Mustafa Shakur has fond memories of the Rasual Butler All-City Basketball Classic, a three-tiered, all-star event set to take place for the 17th year Thursday night.
Matter of fact, they're such goodies, recalling them pretty much gives him goosebumps.
After starring for William Penn High, Friends' Central and the University of Arizona, Shakur had to tough things out along the backdoor trail (overseas, training-camp stints, minor leagues) for three-plus seasons before making his NBA debut last winter with the Washington Wizards.
And the way he sees it, the Classic served as quite the trampoline.
"I was just finishing my junior year at William Penn, and I was picked to play in the Classic," Shakur said. "I hadn't played as freshman or soph, though I'd been there to watch. I'd see guys getting those huge MVP trophies they always give out - I remember Olney's David Bell getting one - and I'd say, 'Man, I wanna get one of those.' Then I played and did wind up with one myself.
"Winning that trophy was such a huge thing. It made me start to realize, 'I'm a pretty good player. If I get even better, I can really, really do something with this.' "
This year's event, featuring virtually all top freshmen, sophomores and juniors from the city and suburbs (frosh go first, at 5:30), will be held at Ben Franklin High, Broad and Green.
Shakur will attend, and even head home with new hardware. He will receive a plaque from Charles "Shoob" Monroe, Classic director, for his hoops accomplishments, ongoing support and ever-present class.
"When Charles asked me to make sure to come this year, I thought I'd just be watching the games," Shakur said. "Then to find out I'll be getting an award, too . . . Huge honor. Didn't expect this at all. Very nice."
Shakur also could be put to work. Monroe likes to get NBA players with local ties to serve as honorary coaches, and this year's crop, he hopes, will include Wayne Ellington, Hakim Warrick, Jason Thompson, Ronald "Flip" Murray, Butler . . .
"I'm still putting all that together," Monroe said.
The 6-4, 195-pound Shakur grew up on Warnock Street, not far from Broad and Olney, and played most of his pickup/youth ball at Cherashore Playground, 10th and Chew, which is where he will host a youth clinic/fun day on July 19 that's expected to draw numerous NBAers.
The backup point guard made his NBA debut on Jan. 22. He impressed enough to remain with the Wizards through the end of the season, and he got eight points, three assists and two steals in 16 minutes vs. Cleveland in the final week.
Talks about a Wizards encore will soon begin between the team and his agent, he hopes.
At the Classic, meanwhile, Shakur will be happy to chat with anyone.
"I think I have more of an appreciation than the average NBA player," he said. "Considering the road I've had to take, everyday people can relate to me. Maybe I can provide inspiration. I'm proof that if you stick with it and apply yourself, good things can happen."
Rosters for 17th annual Rasual Butler All-City Basketball Classic to be held Thursday at Ben Franklin HS (Broad and Green):
Shep Garner, 6-2, Roman
Ben Bentil, 6-7, Haverford School
Tony Toplyn 6-5 Neumann-Goretti
Basil Thompson, 6-4, Roman
Malik Smith, 5-10, Del-Val
Eric Anderson, 6-4, Haverford
Rashann London, 6-2, Roman
Malik Tyndale, 6-0, West Catholic
Floyd Prieto, 6-0, Westtown
Malik Starkes, 6-2, Olney
Ja'Quan Newton, 6-2, Neumann-Goretti
Jamal Custis, 6-5, Neumann-Goretti
Jayde Gardiner, 6-4, Friere
Raheem Liggins, 6-5, Prep Charter
Troy Harper, 5-11, Neumann-Goretti
Brandon Adams, 6-3, Prep Charter
Conrad Chambers, 6-0, Friends' Central
Lou Myers, 6-0, Southern
Rip Engel, 5-9, Roman
Mustapha Trawore, 6-5, Prep Charter
*Sean Lloyd, 6-3, Franklin LC (injured)
Jeffon Powell, 6-3, MC&S
Steven Griffin, 5-11, Father Judge
Jeremiah Worthem, 6-5, MC&S
Jai Williams, 6-8, P.E.T.
Brandon Austin, 6-5, Imhotep
Rysheed Jordan, 6-2, Vaux
Yahmir Greenlee, 5-6, Boys' Latin
Hakeem Baxter, 6-1, Phila. Elec.
Amir Butler, 6-1, Strawberry Mansion
Lester Mattox, 6-0, Fels
Amar Stukes, 6-1, La Salle
Karonn Davis, 6-0, Friends' Central
Shafeek Taylor, 6-3, Roman
Britton Lee, 6-0, Roman
John Davis, 6-3, Neumann-Goretti
Miles Overton, 6-2, SJ Prep
Stephen Vasturia, 6-0, SJ Prep
Semaj Reed, 6-6, Haverford School
Yosef Yacob, 6-0, Carroll
Robert Johnson 6-5 Lower Merion
Shaun Church, 6-3, Ridley
Ryan Arcidiacono, 6-2, Neshaminy
Aaron Goodman, 6-0, Council Rock
Donovan Jack, 6-8, Reading Cent. Catholic
Savon Goodman, 6-6, Academy New Church
Malik Garner, 6-5, Chestnut Hill
Brendan Kilpatrick, 6-5, Malvern
Devon Jones, 6-3, Haddon Heights (NJ)
Aaron Morgan, 6-1, Council Rock North
Josh Heyliger, 6-2, The Hill School
Maurice Watson 5-9, Boys' Latin
Nafees Walker, 6-3, Cheltenham
Amile Jefferson, 6-7, Friends' Central
Daiquan Walker, 6-2, Consitution
Khyree Wooten, 6-2, Strawberry Mansion
Billy Dooley, 6-4, Chestnut Hill
Richard Hoskins, 6-1, Comm Tech
Jordan Reed, 6-3, Wissahickon
Derrick Stewart, 6-6, Neumann-Goretti