University of Chicago (Ratner Gymnasium) – sponsored by CPS, Nike, Body Armor, Comcast and Core Power
The night began with a prayer to keep the players safe from injury and for an overall great event for a great cause. We were then given a soulful rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner by r&b sensation and hometown favorite “Russoul.” There was a bit of trash talk between the West and South side teams before the jump ball at the 5th annual Chicago United Hoops Classic. (The Westside holds the edge 3-2). It was all in good fun as most of the players knew each other from competing during their respective high school seasons and summer league AAU teams.
There were a couple of Chicago legends in the building as Gene Pingatore (long time head coach at St. Joseph and 2014-15 class 3A state champs) and Sonny Parker (Illinois High School Hall Of Fame and father of Milwaukee Bucks and Simeon graduate Jabari Parker) sat and watched some of Chicago’s top talent play for a great cause. Also in attendance were Reggie Rose (Bulls star Derrick Rose’ older brother) and David Bass and Jordan Mills from the Chicago Bears.
The Westside team was coached by William “Wolf” Nelson & Ron Eskridge (Farragut), David Taylor (Uplift 2104-15 2A state champs) and Henry Cotton (Marshall). Key players included Charles Matthews (St Rita-University of Kentucky), Joseph Toye (Whitney Young-Vanderbilt), Jordan Ash (St Joseph-Northwestern), Jeremy Roscoe (Uplift-undecided), Kalin Fisher (Proviso East-Hampton) and Laytwan Porter (Rockford Auburn-Northern Illinois).
The Southside team was coached by Robert Smith (Simeon), Pat Ambrose (Stevenson) and Marlo Finner (Kenwood). Key players for the south included Luwane Pipkins (Bogan-UMass), Isaiah Moss (Simeon-U of Iowa), Ed Morrow (Simeon-U of Nebraska), Armani Chaney (St Rita-Tennessee St), Sam Mack Jr (Morgan Pk-IMG Prep in FL), Cain Harris (St Rita-Tulane) and Julian Torres (Bolingbrook-UIC).
There were a few spectacular plays and the guys played at a high level and showed why they are some of the city’s best. The Southside came up with a 115-108 victory and Bogan star Luwane Pipkins was given the Ben Wilson Award as MVP of the game. (A close friend of mine is an assistant coach at Bogan so I’ve seen this kid play a few times. UMass is getting a heck of a player) “This was a great game and a great experience. Alot of us grew up in Englewood so I felt it was a good atmosphere to be in tonight” Pipkins added. Whitney Young’s Joseph Toye was given the Triple Impact Player Award for his outstanding work in the classroom, on the court and in the community.
Violence affects everyone in Chicago but especially our youth. This game was created to showcase the positive community spirit of the south and west sides of the city which happen to be the neighborhoods hit most by violence as well as incredible basketball talent and youth leadership. This was a great night for those kids and everyone involved.
The hoops classic looks like it’s here to stay.