R.J. Barrett, the nation’s top prospect who’s projected to be the No.1 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, and others also put in work in Springfield

During the Martin Luther King weekend, I make an annual pilgrimage to Springfield, Massachusetts, basketball’s birthplace, for the Spalding Hoophall Classic, which is now in its 16th year. The event provides some one-stop shopping when it comes to checking out an incredible array of future college hoops and NBA stars while they’re still in high school.

Over the past few years, guys like Mo Bamba, DeAndre Ayton, Karl-Anthony Towns, Ben Simmons, Kevin Durant, DeMarcus Cousins, Lance Stephenson, Lonzo Ball, Jayson Tatum, Markelle Fultz and a host of others have given basketball lovers a taste of what the future holds at the place where Dr. James Naismith invented the game back in 1891. In the 2014 NBA Draft alone, 12 Hoophall Classic Alumni were selected in the first round, including Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, Aaron Gordon, Julius Randle and Kyle Anderson, among others.

And this year’s collection of talent was no exception. Saturday’s action alone included five teams ranked in the Super 25 Expert Rankings with No. 1 Montverde Academy out of Florida, No. 8 Gonzaga from Washington, D.C, No. 11 Simeon from Chicago, No. 18 Imhotep Charter from Philadelphia, and No. 23 Oakridge from Orlando.

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