The 2014 HoopHall Classic was as highly anticipated as ever, bringing in the top high school talent from around the nation. This year’s Classic, which took place on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, had a tough act to follow, as the 2013 show saw perhaps the most talented class of seniors in years. No one left Blake Arena disappointed. The slate of games featured many of the nation’s top high school teams and recruits.
Every year this tournament brings massive publicity to this generally quiet campus, and this was certainly no exception. All of the major sports media outlets, including CBS Sports and ESPN, brought out their crews to cover the games. That sort of media attention is amazing for the college and the students, as many came swarming back to campus early just to try and catch some of the hoops’ action.
The weekend kicked off on Thursday and Friday with a series of games played primarily by local schools. The major attractions of the tournament took place on Sunday as well as on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. All of the participating teams performed well, with many of their players finding themselves on the biggest athletic stage of their lives. The Sunday slew of games which was filled with top 100 ranked college recruits was capped off by one of the greatest high school dunk contests of all time. The dunk contest, which was part of the annual skills challenge, was won by seven-footer Karl Towns, who will be playing for Kentucky University next year. Jalen Coleman of La Lumiere High School won the three-point contest, another feature in the challenge.
This year’s Classic concluded with a star-studded day of basketball. Top recruits such as Cliff Alexander, who is headed to Kansas, and the No. 1 overall recruit, Jahlil Okafor, who will be playing for Duke next year, were two of the main attractions. The nation’s first and second ranked teams were also featured on this day, as Montverde Academy and Oak Hill Academy were in action. Surprisingly, both top-ranked schools lost in heartbreaking fashion, as the Okafor-led Whitney Young Dolphins and the Alexander-led Curie Condors knocked off Oak Hill and Montverde, respectively.
This was certainly an exciting weekend both for Springfield College and the basketball community. The college saw as much of the public eye as it ever does and everyone in attendance got a first glimpse at the basketball stars of the future.