Dozens of fans showed up for the Jersey Mike’s Basketball Classic held at Eckerd College last weekend to show support for one of their own. Seven-year-old Bryan Drayon attended the game with his dad and Lakewood High School Assistant Coach Tracy Teartt.
BY DEXTER MCCREE, Feature Writer
ST. PETERSBURG — The Jersey Mike’s Basketball Classic held at Eckerd College over the weekend brought in college teams from around the country to St. Petersburg for nationally televised play. It also brought together local products who expanded beyond their village and are now making an impact all over the world. Local eyes are seeing their own rise on the national platform, and the village was there to support them.
High school and college basketball official Bernard Reedy Sr. attended the tournament as community support and was more than pleased with the outcome. Reedy has officiated high school basketball in Pinellas County for 29 years and has seen many players firsthand.
“It’s been great to see the homecoming of kids and the staff that’s on the camera come back to St. Petersburg,” said Reedy Sr. “I enjoy the games, and the atmosphere was good. I came to watch and support them, and I hope they return next year.”
Daral (DJ) Moore and Jalen White represented Pinellas County and Lakewood High School in the action over the weekend. Moore, son of local Podiatry Specialist Dr. Daral Moore and Regina Moore, is a 2008 graduate of Lakewood High.
He left St. Pete to attend the University of Central Florida, majoring in broadcasting. As a freelance sports broadcast camera operator, Moore worked the weekend for CBS Sports Network, shooting the live telecast. His experience is memorable.
“Coming back here to work in my old stomping grounds is surreal. I remember coming to Eckerd College to play when Lakewood and Bogie (Boca Ciega) games would sell out,” said DJ Moore. “We had friends and family that came to watch the games. It was great! So, to travel the country and be able to come back and see the homegrown local challenge in the city that you know is pretty cool.”
Also returning home, Jalen White, now playing for the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG). He brought in an undefeated Spartan team and brought out a section full of supporters to the Eckerd College gymnasium. Lakewood High School Coach Anthony Lawrence was proud to see one of his former players making contributions on the national scale.
At the 13:30 mark of the second half of the UNCG first game, White made a move that Pinellas County was accustomed to seeing. He took a pass, cut to the basket, and dunked over a Green Bay Wisconsin player to tie the score and was fouled. White made the free throw to put the Spartans ahead. St. Petersburg fans have seen that play many times over.
Since leaving Lakewood, The Jersey Mike’s Classic is White’s first return to St. Pete with his UNCG team. His former coach was in the stands looking on to his former star player.
“Jalen played strong. Overall, he has improved his game. He is extremely talented and hard-working. I’m proud of him,” said Coach Lawrence.
Even 7-year-old Bryan Drayon, attending the game with his dad and Lakewood High assistant coach, Tracy Teartt, got in on the action. The referee handed the youngster the basketball to hold during a time-out until the teams returned to the court. The excitement showed through his wide eyes and beaming smile.
The Jersey Mike’s Basketball Classic was showcased by Superior Sports Management (SSM), a Florida-based sporting event organizer who creates and promotes world-class events in top locations globally. UNCG played three quality opponents for the first time in the program’s history, battling Green Bay on Thursday, UMass on Friday, and Florida International on Sunday.
Pinellas County always showed up and out, supporting its young athletes who grew up in the area. The village is always proud when one of their own goes on to do great things. The Jersey Mike’s Basketball Classic brought forth the evidence.