All-Star basketball showcase celebrates top Asian-American high school stars

As Pranav Iyer, the founder of AMAZN HQ, addressed a large crowd at Mira Costa High School’s basketball gym on Sunday, kids ran behind the players’ benches, trying to get the autographs of the AMAZN All-Star West Showcase players.

Iyer delivered a message to the fans in attendance about why he started his media platform, AMAZN HQ, in 2019.

“I wanted to show people that it’s not just one or two of us,” Iyer said. “There’s not just one Asian-American on that one team people can look up to, but we can bring together a whole community and show them they can all play together and compete against each other.”

Iyer brought the community together in the third-ever AMAZN All-Star West Showcase.

The event featured the best senior high school boys and girls Asian-American basketball players on the West Coast and had two showcase games, a dunk contest, a three-point contest and a panel featuring current NBA player Ron Harper Jr., who is the fourth Filipino to play in the NBA.

Founded in 2019, AMAZN HQ is the “home of Asian American sports,” according to the company’s social media bio. The platform has covered standout Asian and Asian-American athletes at the high school, college and professional levels.

Iyer was a collegiate athlete who had to grapple with being the only Indian-American on his football team at Chapman University. He was also the first football player from where he grew up in Cupertino to play college football in eight years.

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While at Chapman studying journalism, Iyer realized there was a hole in media representation of Asian and Asian-American athletes.

“I realized there was something missing,” Iyer said.

His brand has attracted more than 60,000 followers on both Instagram and TikTok, and millions of video views.

Robert Hinton first heard about AMAZN HQ when Iyer covered his older brother Adam Hinton, who now plays at Cornell University.

This year, it has been Robert’s turn to be featured on the platform.

He finished the All-Star matchup with a game-high 44 points for Team Shastri in the boys game and was one of the players signing autographs and taking pictures with kids running around the gym afterward.

Hinton, who is of Taiwanese descent, was a key part of Harvard-Westlake’s back-to-back state championships. He will attend Harvard next year to play basketball.

In the morning before the showcase, Hinton and the other players helped coach at a youth camp with approximately 250 kids in the morning.

“It was so much fun seeing how they looked up to all of us,” Hinton said. “It definitely makes you want to be even more of a role model so you can inspire.”

Hinton played for Team Why Not on the Nike EYBL circuit. In the three years he’s been on the team, he recalls having one Asian teammate.

“He was only on the team for a month or something,” Hinton said.

Audrey Chen also had an older sister who was featured on AMAZN HQ’s platform. Audrey’s older sister, Elle Chen, played in the event last year and is now a member of the San Diego State women’s basketball team.

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Audrey, who helped lead La Salle High School to a Division III CIF Southern Section Championship this past season, said she met many new players from all over California.

“I feel like everyone here is just really competitive,” Chen said. “It’s important to learn from each other and learn to play with other people that are also good.”

Chen led Team Padilla with 18 points in a 110-73 win over Team Byon.

In the boys game, Team Harper came from behind after trailing by double-digits to beat Team Shastri, 132-124.

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Team Harper was coached by Ron Harper Jr. and his mother, Maria Harper, who is a former Division I player and coach. The game also featured Ron Harper Jr.’s brother, Dylan Harper, the No. 1 ranked guard in the class of 2024.

All-Star games typically don’t have the same level of competitiveness as a regular game, but Iyer believed players had something bigger they were playing for.

“It’s not a basketball event, and I don’t think these guys see it like that,” Iyer said. “The reason they played so hard was because of the fact they were representing their heritage against people they now call their brothers.”

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