Eleventh Annual Rock Chalk Roundball Classic Another Success
EUDORA, Kan. – It was a who’s who of former Kansas Jayhawk student-athletes who brought in yet another sold-out crowd to Eudora High School for the 11th annual Rock Chalk Roundball Classic Thursday night. Former Jayhawk men’s and women’s basketball players, as well as a few football players, and some other well-known KU alumni and coaches, participated in a friendly game of basketball which helped raise money for local children fighting cancer and other life-altering diseases.
Led by the current “Voice of the Jayhawks,” Brian Hanni, each year, the Roundball Classic organization selects five local families who need support on their journeys facing harrowing medical diagnoses. The organization, and its charity events held, help raise money to ease their financial burden, allowing them to focus on healing.
This year, the “Starting Five” were comprised of Dontez, Nathan, Nicholas, Sergio and Taylia. Each starter was introduced to the crowd with a short video and then they, along with their families, high-fived their way down the tunnel formed by the smiling, excited players and coaches while the fans in attendance provided a standing ovation for each starter. It was an emotional moment for all participating and watching, as goosebumps were felt on arms and tears formed in eyes.
In addition to the “Starting Five” recipient families, 2019 brought a new feature to the event in the form of eight honorary coaches. These too, are local children battling cancer and other life-altering diseases that were nominated to be one of the “Starting Five” but were ultimately not one of the five selected. For being named honorary coaches, those eight families each received a check for $1,000 to help with medical costs.
Besides basketball, monetary donations made and impromptu auctions during timeouts on the court took place, as did a few “In Memoriam” videos for a couple of special people lost during the past year. The first was Willow Rose Manuel, who passed away in February 2019 and the other was a former Roundball participant Kevin McLemore, brother of Ben McLemore, who tragically lost his life in November of 2018.
A very active participant in the Roundball Classic for a number years, Ben convinced Kevin to join in the action in 2018. Ben explained the importance of his involvement after tonight’s event when he said, “It’s for a great cause. We come a long ways for the kids. I did my own charity event, ‘Stop the Violence,’ back in Saint Louis a few weeks back. I told Brian (Hanni) that I want to be a part of this event each and every year. Being a part of this will always be special to me and I’ll hold it deep down in my heart.”
Surprised by the tribute to his brother Ben said, “That was really special. I really appreciate Brian and his staff for putting that together and dedicating it to my little brother. He was a part of this Roundball event too, so that was very special.”
McLemore displayed his dominance on the court in addition to honoring his brother, as he led Team Blue with a game-high 42 points.
With just over two minutes remaining on the clock, the competitiveness on the court picked up a couple of notches and more defense may have been played than in the rest of the game combined. In the end, Team Crimson came away with a 127-124 victory over Team Blue.
In his first season competing in the annual charity game, current Sacramento Kings guard Frank Mason III took to the court and barely left the court. The second-year NBA player wowed the crowd with the tenacity he was known for during his KU career, driving into the lane time after time for buckets. He led the winning Crimson Team with 33 points.
Following the game, during an autograph and picture session, Mason explained why he chose to participate in the 2019 Roundball Classic when he said, “I wanted to give back to the community here in Kansas. It’s bigger than basketball for me and I wanted to be a part of that. My favorite moment (of the night) was winning and just being a part of this whole event. It was big time for me to be here and I was just happy to be a part of it.”
Now in its 11th year, the Rock Chalk Roundball Classic has grown to a three-day event. In addition to the basketball game, a celebrity dinner and celebrity golf tournament have been added to the weekend’s events, both of which are sold out.
For more information, and to contribute to the cause, go to: www.rockchalkroundballclassic.com.
Team Crimson 127, Team Blue 124
Ben McLemore 42, Tyshawn Taylor 18, Brandon Rush 14, Elijah Johnson 13, Mario Chalmers 10, Kenny Gregory 7, Cole Aldrich 6, Clay Young 5, Billy Thomas 3, Scooter Barry 3, Tyrel Reed 2, y-Kelton Ford 2, Natalie Knight 2, Brandon McAnderson 0, Sherron Collins 0, Jeff Graves 0.
Frank Mason 33, Perry Ellis 22, Mario Little 21, Kevin Young 15, Travis Releford 11, Keith Langford 10, Dezmon Briscoe 5, Jeff Hawkins 3, Monica Engelman 2, Russell Robinson 0, Sasha Kaun 0, Stephen Vinson 0.
x-scores did not add up because of scoreboard error. y-Kelton Ford was youngster asked to play in second half.