Led by guards Isaiah Whitehead (16 points) and Isaiah Briscoe (11 points, to go with an awe-inspiring ball handling exhibition), along with forwards Cheick Diallo (23 points & 12 rebounds), Thomas Bryant (15 & 6) and Chris McCullough (17 & 9), Team NYC took control in the second half and emerged with a 126-110 victory over Team USA. The local kids avenged last year’s 87-86 heartbreaking defeat, but more importantly, now lead the all-time series, 2-to-1.
With the AAU circuit and skills camps in the rearview, the Big Strick Classic concludes a hectic summer of basketball (save for those competing in the UA Elite 24). Picking up on last year, an at-capacity Gauchos Gym played host to a highly intense, go hard or get exposed 48-minute contest. Based off the talent pool, raucous fanfare and increasing media presence, Big Strick is seemingly on the cusp of becoming a nationally-known event. Every year, ignited by the NYC team’s prideful defense of the Tri-state area and the USA team’s desire to make their own statement in the Mecca of hoops, the players elevate their games and show out in a hostile, unforgiving environment, which always makes for great basketball.
The event’s growing alumni list includes Archie Goodwin (Kentucky/Phoenix Suns), Kyle Anderson (UCLA), Andrew and Aaron Harrison (Kentucky), Troy Williams (Indiana), Chris Walker (Florida), Omar Calhoun (UConn), Jermaine Lawrence (Cincinnati), Robert Hubbs (Tennessee), Kuran Iverson (Memphis), and many others.
This year was no different, with a handful of the best high school talent on display. Organized by Left Hand Right Hand, LLC, the game was dedicated in memory of its namesake, the late John “Franchise” Strickland. A streetball legend in New York City, Strickland died in his sleep at the too-young age of 38 in October of 2010.
Strickland played college ball at Pacific University, and spent six seasons in the USBL, but his legacy was made on city asphalt. Strick coined the phrase “finish your breakfast,” reminding us that no move—no matter how eye-pleasing—is complete until the ball goes in the hoop. A childhood friend of Jay Z, HOV gives a nod to Strickland in the song Public Service Announcement, saying “My homie Strick told me ‘Dude finish your breakfast,’ So that’s what I’ma do…”