CPS basketball event raises money for homeless students

Some of the top basketball stars in the Cincinnati Public Schools district will be on display this weekend to raise money to support local students experiencing homelessness.

The third annual All-Star Showcase returns to Fifth Third Arena on Saturday, March 30 for a full afternoon of programming meant to highlight the accomplishments of top CPS student-athletes through individual and team competitions. 

Programming features a skills competition, a 3-point contest and games featuring the top boys and girls from schools across the 91-square-mile district. Junior high school and elementary school hoops standouts will receive recognition for their personal accomplishments as well.

Featured players include Taron Patterson from Gamble Montessori High School and Jordyn Buchanan from Taft High School. Patterson – a 1,000-point scorer during his career – led his school to the Division 3 District finals this year for the first time. Buchanan averaged 20 points a game and was the March CPS Student Athlete of the Month.

Arielle Gee and Terrah Adams from Woodward High School finished on the Cincinnati Metro Athletic Conference first team this year. Gee won the conference’s offensive player of the year award, averaging 19 points and 9 rebounds a game.

Defending 3-point champions Jalisa Knowles of Shroder High School and Justin Hawkins for Aiken High School will be back to defend their titles this year.

Other events include a cheer competition at 6 p.m. and a special recognition of the most recent CPS Athletics Hall of Fame. A highlight of the Showcase every year is the dunk contest, sponsored by the University of Cincinnati School of IT. UC is the community partner for the event.

One of the expected stars this year will be Ru Mills from Woodward Career Technical High School. The high-flier averaged 21 points a game and the District 16 Player of the year and Southwest Ohio Division II player of the year.

Mayor Aftab Pureval will serve as a dunk contest judge.

“The event gives our students the incredible opportunity to play basketball in a state-of-the-art collegiate arena,” said Josh Hardin, CPS athletics manager.

Giving back to the community

Hardin noted that beyond the on-court action, the Showcase serves as an awareness campaign about CPS programs and services and serves as a fundraiser for the district’s longstanding Project Connect effort.

Founded in 1996, Project Connect provides advocacy paired with specialized educational services and lifestyle enrichment opportunities for children experiencing homelessness. The district said it serves about 3,500 such students every year. There are about 36,000 students enrolled in CPS schools overall. 

Funds raised in the past allowed for the expansion of the Project Connect Summer Academic and Enrichment program serving CPS students residing in local family shelters, according to Rebeka Beach, the manager of Project Connect. In addition to academic and enrichment opportunities, students were able to explore the world through unique outdoor experiences such as kayaking, fishing, hiking and swimming lessons.

For the past two years, funds have supported Project Connect’s summer enrichment program. This year, money will go toward supporting emergency housing for students in need and their families.

The previous iterations of the All-Star Showcases raised about $25,000 total.

General admission tickets are $20, but tickets are half-price for CPS students. “The funding provided through the CPS All-Star game allows the Project Connect program to go beyond the letter of the law and serve children experiencing homelessness in a holistic and meaningful manner,” Beach said.

The day begins at noon with a three-hour community, college and career fair, which organizers called “enhanced” this year. The event will also recognize the most recent Marian Spencer Scholars, a full-ride scholarship program for talented CPS students who want to attend the UC.

“The CPS All-Star Showcase highlights our strong partnership with the University of Cincinnati and (shows our commitment) to providing resources to the community through this high-energy event,” Hardin added.

All Star Showcase Schedule

Noon: Doors open
Noon- 3 p.m.: CPS Strong Community Fair
12:30 p.m.: Girls/boys skills competition sponsored by UC CECH
1:45 p.m.: Girls/boys 3-point contest sponsored by Game One
3 p.m.: Girls all-star game sponsored by Dream Builders University
4:30 p.m.: Dunk contest sponsored by UC School of IT
5:30 p.m.: Boys all-Star game sponsored by 4D
6 p.m.: Cheer performance at halftime sponsored by Center for Closing the Health Gap

Project Connect


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