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Photo Courtesy of Shawn Turri/WNYAthletics

Noah Hutchins has had quite the basketball life.

From the IMG Academy to the Park School where he won a couple of Monsignor Martin and New York State championships, earned numerous individual awards and originally attending Rice University in Houston before transferring to D’Youville, Hutchins has accomplished a lot while playing the game he loves.

Yet while at Park, he knew something needed to change when it came to All Star games in Western New York. And not only did he set out to put his own imprint on the format, the LTE Showdown has very much become an institution in the area.

“When I was 17, my friends and I were in the basement of my friend's house one day, and we were talking about all the high school all-star basketball players that were out there and how the best kids never actually play in it,” Hutchins said. “It's always a political thing or the best kids are never there because they would schedule those games on the weekends, which is when everyone's playing for their AAU teams.

“So I thought, ‘What if we just did our own thing one day, during the week and we have the best kids playing?’ Every year it’s kind of grown from there.”

Over the past seven years the LTE Showdown has not only expanded the limitations of who can participate in the event, but the format has been shaken up every year by Hutchins to keep things fresh.

“The first year we had it, there were only three games being played – one for ninth and 10th graders, one game for 11th and 12th grades and a girls game, and we had a dunk contest and a three point contest,” Hutchins said. “The next couple of years after that, I split it up because we had enough kids where each grade could have a game so we had one for each grade. 

Photos Courtesy of Shawn Turri/WNYAthletics

“Every year since I kind of mix it up and do something different. For example we had kids from Rochester come out one year, we had a seventh and eighth grade game one year and then this year we kids from grades eight through 12 and we had a public school versus private school game.”

With over 120 teenagers participating a year, Hutchins’ dream has become a reality. Not only has it been fun to watch for him, but the players’ parents – and the players themselves – have begun to take it more seriously than the average all-star game.

“Once I got a call from a parent who said, ‘Hey I’ll pay you if you let my son play’ and I had to tell them no,” Hutchins said with a laugh. “It’s crazy, and the kids really look forward to it. I had a kid one year who didn’t make the cut to play and he asked me afterwards about what he had to do to make the roster. I told him to not think about it too hard and just play your game and he told me, ‘Next year I’ll make it, I promise you.’ He was so confident.

“Throughout the year I had other coaches contacting me and talking about who should play, and getting their ideas and opinions about the games. So I asked a few coaches and they all said I needed to have the kid who didn’t make the cut the year prior. I thought to myself, ‘Ok, he must have done something right,’ so when he ended up playing in it he said to me ‘I told you I’d make it!’ It definitely gives them something to look forward to and something to motivate themselves to step up their game. If they don’t make the rosters one year they might take it personal at first, but it makes them work harder for it the next year.”

According to Hutchins, 2024 was another banner year for the LTE Showdown and may have been the best one yet.

“This year there was a good turnout and the crowd was great,” Hutchins said. “I think the best part about it this year was the competitiveness. The games were really close, which is always a good thing. 

“I’ll talk to the players before the game and tell them, ‘Listen, I know it’s an all-star game and I know you guys like to have fun but treat it like it's an AAU championship game. Try and dominate and show everyone who's the best, and if you guys don't pass the ball or if you're cherry picking and not playing defense, you’ll get taken out. You never know who might be watching – sometimes college recruiters will show up to watch them play. So the kids always end up competing really well and this year was no exception.”

For Hutchins, he wants to keep his brainchild going in the future and is keeping an open mind for different possibilities for its format.

“I’m always trying to pick people’s brains and seeing what their opinions are on what could be better and what can I add to it next year,” Hutchins said. “In the past we’ve had girls’ games but it was really complicated to get a lot of girls to commit to it. Recently we've been getting a lot of messages from girls who want to play next year, so I'm hoping to get them into it again. 

“It also used to be a three-day event and lately it's only been like one or two days, but I want to get it back to three or four so we can get the girls into it. That way it can be for everybody and we can attract more people to come to watch the games.”

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