Eleven years after Allen Iverson played his last game, the former NBA legend is still living up to his infamous moniker “The Answer,” this time by way of the Allen Iverson Classic, giving the country’s top high school seniors a platform to showcase their skills on a national stage.
The pandemic shutdown the McDonald’s All American Game and other popular postseason all star games, making Iverson’s event a saving grace for elite prospects hoping to play in front of NBA scouts and personnel.
Here are just a few key things to look for in the game, which tips Saturday at 7 p.m. ET.
Clash of the Titans (Banchero vs. Holmgren)
Chet Holmgren holds down the top spot in the SI99 and took home the coveted SI All-American Player of the Year hardware this season, but his stiffest competition came by way of Paolo Banchero, a Duke signee who checks in at No. 2 in the SI99.
Holmgren, a Gonzaga signee, is widely regarded as the most versatile and dominant two-way player in high school basketball.
At 7-foot-1, Holmgren plays all five positions efficiently, scores on all three levels and creates a nearly impossible matchup for opposing bigs because of his versatile skill set. He’s equally dominant on the defensive end with precise timing on his blocks in the paint and a tenacious motor that remains in overdrive.
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Banchero is slightly shorter at 6-11 with similar variety and equal dominance to his skill set. Both players compete with the chip of an underrated prospect looking to make a name for himself, and they’re likely both aware that this is a matchup the recruiting world has been waiting to see.
Also, in the latest NBA mock draft’s for 2022, Banchero is the projected No. 1 overall pick and Holmgren checks in at No. 2.
The versatile bigs won’t meet again until November 26 when Duke and Gonzaga clash at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Expect both to bring their A games.
All Eyes on the Uncommitted
A handful of players in the 2021 class have given new meaning to the phrase “better late than never” as they continue to navigate through the recruitment process in the eleventh hour.
To be fair, Trey Alexander, Nolan Hickman and TyTy Washington had their minds made up before decommitting late in the process.
Alexander originally picked Auburn over Arkansas, Georgia, Grambling State, Kansas, Oklahoma and Ole Miss.
Nolan Hickman asked for a release from Kentucky due to a combination of Tony Barbee leaving the Wildcats staff to become the head coach at Central Michigan and Hickman being homesick, according to Hickman’s father.
Hickman originally hails from Washington, and attended Eastside Catholic High School in Sammamish, Wash., before transferring to Wasatch this season.
Expect his focus to be west coast based the second time around.
Washington reopened his recruitment just three days after Creighton coach Greg McDermott was reinstated following a suspension for racially insensitive “plantation” comments made after a loss.
Washington will decide between Kentucky are the Baylor, Arizona, Kansas, LSU and Oregon on May 15.
Raven Johnson Makes History
Iverson Classic participants beware, Raven Johnson will be patrolling the hardwood making history as the first female in the history of postseason all-star games to suit up in a boys game.
Just don’t expect her to rest on her laurels, as arguably the most accomplished player in the game, there’s a good bet that with her on the roster Team Loyalty will have a strong chance to win.
This season, Johnson won the Naismith Girls High School Player of the Year award after leading her team to its fourth state championship and the GEICO Nationals title last month. Johnson, a South Carolina signee, averaged 15.1 points, 5.8 assists, five rebounds and 3.7 steals a game to go along with a 3.2 assist-to-turnover ratio this season.
"Raven is a special talent,” Iverson Classic Co-Founder Jai Manselle said. “She embodies the heart and competitive spirit that this game is built on.”
Updated SI99 Looms
As we closeout what will likely go down as the wackiest season in the history of high school basketball due to the starts, stops and cancellations the COVID-19 pandemic provided, SI All-American will use the Allen Iverson Classic practices and game to evaluate prospects for our final SI99 basketball rankings for the 2021 class. Multiple players have already made their cases for climbing, but even in an all-star game last impressions can be made as we prepare to rollout the final rankings.