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Jordan Brand Classic all-star game features best prep players

Bishop Gorman boys basketball coach Grant Rice marveled Friday at the talented group of four- and five-star players sharing the lustrous, new basketball court inside T-Mobile Arena.

Some of them will play in the NBA. Others will play in the NCAA Tournament.

All of them will play at T-Mobile Arena on Saturday.

More than 40 of the nation’s best boys and girls basketball players have congregated in Las Vegas to showcase their abilities in the 19th annual Jordan Brand Classic — one of the most prominent high school all-star games.

The girls game features 21 of the top 30 seniors, including top overall prospect Haley Jones, and starts at 3 p.m. The boys game features 19 of the top 30 seniors, including top overall prospect James Wiseman, and follows at 5.

“With summer basketball, July, and AAU basketball and everyone coming to Vegas, I think it’s a really good thing for the city for these talented kids to come to Las Vegas and see T-Mobile Arena,” said Rice, who was asked by Nike to coach one of the boys teams. “The main thing is to just have fun and to put on a show for the fans.”

The Jordan Brand Classic originated in 2002 in Washington, D.C., and has since featured some of the biggest names in basketball. Former MVPs include LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. Former host cities include New York City and Charlotte, where Rice also coached the game in 2012.

The Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, had hosted the game since 2013, but Las Vegas was chosen as this year’s host city.

“It’s a special place,” said Southern California native and four-star shooting guard Cassius Stanley, who is expected to announce his collegiate commitment next week. “Me playing one of my last high school games in Vegas, it’s always cool because I’ve been (coming) here since I was 6 or 7, playing in little tournaments. Now (this is) the biggest stage in Vegas. It’s cool.”

Most of the players have played in Las Vegas, which long has hosted some of the most prestigious club basketball events in the summer.

But at least one five-star recruit will be making his local debut.

“This is actually my first time in Vegas. It’s a crazy city to me,” said center Isaiah Stewart, a Washington recruit from Indiana. “When I first landed, they got the games in the airport and stuff like that. To me, finishing my last event here is pretty cool.”

Contact reporter Sam Gordon at sgordon@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BySamGordon on Twitter.

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