Thursday, May 29, 2014

Plenty Of NY Flavor In Frankie Williams Charity Classic

Bobby Gonzalez has coached in the Magic Johnson Roundball Game, an event featuring the elite of the elite in U.S. high school basketball.

While coaching at Manhattan and Seton Hall, where he became one of New York's most aggressive recruiters and fiery personalities, Gonzalez watched countless McDonald's All-American games and Jordan Brand Classics.

He recalls seeing the Boost Mobile Elite 24 Classic when it was at fabled Rucker Park, featuring the likes of Lance Stephenson, Tobias Harris, and Doron Lamb.

Still, Gonzalez said he can't take anything away from the Frankie Williams Charity Classic.

"The reason I like this one, is because its for the kids that don't have as much hype," said Gonzalez, who will coach "Team Desire" in tonight's fifth annual Frankie Williams All-Star game at Theodore Young Community Center in Greenburgh.

"I always prided myself in being a great recruiter, trying to get diamonds in the rough. I like this game because it's for kids that don't have as much hype. They're not on national TV. They might not be on ESPN.

They might not be McDonald All-Americans. But you've got all these great players and tough kids and borderline guys...That's what I love about this game. It's one of those under the radar type games."

The game will take place at 32 Manhattan Ave. Fitting, because Team Frenji will bring a familiar face  forever embedded in the pages Manhattan hoops history.

Luis Flores, the 5-foot-11 guard whose scoring engine propelled the Jaspers to an NCAA tournament berth, will be back.

Gonzalez will coach against a trio of Seton Hall-bound seniors in Lincoln's Isaiah Whitehead and Desi Rodriguez as well as Khadeen Carrington of Bishop Loughlin.

"My very first Big East recruit (while at Providence under Pete Gillen) was a Lincoln High guy," Gonzalez said, referencing Jamel Thomas, Sebastian Telfair's older brother and the cousin of former Knicks point guard Stephon Marbury.

"I've stayed closed with Jamel and Coney Island. Obviously, they've got a great tradition there(at Lincoln). Basically, my message to all these kids is that they've got a great opportunity. You want to see them go to college and be successful in the metropolitan area. You want to see them get on a big stage and get to the NCAA tournament and graduate. That's the reason I'm bringing a guy like Luis Flores to the game."

Featured in tonight's game will be Pearl River's Kevin Degnan, a 6-foot-8 shooter headed to Fairfield.  Degnan, who averaged 23 points and 12 rebounds in his final season with the Pirates, will be flanked by fellow Rockland County players Rickey McGill and Kai Mitchell out of Spring Valley High.

McGill, a 6-foot-1 guard who decommitted from Manhattan due to the shaky ground of the Steve Masiello situation, is receiving interest from George Washington, Temple, Drexel, Iona, and LaSalle. Playing for House of Sports on the spring AAU circuit, McGill has evolved into more of a playmaker.

Accelerating his production has been backcourt companion Salim Green, an Ivy League recruit known for the elevation on his jumper and an innate knack for knifing to the rim.

 Mitchell, an athletic 6-foot-6 forward  now leaning on a dependable mid-range game, has received interest from Canisius, Quinnipiac, Monmouth and Wagner.

"If you're a basketball fan you should do what you can to get to Greenburgh for this event," said MSG Varsity on-air talent Kevin Devaney Jr., a longtime Section 1 hoops guru.

"It's one of those nights you'll appreciate two or three years from now. You get to see guys like Lance Stephenson, Kemba Walker, and Sean Kilpatrick before they start selling out arenas in college and the NBA."