The Experience: Jordan Brand Classic 2016
In the quest to become a top high school basketball national prospect one must endure a lot. Countless hours of practice, getting shots up, learning plays, dealing with coaches. The list goes on and on. While the formula is there for all basketball players to obtain this prestigious status, only the few that actually put in serious time and effort achieve this goal. These are the players that find their way to to the upper echolon of their basketball class. Leading their teams to state titles, dominating in AAU, and being at the top of every media outlet’s list and in every highlight video. The pinnacle being an invitation to participate in the Jordan Brand Classic. Rivaled only by the McDonald’s All-American game, this is the best of the best consisting of an International, Girls National, Regional, and Boys National games. Over the course of 4 days these players fly to New York City where they are showered with gear, practice at the exclusive Terminal 23, meet and greet with NBA/WNBA players, attend a banquet, and close out by playing in the Barclays Center, home of the Brooklyn Nets.
This year there were 2 players from the HoopState [North Carolina], Harry Giles (ESPN #1 and Duke Commit) and Edrice “BAM” Adebayo (ESPN #4 and Kentucky Commit). Although Giles went down early in the season due to knee injury, he’s let everyone know that when he’s on the court he’s a Juggernaut. This is why he is still ranked as the #1 player in the country and received an invite to the Jordan Brand Classic even though he’s unable to play. At 6’10 he’s honed his all-around skill to the point that he is lethal at the power forward position. Hot on his heels is BAM Adebayo, one of the most athletic and physically imposing power forwards in the country. After dominating the summer AAU circuit with barrages of dunks, blocks, and rebounds, then carrying that into the high school season it was inevitable that he would be invited to the Jordan Brand Classic. Also in attendance were 3 future members of the HoopState: Jayson Tatum (Duke commit), Tony Bradley (UNC commit), and Frank Jackson (Duke commit).
Throughout the course of the game day fans sprinkled in to watch some of the prelude games. When it came time for the final game that thin crowd billowed. Professional athletes under the Jordan Brand company such as, Victor Cruz (NY Giants), Carmelo Anthony (NY Knicks), Jabari Parker (Milwaukee Bucks), Victor Oladipo (Orlando Magic) came to witness the future stars. They also had celebrity radio show host DJ Envy (Power 105.1 FM) dj’ing the event. When it was time to do the player introductions, it was treated just like an official NBA game. The lights went dark, fans started screaming, spotlights were going all around the arena, cameras on cellphones started flashing, and the announcer started naming the line-up for each team. Once the line-ups were introduced fireworks shot from the backboards into the air, lighting up the arena and igniting the fans! As a high school student athlete, this is what it’s all about. In the very last game of your high school career to be acknowledged and placed on such a forum that gives you just a taste of things to come if you stay on the path that got you here.
The game fulfilled all expectations and then some. It may have, in name, been an all-star game, but it was clear to see that the players didn’t intend to play for fun. From the tip-off they came out aggressive and playing tough defense. So aggressive that two players left the game with injuries (Alterique Gilbert – shoulder; Frank Jackson – mild concussion). Overall, the game still had its fair share of exciting plays and highlights, including HoopState’s own Edrice Adeybayo’s breakaway windmill! As the game concluded it was the East prevailing over the West with a score of 131-117. It would seem Kentucky was the ultimate winner out of all of this as the two selected MVPs were UK commits – De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk.
To play your final high school game on a stage like the Jordan Brand Classic is nothing short of a dream come true for these players. Having all the hard work and dedication recognized then given such a platform to put your talent and skills on display one last time – AMAZING! I can’t help but be extra proud to live in NC as I watched kids from the HoopState representing at this prestigious event. Definitely looking forward to seeing more home state stars reinforcing the name in the future!