by Eldon Khorshidi / @eldonadam
This past Saturday, some of the top high school players from across the nation gathered in New York City to take part in the 1st Annual Franchise Classic.
Organized by the folks at InsideStreetball.com along with legendary streetball coach Antonio ‘Mousey’ Carela, the mission was simple: several top-25 recruits would fly to the mecca of basketball to compete against the tri-state area’s elite, all in memory of the late John “Franchise” Strickland. The event was labeled an “All-Star” game, but make no mistake about it: reputations and bragging rights were on the line. To be certified—local legend, five-star recruit, NBA superstar or otherwise—you must first leave your imprint on the streets of New York City. No exceptions.
Arriving in New York on Friday, the seven players representing Team USA had one day to get acclimated. Led by Coach Sam Clark, the athletes first worked through a series of drills (dribbling around cones, running through a flat-rung agility ladder, three-man weave, suicides, etc) at Harlem’s Col. Young Park (145th Street and Lennox Ave) and then toured the five boroughs before calling it a night and shifting their focus to the big game.
Before we get into the game recap, let me note two things. Firstly, we send a huge thank you to Sherman Wing and Don Sparks of Inside Streetball for organizing the event and putting in a tremendous amount of work behind the scenes. Secondly, we must do justice and brief our non-informed readers on the legendary John Strickland.
Strickland was known as one of the greatest streetball players in the history of New York. Hailing from Brooklyn, the 6-8 forward played at Hawaii Pacific University before competing for six seasons in the USBL (1995-2000). Strickland—aka “Franchise” aka “Big Panda” aka “MLK (Minor League Killer)”—had training camp tryouts with the New York Knicks and Miami Heat before settling abroad. As a streetball player, Franchise coined the phrase “finish your breakfast” which meant schooling your defender and then finishing at the rim. A childhood friend of Jay Z, Jigga pays respects to Strickland in Public Service Announcement, stating “My homie Strick told me dude finish your breakfast, So that’s what I’ma do…” A loving son, father and husband, John Strickland passed away in his sleep last October at the tender age of 38. RIP, Franchise.
1st Annual Franchise Classic
Team NYC defeats Team USA, 146-138
As rain showers persisted into late Saturday evening, the highly anticipated event quickly shifted indoors to the gym at the South Bronx Job Corps Center. 10 players suited up for Team NYC, while Team USA had a squad of seven.
From the opening tip, the game was filled with highlight-reel dunks, both in half-court sets and transition. It’s rare—even unheard of—for a high school game to be played above the rim, but when you pack 17 of the best prospects in the country in a rowdy inner-city gym, you should be ready to expect the unexpected.
Team USA jumped out to an early lead behind combo-guard Archie Goodwin, who played the role of floor general for 40-plus minutes. At halftime, USA—the favorites—were up, 73-64.
When play resumed, the boys from New York City came out firing. Led by seniors Kyle Anderson and Omar Calhoun, NYC tightened up its defense, packing the paint and forcing USA to beat them with outside shooting. Missed shots turned into defensive rebounds, which turned into long outlet passes, which turned into easy transition buckets. With the capacity crowd on its feet, NYC had a 110-107 lead heading into the final period.
The fourth quarter was by far the most intense, with momentum shifting by the minute. Archie and Shaq Goodwin (more on them in a second) scored at will and were destined for a comeback. Team USA took a three-point lead with under two minutes left, but Anderson—aka “Zero Miles Per Hour”—remained calm, cool and collected to drain two clutch threes with under a minute left and put his squad up three. When it was all said and done, Team NYC walked out with the eight-point victory.
Team USA (Blue)
Archie Goodwin (Little Rock, AR. Class of 2012. Wearing No. 4)
Despite the loss, Goodwin was easily the most impressive player in the gym. A relatively unknown name outside of Arkansas, A1 torched the opposition for 46 points. The long, athletic combo-guard attacked the rim from the opening tip, when he got the ball took one dribble and rose for a two-handed dunk. Archie’s smooth handle coupled with his ability to get into the paint and create draw comparisons to John Wall. In a year’s time, Archie Goodwin will give Shabazz Muhammad a run for the title of top-ranked guard in the class of 2012. If you don’t know, now you know. Just peep the tape below.
Shaq Goodwin (Decatur, GA. Class of 2012. Wearing No. 2)
Shaq (no relation to Archie) was by far the most dominant big-man of the night. Posting 31 points and 24 rebounds, the 6-8 power forward controlled the paint throughout the game. He attacked the rim with no remorse, double and triple clutching the basket each time he elevated. He has great length and athleticism, runs the floor extremely well and can finish in transition and in traffic. Shaq has a Kenneth Faried mindset and a LaMarcus Aldridge touch, making him one of the toughest bigs in the class of 2012.
Chris Walker (Bonifay, FL. Class of 2013. Wearing No. 3)
Words will not do Walker justice, so be sure to check the moving pictures below. At 6-9, the junior gets eye-level with the rim every time he jumps. Walker scored 18 points off transition buckets, finishing with either a powerful dunk or smooth hook shot when he touched the ball. A consensus top-5 recruit in the class of ’12, the lanky combo-forward has an ocean of untapped potential. Walker is a Perry Jones/Derrick Favors type, as his jumpshot needs a little work but his instincts and raw talent are unmatched. Simply put: Chris Walker is the real deal.
Martavious Newby (Memphis, TN. Class of 2012. Wearing No. 35)
The Ole Miss commit was the most physically imposing player not named Shaquille Goodwin. Signed to play both football and basketball, Newby had a take-no-prisoners attitude and a solid feel for the game. While Newby may never take a game over, he’ll never, ever be the reason why you lose. He’s a sound listener and lives for defense. Newby hit a few jumpshots and exploded in transition en route to scoring 17 points.
Malik Price-Martin (Miami Gardens, FL. Class of 2013. Wearing No. 1)
Price-Martin, like Walker, is lanky and athletic, and showed lots of promise finishing in transition. Price-Martin finished with 12 points and easily had three or four blocks on the night. With two more years to gain weight and work on a face-up game, Malik Price-Martin has a chance to be a special prospect.
Team NYC (White)
Omar Calhoun (Brooklyn, NY. Class of 2012. Wearing No. 3)
Calhoun perfectly embodies the ideal New York City point guard. He’s talented, tough-minded, poised and has an uncanny will to win. For every basket Archie Goodwin would score, Calhoun answered right back with a bucket of his own. He overpowered Goodwin several times, bullying him to the hoop whenever he pleased. The UCONN commit scored 34 points en route to earning MVP honors.
Kyle Anderson (Fairview, NJ. Class of 2012. Wearing No. 5)
Anderson is rare find in the current era. He has an old school approach, taking what the defense gives and not forcing anything. Dubbed “Zero Miles Per Hour”, Anderson plays within himself, and more importantly, at his own pace. Critics will say he is too slow, but that’s the beauty of his game. 28 points speaks for itself.
Savon Goodman (Philadelphia, PA. Class of 2012. Wearing No. 30)
The senior had the play of the night when he threw down a vicious reverse (peep 1:04). Goodman is extremely physical and can jump with the best of ‘em. The Villanova commit scored 26 points to help his team earn a victory.
Jermaine Lawrence: 8 points
Chris McCullough: 6 points
Isaiah Whitehead: 16 points
Nkereuwem Okoro: 3 points
Daniel Dingle: 14 points
JT Thomas: 4 points
Kyle Anderson: 28 points
Omar Calhoun: 34 points
Malik Nichols: 8 points
Savon Goodman: 26 points
Archie Goodwin: 46 points
Martavious Newby: 17 points
Malik Price-Martin: 12 points
Greg McClinton: 7 points
Kevaugn Allen: 6 points
Chris Walker: 18 points
Shaq Goodwin: 31 points