Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Details for the return of an in-person Rock Chalk Roundball Classic starting to surface

Red Team guard Devonte' Graham puts up a three during the Rock Chalk Roundball Classic on Thursday, June 14, 2018 at Free State High School.

Red Team guard Devonte' Graham puts up a three during the Rock Chalk Roundball Classic on Thursday, June 14, 2018 at Free State High School.


The annual Rock Chalk Roundball Classic is back in 2021, with this year’s charity basketball game slated for 7 p.m. Aug. 5 at Free State High.

The 13th such game that routinely features dozens of some of the biggest names from Kansas basketball’s past, will be part of a two-night fundraiser that also will incorporate bowling into the mix on Aug. 6.

“Don’t think of Roundball this year as being better than the previous year, which is always our goal,” event organizer Brian Hanni said recently. “But don’t think that we’re just rolling out the balls either.”

After being forced to go to a virtual 3-point shootout in 2020 because of the pandemic, Hanni recently said that he was thrilled to be planning for an in-person event again.

And while this year’s event will be slightly different than it was in 2019, Hanni believes it will still pack a major punch, with all of the money going to benefit three local children fighting pediatric cancer and Baby Jay’s Legacy of Hope, which helps families in similar situations across Kansas.

“(Because we’re still) trying to inch our way back to normalcy, we can’t do the full-blown three-event schedule that we have in the past,” Hanni said. “But we didn’t want to just do a game either.”

Two of the headliners of this year’s event are former KU teammates Devonte’ Graham and Svi Mykhailiuk. Both competed in last year’s 3-point shootout won by Graham, but they’ll be playing in the game together for the first time.

“The best of friends, brothers from another mother, getting them back together collectively was the key,” Hanni said. “And that opened the door for a lot of other guys to come back, too.”

In addition to the Aug. 5 basketball showdown, the Aug. 6 bowling extravaganza, dubbed Rock Chalk Round Bowl Classic, will feature 30-40 teams with a Jayhawk celebrity at every lane at Royal Crest Lanes.

In addition, Hanni said he expects to have three or four professional bowlers on hand, who will be allowed to roll a ball for any team at any point for a donation.

Hanni said they’re also planning a VIP party at Wayne & Larry’s after the bowling.

Daily roster reveals will begin Friday on Rock Chalk Roundball Classic’s social media sites. This year’s three beneficiaries were revealed earlier this week — 8-year-old Riley Howell, of Williamsburg, 8-year-old Matthew Martin, of Liberty, Mo., and 16-month-old Topeka native Briella Hase.

Ticket sales announcements and other event details, including restrictions that will be in place because of the pandemic, will be announced Monday through the organization’s various social media accounts.

“To be honest, 120 days ago, we thought we’d probably have to go virtual again,” Hanni said. “And to have to go virtual two summers in a row would have been a major disappointment. I can’t give you the exact number on attendance just yet, but (school district officials are) very optimistic.

“We’re excited. It’ll be a slightly smaller event than we’re used to, but it’s still going to be a lot of fun for a great cause.”


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