Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Tradition Never Graduates With Prospect-Packed FWCC

You may recall seeing a then-sophomore Rawle Alkins rim-running all 94 feet, flushing home a filthy one-handed sledgehammer dunk. You might also recall then-senior Desi Rodriguez floating effortlessly to the rim over a pair of unsuspecting defenders, crushing home Isaiah Whitehead’s lob pass. You may remember Lance Stephenson knifing through a quartet of defenders and finishing an acrobatic up-and-under move that sent the gym into a frenzy.

Many of New York's most respected and legendary have plied their trade in this fabled tournament. Several current NBA players and overseas professionals have turned in unforgettable performances in this pulse-pumping all-star game.
Tradition never graduates at the Frankie Williams Charity Classic, one of the most exhilarating Westchester County/NYC basketball showcases.
That tradition includes a souped up tempo with plenty of extravagant finishes, no-look passes, prodigious ball-handling, and captivating one-on-one clear-outs. There are marquee and memorable matchups, streetball-esque battles which few courts on this side of Rucker Park seem capable of simulating.

“It’s just a great experience being able to play with other great dudes and big name caliber opponents, we always put on a show for the kids,” said Elijah Hughes, a 6-foot-6 guard/forward who starred at Kennedy-Catholic and now plays for Syracuse.

“The people who came to the game, we always gave them what they were looking for. There’s a lot of clearouts, a lot of one v. one battles, it is New York style basketball.”

While it was a year ago, Hughes vividly remembers his adrenaline skyrocketing after he punched home a pair of alley oop dunks from Isaiah Washington and Rawle Alkins in the second half.

Expect a veritable “who’s who” of the area’s top-shelf players and a wild, uproarious crowd engaged in the battle. If you are intrigued at seeing future high-major stars and NBA players, this is certainly an event to tune into. Local products and current household names such as Sean Kilpatrick, Ra’Shad “Birdman” James, Ty Jerome all participated on this event.

This year, the eighth annual Frankie Williams Charity Classic will take place at Stepinac High School. The event will include a first-ever girls all-star game.

“So many local girls are getting Division-I offers, we figured this was the right time to launch the first official girls game,” explained local pioneer Keith Guerra, who alongside reputable Hamilton coach Benji Carter orchestrated the idea.

“This event is bigger than any one kid or any one person that’s organizing it. It is an event that has grown immensely since the days of Lance Stephenson and Sean Kilpatrick and Tony Taylor. It has now gained the rep and the appeal of the game you want to be playing in from the boys side. With the success of the girls in the area and beyond, we felt it was time.”

On the boys side, event organizer and Frenji lifer Sampogna said to anticipate much of the same flair for the theatrics and dizzying intensity.

“Given the talent this year, NBA potential is a definite,” Sampogna explained. “With the girls game, the WNBA talent is there for sure. If you are a scout, evaluator, fan, or just a friend who came to see, you can bet that the level has been raised this year. We are very thankful to have these players come year in and year out to play. The coaches and programs that support our event are nothing more than outstanding friends to the cause.”

Players to watch on the boys side is heady point guard Jose Alvarado, an all-around winner who committed to Georgia Tech in the fall. Minnesota-bound Isaiah Washington, the blur-quick 6-foot St. Raymond’s guard recently named NYS Mr. Basketball, will also play a pivotal role. St. John’s-commit Sid Wilson, a 6-foot-7 Top 100, will also partake in the event.

The girls game will feature local talent with UCONN-bound Ossining star Andra Espinoza-Hunter, arguably one of the best-ever scoring guards in girls high school hoops history. 

Hunter, who slayed countless records under the legendary Dan Ricci at Ossining this season, is flanked by Ursuline guard Korina Guerra.

The Sacred Heart-bound Guerra etched her legacy at Ursuline with 1,251 career points and a handful of go-ahead buckets and game-winners in crunch time.

In gauging the girls game, along with the augmented star power of the night, Sampogna envisions an wild, standing room only turnout.

“The event has been nothing less than action packed in previous years and we feel this year’s event should be even bigger, flooded with talent and with the addition of the girls game, it should be an epic night for everyone. We anticipate a great night, with nothing but the best student-athletes from the Tri State who come to ball for the cause and show the area’s youth how to do it the right way and reach their dreams. Our Rich history of players who have shined and made it to high-major Division-1 basketball as well as the NBA has grown every year.”