Defending national champ Montverde headlines ‘Iolani Classic

Fairfax guard Justyn Hunter (25) attempted a shot on Montverde guard RJ Barrett, who skied for the block in the 2017 'Iolani Classic. Barrett is now staring for Duke as a true freshman. Photo by Steven Erler/Special to the Star-Advertiser.

The 2018 ‘Iolani Classic tips off Tuesday for the boys with three of the top seven teams in the nation in the 16-team field according to the USA Today Preseason Top 25 rankings.

Defending GEICO national champion Montverde (Fla.) returns to defend their tournament tile won last year. They were led by R.J. Barrett, who is now one of the top college basketball players in the country as a freshman at Duke.

The Eagles lost the majority of their team to graduation from last season but have reloaded with three of the top 43 seniors in the country and two of the top 20 juniors according to the ESPN 300 recruiting rankings.

Montverde’s front line is a ridiculous collection of talent with 7-foot center Balsa Koprivica, a Florida State commit, the team’s best returning player. He will be flanked by 6-foot-9 power forward Omar Payne, a Florida commit ranked No. 36 in the class of 2019, and 6-foot-8 Precious Achiuwa, the 11th-best senior in the nation, who remains uncommitted.

Montverde also has two highly-rated juniors in 6-foot-6 Cade Cunningham, ranked No. 11 in the class of 2020, and 6-foot-6 Moses Moody, ranked No. 19.

The two toughest challenges for the Eagles in the tournament should be La Lumiere (Ind.), ranked No. 6 by USA Today, and No. 7 Sierra Canyon (Calif.).

La Lumiere returns only two starters but boasts the top-rated player in the tournament in 6-foot-9 forward Isaiah Stewart, the fifth overall prospect in the senior class, who has visited Duke, Kentucky, Michigan State, Syracuse and Washington.

Keion Brooks, a 6-foot-8 forward, is ranked No. 34 overall in the ESPN300.

Sierra Canyon is led by 6-foot-5 senior Cassius Stanley, No. 26 in the ESPN 300, and 6-foot-7 junior Terren Frank, ranked No. 31 in the class of 2020.

The roster also includes Scotty Pippen, the son of former Chicago Bulls All-Star Scottie Pippen, and Kenyon Martin Jr., the son of NBA All-Star Kenyon Martin, the former No. 1 pick out of Cincinnati who played for five different NBA teams.

Montverde is one of two teams in the tournament from Florida. Oak Ridge features 6-foot-8 CJ Walker, an Oregon commit ranked No. 20 in the ESPN 300.

Other mainland teams competing are West Linn (Ore.), Westchester (Calif.) and Pleasant Grove (Utah).

The schedule for the first two days is below with the championship set for Saturday.

>> ‘Iolani vs. Farrington, 3:30 p.m.
>> Roosevelt vs. West Linn (Ore.), 5 p.m.
>> Campbell vs. Montverde (Fla.), 6:30 p.m.
>> St. Francis vs. La Lumiere (Ind.), 8 p.m.

>> Mid-Pacific vs. Westchester (Calif.), 3:30 p.m.
>> Moanalua vs. Pleasant Grove (Utah), 5 p.m.
>> Hawaii Prep vs. Sierra Canyon (Calif.), 6:30 p.m.
>> Kailua vs. Oak Ridge (Fla.), 8 p.m.


  1. Loca1boiAnonymous December 16, 2018 5:52 pm

    This is the tournament that separates the kids from the big boys. The ‘Iolani Classic let’s us know if you belong on the next level or not.

  2. Coach C December 16, 2018 9:56 pm

    Lol, this is the Iolani tournament and the host draws Farrington first round? All other Oahu schools play mainland? Where’s Punahou or Maryknoll?

  3. locomoco December 16, 2018 10:55 pm

    Coach C, this has been the format for as long as this tournament has been in existence. Iolani ends up playing more mainland teams that way – watch how it shakes out … it’s not like they’re ducking the tough competition. And other than Farrington, all the local teams get to play at least one mainland team. Tournament organizers are doing something right getting top-caliber fields year after year.

  4. ILH December 17, 2018 7:47 am

    By scheduling themselves an easy first round game? Of course you going play more mainland teams, most of the local teams lose to the power house mainland teams in the first round.

  5. Goodtintin December 18, 2018 4:34 pm

    Lol. True.

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