By David Jordan Jr
The 3rd Annual Allen Iverson Roundball Classic took place April 24-26 in Souderton, Pennsylvania. Being in the backyard of the city where Allen Iverson became not only a superstar, but a worldwide icon, Souderton offered Philadelphia fans the opportunity to not only see the most dynamic player in 76ers history, but also the opportunity to see the future superstars of college and professional basketball. Partnering with Slam Magazine, Reebok, New Era and Beats By Dre, this classic provided the perfect platform for the selected players to display their God-given talents and unique abilities to a worldwide audience. An exclusive broadcasting deal with Sling TV solidified the value of the Iverson Classic to the game of basketball. A selection of the top high school players in the world converged on the campus of Souderton High School to not only compete, but to also learn the game from some of the best players to have played their respective positions on different levels of basketball. Baron Davis, Darius Miles, Stephen Jackson, and Will Bynum not only brought their unique experiences to the week as coaches but they also engaged themselves with the players in daily practices with on-court instruction and demonstration. The fact that the coaches not only had the initiative but also the ability to compete against these heralded high schoolers at a high level is one of the things that elevates the Iverson Classic above all of the other high school All American showcases in the country. High school players have the aspirations of playing basketball at the highest level and being able to learn the nuances of the game from players that have played in the NBA amongst top-level peers is an extremely unique experience. The atmosphere of competition (that was already present in players) bred by the coaches translated to all of the players going hard in all aspects of the game for the entire week. April 24th provided the world the opportunity to see the unique skill sets of each player. The three-point shoot out, slam dunk contest, 3 on 3, and 1 on 1 tournament allowed fans to get an inside glimpse of how talented these player were and why they were selected to be a part of the prestigious Iverson Week. With Jaden Edward a.k.a. Mr. Talk Spicy ( @mr.talk_spicy ) on the mic hyping the crowd from the minute they hit the parking lot and DJ Amir ( @djamir ) on the wheels of steel, the energy was flowing through the building was electric.
One could look in any direction and see basketball greatness. On the court you had the future; also on the court, you had the NBA stars which came before them and were planting seeds of greatness for them to harvest in their own careers. In addition to the coaches, Allen Iverson was also courtside for all of the contests and battles on the first official day of the classic. One could look through the crowd and see East Coast basketball greats scattered through the crowd, legends from nearby New York and New Jersey. Rod Strickland, one of the greatest guards to ever come out of New York (Bronx) and Camden, New Jersey legend Dajuan Wagner and Smush Parker ( New York) were all in attendance for the first night of the classic. Friendly competition soon turned into a matter of can you top this, as players in each respective event hit a different level each time the ball when through the net. Knockdown shooting in the 3 Point competition, heart, grit, and determination in the 3 on 3 and 1 on 1 battles and bunnies in the dunk contest made for a memorable night for those creating the moments on the floor as well as those watching the moments in the crowd.
A night of off the court celebration afforded the players not only the opportunity to be rewarded and acknowledged for their on-court success in their final year of high school but also the opportunity to have an intimate conversation with A.I., B-Diddy, Stak -5, D-Miles and Will The Thrill. An elegant dinner nourished the body while words from the NBA greats nourished the minds of these basketball prodigies. The beauty of the banquet night dinner was the realness and sincerity of the interactions. Allen Iverson along with the coaches each shared how their unique journeys enabled them to not only attain success in college and reach the NBA but also how these experiences allowed them to become men.
The good, the bad and the blessings were thoroughly discussed amongst the players and coaches. The fact that players inquired about things that essentially had nothing to do with basketball allowed for the conversation to reach new depths with each question asked. The intimacy of the talk and the realness of the words shared was something that differentiates the Allen Iverson Roundball Classic; it showed how the game and how far you go in it stems from how you essentially live your life. The finale of that evening was the awarding of player awards, with arguably the number one player in the country Cole Anthony (UNC Commit) taking home the 2019 Iverson Classic National Player of The Year Award.
With April 26th being game day, the stage was set for full greatness to be on display. Hip Hop legend Jadakiss was courtside for the game. The embrace between Jadakiss and Allen Iverson instantly took those in attendance back to the series of commercials they both did for Reebok back in the early 2000s. A classic duo on hand for the grand finale inspired those on the court to take each of their games to another level. Being televised exclusively on Sling TV, the world was able to see the future stars of college and professional basketball go head up in the number one high school All-American basketball game in the country. High intensity, competitive fire, and fun coupled with straight hoopin’ led to an exciting night of basketball between Team Honor and Team Loyalty. Unlike most all-star games on any level, the Iverson Classic was competitive from the tip to the final buzzer.Players diving on the floor, hustling down the court to save breakaway layups and diving out of bounds for loose balls, enamored not only the fans watching the game in person but also those watching on Sling TV. Watching players leave it all on the court was reflective of A.I.’s on-court motto of “playing every game like it’s his last.” When the final buzzer sounded with Team Honor defeating Team Loyalty 159-155 the entire court became a stage for celebrating the players. All in attendance were able to celebrate the players’ exploits, snap pictures and be as much a part of the game as those wearing the jerseys. Isaiah Wong and Kahlil Whitney mirrored each others on court domination by both scoring 38 points and being named Co-MVPs of the 3rd annual game. Wong and Whitney set the new scoring record for the game in breaking the previous record of 37 points scored by PJ Washington in the inaugural game.
The exclusivity of the game matched with the intimateness of how the players, the coaches and Allen Iverson interacted with all apart of the week proved why this classic not only is the home of the number one high school All-American game in the country but why this game is the most unique high school All American game in the country.