The idea for next Wednesday's Elgin vs. Larkin alumni basketball event was hatched of one former Elgin player's desire to teach his son about the city's rich basketball history.
Brandon Grissette was an all-area player for the Maroons who graduated in 2007. He has been working on the idea for an alumni game to benefit charity for over two years, largely, he said, to teach his 7-year-old son Christopher Williams about the players who came before.
"That's one of the biggest factors of me doing it, for my son," Grissette said. "He's playing ball and stuff and he's really big into the Elgin High program. I feel the youth need to see some of their history as far as the guys that paved the way for them now. I just want him to experience this and see some of the guys that he wouldn't have a clue about but were my idols when I was growing up."
Grissette is in his first year as an Elgin High dean's assistant and in his second season as an assistant sophomore basketball coach. He was able to persuade Elgin to host the event at Chesbrough Field House on Jan. 17 with proceeds going to the Elgin Boys and Girls Club, where Grissette also works as basketball coach and physical trainer.
There are two men's games with 20-minute halves scheduled -- New School at 7 p.m.; Old School at 8 p.m. -- featuring prominent players in each program's history. The games will be preceded by performances from the EHS drum line and dance team and the Divine Divas Dance Group.
The format will be kept lighthearted throughout by DJ Ace Boogie, who Grissette has seen host pro-ams in Chicago. He'll serve as host via a wireless microphone, allowing him to comment on the action, speak to players and entertain the crowd.
Rosters for the Old School game are highlighted by Elgin Sports Hall Of Fame members on each side.
Sherick Simpson, a 1993 Larkin graduate, was inducted to the ESHOF in 2015. He won an NCAA Division II national championship at Fort Hayes State in 1996 as the team's leading scorer and went on to play professionally for 10 years in Holland and Portugal and various leagues in the United States. He was also recently announced as a 2018 inductee to the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
Heading the Elgin roster is 2017 ESHOF inductee Jessie Henderson, who was inducted to the IBCA Hall of Fame in 2016. A 1990 Elgin graduate, Henderson was the leading scorer for the 1990 Elite Eight team and graduated as the school's fifth-leading scorer with 1,111 points.
That's just the tip of the iceberg. The Larkin Old School roster includes 2006 Daily Herald All-Area Team honorary captain Dayvon Ellis, current Streamwood coach Paul Kowalyszyn, David Binion, Billy Lewis, Nick Edwards, current Larkin girls basketball coach Steve Knapp, Dwan Williams and Jimmy Brown.
The Elgin Old School roster includes Jamaal Clark, Javelle Cooks, Quentin Howard, Chamar Sallis, Chandon Hare, Donnel Sallis, Wallace Lynch and Grissette.
Rosters for the New School game feature more familiar names. The Elgin lineup includes 2013 Daily Herald All-Area Team honorary captain Arie Williams, 2012 Daily Herald male athlete of the year Dennis Moore, who went on to play running back for Division III national champion Wisconsin-Whitewater, and Jeremy Granger, who played at Eastern Illinois and professionally in Europe.
Also taking part for Elgin are 2008 sectional champion center D'Angelo Stewart, Isaiah Butler, Desmond Douglas, Xavier Granger, Larry Berry, Donte Harper and Goose Herrera.
The Larkin side features 3-point aces Ryan Smith and Quentin Ruff, Charles Sanders, Brandon Cooks, JD Darke, Malik Marshall, Keith Smith, Daniel McFadden and Brent Cooks.
Doors open at 6 p.m. for the event. Tickets are $5 for adults, $3 for high school and middle school students with ID and free for children under 12.
Grissette, who is also considering organizing an Elgin vs. Larkin flag football game, thinks next Wednesday's atmosphere will be just what the area needs during the January doldrums.
"From the community standpoint I feel like it brings the excitement level up," Grissette said. "Anytime you mention Elgin-Larkin it's exciting."