🏀 Starting Five and Sixth Man Featured at 15th Annual Rock Chalk Roundball Classic

LAWRENCE, Kan. – Just like he did many times while playing for Kansas, former KU guard Keith Langford drained a three in the waning moments of a game to tie the 15th Annual Rock Chalk Roundball Classic on June 8 at the Lawrence Free State High gymnasium.

The Rock Chalk Roundball Classic helps raise money for six families fighting pediatric cancer.

The June 8 basketball game kicked off the three-day fundraising weekend that included a VIP Dinner and Rock Chalk Round-Bowl Classic to assist families who help as they care for their children battling pediatric cancer. Orchestrated by ‘Voice of the Jayhawks’ Brian Hanni, this year’s starting five and sixth man included 13-year-old Hayden Ballou, 4-year-old Ismael Vargas, 15-month-old Raven Hays, fifth grader Lilly Bolton, 5-year-old Nolan Anderson and 6-year-old Hunter Brown.

The basketball evening included former Kansas men’s basketball, women’s basketball and football players along with other local celebrities. All tickets sales, raffles and other fundraising activities went toward a great cause.

The Crimson team trailed the Blue squad for most of the two 20-minute halves, but Langford’s three as time expired tied the game at 104-104. To break the tie, the two head coaches had a free throw shooting contest. Blue head coach Greg Ostertag missed his first attempt, while Crimson’s Calvin Thompson drained his, completing the comeback win for his team.

Friday’s VIP Dinner at the Burge Union on the KU campus was themed “On a Monday Night in April” referring to the Kansas teams that played in NCAA title games. Fighting for the cause, there was a silent auction and regular auction for those who attended. Emceed by Hanni, former players Keith Langford, Darnell Jackson, Travis Releford and KJ Adams along with KU head coach Bill Self were the featured panel for the evening that talked about playing in NCAA title contests and other stories about their times at Kansas.

Saturday morning’s bowling at Royal Crest in Lawrence concluded the event. The Rock Chalk Roundball Classic has raised money for more than 40 families in excess of $1 million in its 15 years. In addition to the starting five and sixth man in 2023, seven other families were named “Roundball Future Stars” and were beneficiaries and potential recipients for next year’s Classic, keeping the event continuance.

Kansas basketball players that returned included Udoka Azubuike, Sherron Collins, Nick Collison, Devon Dotson, Devonte’ Graham, Jeff Graves, Jeff Hawkins, Darnell Jackson, Alonzo Jamison, Elijah Johnson, Natalie Knight-Johnson, Kylee Kopatich, Langford, Michael Lee, Mitch Lightfoot, Ben McLemore, Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, Ostertag, Tyrel Reed, Travis Releford, Patrick Richey, Russell Robinson, Brandon Rush, Wayne Selden Jr., Silvio De Sousa, Tyshawn Taylor, Chris Teahan, Conner Teahan and Stephen Vinson. Former KU football players Derek Fine, David Lawrence, Brandon McAnderson, Darrell Stuckey, Aqib Talib returned and former Kansas City Chiefs Neil Smith and Trent Green also participated. KU volleyball coach Ray Bechard and Robin Stallworth, wife of KU great Bud Stallworth, were coaches for the Crimson squad. Bud watched the game at his home in St. Louis.

To learn more about the Rock Chalk Roundball Classic or to donate to the cause, click on could go to rockchalkroundballclassic.com.