As one of the top high school basketball players in the country, Westtown School (West Chester, Penn.) forward Mohamed Bamba has traveled all over the globe playing in different tournaments and showcases.
But ask him which one stands out the most and he won’t hesitate to tell you that it’s the Spalding Hoophall Classic in Springfield, Mass.
“Playing in the Hoophall Classic means a lot to me,” said Bamba, who is ranked No. 4 overall in the ESPN 100. “I remember watching the Hoophall when I was in the fifth grade and my brother was playing. Being able to play in it just shows the growth I’ve had over the years. I went from someone who idolized the Hoophall to now playing in it. It’s gonna be fun.”
Fun and loaded.
This year’s Hoophall Classic, which runs from Jan. 12-16 at Springfield College, will feature 26 seniors ranked in the ESPN 100, including the top five; 11 of the top juniors ranked in the ESPN 60 and six of the top sophomores ranked in the ESPN 25, including the top two.
Three of the DICK’s Sporting Goods High School Nationals Final Four teams – Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.), La Lumiere (La Porte, Ind.) and Oak Hill Academy – will compete at the Hoophall Classic.
“Over the past 16 years the Spalding Hoophall Classic has evolved into one of the most elite high school basketball showcases in the world,” said John L. Doleva, President and CEO of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. “There will certainly be no shortage of talent this year and we look forward to welcoming each team to the Birthplace of Basketball and the Basketball Hall of Fame.”
ESPN basketball recruiting director Paul Biancardi has led ESPN’s telecast of the Hoophall Classic for the last seven years. He said that the intensity among the teams competing is infectious.
“I’ve said this on-air, but the Hoophall has to be the biggest and best high school event all year,” Biancardi said. “Every game features a major matchup and you really get a chance to gauge how good the talent is because of that. Also, the coaching is at an all-time high so from top to bottom Hoophall is the event that you can’t miss as a basketball fan.”
Here’s how it all went down last year at the Hoophall Classic.
Follow Jason Jordan on Twitter: @JayJayUSATODAY