Often times on the blog I mention John Jay High School down on seventh avenue.

I tried being a student there three different times; that has to be a record, right? As you know, it never worked out.

I also mention many of the basketball players from our neighborhood that suited up for the Indians.  We also had a ton of kids from the neighborhood attend school there.  Remember the freshmen and sophomores went from twelve non to five and the juniors and seniors went in the morning.  Cool system, right?

Guys like John Corrar, Patty Byrnes (best rebounder I have ever seen in the Summer League) and my guy Jackie Ryan.  Did you know Jimmy Fallon’s cousin Kevin played for Jay? He was a heck of a player too.

Don Smith

One afternoon while chatting with my friend Carl he mentioned that John Jay produced an NBA player; his name used to be Donald Smith.  Now I know Joe Pepitone went there but I don’t ever recall an NBA player coming through.

I was like, “huh”?

Donald Smith played for John Jay before he went on to Iowa State to play his college ball and then had a ten-year career (1968-1978) in the NBA playing for seven different clubs.  Played for Houston and Seattle twice.

Smith changed his name to Zaid Abdul-Aziz during his NBA days.

Zaid Abdul-Aziz

I’m not sure which neighborhood he lived in as a kid.  Anyone remember?



This entry was posted in Blog, John Jay, Zaid Abdul-Aziz and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. I just looked him up here is some info..In 2006, Zaid Abdul-Aziz published a memoir, Darkness to Sunlight, which tells the stories of his basketball career, personal challenges and spiritual journey. Abdul-Aziz is now a drug and alcohol counselor in Seattle. , hope it helps!

  2. Glenn Thomas says:

    Corrar always raved about a guy he played with at Jay. I think his name was something like Todd Follins. Does that ring a bell? They used to get killed by Fort Hamilton and Albert King but Follins always had 30.

  3. Willy Wickham says:

    I went to John Jay the same years he did but don’t recall ever hearing the name. Which is not surprising as I only attended one sporting event there and that was a football game with Boys High at their field. I usually just bought the ticket if the game was on a school day and could then legally cut the afternoon periods. For some reason I went to that game with a bottle of Gallo. John Jay lost 14 to 2 and we had to endure the further indignity of being chased out of the field all the way to the subway by hundreds of people of color. I don’t think they wanted to catch us. They just wanted us out of there.

    Harry Nespoli, the president of the Uniformed Sanitation Workers and Chairman of the Municipal Labor Committee, was a star at John Jay football and played college football somewhere. He graduated the year I entered John Jay. I remember the school paper lamenting the loss of Harry’s talents on the gridiron.

    • hoopscoach says:


      Did John Boyle coach Jay’s football team at that time?

      • Willy Wickham says:

        Boyle was there then but I’m not sure if he was head coach or what he did. Riccio was always the biggest booster of the football team, always hawking game tickets and making one feel very bad for not buying one, but I’m not sure how involved Riccio was with the team’s play.
        The ones I remember from that phys ed department were Boyle, Riccio, McNamarra, Altman and Carbonaro.

      • hoopscoach says:


        I remember as a little boy, Boyle giving me a pack of white tube socks when I was down in Timboo’s.

        Also, Carbonaro was there a loooooong time. On my third and final attempt in Jay he gave a few words of encouragement but I never listened.

        Enjoy the weekend my friend.


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