Malik Waynes, whose football career has taken him from West Oak Lane to the 76ers, is expected to be named coach of boys’ basketball at Camden High where he will take on a solid program currently under investigation by the state’s high school sports governing body. .
Camden finished last season 31-3 en route to the New Jersey Group 2 title and finished second in the Champions League behind a team of Division I recruits led by third-generation Camden star DJ Wagner and coached by Rick Brunson, Temple and the former NBA player who left at the time. Ex this month to become an assistant at the New York Knicks.
And now the NJSIAA is trying to determine whether Camden broke any rules last season after an NJ.com report this week said the Panthers used a loophole to stack their public school team roster with star players who don’t live in the area.
Waynes, who coaches Camden this summer and has coached the Al Ain University team associated with the high school program, is linked to replace Bronson and must be approved by the school board next month to take over the star-studded team.
The 31-year-old returned last October to Villanova – where he played three seasons after McDonald’s was first American in Roman Catholicism – as an assistant under Jay Wright while earning his degree.
NJSIAA said it is studying the program and has asked the school to cooperate with the investigation. Some rival teams from Camden are upset while the Panthers think the story is just another attack against their school.
According to the NJ.com story, five of Camden’s top six scorers did not live in Camden and attended magnet schools that allowed them to play with the Panthers. The report said that basketball players are the only students from outside the region enrolled in Magnet schools.
Two of the team’s stars were 70 miles north of Camden, and one of them lived in a house owned by Wagner’s father, a former Camden star and NBA lottery pick. According to the report, the average cost of educating a student at magnet schools that basketball players attend is $22,348, but the district has charged players only $1,500 annually.
The Panthers have played schedule against some of the best teams in the country and played matches on national television with Wagner – considered one of the top players in the 2023 class – as a must-see attraction. Bronson, father of former Villanova star Jalen Bronson, spent three seasons as the team’s coach.
Waynes spent most of his career in Europe, but played 21 games for his hometown 76ers in 2012-13. He listed his role on Villanova’s staff as “student athletic development” and he did a little bit of everything, even helping carry bags off the team bus.
Waynes said in the Final Four that his crew at Wright made him sure he wanted to train because it had “become a love and a passion for me”.
“Every now and then, I’ll say to our guys, ‘This guy played in the NBA. See his humility. “Look what he’s doing for our team,” Wright said in the Final Four.
Sam Cohen contributed to this story