Rosser Thrash had a vision. He wanted to raise money for non-profit organizations using sports as the vehicle to bring the community together. It was the same format he used to create the Sertoma Football Classic, an event he brought to fruition some 20 years earlier.
20 Years of Roundball Classic Memories
Coaching LegendsMorgan Wootten: Legendary DeMatha coach led his team to 1997 Roundball championship. He coached at DeMatha from 1956-2002 and has the most wins in the history of basketball on any level with 1,274.Jack Curran: Coach at Archbishop Molloy and led his team to the Roundball title in 2001. Curran has won more basketball and baseball games combined than any coach in history. He had 953 basketball wins heading into this season.Bob Farrell: Coached Seton Hall Prep in 2003 and ’04 and ‘06 Roundball Classics, winning the title in ‘06. He retired after the 2011 season, winning 777 games in his 34 years as coach.Ed Wicelinski: Led Christian Brothers Academy to the Roundball title in 1999, third place in 2002 and second place in 2006. Wicelinski retired in 2007 after 27 years of coaching. He won 625 games.Pat Eidson: Has coached in more Roundball Classics (12) than any other coach. He’s been at Pinewood 23 years and has 715 career victories.From Hardwood to the GridironA.J. Green: Summerville star was named to the 2006 all-tournament team. Went on to play wide receiver at Georgia and was the Cincinnati Bengals’ first-round pick in 2011 NFL draft.Joe Hamilton: Played for Macedonia and made all-tournament team in 1994. Went on to play quarterback at Georgia Tech and was second in Heisman Trophy voting in 1999.Courtney Brown: Hamilton’s teammate in 1994, Brown was an All-America defensive end at Penn State and was the first overall pick in the 2000 draft, taken by the Cleveland Browns.Stephon Gilmore: South Pointe star made the all-tournament team in 2007. He was a standout cornerback for South Carolina and was drafted 10th overall in the 2012 draft by the Buffalo Bills.Jadeveon Clowney: Was a freshman backup on the 2007 South Pointe team. Was named the state’s Mr. Football winner in 2010 and was an All-American at South Carolina this season.Shooting StarsKeith Bogans: Led DeMatha to ’97 Roundball Classic. Went on to be an All-American at Kentucky and currently plays in the NBA with the Brooklyn Nets.Chuck Eidson: Pinewood star played in three Roundball Classics and is the event’s all-time leading scorer. He averaged 33.7 points per game in the ‘98 Roundball Classic. Played at USC and is now playing in Europe.Shavlik Randolph: The Broughton star was the 2000 Roundball MOP. He was one of the most highly recruited players in nation but was considered a bust in three years at Duke.Sam Dalembert: St. Patrick’s star was MVP of 1998 Roundball Classic. He played at Seton Hall University, and has played in the NBA for 11 years, including eight with the 76ers.Samardo Samuels: He was a sophomore when he played for the 2005 champ, St. Benedict’s Prep. He signed with Louisville and led the Cards in scoring in 2010. He plays for the Cleveland Cavaliers.GamesDeMatha vs. North Charleston - 1997 Finals: Put the Roundball Classic on the national map. A crowd of 5,500 watched DeMatha, led by Keith Bogans and Joe Forte, top North Charleston.East Hall vs Seton Hall - 2004 Finals: Considered to be one of the top five tournaments in the country, East Hall topped national power Seton Hall Prep on a last-second 3-point shot.Bishop O’Connell vs. Westchester - 2000 Finals: Westchester was the first team from the West Coast to play in Roundball. Bishop O’Connell shocked Westchester, a top 5 national team, 73-70 in OT.St. Benedict’s vs. Bloomfield Tech - 2005 Finals: The game was tied in overtime, but coach Danny Hurley’s St. Benedict’s team won by a 12-point margin.West Ashley vs Sturt - 2009 Finals: West Ashley ran its record to 11-0 and became the first local team to capture a Roundball crown since North Charleston won the title in 1996 with a victory over the Australian team.Roundball Champions2011: Bullis School and Gonzaga College HS2010: Wando and Robert A Taft2009: Centennial HS and West Ashley HS2008: Ballard HS & Our Lady of Good Counsel HS2007: Gonzaga College HS & Westchester HS2006: Seton Hall Prep2005: Scott County & St. Benedict’s Prep2004: East Hall2003: St. John Neumann 2002: Berkmar 2001: Archbishop Molloy 2000: Bishop O’Connell 1999: Christian Brothers 1998: St. Patrick’s 1997: DeMatha 1996: North Charleston 1995: Harlan 1994: Wando 1993: Sol C. Johnson
This time it was basketball, and his vision again became reality in 1993 with the birth of the Roundball Classic.
The event, which is now sponsored by Piggly Wiggly, celebrates its 20th year in the Lowcountry when the event tips off today at North Charleston High School. The beneficiaries include Communities in Schools and the Rotary Club of North Charleston.
More than 100 Division I basketball players and more than 50 Division I football players have competed in the event, which has attracted the top teams from all over the country.
“It’s unbelievable,” said Danny Kassis, who has served in many roles since 1997. “Rosser took an idea and turned it into reality. If it wasn’t for his vision, we might have a lot of small tournaments in the area, but none with a national identity.”
The tournament flourished at The Citadel’s McAlister Field House and rivaled the Beachball Classic as one of the best in the nation. National powers such as DeMatha, St. Benedict’s, Christian Brothers Academy and California entry Westchester drew big crowds and big audiences as the championship games were broadcast nationwide on a tape-delayed basis.
The Piggly Wiggly Roundball Classic reached the national stage in 1997 when DeMatha defeated North Charleston in the championship game. DeMatha featured Keith Bogans and Joe Forte and was coached by the legendary Morgan Wootten. Wootten cemented his place in basketball history in the 1960s when his team beat Lew Alcindor’s Power Memorial Academy and ended their 71-game winning streak. He gave the Roundball Classic a big boost in credulity.
The tournament has evolved over the years and has changed venues. It moved from The Citadel to West Ashley for a two-year run and moved to North Charleston High School in 2009.
The field has also expanded from eight teams to 12 in 2003 and grew to 16 in time for the ‘07 event.
“Not only did the expansion allow us to bring in more national teams, it gave local teams and players exposure at the national level. It gave local players a chance to showcase their skills on a national stage which was, in reality, located in the backyard.”