An era has ended.
Tom Konchalski’s High School Basketball Insider (HSBI) Report is no more. The legendary scout, who has evaluated college basketball prospects for more than four decades, is calling it quits at the age of 73, announcing that decision in the last edition of his by-mail-only pamphlet.
“When I was growing up, it was the golden age of New York City basketball,” he told The Post in a phone interview. “My first hardwood hero was Connie Hawkins. He palmed rebounds out of the air, not cupped them.
“I love the game of basketball and I love the people in the game of basketball, the players and the coaches,” Konchalski added. “You read about the bad guys, but I think there are so many more of the good guys.”
As word spread of his retirement, social media became ablaze with testimonials to his significance, and former players and coaches — from Villanova’s Jay Wright to Michigan assistant Phil Martelli to ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla — offered fond memories of their interactions with him.
“It obviously makes me feel good,” he said. “My point in doing it is to try to help people, primarily the kids who are the more vulnerable in the equation, and the coaches are my subscribers and my friends.”
A Forest Hills native who attended Archbishop Molloy High School in Queens, Konchalski is retiring in part due to a health condition he declined to reveal that has slowed him down in recent years. He still plans to attend games next season, but his scouting days appear finished.
Konchalski wasn’t a very good basketball player growing up. He called himself a “junkie,” but he loved the sport and went into scouting after initially going into teaching. He learned the game from Harold Garfinkel, the founder of the Five-Star Basketball Camp who died in 2016, and legendary Molloy coach Jack Curran. In 1984, he took over the HSBI Report from Garfinkel. It was mailed to hundreds of subscribers, all of them college coaches, 16 times a year and offered annual evaluations of hundreds of players from up and down the East Coast.
A throwback, Konchalski never owned a cell phone or a computer. He took public transportation everywhere — he never drove — and wrote the report on a typewriter every three weeks. He would sit high atop the bleachers writing copious notes on a legal pad and greet everyone — fan, reporter, coach, player — with a stiff handshake, direct eye contact and a smile. He was known for his catchphrases, from “he’s a mountain masquerading as a man” to “he scores like we breathe,” and ability to unearth diamonds in the rough. He knew every player, from the big stars to the Division III prospects. The HSBI Report’s motto was, “Others tell you where they’ve been. We tell you where they’re going!”
“It’s the relationships with the kids and the relationships with the coaches [I’ll miss],” Konchalski said. “To the extent my health allows me to, I want to stay around the game. So I’m going to hopefully be going to games.”
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