The first six years of the Under Armour Elite 24 -- the first four at Rucker Park, and the last two years at Venice Beach -- overflowed with future NBA talent, SportsCenter-worthy dunks and epic one-on-one battles. This year's game will add to that legacy.
We look back at the highlights from the last six years.
The inaugural Boost Mobile Elite 24 set the tone for the summer's premier showcase event. With Bobbito Garcia on the mic handing out nicknames, the stands at the Rucker jam-packed and the court full of future NBA talent, it was a memorable opening act.
J.J. Hickson of Wheeler (Marietta, Ga.), who of the Cleveland Cavs, led all scorers with 34 points in a losing effort as his Goat squad fell to the Skip To My Lou squad, 141-139. Current Miami Heat forward Michael Beasley of Notre Dame Prep (Fitchburg, Mass.), the No. 2 pick of the 2008 NBA Draft, led the victors with 26 points, while 2009 Milwaukee Bucks lottery pick Brandon Jennings, a Gardena, Calif., native out of Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.), handed out 15 assists for Goat.
NBA players Ben Gordon and Jason Kidd served as honorary coaches for the two teams that were named in honor of the most revered Rucker Park legends of their respective eras, the late Earl Manigault of Harlem and Rafer Alston of Queens, the latter an NBA veteran.
The game was the plot of Gunnin' For That #1 Spot, a documentary directed by Adam Yauch, a founding member of the pioneering Hip-Hop group the Beastie Boys. The documentary centered on Jennings, Beasley, Tyreke Evans of American Christian (Aston, Pa.), Donte Green of Towson Catholic (Towson, Md.), Kevin Love of Lake Oswego (Lake Oswego, Ore.), Kyle Singler of South Medford (Medford, Ore.) and Lance Stephenson of Lincoln (Brooklyn, N.Y.). It opened in theaters in June 2008. Six of the movie subjects are now in the NBA, while Singler helped Duke win the 2010 NCAA Title and Stephenson chosen in this year's NBA Draft.
The Goat squad defeated Skip To My Lou, 169-164, but the final score paled in comparison to the great individual battle between 2010 NBA Rookie of the Year Tyreke Evans and Coney Island's finest, Lance Stephenson.
Stephenson, playing for Skip To My Lou, led all scorers with 38 points, while "Reke Havoc" (Evans) finished with 26. Two summers later, before the Sacramento Kings made Evans the No. 4 pick of the 2009 NBA Draft.
Meanwhile, Goat's Brandon Jennings out-did his 2006 assist total (15) by dropping 23 dimes. Rucker Park legend Rafer Alston, who started the modern-day streetball craze when his wicked moves were filmed by his coach Ron Naclerio, joined Baron Davis as an honorary coach.
It was the second consecutive year a Cali product who learned his craft on the playground served as honorary coach. Kidd toughened up his game at Mosswood Park in Oakland before winning two CIF state titles at St. Joseph (Alameda, Calif.). Davis, learned his craft at South Park Elementary in South Los Angeles before earning Cal-Hi Sports Mr. Basketball honors at Crossroads (Santa Monica, Calif.), a school not too far from Venice Beach.
Before Skip To My Lou got back in the win column with a 135-121 triumph over Goat, current North Carolina guard Dexter Strickland of St. Patrick (Elizabeth, N.J.) won the first Elite 24 Dunk Contest.
During the game, another Garden State playmaker, Dominic Cheek of St. Anthony (Jersey City, N.J.), had 23 points and seven rebounds for the Skip squad, while New York native Doron Lamb of Bishop Loughlin (Brooklyn, N.Y.) led the way with 25 points for the winning team. Cheek now suits up for Villanova, while Lamb finished his prep career at Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) before signing with the University of Kentucky.
Explosive point guard John Wall from Word of God Academy (Raleigh, N.C.) scored 10 points for Skip, and he had the highlight dunks of the night: a monster tomahawk and a southpaw jam in traffic. Lance Stephenson of Lincoln (Brooklyn, N.Y.) led all scorers with 29 points in a losing effort for the Goat squad. Strickland followed up his dunk contest victory with a 17-point performance.
Dwayne "Tiny" Morton, Stephenson's coach at Lincoln, teamed with NBA star Chauncey Billups to coach Skip To My Lou. Coaching Goat was Ron Naclerio, Skip's high school coach, with assistance from another Queens product, 1989 ESPNHS Mr. Basketball USA Kenny Anderson of Archbishop Malloy (Jamaica, N.Y.), who played at Georgia Tech and in the NBA.
With rain on and off throughout gameday, 24 of the nation's best players ultimately didn't get the opportunity to play at the world's most famous outdoor court. Event organizers scrambled to get the Boost Mobile Elite 24 moved to the weather-friendly environment of the New York Gauchos Gym in the Bronx. The weather dampened the players' spirits at first, but a frenzied overflow crowd -- police had to turn dozens away once the gym reached capacity well before the delayed tip-off -- re-energized everybody in the house.
Despite some fatigue, offense came easily in Skip To My Lou's 133-120 win over Goat thanks to MVP performances by shooting guard Doron "Smooth Criminal" Lamb and Tobias "Nobody's Smiling" Harris, both New York natives. Lamb, a 6-foot-4 wing from Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.), led all scorers with 23 points. He added six rebounds and five assists. Harris, a 6-foot-8 power forward from Half Hollow Hills West (Dix Hills, N.Y.), added 20 points and five rebounds.
The game's highlight was an emphatic dunk by Lake Clifton (Baltimore, Md.) guard Josh Selby. He took two power dribbles down the right side, elevated over a startled Kendall Marshall of Bishop O'Connell (Arlington, Va.) and threw it down with authority.
Word of God (Raleigh, N.C.) forward C.J. Leslie finished with 15 points, 11 rebounds, two assists and two blocked shots to earn co-MVP honors for Goat with Selby, nicknamed "Talk of the Town" by Bobbito Garcia. Selby's high-flying antics resulted in a team-high 18 points, not to mention six spectacular assists.
Dwayne "Tiny" Morton of Lincoln (Brooklyn, N.Y.) again coached Skip To My Lou with help from Boston Celtics guard Rajon Rondo, another Oak Hill product, and Elite 24 alumn Tyreke Evans (Sacramento Kings). Influential New York Post basketball writer and Rucker Park veteran Peter "The Viper" Vecsey coached Goat with help from Elite 24 alumni Kevin Love (Minnesota Timberwolves) and Brandon Jennings (Milwaukee Bucks).
"Rucker to Venice" was the theme as the event moved to the West Coast for the first time. After rain put a slight damper on the 2009 game, sunny skies and a talented group of 24 elite ballers lit up the Venice Beach Boardwalk.
Quddus "Deuce" Bello of Westchester Country Day (High Point, N.C.) got the festivities started in grand fashion by winning the Under Armour Slam Dunk contest. Bello's second-round dunk, in which he took an alley-oop while leaping over a seated Quincy Miller, his high school teammate, brought the crowd to its feet. Bello's dunk also sent judges John Wall and DeMar DeRozan sprawling out of their seats to chest bump the future Baylor Bear.
The overflow crowd was treated to a festive atmosphere and a one possession game, as Myck Kabongo of Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.) and Kyle Wiltjer of Jesuit (Portland, Ore.) led the Raymond Lewis Squad over the Marques Johnson Squad, 131-128.
Kabongo finished with 13 points and a game-high 10 assists. Wiltjer dropped 20 points and displayed his versatility by making two 3-pointers, converting fall-away jumpers and making two perfect one-handed transition passes that led to dunks. At halftime, Wiltjer announced his commitment to Kentucky.
Austin Rivers of Winter Park (Winter Park, Fla.) and James McAdoo of Norfolk Christian (Norfolk, Va.) led the Marques Johnson team. Rivers, the son of Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers, returned from an injury scare to finish with 15 points, five rebounds and four assists. McAdoo, the nephew of former NBA MVP Bob McAdoo, had 10 points and a game-high 11 rebounds.
Wall and fellow Boost Mobile Elite 24 alum Tyreke Evans helped coach the Ray Lew team while DeRozan and Brandon Jennings assisted with the Marques Johnson team.
In its second year in Los Angeles, the Boost Mobile Elite 24 had more star power than ever. The Venice Beach courtside seats were packed with well-connected names from the sports and entertainment industry -- including Academy Award-winning actor Jamie Foxx providing stand-up commentary.
Shaquille Johnson of Milton (Milton, Ga.) kicked off the event by winning the Under Armour Slam Dunk Contest. Johnson figured he'd have to outclass high flyers such as Savon Goodman of Constitution (Philadelphia, Pa.) and Justin Anderson of Montrose Christian (Rockville, Md.) to win, but he never figured he'd have to defeat a NBA player.
That's exactly what Johnson accomplished, using three perfect scores to defeat Goodman and the Minnesota Timberwolves' Derrick Williams, the No. 2 overall pick of the 2011 NBA Draft.
Forty-eight minutes before the start of the game before an overflow crowd and live ESPNU television audience, Mitch McGary of Brewster Academy (Wolfeboro, N.H.) took a between-the-legs-off-the-backboard lob from Aquille Carr of Patterson (Baltimore, Md.) and shattered the backboard into hundreds pieces, sending the players and capacity crowd into a state of pandemonium.
McGary's dunk pumped Carr up and the diminutive point guard kept the crowd alive with his athletic moves and pinpoint passing. He finished with 21 points, 10 assists, seven rebounds and an event record four steals for the Raymond Lewis squad, but it wasn't enough as the Marques Johnson squad used an 18-6 run to open the second half to propel its 142-132 victory.
Point guard Kyle Anderson of St. Anthony (Jersey City, N.J.), finished with 18 points and eight assists, while Justin Anderson (no relation) added 23 points. They were named co-MVPs for the victorious Marques Johnson squad. Carr and Shabazz Muhammad of Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas, Nev.), who added 25 points and nine rebounds, were named co-MVPs for Ray Lew.
Tyreke Evans and fellow Under Armour Elite 24 alumni Kemba Walker and John Wall helped coach the Marques Johnson club while Brandon Jennings and Kevin Love assisted the Ray Lew team.