The Ritz Herald
(Left) Jai Manselle. (Right) Allen Iverson. © Gary Land

Jai Manselle and Allen Iverson Announce NBA Certification for Iverson Classic

Published on April 28, 2021

The 2021 Allen Iverson Roundball Classic, to be held in Memphis, TN next week (May 7 and 8) has just received a huge endorsement.

Jai Manselle, co-founder of the Iverson Classic, took to his Instagram on April 27 with the news: “I’m proud to announce that Iverson Classic will continue to grow and expand our relationship with the @nba. The 2021 Iverson Classic is now officially NBA certified.”

This means a few things; not the least of which that NBA scouts, personnel directors, and even coaches can now attend the event in their official capacities to scout and recruit the dozens of high school stars that will be showcasing their talents in Memphis. This is a very big deal – no wonder dozens of current and former NBA stars have liked Jai’s post above.

The #1 Tournament Featuring High School Americans is Returning This Year

The Iverson Classic, named after the NBA Hall-of-Famer and event co-founder Allen Iverson, was already the #1 tournament featuring high school All-Americans.

The Iverson Classic has been a signature showcase throughout its five years of existence, but the 2021 event will assume stratospheric importance given that it will be the only premier, NBA endorsed competition involving high schoolers slated to be held this year.

Other high school showcases, including the McDonald’s All-American Game and The Jordan Brand Classic, have been canceled this year due to COVID restrictions.

Why is the Iverson Classic a Signature Event?

The presence of NBA stars and talent scouts makes the Iverson Classic a must-watch event. The hoops are witnessed not only by the celebrity coaches – Stephen Jackson and Matt Barnes of Team Loyalty facing off against Rashid Wallace and Bonzi Wells of Team Honor – but many NBA greats such as Tracy McGrady.

In December 2020, for example, an Iverson Classic Showcase event called “Battle In the Bluff” caught the attention of Penny Hardaway, the coach of the University of Memphis. The conversation was about former Bartlett high school point guard Amarr Knox, who put on a dazzling 37-point outing against J.D. Davison, a five-star talent.

The result? Knoxx got a full scholarship from the University of Memphis.

JD Davison will be back this year, representing Team Loyalty against the all-stars on Team Honor, which features the consensus #1 player in the country, 7’1” center Chet Holmgreen.

Opening Doors, As Always

This year’s event will also feature Raven Johnson, the first time that a female high school all-star will be competing directly with an all-male cast. Coach Stephen Jackson announced the decision on the March 30th SHOWTIME® special about the games.

Revolutionary move? Yes and no. The Iverson Classic has been all about creating opportunities for talented kids, in keeping with the vision of the co-founders – Allen Iverson, Jai Manselle, and Bobby Bates. As Iverson put it, the goal of the event has always been to “… open doors and help break down barriers for this next generation.”

The Stage gets Bigger …

As mentioned, the Iverson Classic will be the only blue-chip event this year where college and (now) NBA scouts can evaluate the best high school talent in the country, playing against their peers at a high-flying contest.

NBA certification means that the event is now recognized as one of the best high school competitions in the country and will be run according to the standards set by the premier hoops league in the world. Given how scouts operate these days, and the propensity for high schoolers to sometimes jump directly to the NBA’s G League, the Iverson Classics of 2021 and beyond are sure to be an even hotter ticket item.

No doubt, the 2021 event will be a showcase for the projected 2022 NBA lottery picks who will play in Memphis, including the likes of Chet Holmgren, Paolo Banchero, AJ Griffin, Payton Watson, and Daimion Collins.

To sum up in the words of Jai Manselle: “Never let people tell you that big dreams aren’t possible.

Let’s go!” Let’s go, indeed! We can’t wait!!

Lifestyle Editor