Incoming Fordham freshman Jon Severe is one of a handful of local players who will take part in third annual Mary Kline Classic tomorrow night in Philadelphia. (Photo courtesy of the New York Daily News)
Three years ago, the Mary Kline Classic was still in the process of coming to be. Just over a thousand days later, the exponential growth of the event has become as large as the reach that acquires the principles to compete in this charitable and prestigious showcase.
Organized, promoted, and meticulously executed by friend of the website Alex Kline as if he were the chairman of facility management at the Super Bowl, the Mary Kline Classic is Alex's baby, one that the young upstart; who turns 19 years old today and is just a few short weeks removed from completing his freshman year at Syracuse University, dreamed up with a heavy heart and philanthropic cause in mind, as the event honors the memory of his late mother Mary, who succumbed to brain cancer when Alex was just ten.
Through Alex's wildly popular Twitter feed, website, and seemingly bottomless pit of contacts through which he has secured corporate sponsorships for the event, the Mary Kline Classic receives year-round promotion from both its creator and chairman himself, as well as the scores of coaches and players that have helped make the young man a household name not just among basketball fans; but the nation as well, through his profiles in Forbes, USA Today, and NBC's "Today" show just to name a few. The event will be held tomorrow at Philadelphia University, consisting of a preliminary game for underclassmen as well as the marquee game for high school seniors who will be attending college in the fall as freshmen, with a slam dunk contest and three-point shootout in between. The best part, you might ask? All the proceeds from the event are immediately directed toward brain cancer research to help spread the legacy of Mary Kline, and Alex has already raised over $30,000 in the last three years to help promote the eternal legacy of his mom.
The first game of the doubleheader for underclassmen features three local ties, as Cheick Diallo of Long Island; who comes from the same Our Savior New American program that produced sensational shot blocker Chris Obekpa of St. John's, as well as the Team Scan AAU outfit coached by this writer's colleague Jamaal Womack, and Lincoln guard Isaiah Whitehead, will be on opposing teams. In addition, Chad Babel of the Hoop Group, a one-time graduate assistant coach at Arkansas who once took a college class with yours truly at St. John's, will be one of the coaches on Whitehead's team.
In the main event, three incoming freshmen who will be attending local schools will be competing. Philadelphia point guard Rysheed Jordan, who last month signed a letter of intent to join Steve Lavin and St. John's, will help represent the de facto road team, which also contains Providence newcomer Brandon Austin and Cincinnati's Jermaine Lawrence among others; while Seton Hall signee Jaren Sina will play for the home team alongside Fordham's Jon Severe, who will also be participating in the three-point shootout during the intermission between the two games.
For a complete list of rosters and all other information about the Mary Kline Classic, including how you can help donate to a worthy cause, visit the event's website at maryklineclassic.com, or follow along tomorrow on the event's Twitter feed.