Josh Verlin's passion for college basketball spawned City of Brotherly Love's go-to amateur hoops hub
Founder, owner, editor, writer, photographer.
Raised in the Philadelphia suburb of Penn Valley, Josh Verlin grew up loving the Phillies, Eagles, Sixers and Flyers and participated in a variety of activities as a child - except basketball. He lost interest in the sport after playing one disastrous season when he was 9 years old, but discovered a passion for college hoops after enrolling at the University of Pittsburgh in 2007. He returned to the City of Brotherly Love two years later, transferring to Temple University to study journalism - a program Pitt didn’t offer. His senior year, Verlin landed a job exclusively covering basketball for a local website, but after a year of playing by someone else’s rules, he decided enough was enough. “I got frustrated to the point where I said, ‘Screw it. I’m doing my own thing.’” So on June 2, 2012 - just one day after quitting and weeks after graduating - Verlin and fellow journalist Andy Edwards launched City of Basketball Love. Verlin's goal was to do what the other site didn’t: provide expanded coverage of college and high school basketball teams in Philly, southern New Jersey and northern Delaware and use technology and social media to engage fans.
The 26-year-old Verlin leads a team of 20 mostly unpaid writers, whom he credits for the site’s success, that produces an impressive amount of content. The staff, which includes a core group of 14-18 writers who contribute on an every-other-week basis, post 12-15 stories per day during the season and two to three per day in the offseason. The site’s focus is on the area’s 10 NCAA Division I men’s basketball programs. Each team is spotlighted with its own page and receives regular coverage. High school basketball also gets plenty of exposure, with writers covering most of the notable games and players. Stories are organized by conference or location, rather than by school. Verlin estimates his team keeps tabs on more than 100 programs and has written more than 3,000 stories since the website started. CoBL debuted on the Sport Ngin platform in April following two years using a different and less integrated website tool. Verlin said the move allowed him to expand the recruiting section, upgrade the site’s player profiles and streamline the process of updating information. By clicking the “Recruiting” link in the navigation bar, visitors can easily access and sort a wealth of information including a player’s name, position, high school, recruitment year and Amateur Athletic Union team, as well as colleges offers and commitments.
City of Basketball Love has more than 160 player profiles, which are easy to find with the help of a Call to Action element in the middle of the homepage. Each player is featured on a neatly designed page with a photo, CoBL’s scouting report and links to any pertinent news items - an improvement over the text-based profiles on the old website. “We can very easily show how many offers the kid has, sort by date, school, and you can go to Temple’s page and see here are all the kids Temple has offered,” he said. “It’s all interconnected . . . we had none of that before.”