Middletown High School athletic director J.D. Foust knows it’s hard to compete with the Flyin’ to the Hoop tournament in Kettering, but the Middies’ event is rising as a quality showcase for local boys basketball teams.
While Flyin’ to the Hoop will be drawing some of the nation’s top programs this weekend, the No. 1- and 2-ranked teams in Ohio will be playing at the Midwest King Classic High School Basketball Showcase.
The event will be held on Saturday and Sunday at Jerry Lucas Court in the Wade E. Miller Arena, featuring 24 teams, mainly from the greater Cincinnati and Dayton areas.
“We know we’re competing with Flyin’ to the Hoop, which has some top national prep teams, but the King Classic is mostly your high talent from the Cincinnati area and a few teams from up north,” Foust said. “It’s a total of six games per day, and it’s exciting for our community and city because we get a chance to showcase our arena off, which is probably the best in Ohio.”
This is the second year for the King Classic, which last year was cut down to a one-day event because of a snowstorm. Weather is expected to be good for this weekend, so Foust is hoping for some big crowds.
Moeller and Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary’s (Lebron James’ alma mater), who are first and second in the MaxPreps.com state rankings, are among the top teams participating. Moeller (11-1) plays Hughes in the 8:15 p.m. game Sunday, and St. Vincent-St. Mary (7-2) meets Elder (7-4) at 6:30 p.m. Saturday. SVSM’s Malaki Branham is rated as the state’s top prospect from the Class of 2021 and No. 24 nationally, according to 247Sports.com.
Middletown (5-8) will play Purcell Marian (4-8), coached by Middies alumnus Scott Kerr, at 8:15 p.m. Saturday.
Another game that should draw some attention is the Day 2 matchup between Covington Catholic and Taft. Covington Catholic has 6-foot-5 freshman Chandler Starks, whose father Keith was a University of Cincinnati standout from 1987 to 1991, and Taft features forward Rayvon Griffith, who is ranked by several recruiting sites as one of the top 10 freshmen in the nation and an AAU teammate of Lebron James Jr.
All of the GCL South teams, including 11-1 LaSalle and 9-2 St. Xavier, will be there, and Colerain and Sycamore join as the other Greater Miami Conference teams participating. Fenwick, Springboro, Madison and Cincinnati Christian School are the other local teams. Junior varsity games also will be played in the Paul Walker auxiliary gym, further adding exposure and experience for young athletes at participating schools.
“Two of the top conferences in the area will be represented, some of the top teams in the state and some big prospects,” Foust said. “We’re excited for it. I think it will be great for the community, draw a lot of fans, and hopefully our local restaurants prosper for it. It should be an entertaining weekend of basketball.”
It’s not just about the basketball, though. In an effort to honor Martin Luther King Jr. during the holiday weekend, a portion of the event proceeds will benefit funds that directly work toward social equality. Each participating team also will take part in community service components and each team will submit a video that applies Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech to issues that face the nation today.
The videos will be displayed at Middletown High School throughout the King Classic, and the winning school will receive a scholarship.
“G3 Marketing, which is putting on the event, that was one of the things they wanted the kids to fully understand was what this weekend is and the meaning behind the holiday,” Foust said. “Some people just view it as another long weekend, but this adds a little meaning to it.”
Presale tickets are available online at KingClassicMidwest.com for a discounted rate of $8 per day. Walk-up tickets cost $10 each day, or $5 for students with proper school ID.
MIDWEST KING CLASSIC
12:00pm – CHCA vs. Fenwick
1:30pm – Westerville Central vs. Western Hills
3:00pm – Kings vs. Springboro
4:45pm – Sycamore vs. St. Xavier
6:30pm – Elder vs. St. Vincent St. Mary
8:15pm – Purcell Marian vs. Middletown
11:30am – Oyler vs. Ponitz Career Tech
1:15pm – Colerain vs. LaSalle
3:00pm – Gamble Montessori vs. Cincinnati Christian
4:45pm – Madison vs. National Trail
6:30pm – Covington Catholic vs. Taft
8:15pm – Moeller vs. Hughes
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