By Adrienne Goodson

Yo… the Martin Luther King Roundball Classic presented by TA Sports this past Saturday was bananas. The top high school programs in the country battled against Hampton Roads’ finest: basically the best in Chesapeake, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Virginia Beach, and Suffolk. It was real nice because you caught boys and girls basketball all in one day. The fourth annual event played host to some of the best teams in the country. Big names such as Abraham Lincoln H.S (Brooklyn, NY) # 15, American Christian (Chester, PA), Chester H.S (Chester PA) #10, Christ the King (Queens, NY) # 21 Notre Dame Academy (Middleburg, VA) #7, Malcolm X. Shabazz H.S (Newark, NJ) #12, South Atlanta (Atlanta, GA), and Woodrow Wilson H.S (Portsmouth, VA) were out to put on a show and please believe when I say talent I truly mean it.

Top young players showcased their talent and represented their colors for real. Standouts like Tyreke Evans (American Christian), Ryan Pearson (Christ the King), Khalif Staten (Lincoln), Nasir Robinson (Chester H.S), Mia Nickson and Azania Stewart (Notre Dame Academy), Desiree and Ka-Deidre Simmons (Malcolm X. Shabazz) and Eulandra Forrest (Woodrow Wilson H.S) drew the crowd. To be honest with you, not only did the players get to show off. The coaches also got to demonstrate their ability to strategize and play chess for the people. Anthony Bergeron (American Christian), Dwayne Morton (Abraham Lincoln), the legendary Vanessa Watson (Malcolm X. Shabazz) as well as Mike and Nikki Teasley (Notre Dame Academy) were my favorites to watch.

Ya boy Tyreke Evans is nasty. He dunked on this boy (and I say boy to protect the names of the innocent). The dunk was reediculous. Dem boyz at Norfolk Collegiate had no chance, but the crowd was hype. Tyreke’s skills are beyond high school for those who don’t know and as long as coaches can overlook his lack of desire in the defense department, he should fit in with any program in America. Christian Academy overpowered their opponent easily and all was well until Tyreke tried to block a layup during a fastbreak. He was so high in the air that he passed Micheal Jordan on the way up, hit his head on the backboard, knocked himself out, and then landed on his head. The crowd was like whoa! There were about 6 paramedics including the concession stand waiting to help Tyreke. Thank God after about 20 minutes of anxiety the silent whispers let us know he was okay but had a severe concussion. The number one unsigned player gave us a scare, but his team impressionably held on to win 80-56.

Getting back to my favorites I’ve gotta back track to my girl Nikki Teasley. When Nikki decided to stay home this off-season and give overseas a break she didn’t realize how quickly her brother Mike, who is the head coach of Notre Dame Academy had plans to put her to work. Mike is so happy to have her around that it showed all over his face. “ I’ve always been a follower of hers since the North Carolina Tarheels, Los Angeles Sparks, and now the Washington Mystics. She’s home now. Middleburg is just 60 miles west of Washington DC”, he said with a look of love. I kinda got choked up myself. They work well together on the bench, which is good for a brother and sister. She allows him to lead and he asks for advice as needed. The girls have mad respect for Nikki because of the many crowns that she wears. An NCAA Championship with the Tarheels and a ring with the Sparks speaks without speaking. Notre Dame is 7th in the nation (according to USA Today) and are looking at the number one spot but Sacred Heart Cathedral out of San Francisco may have something to say about that. They have the team to do it in my opinion. They are enriched with athleticism. Senior 6’2 Forward Mia Nickson is the truth. She’s a tall- athletic chick with mad hops and rebounds like a machine. Azania Stewart is a 6’4 diaper dandy who will go to the next level and ball. I like her post up game and she’s a monster on the boards, but the kid who will give lots of promise to any team is 6’1 PG Josette Campbell. The game they played against the Woodrow Wilson Lady Presidents was a nail biter full of hustle plays and last second three pointers. Roger Smith, head coach of Wilson had his team ready to play. Sophomore Eulandra Forrest should be watched closely and kinda reminds me of a baby Charles Barkley. Wilson had a good showing but Notre Dame (13-2) was just too much in the end when it came to game management.

Mia Nickson and Josette Campbell took over in overtime like seniors should. Nickson finished up with 18 pts while Campbell hit two big threes: one that sent the game into overtime and one that sparked a run that just couldn’t be stopped. This was the most exciting game of the day. No disrespect to anybody else. I mean really, teams go up and down. One minute a team is #1 like St. Benedict’s of Newark, NJ but that can change especially in the Bermuda Triangle (St. Anthony’s #4, St. Patrick’s #5, and St Benedict’s #1). The competition is great and I like how there are so many forums for these kids to play ball, for example, the Gatorade International Classic, the City of Palms Classic, the West Coast jamboree or the T-mobile Invitational. The list goes on and on but these tournaments allow for kids to grow as people and then as athletes. The more the better.

I can’t say I know who will be in the Championship and be #1 in the country but I can say that it will be enjoyable to watch basketball at its purest form so stay plugged in. It gets better…