Local stars have aligned for tonight’s 716 vs. 585 Classic.
Roddy Gayle, Jalen Bradberry and Willie Lightfoot, teaming together on an area hardwood for the first time since they were Niagara Catholic middle schoolers, will squad up with some of Buffalo’s best ballplayers to take on a team of Rochestars at Villa Maria College.
“From the looks of it, it will be the last time all three of us share the same court in high school,” said Gayle, a two-time GNN Sports Player of the Year who transferred to Wasatch Academy in Utah last season and has committed to be an Ohio State Buckeye in 2022.
The second event in three years organized by Niagara Falls coach Carlos Bradberry will feature more than a dozen Division I college prospects, including University at Buffalo recruit Kidtrell Blocker. Admission is $10 for the doubleheader tipping off at 7 p.m. with a rising stars game of underclassmen including Niagara-Wheatfield sophomore Xander Fletcher, and North Tonawanda teammates Luke Granto and Pat McNeill.
“Our goal is to have the games be real basketball games,” said Bradberry, who will coach the 716 team. “It’s not going to be an all-star game, just letting guys shoot and go to the basket and dunk.”
Returning to the 716 team is JaVaughn Jones, the two-time All-Western New York guard from Health Sciences who made several defensive plays while scoring 23 points in winning MVP of the inaugural 716 vs. 585 Classic played at Park School in 2019. It was a breakout performance for Jones, who would lead Health Sciences to an undefeated season and earn player of the year recognition as a junior.
All-WNY performers Jaden Slaughter (St. Joe’s) and Jamyier Patton (Timon) round out the 716 roster, along with high-flying Massai Graham (Tapestry), Caleb Hutchins (Park), Josh Haskell (St. Joe’s) and Max Dowling (Canisius), back from a weekend football recruiting trip to Rutgers.
“Our team is loaded,” Carlos Bradberry said. “Every kid on our team has Division I offers or should be getting them.
“And with Roddy, Willie and Jalen playing together, it’s really exciting for our whole area. It never worked out at Niagara Falls, but having all three of those guys on the court together again is going to be special.”
The 585 roster was put together by a former Niagara Purple Eagle, James “Mook” Reaves, and includes his son, James Reaves Jr., as well as Damani Barley, the son of former Canisius star Darrell Barley. Among the other players on the D-1 recruiting radar are Christian Harmon, Miles Rose and Mo McKinney, who played with Blocker in the inaugural game. Also expected to represent Rochester: Turner Harris, Spencer Glenn, Adam Williams, Shaheem Ellis Jr. and Jack Bleier.
Local hoops aficionados will be eager to watch Blocker, a McDonald’s All-American nominee who prepped in Tennessee after leaving Rochester’s Bishop Kearny. The 6-foot-5 guard is coming closer to home having signed with UB after decommitting from Buffalo native and former Niagara assistant Rob Lanier at Georgia State.
The 716 underclassmen roster includes: Greg Brooks, an All-WNY honorable mention player for Maritime Charter as a seventh-grader who played last season in Kentucky, along wtih Shane Cercone (Canisius), Nick Moore (Amherst), Chase Welch (Park), Jaiden Harrison (West Seneca East), Parker Rey (Orchard Park) and Adam Chiacchia (Hamburg). The team will be coached by Rod Middleton and Tony Watson, the former UB players who operate Pro Training Basketball in North Tonawanda and are affiliated with the Albany City Rocks AAU program.
The event was moved from the Pro Training facility at St. Matthew Lutheran Church in NT to Villa Maria to accommodate a larger crowd, Bradberry said.
Rochester’s underclassmen roster consists of: Xavier Gissendaner, Edmere Binion, Tamar Roundtree, Korie Reaves, Marquell Freeman, Damaris Owens, Terrenace Thompson, Davion Lipscomb, Mykel White and Mason Blackwood.