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Friday, May 31, 2019

Preparations, ticket sales under way for 11th annual Rock Chalk Roundball Classic

Elijah Johnson, left, tries to hold back Tyshawn Taylor on a fast break during the 2017 Rock Chalk Roundball Classic Thursday evening at Lawrence Free State High School. The annual charity event benefits local families fighting cancer.

Elijah Johnson, left, tries to hold back Tyshawn Taylor on a fast break during the 2017 Rock Chalk Roundball Classic Thursday evening at Lawrence Free State High School. The annual charity event benefits local families fighting cancer.

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In many ways, June is the midpoint of the wait between Kansas basketball seasons.

April and May are gone but July and August are still ahead and must be crossed off before diehard fans of the Jayhawks can even begin to get excited about the start of another KU basketball season.

But that does not mean that June is devoid of KU hoops action in Lawrence. In fact, June has become one of the hottest months for KU hoops in the area, with Bill Self’s basketball camps running wild, the NBA Draft taking place near the end of the month each year and Brian Hanni’s Rock Chalk Roundball Classic becoming a fixture of the local sports scene.

This year’s event, the 11th edition of the charity basketball game that has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for local families fighting pediatric cancer throughout the past decade, is slated for Thursday, June 20, and, as always, it will feature some of the biggest names in recent KU basketball history joining together for an fun-loving night for KU fans and a unforgetable experience for five local families.

Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased at 23rd Street Brewery in Lawrence, Jersey Mike’s in Topeka (Both downtown and on Wanamaker), and in Kansas City, MO at KC Soda Company in the City Market Area.

This year’s basketball game will take place at Eudora High School. And although construction at Lawrence High and Free State initially appeared to be an unfortunate curveball, Hanni said moving the classic to Eudora wound up making perfect sense.

“It actually was kind of a blessing because one of our families is from Eudora,” Hanni said. “So we’re really looking forward to seeing that whole community come out, along with a whole bunch of Lawrencians, to support all of our families fighting cancer.”

For the second year in a row, the Rock Chalk Roundball Classic will extend throughout the weekend, with the showcase game on June 20, a celebrity dinner at Abe & Jake’s on June 21 and a celebrity golf tournament on June 22.

At both the dinner and the golf tourney, KU celebrities will mingle and be paired with fans and will share fun stories from their time as Jayhawks and hilarious stories from behind the scenes.

“We are so excited to begin our second decade of the Rock Chalk Roundball Classic,” Hanni said. “The momentum behind this event is at an all-time high and the generosity of Jayhawk Nation and the support from all of the former players coming back to be a part of this is on par with the best we’ve ever had.”

As of May 31, Hanni said 42 former KU players had committed to returning for the event. He believes that number will exceed 50 by game time.

But it’s not the former players and big names who return to Lawrence that make Hanni’s night. Instead, it’s the chance to watch the five cancer-fighting children and their families get a break from their day-to-day realities and live in the limelight as the stars of the show.

“That’s the best part of the night,” Hanni said. “To see those kids be celebrated and be a part of the starting lineup and run out onto the court and forget all about the hand they’ve been dealt for a couple hours is just wonderful.”

For more information on this year's event and to meet the five children who will make up this year's "Starting Five," log on to RockChalkRoundballClassic.com.

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