Scott Brown Classic postponed

Brad Davis/The Register-HeraldMid-State Ford’s (Class AAA) Justin Phillips looks for an open teammate as he tries to hold off EIN’s (National) Mikey Penn during the Scott Brown Classic April 14, 2018, at the Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center.

As tournament director of the Little General Scott Brown Memorial Classic, Bob Bolen is proud of the game’s history. While he may not be certain of the fate of this year’s event, he plans on continuing that tradition.

The 31st annual all-star game was originally scheduled to be played this Saturday, but the ongoing stay-at-home order because of the COVID-19 pandemic has forced it to be postponed. A new date has not been decided, nor is Bolen in a hurry to release one.

The game pits the state’s top high school seniors from all three classifications, as well as college signees from top prep schools. Traditionally, Class A all-stars have faced Class AA and Class AAA has gone up against the national team. There are also slam dunk and 3-point contests.

Little General is joined by Mid-State Automotive, Employers Innovative Network, Jan-Care and C. Adam Toney Tires as annual sponsors, and they all join Bolen in wanting to go beyond the norm this year.

“We’re taking our time with exactly when we’re going to have it and what we are going to do,” Bolen said. “Our sponsors have been with us a long time and are so instrumental in helping young people in West Virginia. They have always been like that. I’ve spoken with them and they are counting on me to come up with something that is very special for these 2020 seniors because of everything they have missed out on. We have some ideas on what we want to do, but they depend on a few factors.”

Most importantly, the stay-at-home order to avoid public gatherings is in effect through April 30, which impacts the delayed state high school basketball tournament. The West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission has not made a decision on the tournament’s fate.

“It is not realistic for us to set a date and then (the SSAC) say they are going to have the West Virginia state tournament near the end of May,” Bolen said. “We want our all-star game to be after that, because the West Virginia state tournament is such a highlight for these kids.”

Since its debut in 1990, the Scott Brown game has been a highlight in its own right.

“If you look at the history and tradition of the Little General Scott Brown Memorial Classic, we’ve always tried to do something special for the kids,” Bolen said. “For example, last year the people wanted to see (current WVU freshman) Oscar Tshiebwe. He couldn’t get back to this part of the United States until Sunday and we couldn’t get the Armory on Sunday. So we ended up having the national game in Morgantown (for the first time ever), and Little General stepped up and sold the tickets out of their stores.”

Jeff Mullins with EIN met Tshiebwe after that game and now, a year later, he and his wife Andrea are raising Tshiebwe’s little brother Debaba.

“(Former WVU teammates) Jevon Carter and Daxter Miles, the first place they met was at the Scott Brown Classic,” Bolen said. “They ended up roommates and best friends. I’m watching the NCAA Tournament and (the broadcasters) are talking about how those two met at the Scott Brown Classic in Beckley, West Virginia.

“So this game has so many stories and traditions. I saw on Facebook yesterday, somebody (posted) the first box score of the first-ever Scott Brown Classic, and the guys were still arguing 30 years later about who should have got the MVP.”

Because of the unimaginable situation seniors now find themselves in, Bolen wants to make the 2020 version something everyone will be talking about decades from now. Those plans have to kept under wraps until all the variables are resolved.

“We’re going to do something special for high school kids,” he said. “I know that’s a broad statement, but if we make a decision on exactly what we’re going to do now ... trust me, we have rosters if we do it this way and rosters if we do something else. So everything is prepared.”

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