Brian Sandifer’s idea to host a prep boys’ basketball game wasn’t anything new, but his approach was, to say the least, novel.
“I felt like there are a lot of kids who get a lot of hype in the metro area,” explains Sandifer, who runs Grassroots Hoops Club, on players who too often virtually get spoiled by coaches and the oft-selective
media. “Some are warranted and some are not warranted” in this regard, he believes.
Meanwhile, there are countless others, whatever the reason, who don’t get noticed, displaying their athletic skills under the hoop-followers’ radar so to speak.
Sandifer said earlier this summer he joined forces with Stephen McCarthy of the McCarthy Project and MinnesotaHoopstersStandUp’s Aaron Edwards, and the three at first devised a “battle between the classes” format. Later this changed to a “battle with the classes” setup with players from the metro area, outstate Minnesota, and Wisconsin competing against others from their same class on teams called “Team Elite” and “Team Hype.”
“We put our heads together, and this is what we came up with,” says Sandifer after last Friday’s boys’ hoops quad-header at Macalester College’s Leonard Center.
The aptly titled “Under the Radar Showcase” featured four games played in ascending order of their school class — this year’s incoming freshmen (Class of 2018), then the sophomores (2017), juniors (2016) and seniors (2015).
All four games last week nonetheless had all the makings of a typical all-star game — all offense and very little defense. Any semblance of a defensive stop was purely incidental, rather due to missed shots and ill-timed fancy passes. After all, it was late summer basketball, not mid-winter. But other than the first game, a 15-point blowout, the three subsequent contests finished with single-digit winning margins.
“For a first-time deal put together in five weeks, I think it came out pretty well,” notes Sandifer on the estimated 600 people who either watched a game or two or all four contests — “five hours of basketball and about 90 kids.”
Among the players who, according to Sandifer, “made a name for themselves” were seniors Josh Collins (De La Salle), Grantham Gillard (Eden Prairie), Trenton McCarthy (Minnehaha Academy), and junior Ade Lamir (St. Croix Lutheran). “A lot of kids today proved that they belong,” he says.
A similar format will be staged for the girls next month, says Sandifer, in hopes of repeating last week’s success.
“The support tonight was unbelievable. I thought it was a success,” he concludes.
The Chance Equals Opportunity (CEO) boys’ and girls’ program featured in last week’s “Sports Odds and Ends” completed its summer run last weekend. Director Jamil Jackson told the MSR that the fall program will begin September 7 at Farview Park. Call 612-730-3581 for more information.
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