When Ranney School captured a New Jersey sectional and conference tournament title in 2018, it turned the page on a long history of scuffling results. All that success was powered by Scottie Lewis and Bryan Antoine.
The pair joined the Panthers before the start of their prep careers, and the team’s progress has moved forward at pace. That Lewis and Antoine are successful on a national stage isn’t surprising; the pair are ranked No. 6 and No. 7 in the nation, respectively. What is more surprising is that both ended up at Ranney somewhat miraculously and at the same time.
Except the honest truth is that its possible both Lewis and Ranney were improperly incentivized to join Ranney School, as documented by this feature from NJ.com’s Matthew Stanmyre:
Lewis and family members moved into a fully renovated four-bedroom home in Hazlet that (Brian) Klatsky purchased for $296,000, according to housing records. The home was bought in December 2013, about four months after Lewis began his association with Team Rio.
Since late 2016, records show, Antoine’s family has lived in a two-bedroom condo in Tinton Falls owned by Klatsky’s parents, Alan and Maxine. The Klatskys purchased the condo for $233,000 in July 2016, according to records.
Regine Antoine, Bryan’s mother, said his family pays $1,700 per month and Shavasha Smith, Lewis’ mother, said she pays market-rate rent. Brian and Alan Klatsky agreed they are paid fair-market rent and said they also rent to other families through various entities.
According to NJ.com, the homes occupied by Lewis and Antoine are particularly suspect because they’re owned by the AAU coach for both teens, Brian Klatsky. Where matters become complicated is when the compensation for the living accommodations come into play. If the NCAA determines a major discount was provided to the families, that could be a NCAA violation.
Klatsky is considered more of a student athlete parent than a coach or official booster at Ranney, but what he provided would still run afoul of some NCAA regulations because of the interwoven nature of Ranney’s staff and players and those of Klatsky’s AAU program, Team Rio. That program is run by Klatsky alongside former Rutgers coach Mike Rice and Tahj Holden, who is Team Rio’s assistant but also the head coach at Ranney.
NJ.com interviewed a compliance expert who deemed the circumstances surrounding Lewis and Antoine to be suspicious enough to require additional investigation by the NCAA to ensure the top prospects can safely retain their amateur status.
Meanwhile, NCAA associate director of public and media relations Emily James told NJ.com that it’s impossible for the NCAA to know whether the housing arrangements reach the threshold of clear and obvious violations without a very comprehensive review.
All of which makes next year, when Lewis and Antoine will be seniors, all the more interesting. Will they stay at Ranney for their final campaign? Will the additional scrutiny on their living situations inspire the pair and their respective families to try new pastures?
Only time will tell. For now, both are too busy playing basketball — for Klatsky’s Team Rio — to focus on all the externalities and their implications.