The Metro Classic basketball tournament has featured some of the best teams and top high school talents in the country since its inception in 2013, including two-time NBA All-Star Karl Anthony Towns, former No. 1 pick of the Philadelphia Sixers Ben Simmons and a host of other current NBA players.
Founders and brothers Pryia and Mukesh Roy have raised the bar this year.
This season’s showcase, which has its first session Thursday at Cure Insurance Arena in Trenton and another Feb. 3-6 at RWJ Barnabas Health Arena in Toms River, features 12 Top 20 national teams, 10 high school All-Americans and 30 ESPN top 100 players.
The signature matchup of the event pits Camden, the No. 1 public school in the nation and third overall according to ESPN last week, against top-ranked Montverde (Fla.), which won the GEICO National Championship in 2021, at 8:30 p.m. on Thursday.
“The event’s just grown in popularity because of the amazing teams, players, coaches and really the support from New Jersey basketball fans, and because we didn’t have basketball last year, there was a lot of pent up demand,” Pryia Roy said, “Teams were reaching out and we’re like, you know what, if the demand is there, we’re going to put on a great event.”
The wheels were put in motion on the Camden-Montverde matchup in the summer.
“I’ve gotten to know over the years Rick Brunson, who’s the coach at Camden, and I’ve known for many, many more years Kevin Boyle, the coach at Montverde (and used to coach St. Patrick’s),” Roy said. “When we saw (two years ago) how great Camden was before they didn’t have the (Tournament of Champions), it was just a natural opportunity because of the Jersey roots. Kevin’s from New Jersey, Montverde is led by a player from New Jersey, (senior, Newark native and Duke recruit) Dariq Whitehead. We have DJ and the Wagner family, South Jersey basketball and Camden … let’s see if we can get the game on and both coaches were excited and we got it done.”
Brunson is always looking to challenge his program and that’s why he wanted to get the game on the slate.
“I think it’s important for our kids, we have 7, 8 scholarship players, to get a college-type atmosphere playing against elite talent, an elite coach, I got a lot of respect for Kevin Boyle,” Panthers coach Rick Brunson said following a victory over Lenape last Tuesday. “I’ve watched him coach at St. Pat’s, so I know they play hard, they’re talented 1-10, 1-12, so it’ll be a good test for us and kind of show us where we at in terms of individually and as a team.”
Thursday’s other matchups are Phelps School (Pa.) vs. Bergen Catholic at 5:30 p.m. and No. 20 Long Island Lutheran (N.Y.) vs. No. 14 Roselle Catholic at 7.
The trio of games were special to Roy because it features elite schools from the tri-state area.
“These games are just really tremendous in terms of the scope of them, but to have local teams that are national teams is also unique,” Roy said. “Often teams, the local teams, aren’t as highly ranked, but we’ve been fortunate this year. … To me, it adds a lot more excitement when you have the local teams representing on a national level.”
Visit www.metroclassic.com to purchase tickets or for more information.
Metro Classic Schedule
Session 1 at Cure Insurance Arena, Trenton
Phelps School (Pa.) vs. Bergen Catholic, 5:30 p.m.
Long Island Lutheran (N.Y.) vs. Roselle Catholic, 7 p.m.
Montverde Academy (Fla.) vs. Camden, 8:30 p.m.
Session 2 at RWJ Barnabas Health Arena, Toms River
Oak Hill (Va.) vs. Legacy (S.C.), 1 p.m.
Sunrise (Kan.) vs. Bishop Walsh (Md.), 3 p.m.
IMG Academy (Fla.) vs. La Lumiere (Ind.), 5 p.m.
Wasatch (Utah) vs. Long Island Lutheran, 6 p.m. (alternate site)
Camden vs. Gill St. Bernard’s, 7 p.m.
Montverde vs. Bergen Catholic, 9 p.m.
Link Academy (Mo.) vs. First Love Christian (Pa.), noon (alternate site)
IMG Academy vs. Patrick School, 1 p.m.
Legacy vs. Bishop Walsh, 3 p.m.
Oak Hill vs. Wasatch, 5 p.m.
Sunrise vs. Westtown (Pa.), 7 p.m.
Montverde vs. La Lumiere, 9 p.m.
Compass vs. St. Thomas More (Conn.), 9 a.m.
La Lumiere vs. Gill St. Bernard’s, 11 a.m.
Manasquan vs. West Side, noon (alternate site)
Wasatch vs. Bishop Walsh, 1 p.m.
Patrick School vs. Link Academy, 1:30 p.m. (alternate site)
Montverde vs. Legacy, 3 p.m.
IMG Academy vs. Sunrise, 5 p.m.
Camden vs. St. Peter’s Prep, 7 p.m.
Oak Hill vs. Roselle Catholic, 9 p.m.
St. Thomas More vs. Phelps Prep, 10:30 a.m.
Phelps School vs. First Love Christian, 12:30 p.m.
Rumson vs. Newark Arts, 2 p.m.
IMG Prep vs. Patrick School Prep, 3:30 p.m.
Westfield vs. St. Joseph’s Prep (Pa.), 5:30 p.m.
St. Thomas Aquinas vs. George School (Pa.), 7 p.m.
Josh Friedman has produced award-winning South Jersey sports coverage for the Courier Post, The Daily Journal and the Burlington County Times for more than a decade. If you have or know of an interesting story to tell, reach out on Twitter at @JFriedman57 or via email at [email protected] You can also contact him at 856-486-2431. Help support local journalism with a subscription.