NEW YORK Josh James can’t remember the name of the building. Somewhere in Las Vegas. Somewhere clearly bigger than Fordham and obviously Stepinac, too.
Of course, all three three gyms would probably fit comfortably inside downtown Brooklyn’s Barclays Center. James, a 6-foot-1 guard, was there Saturday night, representing Stepinac at the new home of the Brooklyn Nets as part of the Jordan Brand Classic regional game, which featured the tri-state area’s top talent.
Playing in an NBA arena for the first time, James was the only one of 18 players who failed to score. He attempted just four shots but did finish with six assists in 20 minutes as his Black team fell 114-102 to White in a game that had little to do with the final score and everything to do with the opportunity.
“To be on the court with these guys was a great experience,” said James, who has signed with Monmouth and was a first-team all-CHSAA guard this season for the 20-8 Crusaders. “I’ll be playing on the court with these type of players next year in college. To get a taste of that – in a venue like this – was good.”
James started strong, coming off the bench to record three quick assists. He added three more later in the half as a Black team comprised of players from the suburbs and New Jersey earned a 58-55 halftime lead over their New York City brethren.
James’ steal and long outlet pass in the second half led to a dunk by St. Joesph’s commit DeAndre Bembry, who led all scorers with 26 points.
“It was fun. I didn’t play too well, but I had a good time,” James said. “It was a great experience and I’m glad I was a part of it. I’m glad they picked me.”
James teamed with his former AAU teammate on the Gauchos, Dayshon Smith, a Bronx native who played this season at Putnam Science Academy in Connecticut.
The Dayton-bound Smith, a 6-foot-2 point guard, was among the Black team’s most productive players. He had 11 points and 11 assists, many helping unleash Syracuse-bound forward Tyler Roberson (19 points, 13 rebounds).
Despite being the only two point guards on the roster, James and Smith shared the floor at times because the Black team had eight players.
“It’s fun playing with Josh. He’s a real good player who’s talented on both ends of the court,” Smith said. “He’s unselfish and can score. He’s an all-around player.”
Bembry was named MVP of the Black team. Curtis’ Hassan Martin – one of Dan Hurley’s signees at Rhode Island – nabbed MVP honors for the White team with 19 points and six rebounds. Christ the King’s Jon Severe (below) added 16 points and five rebounds.
For a complete gallery, click here. Photos courtesy of Carucha L. Meuse/The Journal News.