High school notebook: Lincoln Park basketball transfer ruled ineligible for 1 year

| Thursday, April 24, 2014, 8:21 a.m.

Lincoln Park's basketball coaches weren't overly surprised when transfer Nick Aloi was declared ineligible by the WPIAL on Thursday. But they were shocked by what they considered extra-harsh punishment.

When the WPIAL Board of Control declared Aloi ineligible for one year, its members could have made the penalty retroactive to his January transfer date. Instead, the board used Wednesday's hearing as the start date, forcing the sophomore to miss his entire junior season.

“I think it's more than just about the kid, I think it's about charter schools,” said Lincoln Park's Mike Bariski, athletic director and assistant coach at the Midland charter school. “It's a shame that Nick has become a target.”

Aloi will ask the PIAA to overturn the WPIAL's decision.

He and his parents testified that his transfer from Ellwood City was for academic reasons; both parents are doctors and Lincoln Park would better prepare Aloi for medical school. Ellwood City insisted that the move was made with athletic intent, an argument the WPIAL accepted.

“The board voted unanimously — 16-0 — to deny eligibility in the sport of basketball for one year from the date of the hearing,” WPIAL executive director Tim O'Malley said, “because they felt that the transfer was motivated at least in part by an athletic purpose related to basketball.”

The guard averaged 15 points as a freshman at Ellwood City, where his grandfather is superintendent. Aloi missed his entire sophomore season after ACL surgery.

“Ellwood City Principal (Kirk) Lape did a masterful job of demonstrating for the board that there were some issues from their perspective that related to basketball,” O'Malley said, “... and then he went on to tout the academic abilities of the high school.”

Attorney Craig Lee, who represents the Alois, said they have additional evidence they believe will show inaccuracies in Lape's testimony that Aloi's father was unhappy with Ellwood's basketball program.

Lincoln Park has won similar PIAA appeals involving other basketball players in recent years, with Monessen native Elijah Minnie among them. But with Lincoln Park winning the Class A state title this season and PIAA executive director Bob Lombardi promoting legislation that would limit charter school athletics, the landscape maybe has changed.

“We've never entered the arena with the PIAA on a tour across the state suggesting that charter school kids go back and play at their home school district,” Bariski said. “I know that we will get a fair shake, because Dr. Lombardi is a fair guy. But that doesn't bode well for us.”

Jam Fest this weekend

A Pitt basketball recruit will be playing in Pittsburgh this weekend, as West Haven (Conn.) Sacred Heart sophomore Mustapha Heron is one of 3,200 AAU players participating in the Under Armour Hoop Group Pittsburgh Jam Fest.

Heron, a Class of 2016 recruit, will play for Harlem (N.Y.) New Heights. The Jam Fest will have five different age groups playing from Friday to Sunday at 18 Western Pennsylvania schools, with North Hills High School serving as tournament headquarters.

The event also will serve as a showcase for the nation's No. 1 sophomore, Josh Jackson of Southfield, Mich., as well as the No. 3 junior, 6-foot-10 center Diamond Stone of Milwaukee, during the only live recruiting period for college coaches this spring.

“This is an event that brings over 300 travel teams in grassroots basketball to the city of Pittsburgh,” said Mike Rice, the former Robert Morris and Rutgers coach who is vice president of the Hoop Group. “We have teams from 23 different states and some of the best talent in the country coming together.”

Luther commits to Elon

Hampton senior Collin Luther, who teamed with twin brother Ryan to reach three consecutive WPIAL championship games, committed to Elon. Coaches from the NCAA Division I Southern Conference school in North Carolina liked the versatility of the 6-7 guard/forward, said Hampton coach Joe Lafko.

“With his size, he could fill a number of positions for them,” Lafko said.

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