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September 23, 2005

Eastern events on tap this weekend

Times have changed in the past couple of years when it comes to september events. Just a few short years ago, division I college coaches would flock to tournaments like this weekend's Charlie Weber Fall Hoop Classic in Maryland, or the star-studded Gym Rats Midnight Madness event in Cherry Hill, NJ to evaluate the nation's elite prospects. Now the coaches are gone as a result of NCAA legislation, but the games continue, and while they may not pack the same punch as back in the "old days", they are still valuable gauges of emerging young talent and sleepers looking to enrich their recruiting profiles.

Charlie Weber's Fall Hoop Classic

Charlie Weber's annual September jamboree starts tonight. While the venue has changed from the University of Maryland (due to scheduling conflicts) to nearby Bowie State University, the Classic still has managed to amass 84 teams in two age divisions from destinations as far flung as Florida to Connecticut and upstate New York.

Recently the Fall Hoop Classic has morphed into one of the premier tournaments to discover outstanding underclassmen. Last year among the players who burst onto the scene were 6-foot-4 sophomore guard Tyreke Evans, 6-foot-9 junior Donte Green, 6-foot-9 junior Braxton Dupree, 6-foot-9 junior Shane Walker, 6-foot-9 sophomore Chris Braswell, and 6-foot-8 sophomore Germaine Jackson.

Some of the top teams scheduled to attend this weekend include GC Ballers, DC Assault, DC Blue Devils, Mt. Royal/Team Melo, Cecil Kirk, National Christian, Team Jersey Elite, Team Amare (FL), New York Skyriders, Baltimore Select, and the Baltimore Stars.

Rivals.com will provide coverage of this event Friday night and Saturday morning and afternoon, as well as the playoffs on Sunday.

Gym Rats Midnight Madness

If ever there was a small obscure event with a deep, rich history of drawing elite talent it would be Rick Barrett's Gym Rats Midnight Madness, held each September at Cherry Hill East HS in southern New Jersey. Barrett's event has hosted such superstars as Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady, Stephon Marbury, and Antoine Walker, as well as current NBA players TJ Ford, Carlos Boozer, Josh Smith, Shaun Livingston, Marvin Williams, Trevor Ariza, Jawad Williams, Maurice Williams, Donnell Harvey, DeShawn Stevenson, and Joe Johnson among others.

Last year's event featured 6-foot-8 Lance Thomas, 6-foot-7 Brandon Rush, 6-foot-10 Amir Johnson, 6-foot-5 Javaris Crittenton, the Lopez twins, Quincy Pondexter, and Terrance Williams as well as several other high major prospects.

We spoke this week with Rick Barrett and he indicated that he has some special plans for this year to up the ante in terms of star power.

"We're going to have great players again," Barrett gushed. "But the biggest announcements for this year are the coaches that we have lined up. On one side we're going to have Andre Igoudala and Rashad McCants. Then on the other side we're going to have (Philly radio personality) Q-Deezy and Richard Cody, the Governor of New Jersey."

In past years, NBA Players like Kenyon Martin and DaJuan Wagner have stopped by to watch, but this is the first year having celebrity coaches.

Barrett says that the top players participating this year include Wayne Ellington, Derrick Caracter, Lance Thomas, Quincy Pondexter, Tyreke Evans, B.J. Mullens, Yancy Gates, and Senario Hillman.

Each player participating in the event spends the day in a 4 hour classroom session taking the Princeton Review SAT prep class. This has been a huge attraction in past years, and more than one participant has credited the course as instrumental in their dramatic SAT score improvements.

Games start at 6pm on Saturday with the All American games starting at 9pm and 10pm. Rivals.com will have coverage of this event.


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