The Orlando Magic’s Melvin Frazier Jr. hosted his first “Hoops for the Homeless 3-on-3 Charity Basketball Tournament” Saturday afternoon at the Alario Center.
The former Higgins and Tulane standout sought to give back to his community with an event catered to helping those in need, and the epidemic of homelessness is an issue that hits close to home for Frazier.
“This was a personal message for me,” began Frazier, who is currently preparing for his second season with the Magic. “Coming up, we used to can shake to raise money, and the spot we were in, we used to be where some of the homeless people were.
“Coming up seeing that, it’s something personal to me. From the outside looking in, people don’t understand why those people are out there like that. People don’t help them and kind of push them off to the side. I just wanted to try and help them the best way I could, and I personally know a couple of people that are in that type of situation.”
All proceeds from the event will go to Redds World Foundation, an organization that was created to help feed and clothe the homeless.
Frazier got a big hand in organizing the tournament from Donald Reyes, a native New Orleanian and former assistant coach at Tulane. The tournament hosted 32 teams in three different divisions including adult, high school and middle school with games beginning at 10:30 a.m. and wrapping up just before 4 p.m.
Each game lasted until one team reached 21 points or until the 15-minute clock expired. The competition level was high, particularly in the top two brackets as players attempted to earn bragging rights in the inaugural “Hoops for the Homeless” tournament.
“It was great runs the whole day and every team was tough,” said St. Augustine point guard D’Mari Wiltz, who made the game-winning layup to win the championship in the high school division. “We knew it was Melvin Frazier’s tournament and he’s an NBA player, so everybody in the gym wanted to get a championship in his tournament.”
Wiltz shared the court with high school teammate Jaron Pierre along with Salmen point guard Jaden Williams, all of whom will be seniors this upcoming season. They topped Frazier’s team in the final game, which was also made up of players from local schools including St. Augustine’s Jason Malbrue, De La Salle’s Ja’Kobe Walker and Carver’s Michael Pajeaud.
There were also a few familiar faces in the adult division including a strong contingent of current and former college players including Tulane’s Blake Paul and Kolby Morgan along with UNO’s Raheema Franklin and Nicholls State’s Tia Charles to name a few.
In addition to the numerous games being played simultaneously on multiple courts, there were also a few breaks sprinkled in that included giveaways with free Orlando Magic gear.
Frazier was more than pleased with the turnout for his first tournament, and expects to do similar events in the future.
“I’ll try to do something every year to give back to the community,” said Frazier, who spent most of the tournament playing 1-on-1. “This is about five minutes from where I’m from, so this gives kids from my neighborhood and surrounding neighborhoods something (positive) to get them out of the streets.”