It's fitting that "Escalade" is the vehicle delivering some of the best Long Island high school basketball and nationwide street ball talent for an all-star game at Half Hollow Hills East Saturday night. And his name is only half the reason.
"This is where I went to school, the teachers that taught me, the assistant principal was my teammate on the high school team," Troy "Escalade" Jackson said. "I was just walking through the halls and it took me back to that time, and I remembered how simple and fun it was and I thought, 'I have to do this here.' "
Jackson, a member of the AND1 mixtape tour, a former Harlem Globetrotter and the brother of former NBA player Mark Jackson will host the First Escalade High School Classic and Celebrity Basketball Game.
Hills West's Tavon Sledge and Emile Blackman, Brentwood's J.J. Moore, Long Island Lutheran's Achraf Yacoubou and Forest Hills' Maurice Harkless will be among the local products playing in the first game at 5 p.m. Two hours later the celebrity game begins with NBA players Mike James, A.J. Price, Rafer Alston, D.J. Clue?, rapper/actor Jamal "Gravy" Woolard and Jackson, among other ESPN street ballers, taking the floor.
"Watching Tobias [Harris] and Tavon making a playoff run, that stirred up my juices for this area again," said Jackson, who took the stage name "Escalade" when he joined the AND1 tour in 2002. "And seeing how everyone in this area supported them, I just wanted to come back and show them that you could do it and do it the right way."
Jackson, who graduated from Hills East in 1992, also had a more personal interest in watching Harris play, as Jackson was the leading scorer for the Thunderbirds until Harris passed him.
"I was the leading scorer in the history of the district until Tobias passed me," Jackson said, joking "I was hoping he stayed at Lutheran; he sort of moved me aside."
He's produced similar all-star games at his other alma mater, the University of Louisville.
"I thought, at some point, I'd like to take this home," he said.
A portion of the proceeds will be donated to AAU programs on the Island and other funds will be used to create a scholarship for a Hills East senior.
"We're certainly giving away more than we're making on the event," Jackson said.