Reggie Stephens is putting on the Central Coast All-Star Game on Sunday at St. Francis CCC in Watsonville.
The event is being called a “showcase” that will pit some of the top seventh- and eighth-grade basketball players from Santa Cruz and Monterey counties against one another.
They did this event a couple years ago, although organizers are trying to make it an annual thing.
The full press release is below.
On Sunday, Feb. 22, basketball fans will have a chance to see the top seventh- and eighth-grade boys basketball players from the Central Coast. Billed as a “showcase” by event organizer Reggie Stephens, the doubleheader will begin at St. Francis High School in Watsonville at 1:30 p.m. with the seventh-grade game, and the eighth-graders will follow with a 3:15 p.m. tip-off.
The teams will consist of All-Stars from the Monterey/Salinas area against the best from Santa Cruz County. There will also be a 3-point contest at halftime of each game, as well as prizes for MVP, Defensive Player of the Game and the Hustle Award.
Stephens, a Santa Cruz High and Cabrillo College alum, went on to a successful NFL career with the New York Giants, and he credits his mentors in high school with helping him get there. In particular, Tony Hill, for whom the MVP Award is named.
“I am doing this game because of the influence of Tony Hill,” Stephens said. “He did so much for me and so many other kids in Santa Cruz, and I want to pass on his legacy and do what I can to help as many kids as I can with my nonprofit.”
Hill, a longtime community activist in Santa Cruz, was concerned about developing creative solutions to social problems, and he focused much of his energy on kids in the community who needed guidance and mentoring.
Stephens is hoping to make this an annual affair, and to eventually be able to give scholarships to youth who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford to go to a basketball camp or play on an AAU team.
“That’s the long-term goal, to be able to give a kid a chance to do something he wants to do but can’t because of his economic situation,” Stephens said.
Stephens’ nonprofit is called “Sports and Fitness For Kids”, or SAFFK, and thus far he has gotten support from fellow Santa Cruz native and current NFL player Dwight Lowery of the Atlanta Falcons, Santa Cruz High basketball coaching legend Pete Newell, Jr., and the Jean and Ed Kelly Foundation.
Stephens wants to make it a fun and memorable day for the players and their families, and to do that he has enlisted his son, Kaijae, a current star player for Santa Cruz High who played in the first Central Coast All-Star game in 2012, to help coach the seventh-grade team from Santa Cruz. Another alum from that game, Sandor Rodriguez, who now plays for St. Francis, will coach with Kaijae.
Bill Domhoff, a Santa Cruz High alum who played for Pete Newell in the 80s and then coached the boys varsity team at Santa Cruz from 2009 to 2012, will coach the eighth-grade boys from Santa Cruz County.
Stan Brusa is handling the Monterey/Salinas coordination for Stephens.
“He helped with the first game we did in 2012, and he’s been a huge help in making this one happen,” Stephens said.
Curtis Gomez, a star point guard who went to St. Francis and led them to a CCS championship in 2010, will serve as one of the referees. His partner will be Jalen Porter, who played for Domhoff at Santa Cruz and against Gomez in 2010.
Jason “J Willz” Williams, the longtime lead singer of the legendary local band Ribsy’s Nickel and also for the popular new duo known as Cruzmatik, will serve as the DJ for the game. SLV boys varsity coach Marcus Northcutt will serve as the PA announcer. In addition, Stephens will have the game filmed and put on YouTube for kids to be able to watch later with their friends and families.
“This event is for high school coaches to see what they have coming up, for fans to see the players they will be cheering for in the future, but mostly for the kids themselves, so they can be recognized for their play and give them a good foundation going into their high school careers,” Stephens said. “And, hopefully, it will give the kids younger than them something to aspire to.”