This year, boys coach Markus Hood is making it a must-see event.
Sixteen of the best boys basketball teams from across the Southeast will be on display Dec. 27-30, in an event that could attract a great deal of college coaches looking for talent. The tournament will begin on a Saturday, with Sunday serving as an off day.
“It’s always been our plan (to have this kind of event),” Hood said. “We wanted to phase into that. We wanted to make it a good opportunity for kids to get recruited.”
Hood also said he wanted a tournament that will also pull the average basketball fan out of the woodwork. To do that, he recruited such out-of-state powers as A.C. Flora (Columbia, S.C.), Orange (Hillsborough, N.C.) and South Miami (Fla.).
Hood’s paired those teams with some of the best basketball programs in Cobb County (Harrison, Hillgrove, North Cobb, North Cobb Christian, Pope and Whitefield Academy) and Georgia (McIntosh, Tri-Cities and Carrollton). In fact, in just four years, the tournament has already gotten so popular that Hood said they had to turn some high-quality programs away, like Class AAA state champion Morgan County and Goose Creek (S.C.).
“It’s been talked up,” Hood said about the tournament. “It’s gotten great reputation of how we take care of teams.”
Hood said he expects the gym to be full, and it may include 80 to 100 college scouts and coaches for each game. HoopSeen.com, a player-rating organization, and premier purveyor of in-state basketball will be on hand each day and is teaming with WellStar as the primary sponsors of the event.
One of the top players in the tournament may be Austin Wiley of Spain Park (Hoover, Ala.). The 6-foot-8 power forward is the country’s sixth-ranked player at his position for the class of 2017, according to Future 150. South Miami’s Latravian Glover is the 17th-ranked small forward in the same class.
A.C. Flora is set to bring Karl Gamble, a 6-8 power forward and the third-ranked player in South Carolina, according to Phenom Hoop Report, and James Murray Boyles, a 6-5 forward, is ranked 11th.
Tri-Cities’ Shawntrez Davis, a 6-8 forward, is mulling offers from nine major-conference programs, including Florida, Georgia, Georgia Tech and Clemson, and Carrollton will bring Wofford commitment Montae Glenn.
Cobb County will have the opportunity to showcase North Cobb Christian’s Trey Kalina, a 7-foot center, and Whitefield Academy’s Courtney Alexander Jr., a 6-7 small forward and son of former Virginia standout and NBA player Courtney Alexander. In addition, Pope’s Chase Hutchins and Garrick DeBowles will have an opportunity to make a name for themselves, and incoming Allatoona freshman Trey Doomes, a 6-1 guard, will get his first taste of action for the Buccaneers.
The one change for this year’s Lake City Classic is that there will be no girls tournament accompanying the boys event.
Hood said it was difficult to get as many college coaches to come to the tournament with the boys/girls format. Depending on which gender a coach was at Allatoona to see, he or she would have to sit idle for two hours while another group was on the court.
Hood said the girls tournament may come back as its own event at a later date.