John Albert was burned once.
He does not expect to be burned again.
Albert, affectionately known as “John John,” will put on his annual Mo Betta Sports all-star basketball showcase Monday at Mathews-Dickey Boys and Girls Club. Admission is $10 and the event features three all-star games which will lead off with a girls game at 6 p.m.
It's just the second time in the event's five years there will be an all-star game for the girls.
“I'm proud of this one this year,” Albert said. “All of the top girls are in it.”
The game is overflowing with NCAA Division I talent. The roster for this year's game includes Kirkwood's Jayla Everett (New Mexico), Makayla Wallace (Evansville) and Jaidah Stewart (Minnesota), Webster Groves' KK Rodriguez (Tulsa), Incarnate Word's Sonya Morris (DePaul) and Nakayla Jackson-Morris, Edwardsville's Kate Martin (Iowa), Rachel Pranger (Bradley for volleyball) and Mariah Noodel-Haywood, Parkway North's Amaya Stovall (DePaul), Hazelwood Central's Kelsie Williams (SIU-E) and Kourtney White, Metro's Brooke Flowers, North Tech's Jessica Myers, Pattonville's Tyra Brown, Ladue's Kalifa Muhammad, Borgia's Cassidy Moss, Miller Career's Breyanna Howard and Mauricea Mathis, Washington's Jackie Arnold and Reese Arnold.
Albert's first all-star game featured a girls game, but it did not go off as expected. Players that committed to play reneged and left Albert in a lurch.
“A lot of girls backed out at the last minute,” Albert said. “We had seven girls on each team. The turnout was not good.”
Albert scrapped the girls game for the next three years, but revived it after he received feedback from the community. A talented senior class will get to play one more time in front of the home-town fans and a packed house.
And it will be packed.
“Both boys games are loaded with talent,” Albert said. “We have 30 schools represented.”
Two boys games follow the girls and there is no shortage of star power. The main event pits large schools against small schools. The large school roster includes Chaminade's Jericole Hellems (North Carolina State), Webster Groves' Carte'Are Gordon (St. Louis U.), Hazelwood Central's Shaun Williams (Kansas State), Belleville West's Malachi Smith (Wright State), Liberty's Kale Catchings (Harvard), Sikeston's Fred Thatch (St. Louis U.) along with the likes of Hazelwood Central's Cameron Williams and Xavier Ball, Parkway Central's DeAndre Campbell (Florida Southern), Chaminade's Jadis White and Jennings' Kyle Younge.
The small school roster leads with Whitfield's Torrence Watson (Missouri), Confluence's Brandon Fredrick and Leon Perry, St. Mary's Yahuza Rasas and Tony Burks, O'Fallon's Jaylen Hodge (Louisiana-Monroe), Northwest's Jamarr Williams and St. Louis U. High's Matt Leritz. From outside the area, Carbondale's Darius Beane (Southern Illinois) and Kani Acree (Ball State) join Springfield Lanphier's Cordell McGhee to round out the roster.
Getting commitments from such a large and talented pool of players was no easy feat.
“We are the biggest (all-star game) in St. Louis and have been for the last three or four years,” Albert said. “A lot of them are excited to play in the game.”
The middle game is an East vs. West matchup that has a host of standouts from the area and beyond.
The East roster features Hillsboro's Gaven Pinkley (Central Missouri), Vianney's Colin Braun, Pacific's Cameron VanLeer, Hazelwood Central's Telly Wright and Jhaylen Covington-Berry, Ritenour's Kobe Smith, Parkway South's AJ Somer, St. Mary's Miles Jones and Dominic Mitchell, MICDS's Austin Thompson and Charleston's DeMarcus Sharp.
The West includes Alton's Kevin Caldwell, Duchesne's Mitchell Fairless and Adam Moore, Northwest's Rayonte Childs and Wilshon Warren, Confluence's Mike Clark, St. Louis U. High's Mikey Sanders, Carnahan's Aaron Brookins, Hazelwood West's Jihad Thornton and Farmington's Brendon Hardy.
Albert expects the gym to be sold out and rocking from start to finish. Tickets will be on sale at the door and the doors will open at 5:30 p.m.
“People will need to get there early,” Albert said.