With a lineup that could include a current NBA player, an MVP of an overseas professional league and a former Harlem Globetrotter, don’t be surprised if a 43-year-old sales consultant takes the final shot in Saturday’s Who You Got? all-star basketball game at West High.
“Nowadays, my game has changed, but I’m still a dead-eye shooter, and if you’re not my size, I’m posting you up,” said a smiling Chris Clayton, who defies his age and continues to showcase his high-level game in leagues such as the Los Angeles-based Drew League that often features current and former NBA players. “You can’t stop me in the post. I don’t care who you are, if we’re the same height or a little smaller, I’m gonna shoot right over you. If I’m open for 3, I’m shooting that, too, but in the clutch and if we need a bucket, and a guard is on me, I’m just gonna post him up.”
Let the smack talk begin.
It’s all part of a fundraiser to benefit the West Athletic Boosters, that will feature several of the top local basketball products from years past. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for students with an ID.
“I’m really excited to hold this at the end of summer and kind of get the community jazzed again about basketball,” said Elbert Watkins, event organizer and West High boys basketball coach. "It’s going to be great, just having the whole basketball community come together and just having a fun night.”
Fun, but it also figures to be competitive.
“Oh, it’s going to be competitive for sure,” said Stephon Carter, who starred at Garces and Cal State Bakersfield before embarking on a professional career overseas. “There’s pride on the line, there’s trash talking. You might have someone dunk that we might let go by, because nobody wants to get dunked on or anything, but it’s going to be competitive. Like I said, there’s a lot of pride, so we’re not going to go and showcase our talents and lose just because it’s an all-star game.”
Suffice to say, this doesn’t figure to be your average all-star game.
Two teams — Bakersfield's Finest and Bakersfield's Elect — were drafted with current Minnesota Timberwolves guard Tyrone Wallace serving as captain of one team and Carter captaining the other. High school coaches Brian Dignan (Garces), Wesley Davis (Foothill), Clayton Madden (Liberty) and Watkins will coach the two teams.
“I play with (these guys) all the time anyways, but to be able to play in front of a big crowd at West High is going to be awesome,” said Clayton, who teamed with J.R. Henderson to lead East High to three straight Central Section titles and the 1994 state championship. “Especially with my shot, if I’m hitting a lot, oh, ya, it’s gonna be fun.”
In addition to the action on the court, Watkins plans to pay his respects to former local standouts Ray Burris (West/CSUB), Winston Crite (South/Texas A&M) and Joe Turner (Foothill/Arizona), who made an impact beyond their high school basketball careers.
“It’s really special that some of the old heads are going to be there,” Watkins said. “It’s great to be able to recognize them for all their accomplishments, too.”
Carter is also looking forward to celebrating the past and having an opportunity to shine in front of local basketball fans at least one more time.
“I grew up here, from high school to college, I’ve always had support from the community, so it was a no-brainer to come back and do this for the community,” Carter said. “And to have a chance to showcase our talent and compete with our friends, guys we’ve known our whole lives, guys we grew up watching, or were watching us. It’s going to be fun and competitive, it was an easy call to come play and come back here.”
Carter, who has played in Spain, Mexico and Canada since finishing a four-year college career at Cal State Bakersfield as the school’s all-time leading scorer, is currently waiting for a call to play in the Middle East, in either Iraq or Oman, he said.
“Of course it’s a dream to play at the highest level and play in the NBA, but if I can play basketball and be able to support my family for the next 5 or 10 years, make a solid career, and make a living off it, then I’d be fine with that also. I have kids, and if I can get paid a good amount to go play overseas, then I’m going to play overseas. I can stack up my money and take care of family that way, too.”
In the interim, Carter is content to play alongside other former local high school standouts, including Bakersfield Christian grad Marcus Hall, who finished his college playing career at Portland State and Chris Sterling, who has played in Spain after graduating from Delano High.
“These guys are really, really playing at a high level, and I thought it would be great for the community first of all, to come out and see that,” Watkins said. “If you’re not in the local basketball circle, the community doesn’t really know. I mean there’s guys that have gone through high school and gone away to college and had good college careers, but a lot of people haven’t seen them play at a higher level. It will be great to give these guys a chance to do that (Saturday).”
A look at Saturday’s scheduled participants:
Name: Zach Allmon
High school: Frontier, SLO-Mission Prep (2012 graduate)
College: Vanguard, Cal Poly
Pro experience: China, Vietnam, Sweden, Australia
Awards/accomplishments: NAIA national champion, two-time All-GSAC, All-CIF 5-AA first team, Cal-Hi Sports All-State D-V first team, All-SLO county first team
Name: Tim Billingsley
High school: Bakersfield (2010 graduate)
College: Neosho County College
Awards: All-SEYL; BVarsity All-area selection
Personal: Basketball coach/trainer for Tim’s Elite Training and Hoop Phene Elite
Name: Myree Bowden
High school: South High (2000 graduate)
Pro experience: Played for Harlem Globetrotters from 2005-07.
Awards/accomplishments: Three-time All-league performer for Rebels; Won a Big West title at UOP and was named Strength and Conditioning All-American
Name: Jordan Burris
High school: Stockdale (2010 graduate)
College: Nevada, Cal State San Bernardino
Pro experience: NBA G League; Germany, Bahrain
Awards/accomplishments: Three-time All-SWYL and BVarsity All-Area performer, also named first-team All-State and California player of the month after scoring 52 points in a game. Stockdale’s all-time leader in scoring, rebounding, assists, steals and blocks when he graduated; WAC Sixth-man of the year, led BBC Coburg to champions of Regionliga title, also named MVP and import player of the year
Name: Kameron Burris-Garofalo
High school: Stockdale, Liberty (2018 graduate)
College: Notre Dame de Namur (sophomore for 2019-20 season)
Awards/accomplishments: Three-time All-SWYL; 2018 KHSD Slam Dunk champion
Personal: Majoring in computer science; Has a son, Cayson.
Name: Stephon Carter
High school: Garces (2009 graduate)
College: Cal State Bakersfield
Pro experience: Spain, Mexico, Canada
Awards: CSUB’s all-time leader in scoring and steals; Kern County’s all-time leading scorer at Garces; 3-time BVarsity All-Area player of the year.
Personal: Has two kids, Bailey and Stephon Jr.
Name: Alec Check
High school: Centennial (2017 graduate)
College: College of the Sequoias, San Francisco City College
Awards: Four-time All-Area and All-SWYL performer
Name: Chad Clark
High school: Ridgeview (2010 graduate)
College: Bakersfield College; College of the Sequoias
Awards: Central Valley Conference co-defensive player of the year at COS
Personal: Works as a Tulare County deputy sheriff, has one child, Alanah.
Name: Chris Clayton
High school: East (1994 graduate)
College: Ventura College; Texas A&M
Awards/accomplishments: Named all-area and all-State; captured state championship in 1994; helped Blades to three straight Central Section titles; all-conference, team MVP and We Play Hard Award at Ventura; top-5 in school history for 3-pointers made at Texas A&M; made seven 3s in a game twice.
Personal: Sales consultant at Tel-Tec Security
Name: Austyn Contreras
High school: Bakersfield, West (2017 graduate)
College: Greenville University (junior in 2019-20 season)
Awards/accomplishments: First-team all-area; first-team all-league; 1,000-point club, scored 49 points against Ridgeview.
Name: Tucker Eenigenburg
High school: Stockdale (2015 graduate)
College: Bakersfield College, Western Washington (senior in 2019-20 season)
Awards/accomplishments: Two time all-Western State Conference; CCCAA player of the month; scored school-record 51 points in a game as a sophomore at BC
Personal: Engaged with one child
Name: Marcus Hall
High school: Bakersfield Christian (2009 graduate)
College: CSUB, Humboldt State, Fresno City, Portland State, Adams State
Awards/accomplishments: Four-year varsity player, All-league, league MVP and Central Section champion for Eagles
Name: Colby Herron
High school: Bakersfield Christian (2009 graduate)
College: Holy Names University
Awards: Named rookie of the year at Holy Names in 2010
Personal: Works as a financial advisor at Northwestern Mutual
Name: Elijah Hill
High school: Frontier, Centennial (2016 graduate)
College: Fresno Pacific (redshirt junior in 2019-20)
Awards: All-SWYL, all-area selection in high school
Name: Jared Mathews
High school: Bakersfield High (2015 graduate)
College: Blue Mountain College, Saint Martins University
Awards/accomplishments: All-SWYL and BVarsity All-Area at BHS, academic all-conference at Saint Martins.
Personal: Graduated with a business administration degree with a concentration in marketing.
Name: Reggie Phillips
High school: Foothill (1989 graduate)
College: Bakersfield College, Ventura College, CSUB
Pro experience: Harlem Globetrotters for eight years
Awards/accomplishments: All-conference at Ventura and CSUB, Foothill Hall of Fame, Bob Elias Kern County Sports Hall of Fame
Personal: Works with at-risk youth in the Bakersfield community; Has three kids, two girls and one boy.
Name: Ronnie Stapp
High school: Bakersfield (2018 graduate)
College: Fullerton College (redshirt freshman for 2019-20 season)
Awards: SWYL player of the year, BVarsity All-Area player of the year, KHSD player of the year, three-time All-SWYL selection
Name: Chris Sterling
High school: Bakersfield High, Delano (2012 graduate)
College: Fresno City College, San Jose City College, Arizona Western
Pro experience: Spain
Awards: All-American and conference’s leading scorer at ACU; All SWYL; BVarsity All-Area; All-state in high school
Name: Tyrone Wallace
High school: Bakersfield (2012 graduate)
Pro experience: NBA G League, Los Angeles Clippers, Minnesota Timberwolves
Awards: BVarsity All-Area player of the year in 2011; first-team All-Pac-12 at Cal, selected in second-round of 2016 NBA Draft by Utah Jazz.
Personal: Just celebrated arrival of first child
Name: Ricky Wofford
High school: Bakersfield (2008 graduate)
College: Dominican University
Pro experience: Israel
Awards: Two-time SEYL most valuable player; All-Area selection