Bedford Academy is an academic school which happens to carry a torch proudly for its basketball team.
Report Card Day is as pivotal as tournament championships. It's as anticipated as marquee matchups against cross-city rivals.
You won't be launching a jumper or dicing anyone off the dribble or raining a 3-pointer if you don't sustain at least an 80 average. Anything less is considered sub-par.
It doesn't matter if a Division-I prospect walks into the door, dripping with the potential to drop 25 and tear down 11 boards every night. It will never work unless that GPA is hiked up.
Crack a 78 or a 79 grade point average, you won't even smell the court or find a roster spot. The respect must be earned through high-character actions, accountability on and off the floor.
That's been the objective since the inception of the program. It's a special brand of STUDENT-athlete Bedford tends to breed, with Ivy and Patriot schools often on the prowl.
That's the identity of this program. They understand they aren't in the same arena or league as the city's upper-tier squads.
Bedford will never float into the same rarified air as perennial breeding grounds such as Lincoln, Bishop Loughlin, Christ The King.
Yet as recent history would indicate, Bedford always winds up with a berth in the PSAL 'A' title game. The team concept is burned inside their brains, with open gyms and skill development camps alive and well throughout the summer.
Under Rob Phelps, the 6-foot-5 guard who shattered many a scoring records at Nazareth during NYC's unrivaled early 90s golden ages, a 12-month program has been installed.
While a roster spot on the Michael Finley and Shawn Bradley-led Mavericks of the mid-1990s didn't pan out, Phelps refused to let the ball deflate on him.
Following a career at Providence, Phelps would prolong his career and lifetime status as a 3-point marksmen over the waters.
Now, he's helped created a team-over-everything style atmosphere that emphasizes staying together over the summer. AAU isn't exactly encouraged.
Applying fierce, blanketing defense that folds up the passing lanes and renders it an ugly game for the opponent is.
Hitting the boards, boxing out and scrapping for 50-50 balls is about as instrumental as breathing.
Of course, Bedford Academy's glasswork mirrors their classwork.
While his shooting hand helped lead Providence to a berth in the 1994 NCAA tournament, where the Friars suffered a tight 76-70 loss to Alabama, Phelps is now Bedford's dean.
Outspoken about how much he detests AAU, Phelps cites selfishness and the lack of structure of the circuit as his primary beefs. He implores his players to stay together. He speaks fervently about near-exploitation in AAU, which he fears is becoming more of a business with less purified basketball. He often tells his team that the best way to get noticed is during the season.
The pre-season runs will take place each weekend, a prelude to the season. Bedford will encounter familiar foes, including top local blood rival Brooklyn Law & Tech.
Team camps, weight room workouts, and events of this type have helped Phelps defy the AAU scene. Ultimately, the goal is to get better and familiarize everyone. The environment won't be cutthroat, albeit the competitive juices will certainly be renewed.
Now, he'll open Bedford's gym doors to a once-a-week slate of scrimmages.
12pm Bedford Academy vs Queens HS of Teaching
1pm Boys & Girls vs Evander
2pm Benjamin Banneker vs Summit HS
3pm Robeson vs BK Law&Tech
12pm Bedford Academy vs Boys & Girls
1pm Metro BDA vs Queens HS of Teaching
2pm Robeson vs Summit HS
3pm Banneker vs BK Law & Tech
12pm Bedford Academy vs Metro BDA
1pm Queens HS of Teaching vs Robeson
2pm Summit vs Law&Tech
3pm Banneker vs Metro BDA