The tournaments motto, "Bring your game, not your name," is etched on the backs of every player's jersey.
"IS8 is a throwback," said Tom Konchalski, the publisher of High School Basketball Illustrated. "It's a community tournament, but everybody's heard about it, and people come from all over to play in it. It's the outside ball of the 1950s, '60s and '70s combined with the talent of the new millennium."
Basketball's biggest stars, whether from New York or not, have laced them up at the IS8. The list of past participants reads like a Who's Who: Stephon Marbury. Ron Artest. Lamar Odom. LeBron James. Sebastian Telfair. Elton Brand. Ben Gordon. Glen "Big Baby" Davis. Joakim Noah.
And that's just a sampling.
The IS8 tournament, played in a tiny middle school gym in Queens, NY, will conclude this weekend. The semifinals are set for Saturday. In the first semifinal, the Playaz Senior Team will face the Panthers (NY), followed by the Bingo All-Stars vs. Starret City. The finals will be played Sunday.
Earl Clark put up a triple-double
last weekend at the IS8.
Louisville-bound forwards Derrick Caracter (Panthers) and Earl Clark (Playaz) will clash in the semifinals. Clark scored 25 points, grabbed 22 rebounds, and blocked 11 shots to help the Playaz advance to the semifinals, while Caracter scored 17 points in the quarterfinals.
The Playaz knocked off Connecticut, comprised of UCONN signee's Stanley Robinson, Jerome Dyson, Hasheem Thabeet and Doug Wiggins, in the quarterfinals. The 7'3 Thabeet, who signed with the Huskies last week after considering Louisville and Cincinnati, had two impressive outings last weekend, posting double-double's (15 points, 11 rebounds and 10 blocks in the first; 17 points, 13 rebounds and 14 blocks in the second) in two games last Saturday.
"The big man was just ridiculous," Duke-bound and Playaz guard Gerald Henderson, a McDonald's All-American, told Fox 61. "I've never played against anyone that skilled with that kind of height. He's going to be scary."
Besides Clark and Henderson, 6'5 McDonald's All-American Wayne Ellington (North Carolina) will suit up for the Playaz. Lance Thomas (Duke), a 6'9 McDonald's All-American, and 6'8 Curtis Kelly (UCONN) will team with Caracter. Brandon Jennings, the top point guard in the junior class nationally, also could join the Panthers this weekend.
Stay tuned to InsideTheVille.com for coverage of the IS8 semifinals from Mike Sullivan, publisher of NewYorkInsider.com.