On Saturday afternoon Red Bull King of the Rock held its sixth and final qualifier in Mosswood Park in Oakland. Sixteen players advanced from the Oakland qualifier and will make up part of the 64 finalists that will battle it out to be crowned King of the Rock on September 18. The finals on Alcatraz will be the first official sporting ever held on the island and will be hosted by basketball superstar Rajon Rondo.
After the San Francisco’s qualifier on August 28, the Bay Area was abuzz about the competition, driving heavy attendance to the Oakland qualifier. The 64 spots for the competition filled up quickly, and several that arrived too late quickly went from being “potential player” to “enthusiastic spectator.” Even if they didn’t get to play, they were able to enjoy picture-perfect weather as well as some seriously competitive action on the court. Some of the 16 finalists from the San Francisco qualifier showed up as well, hoping to get a look at some of the competition they will face next Saturday on Alcatraz.
As one would expect from Oakland and the historic Mosswood Park, both the talent level and the intensity of the players were high. There were several newcomers to the event, but some familiar faces made an appearance as well. Gill Llewellyn, who had participated in both the Los Angeles and San Francisco qualifiers, proved that persistence pays off as he finally secured his spot on The Rock. Kris Smith, who finished 17th at the San Francisco qualifier and would have served as an alternate, took to the court and proved himself worthy of the title of “finalist.” David Moseley, who went to the Final Four in the ‘97/’98 season on Stanford University’s squad was also in attendance, and showed he hasn’t lost that NCAA touch – he’ll also play next week. And finally, TJ Mann, who played Division 2 ball as well as in the Eastern Basketball Alliance, flew in all the way from Philadelphia to grab his spot.
My plan was to work my size in the inside, and that strategy paid off - Vili Morton
But top honors were claimed by Vili Morton, a 28 year-old that used to play for University of California-Riverside. Morton faced some tough competitors on his way to #1, but was able to shut down all opponents and secure the top seed position for the Finals. Morton admitted, “I’m definitely not in the same shape I was back when I was playing college ball, but my plan was to work my size in the inside, and that strategy paid off. Now I’ve got my eyes on the prize – I want to be the King!”
In all, 16 players from the Oakland event will advance to play on Alcatraz on September 18.
Oakland qualifier Finalists:
- Vili Morton (San Ramon, CA)
- Nwabueze Umeh (San Leandro, CA)
- Therin Taylor (Richmond, CA)
- David Moseley (Palo Alto, CA)
- Aaron Garrette (Sacramento, CA)
- John Hunt (Hayward, CA)
- Aaron Tatum (San Leandro, CA)
- Kris Smith (Alameda, CA)
- Craig McArthur (San Francisco, CA)
- Jerald Pruitt (Rio Linda, CA)
- Tye Phillips (San Francisco, CA)
- William Prior (Oakland, CA)
- Benjamin Schulte-Bisping (Oakland, CA)
- Gil Llewellyn (Los Angeles, CA)
- Jamal Davis (Oakland, CA)
- TJ Mann (Philadelphia, PA)
The Oakland stop was the last of six qualifiers. Other qualifiers have included: Los Angeles (July 17), San Diego (July 24), Phoenix, (July 31), Seattle (August 7) and San Francisco (August 28). Sixty-four finalists have emerged from these six qualifiers and will meet at one of the world’s most iconic locations for the final battle.
The finals will be the first official sporting event ever held on Alcatraz, and the first time basketball has been played there since the inmates left the island over 50 years ago. In the end, there can be only one King, so out of the 64 finalists, only one will be crowned “King of the Rock.” Red Bull King of the Rock is open to all ages, amateur and pro alike. Registration will take place on-site for each of the six qualifiers and will take the form of a 64-person bracket competition. Players interested in competing should visit www.redbullusa.com/kingoftherock for more information.
Red Bull will be teaming up with 2K Sports, Converse, SLAM and 24 Hour Fitness for this historic event.