When ballplayers from the West Side of Chicago meet up against Southsiders, it’s always more than just a game. It doesn’t matter if it goes down on a playground in the Windy City or in all-star setting like it was the other night as part of the inaugural Chicago United Hoops Classic – it will be a collision of neighborhood pride marked by the smash-mouth style of ball that makes Chicago hoop a beast unlike any other in the world.
On Saturday night in DePaul’s Sullivan Athletic Center, a West Side team of all-stars, led by 6-11 Bennett Academy Frank Kamensky (committed to Wisconsin) and Farragut star shooting guard D.J. Tolliver beat a South Side all-star squad, 114-102.
The game was a solid display of Chicago’s talent-rich prep ranks, and the teams coached by four of the top high school coaches in the area. Robert Smith (Simeon) – a finalist for National High School Coach of the Year – and Robert Locke (Brooks) led the South, while William “Wolf” Nelson (Farragut) and Tim Anderson (Crane) will headed the West.
The overall event acted to promote non-violence among Chicago’s youth and to shine a spotlight on the importance of education. A portion of the proceeds will go to both the Norm Van Lier Scholarship Fund and Chicago-based anti-violence organization, Purpose Over Pain.
In addition to the game, Converse – the official footwear and apparel sponsor of the Classic – presented the official Converse Open Gym halftime show featuring sports celebrities and local students participating in interactive basketball drills. The celebrities and personalities on hand included Kyle Korver, Arthur Agee (Hoop Dreams), Jarrett Payton (son of Bears legend Walter Payton), Bears running back Kahlil Bell, and South Side’s own rapper/producer Jeremih.