Jerry Wainwright, who became more comfortable with giving him more playing time.[38] Clinkscales began his final season at DePaul with a 12-point loss to Creighton on November 9, 2007.[39] After playing 21 minutes off the bench, he had five points, two assists, two turnovers, and a season-high three steals.[40][41] Heading into late December, in the midst of multiple injuries to his teammates, Clinkscales began receiving increased playing time and frequently appeared in the Blue Demons' starting lineup.[38][40] On January 3, 2008, while playing a career-high 39 minutes against Villanova, he scored a season-best 12 points and added eight assists with two turnovers.[38][42] Clinkscales was effective once again in his team's January 16 rematch with Villanova, as he finished with 11 assists – the most he would record as a senior. Despite his passing efforts, the team was unable to beat the Wildcats, and lost 69–76.[43] Against Seton Hall on February 23, Clinkscales led his team with eight assists and two steals.[44] He faced Notre Dame on March 2, having eight assists, four rebounds, and one turnover.[45] As his senior season ended, he was averaging 3.0 points, 1.2 rebounds, and 4.1 assists in 25.9 minutes per game. He led NCAA Division I with an assist-to-turnover ratio of 3.62.[46]

College statistics

Cited from RealGM[1]
2004–05 DePaul 31 2 15.0 .324 .048 .680 0.4 2.4 .3 .1 8.3
2005–06 DePaul 27 10 19.5 .377 .346 .792 1.2 2.5 .3 .1 3.2
2006–07 DePaul 34 4 12.0 .450 .375 .438 1.2 2.3 .5 .0 1.4
2007–08 DePaul 30 22 25.9 .392 .333 .629 1.2 4.1 .7 .0 3.0

Professional career

2008–2009 season

On November 7, 2008, Clinkscales was selected as the seventh pick of the ninth round in the 2008 NBA Development League Draft by the Erie BayHawks.[47] Later, he officially made his professional debut with the BayHawks on November 28, adding 12 points, four rebounds, and three assists in a loss to the Fort Wayne Mad Ants.[48] On December 11, Clinkscales recorded his first double-double with ten points and a team-high 11 assists, helping his team defeat the Iowa Energy.[49] In a loss to the Sioux Falls Skyforce later in the season, he posted a career-high 13 assists.[50] Throughout his initial stint with the BayHawks, Clinkscales emerged as a reliable passer and played in nine games.[51][52] After 43 games, he averaged 7.3 points and 5.3 assists, ranking 11th in the league in the latter category.[52]

"(Jeff Trepagnier) was great. He was a professional. But there were way too may reasons not to do this. Clinkscales was a guy we liked from when we played them early in the season."[53]

Clay Moser on waiving Jeff Trepagnier and signing Clinkscales

Towards the end of the season, on March 30, 2009, Clinkscales was acquired from the player pool by the Rio Grande Valley Vipers of the D-League.[52][53] To make room for him in their roster, the Vipers had to waive veteran Jeff Trepagnier.[53] Head coach Clay Moser described Clinkscales' arrival as a boon to the team, saying, "We like Cliff's ability to get into the middle of the lane and create shots for others."[52] Clinkscales was expected to join the Vipers as the backup point guard to Jared Jordan.[52] He only played 12 minutes in his debut with the team, with zero points and three assists against the Utah Flash on April 1.[54] He capped the season with a double-double of 12 points and ten assists vs. the Austin Spurs.[55] By the end of the season, he was averaging 7.2 points, 5.3 assists, and 2.4 rebounds.[56]

2009–2010 season

Following his brief stint with the BayHawks, and subsequent signing by the Vipers, Clinkscales was eventually named on the latter's training camp roster.[57] However, on November 17, 2009, he was cut from the roster during preseason.[58] As a result, he reunited with the Erie BayHawks in mid-December.[51] In his first appearance after rejoining the Bayhawks, he recorded nine points, seven assists, and four rebounds in a loss to the Iowa Energy on December 19.[59] In another notable performance vs. Iowa Energy that month, Clinkscales scored 14 points and notched a season-best 16 assists.[60] Despite his strong passing numbers, he was criticized for being a poor jump shooter.[51] After 39 games in the season, he averaged 5.1 points, 5.1 assists, and 1.6 rebounds per game. That season, he finished six different games with ten or more assists.[61]

2013–2014 season

Clinkscales (right) drives to the rim in 2014.

After leaving the D-League, Clinkscales signed in 2013 with the Panama City Breeze of the semi-professional American Basketball League (ABL), with no indication that he joined any other team since his tenure with the BayHawks.[62][63] On February 16, 2013, he scored 12 points with two three-pointers in a loss to the Emerald Coast Knights.[64] While with the Breeze, Clinkscales (and his teammates) endured financial and domestic difficulties. He lived with five other teammates in a duplex house in Bay County, Florida. Because of financial issues, the league failed to pay the players—with Clinkscales solely receiving a check of $400—and canceled several games on its schedule. Later in the season, the players' duplex was supposedly leased by Breeze's head coach, Ty Fisher. A local broker filed a civil lawsuit against Fisher to evict the players, and county sheriff deputies soon forced them to leave the house. While living in the area, the players received aid from a local resident, Vonda Gainer, who they met at a Dollar Tree store. Gainer gave them food and washed their clothes. Despite their poor living conditions, the players failed to receive any aid by the league, with no contact or assurance from league CEO Steve Haney.[63]

In February 2014, shortly after his time with the Breeze, Clinkscales joined the Halifax Rainmen of the National Basketball League of Canada (NBL) for the remainder of the 2013–14 season.[65] In his first game for the Rainmen on February 11, he had six points, four rebounds, and nine assists against the Island Storm.[66] Clinkscales scored a season-high 22 points along with 11 assists in a playoff win over the Saint John Mill Rats on March 7.[67] In the following game vs. the Mill Rats on March 9, he set the NBL Canada postseason record with 18 assists in a single game. He finished the series with a total of 52 assists—the most in a four-game playoff series in league history. In the following round against the Storm, Clinkscales accumulated 68 assists, an NBL Canada record for a six-game series.[68] He finished the season averaging 11 points, 9.8 assists, and 3.3 rebounds.[69]

On April 20, 2014, Clinkscales represented the Atlantic Division at the NBL Canada All-Star Game in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.[70] He finished with four points, two rebounds, and a game-high 15 assists, as his team defeated the Central Division.[71]

2014–2015 season

Clinkscales with the Rainmen in 2014

On May 14, 2014, Clinkscales was announced as one of six protected players on the Rainmen roster for the upcoming season, meaning that he could not be approached by any other NBL Canada team.[72] On June 23, Clinkscales re-signed with the Rainmen for the 2014–15 season.[73] The team, which parted ways with their head coach Craig Hodges, aimed to return many of its players from the previous season.[73][74] Rainmen owner Andre Levingston commented, "We are extremely excited to have our team leader and floor general back. Our fans loved Cliff's passion for the game, and (he) is fast becoming the face of our team's organization."[74][75] On November 7, the Rainmen lost their season opener to the Moncton Miracles, 113–117, with Clinkscales accounting for nine points and eight assists.[76] He posted a double-double in a win over their follow-up with the Miracles on November 23, recording ten points and a team-high ten assists off the bench.[77] On November 29, he notched 14 points and eight assists vs. the Island Storm.[78] Flourishing as a point-guard, Clinkscales scored a season-best 16 points against the Storm on February 26, 2015.[79] In a postseason victory vs. the Miracles on March 8, he had a season-high 12 assists.[80]

The Rainmen went on to qualify for the 2015 Finals against the Windsor Express. In their Game 1 defeat, Clinkscales committed three fouls within the first 12 minutes, but still managed to score 13 points.[81][82] The series featured several physical and verbal altercations, and after it was tied at three games apiece, the Rainmen chose to forfeit the deciding seventh game. Prior to the contest, a brawl occurred between members of both sides.[83][84] The league fined Clinkscales, along with ten of his teammates, $5,000 each for poor sportsmanship on the court. They were also suspended indefinitely from the NBL Canada during the investigation.[84] Commenting on the incident, Clinkscales later explained, "We practice hard against each other, we beat each other up, but there's a difference between being physical and dirty and hurting people."[85] The league fined players, coaches, and teams a total of $90,000, and the Rainmen ultimately collapsed after facing bankruptcy.[86] Clinkscales ended the season averaging 6.6 points, 5.9 assists, and 1.4 steals per game.[87]

2015–2016 season

For the 2015–2016 season, the Rainmen reformed under new ownership as the Halifax Hurricanes.[86] Levingston remained the team's general manager. Clinkscales returned to the Halifax team, but he had to play with mostly new teammates and a new coach in Hugo López.[88] Clinkscales eventually assumed the position of team captain during the season.[89]

Clinkscales with the Hurricanes in February 2016

In the Hurricanes' regular season opener on Boxing Day 2015, Clinkscales added 13 points to help overcome the Moncton Miracles.[90] He went on to break the double-digit scoring mark on January 23, 2016, in a victory against the Island Storm, when he had ten points and a game-high seven assists.[91] On January 28, Clinkscales posted his first double-double of the season, with a season-best 18 points and ten assists in a loss to the Saint John Mill Rats. The Hurricanes were unable to rally from a 15-point fourth-quarter deficit.[92] Clinkscales had another double-double on February 14 against the Orangeville A's, recording ten points and ten assists to push Halifax to a 125–89 win. He also notched four steals, which would be a season high.[93] On March 10, playing point guard, he scored 18 points once again, along with ten assists, as the Hurricanes captured only their second win of the season, over the Mill Rats.[94][95] Two games later, on March 18, Clinkscales recorded 10 points, 16 assists, and seven rebounds—season bests for the latter two categories. His team won the game in overtime against the A's.[96][97] Halifax entered the playoffs with a league-best 29–11 record, and they eventually returned to the NBL Canada Finals.[98][99] On June 14, the Hurricanes won the championship over the London Lightning, prevailing in the series 4–3.[100] Clinkscales scored nine points and passed a team-high nine assists in the victory. His role as a leader within the squad was evidenced by his directing of the crowd at the Scotiabank Centre.[101] He remarked, "It feels great to get it with this group of guys."[101] Clinkscales finished the season averaging 6.9 points, 8.0 assists, 2.5 rebounds, and 1.4 steals per game.[102] In mid-August 2016, he announced through his Twitter account that he would not return to the Hurricanes during the 2016–17 season. He also considered beginning a coaching career.[103]

2016–2017 season

Despite his previous claims, Clinkscales re-signed with the Hurricanes for the 2016–17 season on October 18, 2016, having been persuaded to make the decision by newly hired head coach Kevin Keathley.[104] Clinkscales said, "I am very excited to be returning to Halifax. I love the city and all of our supporters. I'm ready to work hard and build a team to defend our title with Coach Keathley. Da General is back!"[105] However, Keathley was replaced by Mike Leslie by the start of the season.[106] On December 26, in his season debut, Clinkscales scored six points, grabbed five rebounds, and passed for a team-high five assists to defeat the Moncton Miracles.[107][108] He had another notable performance on January 12, 2017 vs. the Island Storm, scoring no points but recording 13 assists.[109] Clinkscales and the Hurricanes ultimately made it to the NBL Canada Finals before losing to the London Lightning in 6 games. Clinkscales was named to the All-NBL Canada Second Team at the end of the season with the league stating "Nine Hurricanes had more points than Clinkscales this season, but all can credit much of their scoring to the savvy point guard, who ranked second in NBLC with 300 assists while executing with a league-leading 4.48 assist-to-turnover rate. He had 11 double-digit assist games."[110]

Professional statistics

Cited from RealGM[1]
  GP Games played   GS  Games started  MPG  Minutes per game
 FG%  Field goal percentage  3P%  3-point field goal percentage  FT%  Free throw percentage
 RPG  Rebounds per game  APG  Assists per game  SPG  Steals per game
 BPG  Blocks per game  PPG  Points per game  Bold  Career high


2008–09 Erie BayHawks 43 9 28.6 .451 .214 .605 2.4 5.3 1.0 .2 7.3
2008–09 Rio Grande Valley Vipers 5 0 19.4 .500 .000 .000 1.8 5.0 .6 .0 6.8
2009–10 Erie BayHawks 39 14 20.9 .424 .111 .676 1.6 5.1 .5 .1 5.1
Career 87 23 24.6 .444 .174 .628 2.0 5.2 .8 .2 6.3

NBL Canada

Denotes seasons in which Clinkscales won the NBL Canada Finals
2013–14 Halifax Rainmen 18 16 43.3 .415 .250 .786 3.3 9.8 1.8 .2 11.0
2014–15 Halifax Rainmen 45 14 20.9 .433 .431 .576 2.0 5.9 1.4 .1 6.6
2015–16 Halifax Hurricanes 53 43 29.4 .422 .354 .704 2.6 8.0 1.4 .3 6.9
2016–17 Halifax Hurricanes 55 55 29.5 .392 .383 .786 2.9 8.4 1.4 .1 5.7

Personal life

Clinkscales signs an autograph after a game in 2016.

Clinkscales often plays streetball with the Sean Bell All-Stars against local teams in New York City, acting as the starting point guard. The team was named after an unarmed New York native who was shot 50 times by three police officers on November 25, 2006.[111] The Sean Bell All-Stars won the Trayvon Martin Invitational in August 2013, with a team that featured Clinkscales and Tobias Harris, in Harlem, New York. The event raised over $5,000 for the Trayvon Martin Foundation and was attended by NBA players Kyrie Irving, Tyreke Evans, and future NBA commissioner Adam Silver.[112] At the invitational, Clinkscales spoke out against police brutality, saying, "Kids everywhere are getting shot and murdered, whether it's in Jamaica, the Bronx, Chicago. It seems like it never goes right when it comes to the law, but the message to the kids is that if you go hard on the court you have to go hard in the classroom."[112] In 2015, he competed for the All-Stars at The Basketball Tournament, in a team that featured Delroy James and Zamal Nixon and was managed by Raheem Wiggins.[113] In a victory against Team No Excuses in 2015, Clinkscales scored 11 points.[114] As well as playing streetball, he coaches youth basketball in South Jamaica, Queens.[112]


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