Basketball by the Book: A Riverfront Times Investigation

The Vashon High School Wolverines have won five state titles in the past eight years. But did they play by the rules?

According to district documents, Doss lived in a house on the 3200 block of Palm Place, right next door to longtime St. Louis alderman Freeman Bosley Sr.

But a recent knock on that door and a request to speak with "Alburey" elicited a "Who?" from homeowner Mattie Johnson. Johnson, who says she's a friend of Doss' grandmother, says she has lived in the house on Palm Place for 39 years. Doss, she says, stays with her "sometimes, but not usually."

Most of the time, Johnson explains, Doss lives with his mother and grandparents. They reside on Jordan Street in the small municipality of Northwoods, just south of Interstate 70 — the same address listed on Doss' Missouri driver's license record.

Vashon High School's new, $40 million campus opened 
at the start of the 2002-'03 academic year. The gym 
floor bears the name "Irons' Court," in honor of its 
longtime coach.
Jennifer Silverberg
Vashon High School's new, $40 million campus opened at the start of the 2002-'03 academic year. The gym floor bears the name "Irons' Court," in honor of its longtime coach.
Floyd Irons, whose 31-year reign as Vashon's head 
basketball coach ended abruptly this past summer, says he 
knows nothing about whether his former players' living 
arrangements violated state bylaws for athletic eligibility.
Jennifer Silverberg
Floyd Irons, whose 31-year reign as Vashon's head basketball coach ended abruptly this past summer, says he knows nothing about whether his former players' living arrangements violated state bylaws for athletic eligibility.

"Just because I live place-to-place from time to time, that still doesn't mean I live only in the county: It just so happens I stay as much in the county as I do in the city," Doss tells Riverfront Times when reached by phone. He declined to comment further.

Like Doss, junior Derron Hobbs is expected to start for Vashon this season. SLPS data indicate that Hobbs attended "private/parochial" schools before enrolling as a freshman at Vashon in 2004. Hobbs appeared in 15 games that year and 24 games the next.

Last month his aunt, Khalita Hobbs, came to the door of the Destrehan Street home he listed with the district and asked if he was expecting a visit from Riverfront Times. "If you have a card, I could give him your number and he could arrange a time to meet you here," Khalita Hobbs said.

A visit ten minutes later to the North Kingshighway address Derron Hobbs supplied to the Missouri Department of Revenue when he got his driver's license turns up his younger sister and older brother. The latter, Demond Hobbs, confirms that the family lives in the North Kingshighway residence, located just north of I-70 — within the city limits but far from Vashon's northern boundary.

"I would call [Derron] for you," Hobbs offers, "but he left his cell phone sitting here at home today."

Derron Hobbs did not respond to RFT's request for an interview.

Two other students on last year's roster, current senior Donald Davis Jr. and sophomore Justin Keener, were nowhere to be found at the University and Phipps Street addresses, respectively, that they supplied to the school district. Neighbors at both addresses tell Riverfront Times they don't know the players.

At the San Rafael Apartments in Charlack, neighbors familiar with Donald Davis point to the unit they say he shares with his mother. Neither could be reached for comment.

As for Justin Keener, McCluer South-Berkeley High School football coach Howard Brown says the student, known as "Flash," played football for Berkeley the first semester of his freshman year before transferring to Vashon for second semester.

Keener and his family could not be located for comment.

Address discrepancies are far from a new wrinkle at Vashon.

In 2004-'05, senior Joseph Pembleton appeared in twenty games and listed an address within Vashon's attendance area on St. Louis Avenue, just as he had ever since enrolling and joining the basketball team as a sophomore. (Pembleton spent his freshman year at Career Academy, a neighborhood school.)

At that address, located above Fleetwood & Sons Lounge in the St. Louis Place neighborhood, Eddie Nash answers Riverfront Times' knock and says he owns the apartment he has called home for the past eight years.

Has anyone else been living there?

"Just my fiancée," says Nash.

"It's honestly amazing," the MSHSAA's Stacy Schroeder comments when told of the address discrepancies. "It sounds like there's no way [Vashon or the SLPS] were confirming things or checking anything."

It's not likely anyone checked James Washington's listed address. Washington enrolled at Vashon as a freshman in the fall of 2002 after attending public schools in St. Louis County from fifth through eighth grade as part of the school system's voluntary desegregation program. (Established in 1982, that agreement ended a long-standing lawsuit by allowing African-American students in the city to transfer to predominantly white schools in the county, while white students from the county could transfer into the city's magnet schools.) Washington's great-uncle, Malcolm Bailey Sr., says Washington spent his high-school years under his roof in the 1500 block of North 17th Street — an address that's inside Vashon's neighborhood borders. But Washington's parents resided on Lincoln Avenue, a block and a half outside the school's western boundary. According to MSHSAA bylaws, Washington, who saw action every year from '02 through '05, was ineligible from the get-go.

Cornelius "Cornbread" Walker (who joined the Vashon squad as a freshman in 2004) and Michael Ellis (who debuted last year as a junior) appear to have committed similar fouls. Both players live with Walker's aunt, Mildred Walker, in the 3700 block of St. Ferdinand Place, not far from Vashon. Mildred Walker tells Riverfront Times that Cornbread's mother, who has heart problems, lives on the south side, where Cornbread attended Long Middle CEC School. Walker says she doesn't know where Ellis' parents reside.

She says the family took Ellis in. "Cornbread liked him," she explains. "He got a few problems; he not always 'there' mentally. But that boy can play ball."

« Previous Page
 |
 
1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 
5
 
6
 
7
 
All
 
Next Page »
 
My Voice Nation Help
0 comments
 
St. Louis Concert Tickets

Around The Web

Loading...