The invitation to coach in the Jordan Brand Classic surprised Joe Arbitello.
"I've only been coaching four years now," the Christ the King boys basketball coach said.
Arbitello, of course, accepted the invitation more than a month ago, and will now get his chance to guide the East team on Saturday at the Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, N.C. The Jordan Brand Classic is in its 11th year showcasing premier boys basketball talent in the country and will be televised on ESPN at 7 p.m.
"I feel like it's an honor, I'm excited to do it," Arbitello said. "I think it's going to be fun."
Arbitello has led the Middle Village school to its most successful period in school history in his four years. The Royals have won three Brooklyn/Queens titles, two CHSAA Class AA Intersectional titles and a State Federation Class AA championship. His team finished this past year ranked seventh in New York City by ESPNNewYork.com.
The coach has already been talking with one of his assistants, Miller Grove (Ga.) coach Sharman White, getting pointers for the week, such as making the practices more competitive. Arbitello believes this experience will benefit him.
"I think it will definitely help me as a coach because I will be around great minds," Arbitello said. "I'll be able to pick up some things from my two assistant coaches."
While there are no New York City players in the event, Arbitello has met some of the guys on his team, including St. Anthony (N.J.) small forward Kyle Anderson, South Kent (Conn.) guard Ricardo Ledo and Miller Grove center Tony Parker.
"When you travel as much as we do and you're around great players, kids are kids, wherever they are from," Arbitello said. "I'm not sure they will be any different from the kids at CK as far as their approach to the game and what they are doing."
Arbitello leaves for Charlotte Wednesday and there are two practices before the game. Other events connected to the game include a Nascar Experience with Denny Hamlin, a NBA Life skills program, a community event, and an awards dinner. He returns back Sunday.
"I've said this before about being part of the Nike family, they do things that recognize when you are loyal to them and displaying their product," Arbitello said.