Always a Voice for Students

Imua ʻIolani

Always a Voice for Students

Imua ʻIolani

Always a Voice for Students

Imua ʻIolani

The Tournament Where Stars are Born: Previewing This Year’s ‘Iolani Classic

Jodi Wahinekapu Lefotu ’22 tries to dribble past the defense in the ‘Iolani Classic.
(Makai M.)

Kevin Durant, Kemba Walker and Rajon Rondo have one thing in common. They have all played at the ʻIolani Classic. The tournament was founded 39 years ago after the late Mr. Glenn Young ‘59 coached a high school basketball game in Las Vegas where they were completely humbled. After that moment he realized that he needed to bring mainland teams to Hawai‘i in order to expose Hawai‘i players to the higher level of play on the mainland. This year’s ‘Iolani Classic will not disappoint. Including an exciting array of premier teams and players from around the country, it will surely be a joy to watch. Fans and players alike will be able to witness entertaining basketball games as well as get a sneak peak of the next superstar basketball players like Kevin Durant. With many teams from around the nation coming to play in the lower gym, it will be an exciting time for players, coaches and fans.

This year’s tournament once again includes top teams from Hawai‘i as well as top tier competition from the mainland. On the girls side, two MaxPreps Top 10 teams highlight the bracket. #7 Sierra Canyon (CA) and #5 Sidwell Friends (MD) look to compete against stiff Hawai‘i competition including the defending state champions, the ‘Iolani Raiders, who are looking for their fifth consecutive state championship this season as well as the defending OIA champions, Campbell. For the girls, notable players include Sierra Canyon’s Mackenly Randolph, a 5-Star forward and also Iolani’s Mele Sake ’24, last year’s HHSAA State Championship Tournament’s Most Valuable Player and Star Advertiser’s Girls Basketball All-State Player of the Year. The boys side of the classic features a loaded bracket including notable teams such as the MaxPreps 18th ranked Oak Ridge (FL) and two other top teams in St. John Bosco (CA) and Pace Academy (GA) as well as the reigning Hawai‘i state champions, St. Louis. Malcolm Thomas, a Villanova-Commit who plays for DeMatha Catholic, as well as Florida Atlantic commit Elijah Elliott, who plays for Oak Ridge, are players to watch for.

For students participating in this year’s tournament, they know how special it is to do so. Aidan Wong ’25, a second-year member of the varsity basketball team said, “It is a great learning experience to be able to play against the best teams and players in the country.” He also added that “being able to be competitive against those strong mainland teams as well as the Hawai‘i teams will really help our season”. Brody Sagawa ’25, in his first year playing in the tournament said that “I’ve always watched both our school and other top players in the country play like Montverde last year and Sierra Canyon a couple years ago,” and, “I feel like our team will benefit from the competition because we will play players and teams that have size and skill that we won’t face against other people from Hawai‘i”. All players from Hawai‘i know that this tournament really helps teams improve by playing teams of high caliber that can make them better. Competition improves teams as long as they put in their best effort to do so, which the Raiders look like they will do.

Not only is this tournament a joy for players but it is also enjoyable for all basketball fans. Reef Hangai ’24 who is a player on the D1-AA basketball team is an avid basketball fan. Part of why this fandom started was because of watching the ‘Iolani Classic. He said that “back in 2017 I was able to watch Montverde and RJ Barret play.” “My favorite player now in the NBA is Rj Barrett and my favorite team is the Knicks [which he plays on].” The ‘Iolani Classic not only gives players the opportunity to play against top competition but also gives fans of basketball the chance to see what high level competition looks like and also be able to see what players before they make it in the NBA are like.

The start date for the girls tournament will be December 7th with the last games being played on December 9th. With only eight teams on the girls side, the tournament will include three straight days of competition. On the boys side, the bracket will feature 16 teams. The boys tournament will last from the 18th to the 22nd and will also include a dunk contest on the 20th following the last game of the day. With all these notable teams and players participating, this year’s tournament once again promises to be an exciting one. We look forward to seeing all these good teams participate and play some good basketball. Good luck to all the teams!

The full schedule of the tournament can be seen here at the ‘Iolani Classic Website: https://www.iolaniclassic.com/

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About the Contributors
Kai K., Staff
My name is Kai Knudsen and I joined Imua last year. I am in the 12th grade and I joined Imua because I was always interested in how these articles were made and I am still interested in the perspective of journalists in sports and other areas.
WanHao S., Associate Social Media Editor
My name is WanHao and this is my third year in Imua. I joined Imua in 9th grade because I would always see the magazines distributed in homeroom and I was interested in where it came from. I heard it was a class and so I decided to try it out and from then on, I kept coming back. One fun fact about me is that I am a one time fantasy football champ but I also shaved my head after losing last year.
Makai M., Social Media Editor
Hi, I am Makai! This is my fifth year in Imua. I joined in 8th grade and have been a part of the class ever since. I currently serve as the Social Media Editor. The many fun times and great people have kept me going in Imua.

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