Photo courtesy of Dave’s Joint.
By David Cordova
When you’ve been a part of a crew or a team, all you have is memories. Memories are something that we all hold on to as we get older. People think of all the things they did as youths or things that they accomplished way back when.
That’s what grassroots basketball is like. When that one run ends, you’re thankful that it happened at all. It was certainly fitting that the North Coast Blue Chips program got together for one last run during the Fourth of July Weekend at of all places, St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in Akron, Ohio, for an event simply called, “The Battle: Blue Chips Reunion.”
For those that remember, just a few years ago, the North Coast Blue Chips were one of the hottest AAU programs on the middle school scene, as they had some of the best young players nationally.
One of the most notable players on the squad is 6-foot-3 senior guard LeBron “Bronny” James, Jr., now a rising senior at the nationally-ranked Sierra Canyon School in Chatsworth, California, who is also the eldest son of 18-time NBA All-Star and future NBA Hall of Famer, LeBron James.
Then there were other seniors such as 6-foot-1 guard Gabe Cupps, a rising senior at Centerville High School in Centerville, Ohio, who is currently verbally committed to Indiana University, 5-foot-11 guard Khoi Thurmon, a rising senior at Buchtel High School in Akron, Ohio, 6-4 forward Rayvon Griffith, a native of Cincinnati, who will be playing his senior season at the national powerhouse Arizona Compass Prep, and is verbally committed to play for the University of Cincinnati. There was also 6-foot-1 guard Brandon Davis from Laurel Highlands High School in Uniontown, Pennsylvania.
There was also a pro amongst them in 7-foot center Jahzarre Jackson, a native of San Diego, California, who is currently playing for Overtime Elite. Other former players that did not play were two football players in Luke Montgomery, who is committed to Ohio State and Rodney Gallagher, who is committed to Michigan.
On Saturday, July 2nd, they played their first game of the weekend against Canada Elite, and there was excitement in the gym when the players ran onto the court. Not only because of LeBron himself being present, but because the old crew were back together again.
In that first game, the Blue Chips showed everything that they were capable of on the floor, but they ran into a tough team from North of the Border, which had two dangerous guards in 6-foot-3 senior guard Vasean Allette and 6-foot-6 sophomore forward Efeosa Oliogu. The boys from Canada would go on to win the first matchup against Blue Chips, 64-57.
In another game, against a tough and scrappy Dayton Elite squad, which had some talented hidden gems, including 6-foot-4 senior guard Zion Crowe, the Blue Chips would cruise to victory.
But the game worth watching on the menu would be the following day on Saturday, July 3rd, as they met up against Wildcat Select, a program on the Adidas 3SSB, with plenty of Division I caliber hoopers on their squad, including Dellquan Warren, a 6-foot-2 junior point guard, out of Erie, Pennsylvania, who torched the competition all summer long.
In this game, both teams would go on to play neck-and-neck through three quarters of the game, and a big dunk by Warren over Jackson would end up stopping the action for approximately 10 minutes, as the crowd went into a frenzy. However, the Blue Chips would stay focused on the goal at hand, as they would go on to dominate through the fourth quarter, and go on to win, 75-55.
On the Fourth of July, a Sunday, the Blue Chips squad would go on to play their final game against DBST, which ended up being a competitive game, as they would go out on a positive note, winning 78-68, with Griffith scoring 17 points.
It was a fitting end to something joyous for the summer, as old teammates reunited one last time and went out with a bang. It was something special for the general public out in the city of Akron, Ohio to see, as it will be something that will never be seen again. For those that were not at the Catholic high school on Maple Street during that weekend, you definitely missed out on the atmosphere. The games are on YouTube, but you had to be there to really capture the vibe. Now, it’s a memory that will definitely live on in the minds of those that were there that weekend, forever.