Future Syracuse Stars Show Out In Successful Mary Kline Classic

Forty high school basketball players travelled to West Orange, New Jersey on Saturday night to play in an All-Star Tournament. Although they came for the competition, it was about a lot more than just that.

When Alex Kline was 10 years old, he lost his mother, Mary Kline, to breast cancer. As he grew older, his love of basketball grew with him. He began interacting with players and creating genuine relationships with them. Kline founded The Recruit Scoop and soon was rising through the ranks of basketball scouting and recruiting.

Fast-forward to May 2014, and Kline has been featured in Sports Illustrated, and highlighted alongside LeBron James and Kevin Durant in Forbes’ “30 under 30” list of most influential figures in the sports world under 30 years of age. He boasts more than 35,000 followers on his @TheRecruitScoop Twitter account, which is filled with college coaches, players and fans.

Oh yeah, and he also puts on this super-awesome event that raises thousands of dollars for cancer research.

Inspired by his mother’s passing, Alex created the Mary Kline Classic, a charity high school basketball All-Star event. It features two games – the Underclassmen and Senior Game – as well as the Three-Point and Slam Dunk Contests. In this year’s event alone, $31,000 was raised for cancer research.

From up-and-coming hoopers who will be going to Maryland, Miami and other top programs, the future of Syracuse basketball was also there. Chris McCullough, Franklin Howard and Moustapha Diagne will all be attending ‘Cuse within the next two seasons – and while putting on a show for the hundreds of fans who came out to the MKC, we had the opportunity to speak with all three of them.

*** *** ***

Ranked No. 24 on ESPN’s top players in 2014 class

Dime: What does it mean to you to be playing in the Mary Kline Classic?
Chris McCullough: Playing in this event means a lot to me. It’s for a great cause. I’m honored to have the opportunity to be here and supporting it.

Dime: What are you currently doing to prepare yourself for college hoops next season?
CM: I’m working on all aspects of my game. I’m just going to have to to come in, work hard, get bigger, stronger, better. I just have to play my game and if I do that I’ll be fine. I’m working on my overall game right now. I’m getting my dribble better, getting a better shot, everything really.

Dime: While your immense talent and potential is not debated, some experts have pointed out your motor as an aspect of your game that needs work. Is that something you will be focused on improving?
CM: Next year at Syracuse, I will never be taking plays off. Never. I’m going to use my motor on every single play of every single game.

Click for more from with Howard and Diagne…

Ranked ESPN’s No. 1 player in Washington D.C. in 2015 class

Dime: What does it mean to you to be playing in the Mary Kline Classic?
Franklin Howard: It’s a great opportunity. I’m playing against great players around the country and personally, playing in this event is big for me. My dad had cancer and thankfully he got through it, and I really support what Alex is doing and I’m blessed to be here.

Dime: How was your experience going through the recruiting process and why did you end up choosing Syracuse?
FH: The recruiting process was long and it was definitely a tough decision. A lot of great schools contacted me and recruited me. There were about three or four schools that I wouldn’t even mind being at. But Syracuse is where I really love, where I really want to be. They have great guard development, I had a great relationship with all of the coaches and when I went to visit it just felt like family.

Dime: Do you have any final high school goals in your last season coming up?
FH: I think the same goals as any other player. Make the McDonald’s and Jordan All-American Games. Also win both the State and Conference championships while going undefeated. Other than that, just preparing for college.

Dime: Have you spoken to any current or former Syracuse players about what it’s like to play for the Orange?
FH: Yeah, I’ve talked to Jeremi Grant, who is also from the Maryland area. I’ve also talked to C.J. Fair and Gerry McNamara.

Dime: What are some goals you have for your time at Syracuse?
FH: Win a National Championship (smiles).


Ranked No. 3 on ESPN’s top players in 2015 class from New Jersey

*Diagne announced during the Mary Kline Classic that he will be attending Syracuse University in 2015.

Dime: When did you know you made your decision on Syracuse?
Moustapha Diagne: I knew two weeks ago. I spoke to my family, my coach and then had a good conversation with Coach Boeheim. I feel comfortable there. They have a great basketball program. I thought today, at the Mary Kline Classic fighting against cancer was a good day (to announce).

Dime: What did you think of the recruitment process and are you happy that it is finally over?
MD: It was long. I hated it and it wasn’t easy. Now I feel comfortable and everything went well, so I’m relaxed and focused on school and next season to try and win a championship.

Dime: What can you bring to the Syracuse squad?
MD: I’m just going to go out there, learn, play hard and see how I can help them win games.

What do you think?

Follow Matthew on Twitter at @MatthewHochberg.

Follow Dime on Twitter at @DimeMag.

Become a fan of Dime Magazine on Facebook HERE.