Elite hoopers shine and pay respects in the Josh Level Classic

GREENSBORO, N.C. – Just over five years after the tragic death of Josh Level, one of North Carolina’s most promising young basketball prospects, the all-star game held in his honor is still drawing capacity crowds and displaying a who’s who of the state’s hoops talent.”I didn’t know Josh personally, but I know a lot of people that knew him and everyone loved him,” said Trinity Christian School (Fayetteville, N.C.) wing Joey Baker, a Duke signee. “It’s cool that a great event like this could come from something so tragic.”North Carolina signee Coby White scored 41 points to lead Team B Daht past Team Drankins 128-121 Saturday in the Josh Level Classic.All proceeds from the showcase go toward the SmileForJosh foundation, a certified nonprofit organization that raises awareness about cardiac health risks in high school athletes. The organization is also geared toward helping inner city youth through scholarships, after school programs, back-to-school drives and basketball camps.”It’s a chance for us to come out and support a great cause,” said White, a senior at Greenfield School (Wilson, N.C.) who took home MVP honors. “It’s cool to see that Josh is still having a positive impact on people’s lives all these years later.”Level collapsed during a basketball game in Winston-Salem, N.C. in 2013 and later died of myocarditis, a viral infection that attacks the heart muscle.Greensboro Day (N.C.) shooting guard John Newman was just 12 years old back then and can recall being impacted “in a big way” while attending Level’s funeral.”It was pretty rough because he was genuinely a great guy,” said Newman, a Clemson signee. “He and his family are really well known and respected in the city so if affected a lot of people. I cried on the inside. That really hurt me, even being as young as I was.”A year after Level passed, his best friend Kanayo Obi-Rapu organized the first Josh Level Classic in 2014 as a senior project.Since then the game has hosted multiple five-star players from around the state including Sacramento Kings forward Harry Giles III and Dallas Mavericks point guard Dennis Smith Jr.”It’s fun to get together with the state’s best players one last time this year,” White said. “It’s a great thing for the community to come together and honor him.”White played in the Josh Level Classic last year, but said after losing his father Donald in August to cancer this year’s game gave him an entirely different perspective.