Three weeks ago Terrence Wilburn of Southlake Bluechip Athletics heard from Purdue-Calumet. It wasn't good news at all.
Because of the current education crisis, Reg Tisdale did not have the time to put into a basketball all-star game for local high school talent. He is too busy battling for teacher's rights. And bread.
"We believed in it," Wilburn said. "We didn't want to see it die."
Last year Tisdale put together a fine all-star show at PUC. The region is home to some of the top basketball players in Indiana, yet a steady, expected all-star game hadn't been played since 2004 when it was sponsored by Hoosier Lottery.
So when Tisdale, of Indiana Basketball News, didn't have time to see this year through, that's when Wilburn stepped in with his Southlake Bluechip Athletics AAU program.
He worked with PUC coach Dan Voudrie. And today's event is now set in stone. Both should be applauded.
From 1 to 3 p.m. at Purdue Cal's Fitness and Recreation Center, a free basketball clinic will be held for boys and girls in grades third through eighth.
At 6 p.m., a Junior All-Star boys game will tip off with the top underclassmen in the area -- and the state -- squaring off. At 8 p.m. it will be an all-star game for the seniors.
The NWI All-Star Basketball Classic is here. Let's hope it is here to stay.
"Just look at all the talent that will be there," Wilburn said. "It's going to be two games filled with a lot of great basketball."
Wilburn did a lot of work for the 2009 Lake Shore Classic in Gary. He is a basketball coach and an organizer. But he is not David Copperfield.
Having only three weeks to save this event from scrap heap, Wilburn was not able to put together an all-star game for the girls. If this is to be successful in the future the area's top females need a gym to hoop it up, too.
"We want a girls game in the future," he said. "We just didn't have the time or connections to get it done this time."
Bluechip Athletics is a basketball program for boys and girls from grades six through nine. The non-for-profit organization is also about teaching life skills and giving kids the ability to make positive choices in the world's mean streets.
Bluechip takes kids from our area to colleges all across the nation to see what is available to them. Basketball is the vessel.
"We teach a lot of things beyond basketball," Wilburn said. "And it's all worth while when we see a kid turn that corner."
This area needs this event. The players who will shine in Hammond tonight deserve this one last chance to play in front of friendly fans. Hats off to Wilburn and PUC.
Funding is what keeps these kind of things going. If you love area hoops, buy a ticket tonight. Or else one day this thing won't be resurrected.
This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.