By Franklyn Calle

Once again, Springfield, Massachusetts, will be the place to be during the Martin Luther King weekend when the top blue-chip high school players from around the nation will compete against in each other at the 8th annual Spalding Hoophall Classic. The administrative staff at the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame has been able to not only put together a tournament showcasing the top players in the nation but also the top high schools from just about every region in the country. With over 40 teams representing 15 states, the 2009 Hoophall Classic schedule promises to be a treat for all basketball fans. Recent NBA first round draft picks such as, O.J. Mayo, Kevin Durant, Michael Beasley, Ty Lawson, Jerryd Bayless and Donte Green are only some of the many NBA young talents that have participated in the annual classic in recent years.

The event, which runs from January 16-19, 2009 at Springfield’s College Blake Arena, will have 4 live broadcast games on ESPNU on its last day, Monday January 19th. The televised games will be St Anthony High School (NJ) VS Putman City High School (OK) at 10 am, followed by St. Benedict’s Prep (NJ) VS Wheeler High School (GA) at 12pm, Abraham Lincoln High School (NY) VS. LeFlore High School (AL) at 2pm and Whitney Young High School (IL) VS Mater Dei High School (CA) at 4pm.

Some of the premier high school programs that will be participating include California’s Mater Dei High School, who can be argued as the best team in the nation, St. Benedict’s Prep of Newark, NJ, Oak Hill Academy of Mount of Wilson, VA, Abraham Lincoln High School of Brooklyn, NY, Wheeler High School of Marietta, GA, LeFlore High School of Mobile, AL, DeMatha Catholic High School of Hyattsville, MD, South Atlanta High School, of Atlanta, GA, St. Anthony High School of Jersey City , NJ, Whitney Young High School of Chicaga, IL, and Putnam City High School of Oklahoma City , OK, to name a few.

Some of the elite players participating include Memphis bound Xavier Henry (Putnam City High School), Derrick Favors (South Atlanta High School), DeMarcus Cousins (LeFlore High School), Lance Stephenson (Abraham Lincoln High School), Dominic Cheek (St. Anthony), Florida bound Kenny Boynton (American Heritage) and junior Texas commit Tristan Thompson (St. Benedict’s).

A player that will also be the center of attention is Marcus Jordan, son of Michael Jordan, who plays for Whitney Young High School and scheduled go up against Mater Dei High School.

Aside from the game, there will also be a Skills Challenge competition taking place on Saturday, January 17 at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. It will feature three events including the Spalding Half-Court Hustle, Spalding 3-Point Shootout and the Spalding Celebrity Slam Dunk Contest.

The following is the complete schedule of the four day event.

Friday, January 16, 2009

4:00 PM New Leadership Charter School (MA) VS Holyoke High School (MA)

5:30 PM New Leadership Charter School (MA) VS Millbury High School (MA) (Girls)

7:00 PM Northampton High School (MA) VS Mater Dei High School (CA) (Girls)

8:30 PM Springfield Central High School (MA) VS Minnechaug High School (MA) (Girls)

Saturday, January 17, 2009

10:30 AM Cathedral High School (MA) VS Lexington High School (MA)

12 Noon Sabis Charter School (MA) VS Watertown High School (MA)

1:30 PM Central Catholic High School (MA) VS American Heritage School (FL)

3:00 PM Mount Vernon High School (NY) VS #32 Montverde Academy (FL)

4:30 PM #5 Oak Hill Academy (VA) VS #16 South Atlanta High School (GA)

6:00 PM Springfield Central High School (MA)VS Hillhouse High School (CT)

Sunday, January 18, 2009

10:30 AM Tilton School (NH) VS Hotchkiss School (CT)

12 Noon Winchendon School (MA) VS The Patterson School (NC)

2:00 PM #48 Gonzaga College High School (DC) VS St. Mark’s School (MA)

4:00 PM #13 DeMatha Catholic High School (MD) VS #40 Ss. John Neumann-Maria Goretti (PA)

6:00 PM Brewster Academy (NH) VS Hargrave Military Academy (VA)

8:00 PM St. Benedict’s Prep (NJ) VS Worcester Academy (MA)

Monday, January 19, 2009

10:00 AM #20 St. Anthony High School (NJ) VS #24 Putnam City High School (OK)

12 Noon #4 St. Benedict’s Prep (NJ) VS #7 Wheeler High School (GA)

2:00 PM #8 Abraham Lincoln High School (NY) VS #12 LeFlore High School (AL)

4:00 PM #22 Whitney Young High School (IL) VS #2 Mater Dei High School (CA)

6:00 PM Science and Technology (MA) VS Putnam High School (MA)

8:00 PM High School of Commerce (MA) VS Springfield Central High School (MA)