Three “cats” will participate in BIG EAST’s “Freshmen Fundamentals”
NEW YORK – (September 7, 2022) — The BIG EAST Conference will host its eighth annual Freshmen Fundamentals men’s basketball program on September 10-11 in New York City.
Freshmen Fundamentals helps transition from high school to college and into the elite level of BIG EAST basketball. All scholarship and walk-in men’s basketball freshmen from all 11 league schools are invited to attend. Twenty-eight freshmen will participate in this year’s program.
The league’s basketball student-athletes will hear from leading experts in relationship management and safety, student-athlete mental health, media training, and preparing for a professional career that doesn’t include basketball.
Freshmen Fundamentals returns to an in-person event after two years of presenting remotely due to COVID-19. The program is hosted by Stu Jackson, BIG EAST Associate Executive Commissioner for Men’s Basketball,
“We are very excited to be able to bring the Freshmen Fundamentals program back to an in-person event,” Jackson said. “Our new first-year players will encounter many new challenges on and off the court as top athletes at the BIG EAST conference. Our panelists and presenters for this year’s program will address relevant topics and lead important discussions. Freshmen Fundamentals helps support our institutions’ ongoing efforts to equip our first-year student-athletes with information and practices they can use while in college and throughout their lives. our eighth year with the program, which is a testament to our men’s basketball programs’ commitment to developing the complete student-athlete.”
Saturday’s schedule begins with Jackson’s keynote followed by a presentation by the NBA’s Chrysa Chin, NBPA’s head of player engagement. Chin leads innovative initiatives and programs for players designed to foster business relationships. She has had a distinguished career supporting the personal and professional development of basketball players. Chin has also worked with USA Basketball.
Dr. Alfiee M. Breland-Noble (aka Dr. Alfiee), a sought-after speaker, media personality, researcher and consultant, is a thought leader in her field. She focuses on mental health and suicide prevention for youth and young adults of color. Dr. Alfiee is an expert in adolescent, young adult and family mental health. She appears and collaborates with major media outlets including CNN, MSNBC/Peacock, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and the national Breakfast Club show and dozens more. Dr. Alfiee is a licensed psychologist and clinical researcher and is nationally recognized as a gifted scientist, speaker and author. She is the founder of the AAKOMA Project, a thriving nonprofit organization led by a woman of color in the field of mental health.
A panel of BIG EAST alumni will once again be moderated by Tarik Turner, a notable St. John’s guard from 1995-1998 who enjoyed a successful business career in finance with major New York investment firms. He is also an analyst for BIG EAST games on FOX Sports, the league’s television partner.
Turner will lead a discussion on professional careers after graduation. The panel of former players includes Emeka Okafor of Connecticut, Marcus Zegarowski of Creighton and David Duke of Providence. The trio will talk about their experiences as student-athletes at the BIG EAST conference. Okafor led UConn to the national championship in 2004, earned All-America academic honors and enjoyed a 10-year career in the NBA. Zegarowski and Duke were All-BIG EAST performers who entered professional basketball in 2021. Both are with the Brooklyn Nets.
Kalimah Johnson, founder and executive director of Sexual Assault Services for Holistic Healing and Awareness (SASHA) in Detroit, Michigan, returns to address the group on relationship management and safety. She has worked in the area of sexual assault and domestic violence for over 20 years with the Michigan Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, Detroit Police Department, and Serenity Services. Johnson graduated from the School of Social Work at Wayne State University with a master’s degree specializing in mental health and community organizing. She has provided advice and guidance to professional athletes, working with the NBA, NFL, NHL and NCAA.
At the end of Saturday’s sessions, players will visit the Jackie Robinson Museum in lower Manhattan.
Sunday’s program will begin with remarks from BIG EAST Commissioner Val Ackerman.
Following Ackerman’s comments, members of the BIG EAST Digital Network team will present a media training session. The digital team includes broadcaster John Fanta, producer Bobby Mullen and director Ben Piascik. They will inform players of the extent of media coverage BIG EAST basketball receives and some recommendations on how to conduct interviews.
After the media training session, players will head to Madison Square Garden, home of the BIG EAST tournament since 1983, for a tour of the building.
The GREAT EAST:
The BIG EAST Conference is an association of 11 nationally leading colleges and universities that promote healthy athletic competition, community service, and the pursuit of excellence in academia. BIG EAST institutions’ sports programs provide national-calibre participation opportunities for more than 4,100 student-athletes on more than 200 men’s and women’s teams in 22 sports. Founded in 1979 and based in New York, BIG EAST members are located in eight of the nation’s 37 largest media markets and include Butler University, University of Connecticut, Creighton University, DePaul University, Georgetown University, Marquette University, Providence College, St. John’s University, Seton Hall University, Villanova University, and Xavier University. For more information, visit www.bigeast.com.