This Thursday marks the start of the 16th annual Rumph Classic from La Salle University featuring eight teams fighting for glory in honor of the late Danny Rumph.
Competitive Training Company, Mike Jay Films, Rumph Center, Chuck Ellis Workouts, Born Leader Family, 8Eye, Blue Magic, Rex6 and PFWorkouts will each be fielding teams for this year’s tournament.
Team Rumph Center secured the championship the last time the tournament was played in 2019 led by Shannon and Samme Givens, Mo Watson and Alize Johnson.
Let’s meet this year’s coaches.
Kyle Sample – Team Competitive Training Company
Sample got his start coaching at the Rumph Classic in 2014 but was first introduced to the tournament as a fan going out to watch his friends play since its inception in 2006.
He was always a fan of Danny Rumph, the tournament’s namesake, and his game growing up.
“Once Mike and a couple other guys started the tournament, I was in college, we would just go down to Mallery and watch the games all day,” Sample said. “You always knew people that were playing. Whether I was watching my friends play, watching my clients play or watching some of the players that I used to coach play, it was always a joy to go watch and follow the Rumph tournament every year as it grew.”
Outside of the Rumph, Sample coaches the Philadelphia-based AAU program KLow Elite and runs Competitive Training Co., a basketball-oriented training program.
His favorite part of the tournament every year is seeing guys that don’t often receive as much praise as some of their teammates but make a name for themselves at the Rumph.
“You’ll see a Division III kid, a kid who doesn’t play anymore or someone who doesn’t play pro ball go out there and surprise everybody,” Sample said. “I think that’s what the Rumph is about.
“You got a guy like Marcus Thomas getting to go at it with Jayson Tatum [in 2019]. That right there is the definition of what the tournament means. Showing that Philly hoopers can go at it with anybody.”
Tony Chennault — Team Mike Jay Films
Chennault’s oldest memories of the Rumph Classic date back to when he was in high school playing basketball at Neumann-Goretti in South Philly.
After later wrapping up his playing career at Villanova in 2014, he reconnected with the tournament’s lead organizer Mike Morak, looking for a way to get involved. By 2017, he began his coaching career at the annual event.
“I wanted to be a part of it in any capacity to add to the Philadelphia basketball brand and the ultimate mission of saving young lives,” Chennault said. “The Rumph is a great event because it allows you to be a part of something much bigger than yourself and you’re serving a much deeper purpose. Really just helping young athletes get the proper medical care that they need.”
Mike Jay Films is Chennault’s Philadelphia-based film company in honor of his late brother, the company’s namesake, who was tragically killed in 2012.
Chennault’s favorite memory from his time involved with the Rumph Classic comes from his playing days and a late-game missed call that would have put Penn State alum DJ Newbill, who plays professionally overseas, at the free throw line in the contest’s waning seconds.
“We played the Morris twins and we should have won that game,” he said. “Everyone thought we were going to get blown out but we were winning the whole way…. Philadelphia basketball is all about competing so if you get a bunch of guys who can just compete and play like junkyard dogs you can beat any pro in the tournament. That’s what makes the tournament great.”
Sharif Hanford — Team Rumph Center
Hanford was one of the founding members of the tournament and a childhood friend of Rumph’s. For the first few years he was a prominent player before age caught up to him and a strained hamstring in 2011 helped ease him into a more official coaching position.
“I’ve kind of always been like a coach helping tell people what to do and motivating people,” Hanford said. “It was kind of an effortless transition… I still wanted to win and I still wanted to compete with all the younger guys.”
Sharif Bray putting home the game winner that led Team Rumph Center to a championship in 2011 is the memory that shines the brightest in Hanford’s eyes. He vividly remembers Joseph Parker, one of the coaches who they grew up with, being lifted up with the trophy in celebration.
Hanford believes the Rumph Classic has given a platform for Philadelphia basketball through his childhood friend’s story. He continues to honor his legacy in the community they both grew up by both running the Danny Rumph Youth Basketball Program along with being a valuable resource in the area when it comes to organizing various donation drives.
Now in year 16 of the tournament, he will be roaming the sidelines for Team Rumph Center. As he says, trying to bring out the best in his players by getting the guys to believe in themselves.
Chuck Ellis — Team Chuck Ellis Workouts
Ellis has been a part of the Rumph Classic since it first got started but began his coaching and playing career at the tournament about 10 years ago for his team, Chuck Ellis Workouts, named for his basketball training program with clientele across the NBA.
He said he feels fortunate to have spent some time in the gym with Rumph before he passed and once the opportunity to get involved in his honor popped up, he didn’t hesitate to say yes.
“His family really embraced everyone that used to go up to the Rumph Center and play,” Ellis said. “It was really like a family atmosphere.”
Similar to Hanford, the memory that sticks out the most (besides the two championships) was being in the Rumph Center when Bray hit the game-winning shot in front of a packed gym.
In Ellis’ words, the tournament does tremendous work to spotlight the work of the Daniel E. Rumph II Foundation, best known for putting AEDs in local recreation centers, organizing free heart screenings for local youth and setting up food and toy drives for the community.
On the basketball side of things, it’s a great way to bring everyone together while continuing to spread awareness about Rumph’s story.
“It’s much more than basketball,” he said.
Tasheed Carr — Team Born Leader Family
For Carr, making his coaching debut at the 16th annual Rumph Classic means a chance to continue a rich basketball history and a way to honor someone he admired growing up.
Being a few years younger than Rumph, it was always a cool opportunity for Carr to play with him and his friends either at the park or seeing him in local AAU circuits.
At this year’s tournament he’ll roam the sideline representing Team Born Leader Family, named after his basketball developmental program that he sees as his chance to give back to the community that raised him.
“Philadelphia basketball has a very rich history,” Carr said. “For me, being a student of the game and being a player in the Big 5, being a guy who grew up in these neighborhoods, it means everything. Not only in my words but in my actions because I’m actually contributing, training and mentoring to really pay it back forward.”
Carr carved out his own name in Philly basketball lore playing his final two high school seasons at Mt. Zion Christian Academy in North Carolina before going on to play college ball at Iowa State then eventually transferring home to St. Joseph’s University. He graduated with 1,056 points on his collegiate resume over four seasons combining his totals from two schools.
His favorite memory of the Rumph comes from his playing days back in 2016, getting some words of wisdom from Philadelphia basketball legend Claude Gross, who passed away just six months after the tournament.
“The last time I saw him was at the Rumph. He was sitting on the baseline. I’ll never forget,” Carr said, “he grabbed me and gave me some great words. He said, ‘You’re the next one up to lead the way. Kind of like a pioneer.’
“For anybody who knows Claude Gross, if he says that to you that just means everything.”
Jaime Boyer — Team 8Eye
Boyer’s path to the Rumph was pretty starkly different from each of the other coaches. He got his start doing videography for the tournament and its players for his company, 8Eye.
He was away at college the first few years of the Rumph so didn’t get more involved until 2012 trying to cover high-level basketball and gain some traction for his media outlet.
“The Rumph is where it’s at with the best players,” Boyer said.
Developing relationships with guys throughout the basketball community has allowed him to grow his brand and seeing everyone get together is a big part of why he looks forward to the Rumph Classic, now going on his fourth year coaching.
Boyer said his fondest memory of all the years he’s been involved with the tournament was in 2016, prior to coaching his own team, watching James Harden show out for a packed crowd.
“To see him in his prime fly in the day of,” Boyer said, “I just remember the anticipation and the excitement around it.”
When it comes to trying to put the importance of Philly basketball in words, Boyer kept it pretty straight forward.
“Philly basketball is a fraternity of guys who respect each other and compete against each other at the highest level,” he said. “I think we’re the best basketball city.
“I think [the Rumph Classic] is huge and I’m more than happy to do it every summer as long as I possibly can.”
Joe Ross — Team Blue Magic
Ross first brought Team Blue Magic to the Rumph Classic about four years ago with the goal of continuing to put together winning basketball rosters.
Beyond the Rumph, he’s been coaching Blue Magic at the well-known Philly Pro AM Summer League, including a championship this summer, and in various tournaments in the area. Before that, Blue Magic’s resume boasts three championships in the Rankin-Anderson summer basketball league in the early 2000s
“As our talent level grew, I wanted to test the waters at the Danny Rumph Classic,” Ross said. “That’s kind of where all the best Philly players migrate to play for this one weekend tournament.”
For Ross, the Rumph is a staple in the city of Philadelphia and a signature weekend over the summer. As he puts it, the league where you never know who might walk through that door.
At the end of the day he said he’s both fortunate for connections he’s been able to make through the Philly basketball scene and confident that people will look back at the history books and remember Blue Magic as a winning team from the city.
“We want to keep Blue Magic at a high level,” he said, “and keep Philly basketball represented at a high level from those watching from the outside.”
Scoop Jardine — Rex6
Jardine has been a player-coach involved with the Rumph Classic since the tournament started as someone who viewed Morak and Rumph as mentors growing up.
He grew up in South Philly playing his high school ball at Neumann-Goretti before taking his talents to Syracuse, the NBA G League and eventually overseas.
At the 16th annual tournament, Jardine is lacing up his sneakers for Team Rex6, named after a clothing brand he and a few friends started, stemming from their roots playing basketball at recreation centers everyday growing up.
“Being in a situation where there was a lot of violence going on,” Jardine said, “the rec center was kind of a neutral zone for us as kids from South Philly to get together and play.”
The chance to compete and be heavily involved with the Rumph Classic is his way of giving back to the community that made him.
Jardine led his Saints team to a Philadelphia Catholic League championship in 2006 along with a No. 24 ranking in the 2006 USA Today Poll. He also made an Elite Eight appearance in 2012 during his time with the Orange.
“It’s really my duty and my purpose [to give back], literally,” he said. “I always tell Mike, we can’t talk about it, we got to be about it. I’m always trying to give back to the city of Philadelphia and push our game forward.”
Phil Lawrence-Ricks — PFWorkouts
Lawrence-Ricks is now in his third year playing at the Rumph but his first time playing for Team PFWorkouts, a basketball academy in Philadelphia founded by Pierre Forte.
The team will be coached by JJ Butler, who became the youngest head coach in the country after joining Chestnut Hill’s staff last summer.
For Lawrence-Ricks, the Rumph Classic is a chance to play basketball for a great cause and bring a spotlight to a really important story.
“It brings Philly basketball together,” he said. “From players in the NBA to players overseas and guys just out of college. It’s a great event. Every year I’ve been there it’s been a competitive, fun atmosphere.”
After playing in the last three tournaments, his favorite memory was having a picture-esque moment of his own against 3-time NBA Sixth Man of the Year Lou Williams.
“He went up for a layup and me and my cousin, Isaiah Miles, we double blocked his shot,” Lawrence-Ricks said. “That was a really great moment that sticks out to me.”
At the end of the day, Philly basketball is all about togetherness, according to Lawrence-Ricks. Everyone builds each other up and makes each other better people on and off the court.