Plenty of talent fills the lineup at The Ironton Classic

Published 9:37 pm Sunday, December 18, 2022

By Jim Walker

Can you say “talent.”

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There will be wall-to-wall talented players both days of The Ironton Classic schedule Wednesday and Thursday at the Harold Conley Sports Center.

Some top programs and some of the best players not only in the Tri-State area but nationally will be showcasing their basketball skills when the 14th Annual event tips-off at 3 p.m on Wednesday.

Tournament Director Cory McKnight has put together one of the best lineups The Classic has had to offer fans.

“I believe this is the deepest tournament we have fielded in several years, having at least four top 100 players in their class and upwards of 10 guys who will play Power 5 basketball,” said McKnight.

The lineup will feature a first-time appearance by Centerville and McKnight is excited about landing this jewel.

Coach Bruce Cupps and the Elks have one of the top Division 1 programs in the state. His son is 6-foot-2 Gabe Cupps was Mr. Basketball last season and will play at Indiana.

“I’ve been trying to get Coach Cupps down here for years and am proud they’re finally coming,” said McKnight.

“They are one of the most respected high school programs in the entire Midwest and they will be a must-watch for any basketball fan. I believe this is the first time we have had a reigning Mr. Basketball playing in The Ironton Classic.”

Centerville junior varsity coach is Zach Christensen who was an all-conference player for Ironton.

Another big catch was Combine Academy of North Carolina.

McKnight said a past relationship with Coach Michael Wright led to getting the talented program.

“Coach Wright was the coach at LibertyHeights last year. They were in our 2021 tournament and he wanted to bring Combine to this year’s event,” said McKnight. “They are loaded with talent and I hope they become a staple of future tournaments.”

Centerville and Combine provide the opposition for Huntington Prep which makes a return appearance to the Classic.

“Coach Arkell Bruce will always have skilled guys who can make plays. I have watched Maki Johnson play since he was in the fourth grade and he is one of the hardest working kids you would ever be around. He can shoot it like no other,” said McKnight.

The Classic once again has Western & Southern Insurance as its major sponsor.

“We couldn’t do this without the support of John Large and Western Southern. They’ve given every year and are a great partner for our school district,” said McKnight.

Other sponsors who help make The Classic a success and create the ability to bring such talent teams include:

Buffalo Wild Wings, Coal Grove Giovanni’s, Fox Sports, Collins Career Center, NECCO, Awards Plus Tees, Harbor Healthcare, Phillips Funeral Home, Marathon Petroleum, R&R Restoration & Electrical, Bruce’s Custom Carts, Glocker (automotive sales), Patties and Pints, McDonals, Elks Lodge 177, Armory Smokehouse, Big Boy, Wendy’s and Rax.

Admission is $8 per day which is good for all 4 games. Fans can get a hand stamp that enables them to come and go.

The 15th Ironton Classic

Wednesday, Dec. 21

3:00 — Spring Valley, W.Va. vs. Ironton

4:45 — Wesley Christian vs. Portsmouth

6:30 — Combine Academy, N.C. vs Huntington Prep, W.Va.

8:00 — Hurricane, W.Va. vs. Ironton

Thursday, Dec. 22

3:00 — South Gallia vs. Ironton St. Joseph

4:45 — Huntington, W.Va. vs. Minford

6:30 — Huntington Prep, W.Va. vs. Centerville

8:00 — Russell, Ky. vs. Ironton

Top Players/Recruiting Information

Spring Valley v. Ironton 

—Ironton led by Evan Williams. Evan has the school record for career digs in volleyball and was the Ironton kicker this past year. 

Wesley Christian v. Portsmouth 

—Wesley Christian returns to the national scene as they are rebuilding their program post-COVID shutdown. They are led by Andre Skelin- Offers, Towson, College of Charleston.  Portsmouth is led by Shawnee State commit Kenny Sanderlin. 

Combine Academy (NC) v. Huntington Prep

— Combine Academy is led by Trentyn Flowers who is a 5-star junior who is the 21st ranked player in the country per 24/7. Flowers holds offers from Kansas, Florida, USC, Memphis, Xavier, Louisville, and others. 

Silas Demary Jr is 4-star top 100 player committed Southern California (D1)

Collin Tanner is committed Richmond University (D1)

Kendall Campbell is committed to Elon (D1)

Rakease Passmore is 4-star #47 ranked junior per 24/7 with offers from Auburn and Georgia Tech. 

The Huntington Prep Express 

Del Jones: Mississippi State, NC State, University of San Diego, Rutgers

 Larry Johnson: University of Virginia, Samford

 Maki Johnson: New Mexico State, Ohio University

 Ronald Jessamy: Signed with Mount St Mary’s 

 Dillon Tingler: Ohio University, Marshall University 

 Brett Wright: Furman University, UT- Chattanooga, Alabama Huntsville  

 Trent Lincoln: Southern Miss, NJIT, Fordham 

 Jordan McCullum: Mizzou, Ole Miss, Ohio University

Hurricane v. Ironton 

—Hurricane will come with size and athleticism. Ironton is 2-0 and being led by Braden Schreck, Shaun Terry, Landen Wilson and Ethan White. 

South Gallia vs. St Joe

—South Gallia is coached by Ironton and Rio Grande alum Travis Elliott. St. Joe has one of the more talented teams they have had in several years.

Huntington High vs. Minford

—Huntington coming off a football state championship. Huntington beat OHSAA Final Four Africentric last year. Minford has sophomore Myles Montgomery who is a high level scorer. 

Huntington Prep v. Centerville

—Centerville led by Indiana University signee and reigning Ohio Mr. Basketball Gabe Cupps. Centerville won the 2021 D1 State Championship. Their only loss last season was in the state championship game. This is a rematch from last year where Centerville edged Prep. Centerville also features Jonathan Powell – Ohio State, Indiana, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Xavier offers; Emmanuel Deng – Penn commit (FB); Reggie Powers – multiple D1 offers (FB)

Russell v. Ironton 

—Russell led by Carson Blum who is being recruited by Asbury University.