Tuesday, December 18, 2012

SPORTS STORY >> Global event happening at Jacksonville

Leader sports editor

Some of the highest rated prep basketball players from all over the world will be featured at Jacksonville High School this weekend. JHS will be the site of the very first Hardwood Holiday Showcase, which begins at 4 p.m. Friday and will feature teams from Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana and Illinois.

Orr Academy in Chicago will bring one of the nation’s top sophomores in 6-foot-5 Tyquane Greer, but perhaps the most intriguing team in the event lineup is Trent Internationale from Sugar Land, Texas. Trent Internationale is a basketball academy that features players from Europe and Africa. Roaming the paint for T.I. is two Egyptian giants in 7-foot senior Ali Mohamed and 6-10 junior Ahmed Hamdy. The T.I. perimeter is more culturally diverse. Edgaras Kvedaravicius, a 6-3 senior from Lithuania, will run the point for the Phoenix. Jimmy Salem, another 6-3 senior from Lebanon, handles the two-guard position while senior Justin McCray of Texas stands 6-4 and plays a combo guard/forward.

Also sharing time at the point is 6-3 Iranian Soheil Yousefi who is billed as the team’s most athletic player.

Also featured in the tournament is Putnam West High School out of Oklahoma City. PWHS features point guard Omega Harris, a 6-2 senior who rated as the No. 1 overall prospect in Oklahoma.

The tournament opens with a more local flavor. El Dorado takes on Camden-Fairview at 4 p.m. Friday. Little Rock McClellan then faces two-time defending Louisiana class 3A champion Bossier City at 5:30. Expect the Devils’ Den to be jam packed by the end of that game. At 7 p.m., Chicago’s Orr Academy takes on Trent Internationale before Jacksonville and Putnam close the opening night at 8:30 p.m.

Action starts again at 4 p.m. Saturday with Bossier City facing CFHS. El Dorado takes on McClellan at 5:30 before Putnam West faces Trent Internationale at 7 p.m. The Red Devils then close the event against Orr Academy.

The tournament is hosted and sponsored by C&B Sports of Little Rock. This is C&B Sports’ first foray into high-school tournaments in Arkansas, though they have been involved in AAU basketball for many years. Founder Cory Blunt, is seeking to bring the large-scale high-school tournaments back to Arkansas like it had in the days of the old King Cotton Classic in Pine Bluff.

“I’m from Pine Bluff and we’re trying to figure out a way to get the King Cotton type of feel back to Arkansas,” Blunt said. “Jacksonville is not as big of an arena as that was held in, but this is the first try. If the demand is there then we’ll grow. Right now, though, Jacksonville is a great fit. They’ve had a holiday tournament for a long time and it’s had a great following over the years.

“It’s a great atmosphere there and with the kind of teams and players we’re bringing in, it should be very exciting.”

Tickets for the event are only $8 per day and is good for all four games each day.