The 2021 Spalding Hoophall Classic has been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to event organizers.
Greg Procino, vice president of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, told MassLive that the factors opposing the event – which would have happened without the fans – simply piled up too high to be overcome .
“The unknown in January, in terms of what the health situation will look like locally, the variables in place just didn’t align in our favor,” Procino said. “We tried to be as patient as possible, tried to wait and see if things were going to improve, but the reality is at this point, given the increase in the number of cases, the local restrictions with the ‘State and city, the unknown of the local high school basketball season, the volume of trips across the country that this event takes, at this point it seems like the right thing to do to take a break.
“If our protocol document was perfect, there would always be reasons not to do it, and I think we got to a point where there were too many obstacles to make it work, because even in our modified plan , it wouldn’t have been what people would normally expect from Hoohall Classic. It would have been a TV studio without fans.
Organizers were concerned for the safety of the athletes, many of whom should have traveled to Springfield from their home markets.
“They’re still high school kids, and they’re still required to leave their homes and travel to Springfield to participate, and without real testing protocol and real approval from local authorities, injecting more risk into the pandemic at this point just. doesn’t seem like the right choice, ”Procino said.
Now the Hall of Fame will be planning an event normally scheduled for 2022.
“I think we all hope things will be normal around this time next year,” Procino said. “We’re going to create a new calendar, we’re going to go back to our original dates, we’re going to continue as if we were going to have an event.
“I don’t think our planning cycle or our desire to change in terms of hosting an event. We’re going to go ahead as if we are going to have a more normal year, and hopefully the vaccine and virus will be more under control at this point. “
This year’s 20th anniversary event reportedly featured Emoni Bates, one of the top high school prospects of recent years, along with a full roster of talented young stars. Rather, according to Procino, next year’s event will be billed as the 20th anniversary.
Procino noted that Anthony Edwards, who became No.1 in the 2020 NBA Draft against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday, was the 10th consecutive No.1 pick to play at the Hoophall Classic in Springfield.
“I think we’ve set ourselves high expectations to deliver the best teams and the best interested players to come, and I don’t see that changing in terms of how we move forward,” Procino said.