Photo courtesy of Visions by Jeff/Jeffrey Armstrong
By David Cordova
As the summer starts and more players are about to go to camps and AAU Live Period sessions, the beginning of June is the time to showcase players in all-star level events in which they get to freely show off their skills in front of plenty of fans and coaches. But there are two events that took place over the weekend that showcased plenty of talent, whether high-major or underrated.
Frankie Williams Charity Classic
When people think of basketball in New York, they automatically think of the five boroughs. But Westchester County definitely has some talent and definitely some big-time programs. And for many years, there was a major tournament in Port Chester called the CYP, in which the best talent from all of lower New York played in for 69 years before the tournament came to an end in 2015.
But there’s one signature event in Westchester, and that is the Frankie Williams Charity Classic. The event, which is run by Team Frenji, a program based out of Greenburgh, New York and the Aces in Action Foundation, as a fundraiser to raise money for the fight against cancer. It was also named after Frankie Williams, a mentor to many in the community of Greenburgh, who passed away in 2007.
The event, which in its eighth year of existence, took place on Thursday, June 1st at Archbishop Stepinac High School in White Plains, New York. In the past this event has boasted some NBA players such as Lance Stephenson (Indiana Pacers), Sean Kilpatrick (Brooklyn Nets), Chris McCullough (Washington Wizards), Hassan Whiteside (Miami Heat), Maurice Harkless (Portland Trailblazers), Isaiah Whitehead (Brooklyn Nets) and Kemba Walker (Charlotte Hornets).
This year’s event included a girls game for the first time, which included Selena Philoxy out of South Shore in Brooklyn who will be suiting up for Seton Hall next season and Mosnignor Scanlan guard Chanell “Lil Bit” Williams, who is headed to Providence. Philoxy won the MVP award and Williams took home the Sportsmanship award.
When the girls game was over, it was time for the main event, the boys game. The crowd at Stepinac was filled with roaring fans screamed at the oohs and ahhs of the players’ moves. But the presence of DJ Authorize on the turntables and famed emcee Joe Pope on the microphone.
In the boys game, there were plenty of high-level talents from the city, such as Minnesota-bound Isaiah Washington of St. Raymond, Jalen Nesmith of the CHSAA champion Cardinal Hayes, five-star prospect Cole Anthony of Archbishop Molloy and Monsignor Scanlan guard Jalen Lecque. There were even players from New Jersey such as Jawaun Daniels from Teaneck High School, Jordan Walker of the Patrick School.
The game in question showed a lot of great plays and a lot of excitement. But in the end, when all was said and done, Anthony and Walker walked away with the sportsmanship awards, respectively. The Frankie Williams Charity Classic continues to be a marquee event with each and every year that passes. As it continues to grow bigger, expect for more and more top-flight talent to come through.
Mandy’s Mark Classic
A new event, the Mandy’s Mark Classic, which is in its first year of existence took place on Saturday, June 3rd, at Long Island Lutheran High School, which was located in the Brookville suburb of Long Island.
The event was named after Amanda Kuck, who passed away at the age of five, on June 6th, 2015, of a condition of DIPG (Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma), which is an aggressive brain tumor, one in which 200 to 400 people in the United States are diagnosed with per year.
The two boys and girls games featured plenty of the New York area’s finest players. But the boys games featured Nesmith, Walker and also LuHi’s Chris Coalman, bound for Robert Morris University in the fall and Essam Mostafa, a sophomore. There were also other underrated prospects such as St. Peter’s junior Chris Ledlum and Elmont junior K.C. Ndefo.
There were plenty of great highlights for a great cause as there were players that attacked the basket and made highlight-reel plays, including the jelly. For the second time, Walker ended up as the MVP of the event.
The great thing about these charity events are the fact that they are events for the crowds to enjoy. But being that they are played in memory of a significant person and for a special cause make it even better, since they are playing with honor and pride. But most of all, it’s all about having fun and having a great time, which is what these youth have accomplished in both games throughout the weekend.