Basketball practice was in full swing on April 15 at the Show Place Arena in Upper Marlboro, Md., two days before the 38th Annual Capital Classic. Coach Danny Walck of Hempfield High School, Landisville, Pa., put his squad of high school all-stars to work, fine-tuning them for another chapter in the long-running national high school basketball all-star event.

The Capital Classic, scheduled for April 17, features four squads of top talent from the D.C. area and around the country playing two exhibition games. In its storied history, the Capital Classic has featured current NBA stars Chris Paul, Amar’e Stoudemire, Jason Kidd, LeBron James and Earvin “Magic” Johnson.

“The history and the tradition speaks for itself,” Walck said after the practice. “To be invited to participate in this is a real privilege and honor. The players we have are outstanding with great futures in front of them. You can only take so many people for the McDonald’s All American Game, so this is in no way a side-car event. When you talk about the Capital Classic and the history of players that played in this, should feel honored and be proud.”

The event divides its cast of high school stars into four squads: the U.S., Suburban, District and Capital All-Stars. The Suburban, District and Capital All Star teams are each made up of local players from the Maryland, Washington, D.C. and Virginia region, while the U.S. team is comprised of top talent from around the country.

The Suburban and District teams will square off first on April 17 at 1 p.m., while the Capital and U.S. squads will face off at 3 p.m.

Although this year’s group doesn’t possess a single mesmerizing star such as James or Johnson, this year’s collection of talent definitely isn’t lacking in talented players. The Capital All Stars squad features a quartet of some of the most heavily recruited players in the area, including Devin Gallman of Theodore Roosevelt High School in Washington, D.C., Mikael Hopkins of DeMatha High School in Hyattsville, Md., and Marcus Thornton from McNamara High School in Forestville, Md. and Tyrone Johnson of Montrose Christian in Rockville, Md.

Hopkins has committed to Georgetown University, Johnson will be attending Villanova University next season and Thornton will enroll at William & Mary. Gallman, the star forward of the top team in the District of Columbia Interscholastic Athletic Association (DCIAA), has yet to make a public announcement about which school he will attend next season.


Stephen D. Riley

Special to the AFRO