High School Seniors Say Goodbye In MSG Annual Jordan Classic
NEW YORK -The Man walked to his seat -four rows off the Madison Square Garden hardwood- a few minutes before game time. Photographers hustled into position and security immediately spread their arms lengthwise to form a human chain. Michael Jordan had arrived and, as flashbulbs resonated, the shootaround at the west end -where the 'Black Jerseys' were- stopped briefly.
Then, it was back to preparing for the final high school game of their lives.
The second game of the Jordan Classic, which was ultimately won by the 'White Jerseys', 108-95, last Saturday in front of 9,641 enthusiastic fans provided such a farewell.
The event -which also encompassed a City v. Suburban preliminary and a between-games performance from Atlanta-based rap artist T.I.- benefited the Children's Aid Society.
Thaddeus Young, a 6'9", 200, small forward from Mitchell Road High School [Memphis, TN] was acknowledged as the Most Valuable Player for the victors. Young, who will be attending Georgia Tech, tallied 28 points and 13 rebounds [10 on the offensive side] in 20 minutes and was the only player in either game to attain a double-double. The Black Jerseys' Kevin Durant was given the MVP in defeat. Durant, a 6-10, 190 forward from Montrose Christian School [Rockville, MD] set to play at the University of Texas, enjoyed a well-rounded game with 16 points, seven rebounds and four assists.
"There was no additional pressure [playing in front of Jordan]. I just tried to play hard -and have fun," said Young, who hit 12 of 20 shots -including several thunderous dunks, and threatened LeBron James' 2003 Classic record of 34 points.
"When I entered the ninth grade, I didn't even play varsity. I played JV. So, I didn't have any dreams of winning an MVP. But, as my career went along, I knew there was the potential to win. "But, it was a difficult 28 points. I was up against one 7-footer [Brian Zoubek], in addition to Kevin, who is 6'10"."
"It was a great season," added Edgar Sosa, a 6'2, 170, point guard from Rice High School, who won both a City and State Championship and capped his senior year with 13 points and two assists in the victory.
"Playing well tonight is just the cherry on top," he said.
Sosa, on his way to play for Rick Pitino in Louisville, agreed with Young's assessment of the host. "Yeah, he's Michael -he did great things. But, he's a down-to-Earth person. He likes to joke around...just like us." On this night, however, there was little joking around. Though the action was often stifled because a multitude of whistles [there were 37 fouls during the two 20-minute halves], the game was often representative of the best high school players in the country.
In the earlier contest, Suburban outshot City, 140-125. The two teams combined for 191 field goal attempts, which included 59 from beyond the three-point arc. Still, the 140 points were far from a single-game record. The 2002 National All-Stars White Team -paced by 26 points from Sean May, and 23 apiece from Rashad McCants and Amare Stoudemire, walloped the Red Team, 167-121.
Suburban's Eugene Harvey [Saint Benedict's Prep] scored 17 points [nine of 12 players scored double figures points in the balanced attack] and dished out four assists in just 10 minutes of play to garner MVP honors, as did Jamine Peterson of City, who led all scorers with 24 points [11 of 16 from the field].