Leading off today:
A good story gone bad may just yet end up with a happy ending.
Just over eight years ago, Theodore Todd Jones IV -- aka "Mookie" -- helped Peekskill blow through the field to win a NYSPHSAA boys Class A basketball championship, collecting state player of the year honors for himself along the way.
With dozens of college offers to choose from, Jones signed with Syracuse and embarked upon a journey that seemed destined to culminate in a decade-long pro career and unimaginable riches.
Somehow, the pieces never came together. Problems on and off the court (including injury) kept the smooth-shooting swingman from realizing his potential with the Orange. By the time his eligibility expired, Jones had played just 322 minutes in 46 games -- all as a reserve -- and scored a meager 202 points.
Adding insult to injury, he was banished from school in a disciplinary matter nearly two semesters short of a degree.
Reporter Donna Ditota told the rest of Jones' story on Syracuse.com, and it wasn't pretty -- evicted from his apartment, forced to apply for food stamps and living a semi-nomadic life of menial jobs in Syracuse while pleading with university administrators for one more chance to return to the classroom even after his basketball eligibility expired.
This difficult chapter in the young man's life presumably ends today. Given his chance to return to SU, Jones enrolled in January 2014 to begin knocking off his final 25 credits. He will cross the stage today to receive a bachelor's degree in child and family studies.
"I think people have a perception about him based on how he exited the university," SU associate director of student-athlete development Joe Fields said. "But he has been unbelievable on his journey to getting his degree and attaining a new level of maturity. I'm very proud of him and what he's accomplished."
Said coach Jim Boeheim: "Obviously, the kid messed up to some degree. But he was treated very harshly by the system, he got a very tough punishment. And to be able to come back and get back into school is hard to do. To keep going is hard to do. He's overcome a lot. To finish his degree is a great story."
Track highlights: Mount Vernon senior Rai Benjamin, edged at the tape Friday in the 100-meter final of the Loucks Games, cruised to the 400 title in :46.67, then won the 400 hurdles in :51.71 Saturday to register the No. 2 times ever at the meet. The top hurdle time (:51.40) still belongs to Derrick Adkins, the Olympic champion who presented Benjamin's trophy to him.
With Benjamin scoring all its points, Mount Vernon edged Newburgh 28-27 for the boys championship. Rush-Henrietta (46 points) took the girls title on the strength of two Section 5 seconds by Sammy Watson. She clocked 2:08.73 in the 800, a record :53.59 in the 400 and combined with Ceara Watson, Rene Thomas and Tori Thompson for a 3:47.65 showing in the 1,600 relay that erased a mark set by Rochester East in 1986.