Longtime former Rockford AAU basketball coach Anthony "Doc" Cornell moved to Detroit in 2015, but his sports focus remains on Rockford.
His Rock River Valley Sports Talk page on Facebook may be the city’s premier basketball conversation spot. And now he has started regular Facebook Live chats focusing on Rockford sports.
"It was going to be once or twice a week; since we were locked up, I’ve been doing it almost every night," said Cornell, whose guests Sunday night were Rockford’s greatest basketball player, Toronto Raptors point guard Fred VanVleet, and Dana Ford, the assistant coach who recruited VanVleet to Wichita State.
Cornell’s show can be long and rambling, but it can also be more revealing than most interviews. Cornell personally knows the people he is talking to. For instance, he coached VanVleet for five summers of AAU basketball and shared long car trips with Fred and his teammates.
"With him, we can always be real with each other," Cornell said. "That’s just us talking, reminiscing."
And giving each other a hard time. The ribbing Sunday included Ford, who said all of Cornell’s AAU coaching triumphs were due to VanVleet.
"You can’t coach," Ford said Sunday. "Anybody who can make you win is a hell of a player."
"I say that all the time," Cornell replied.
One of the best behind-the-scenes stories Sunday was about a five-hour car trip to Minneapolis for one of Pryme Tyme’s greatest victories.
"We had an SUV," Cornell said. "We thought we were getting a three-seater; we ended up getting a two-seater Envoy. We didn’t have room for the six of us. Fred said he was not sitting in the middle, so he got more comfortable riding all the way in the back of the trunk with the luggage and the basketballs."
"It was cool," VanVleet said. "That was actually a good trip, because it was someone else’s car. It wasn’t your car, that red Intrepid. But other teams are flying in and staying in five-star hotels and you are driving five hours with your best player in the trunk."
Cornell has several more NIC-10 basketball-related shows lined up. Scheduled guests include Tony Fletcher and Johnny Rucker from Guilford’s 1993 state runner-up team, former Jefferson star Richard Carter, and former Auburn stars Trayvon Tyler and and Yahmir Muhammad.
Matt Trowbridge: firstname.lastname@example.org; @matttrowbridge