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Carver set to tip off annual Stevens-Wade Classic

Trey Williams • Feb 28, 2014 at 12:13 AM

Carver Rec will be going “old school” to help a new class get in school when it hosts the annual Melvin Stevens-Thomas Wade Classic alumni basketball game Friday, Feb. 28.

Former Science Hill players Damon Johnson, Brad Fields, Jerome Odem and Odarius Williams are among those expected to lace up their sneakers as part of the four-game lineup. East Tennessee State legend and 1992 NCAA slam dunk champion Calvin Talford will coach a team called the ETSU All-Stars.

Games begin at 6 p.m. when the Johnson City Firefighters take on the Johnson City Police Department. The Carver All-Stars will play the Unicoi County alumni at 7 p.m., ETSU meets the Dobyns-Bennett alumni at 8 p.m. and players from Science Hill’s 1990, ‘94 and ‘95 state championship teams will play the Daniel Boone alumni at 9 p.m.

Carver Rec director Herb Greenlee formed the Melvin Stevens Scholarship with Wade shortly after Stevens’ untimely death in 1991. Wade’s name was added after his death in 2008.

Stevens was the Carver Rec director prior to Greenlee. Wade worked at Science Hill from 1970-2004, and later helped Greenlee at Carver.

Stevens was quite the pick-up basketball player, using physical games to help mold players such as Johnson and Shane Williams, who were on Science Hill’s state championship team in 1990 and runner-up team the following season.

Greenlee said the scholarship fund, which also raises money with an annual gospel concert, a golf tournament, pancake breakfasts and fish fries, has generated in excess of $100,000 since giving the inaugural recipient, Corbin Stevens, $600 a year for college in 1992. Scholarships are now $1,000 annually.

“Melvin always wanted kids working out and doing the right thing,” Greenlee said. “His goal was to get them to work hard and go to college or a trade school ... and be productive in the community. And that’s what Tom Wade wanted, too. They wanted to let kids know that somebody’s there for them, and not just kids that come to Carver. We’ve given money to kids from high schools other than Science Hill.”

Corbin Stevens, who played a key role in the 1990 title run, is expected to play for the Science Hill team tonight, as are Johnson, Jay Jay Swartz and Charles Love.

The Carver team, according to Jerome Odem, will include Jermaine Love, Jamar Love, Ashley Odem, Julius Bowling and Dustin Howard.

DiMingo Hale expects the Dobyns-Bennett team to include JaMichael Mills, Justin Sylvester, Azmar Blye, Corky Blye, Travis Sensabaugh, Stacy Ervin (former Virginia High School League all-time leading scorer from Twin Springs) and Hakeem Hakeem.

Keilan Livingston said Ryan Gaitor will be one of those playing with him on the Daniel Boone team.

Like Corbin Stevens, many of the recipients have become participants. Among the nearly 200 awarded money from area high schools were Livingston and Johnson. Others include Shane Williams, Keisha Russaw, Lisa Gaitor, Toby Patton, Rob Williams, Roscelle Bullock, David Garland and Demetric Stevens.

Greenlee said he believes Wade and Stevens are somewhere looking on and smiling while the mission’s carried forward.

“I miss Mr. Wade every day, because we started this Melvin Stevens Scholarship,” Greenlee said. “And when he passed I knew I wouldn’t let this die for anything. ... Melvin gave a lot of kids hope when they didn’t have it. It was pretty bad around Carver back then in the early ’80s.”

Stevens has helped nearly 200 students get through college since then, and the number’s growing.

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