The sounds of squeaking shoes and bouncing balls are set to fill up the Norvell T. Lee Gymnasium at Goldsboro High School as the second WJG Sports Classic is set to take place on July, 29.
Created by WJG Sports founders Kai Jones and Laieke Abebe, the WJG Sports Classic is a showcase basketball event that focuses on helping boys and girls get recruited and gain exposure. College coaches are expected to be in attendance.
Jones said the event was designed to make sure the kids, who were invited based on their basketball skills and off the court character, have fun but also play a competitive basketball game.
“We’re not going to have players not playing defense. There won’t be just running and dunking. This is going to be some real hardcore basketball that will resemble a college-level atmosphere,” Jones said. “We want the college coaches to look at that and try to recruit a few of the players.
“My hope is we can get one kid an offer directly from the event.”
The event will feature some of the best basketball players in Wayne, Johnston, and Greene county as well as the surrounding counties
“We had originally kept it to kids in Wayne, Johnston and Greene county, but due to the fact that some of the top kids in the area have AAU commitments or other things that are important to them, they wouldn’t be able to play,” Jones said. “So, we opened it up to everybody so we could get a bigger and better feel.”
Last year, the first WJG Classic was set to take to in place in March 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic derailed those plans. The event eventually took place in July with attendance limited to family and media and with all the proper precautions in place.
This year, the event will still have limited attendance, but Jones said he and Abebe have learned a lot from putting together a showcase basketball event during a pandemic.
“Last year was very stressful because trying to find venue was the toughest part as well the first time we’ve ever done it, so nobody knew what to expect,” Jones said. “For us, it was a really big learning experience.
“This year, I’d say the hardest thing just getting everything organized in such a quick fashion.”
The WJG Classic will feature five teams – three boys’ teams and two girls’ teams – each player will have a chance to two play games. 12 boys will be on each boys’ team, while 14 girls will be on each girls’ team.
The boys’ games will feature two 20-minute halves with a 40-minute running clock, while the girls’ game will have a 50-minute running clock.
The event will also have special rules such as a five dribble rule, and if the game is within nine points during the final two minutes then the running clock will be turned off, but if the lead is bigger than nine points then the running clock will keep going.
“The WJG Classic has a little bit of a different format from last year because this time we know exactly what we’re doing,” Jones said. “This is more of a showcase camp type of thing. It’s a one-day done in a few hours type of thing. It’s basically the same format, but we just added more players in, and with us adding in more players, we added more games.”
Jones said putting together the WJG Sports Classic is a stressful but incredibly rewarding experience, and he can’t wait to see the kids get on the court.
“This is not about us or anybody that we have coming. This is all purely for the kids,” Jones said. “We are really trying to help these young men and women get a chance to play basketball at the next level.”