Some of the best prep basketball players in America and Canada will be in one town over a three day period. What makes that extra exciting is that town is Portsmouth, Ohio, and the event is the Buckeye Elite National Showcase at Portsmouth High School.
“We’ve got some really really good talent coming in here this year,” Miles Ferguson, one of the organizers, said. “We’re excited about it.”
This will be the second year in a row that the top high school talent in North America will be coming into Portsmouth.
Ferguson said last year’s turnout for the tournament was average because he believes they did not get enough publicity out before the event. Ferguson said it is extremely important the public turn out and support the showcase so that they can get enough funds to keep it coming back
“We’re trying to keep this thing in Portsmouth because it really draws national attention,” Ferguson said. “Last year the slam dunk contest winner was number one on (ESPN) Sports Center Top Plays. It’s great for our area. It shines a positive light for our community. We want to see it stay here, but our issue is that it costs so much money to run this thing. That’s been the really big downfall to where we’ve been.”
There are five games the first day, Thursday, Dec. 8, four games on Friday, Dec. 9 and seven games on Saturday, Dec. 10.
“The level of talent you’re looking at, you’re looking at the number five team in the United States, Hamilton Heights Christian Academy. They’ve got a guy that just committed to Kentucky. They’ve got another guy that is committed to Virginia Tech, another committed to Middle Tennessee State,” Ferguson said. “We have the number 10 team nationally, a school called Mountain Mission, Virginia. They’ve actually got a guy that’s being looked at by Duke, Virginia, West Virginia. That’s the level of talent that’s on the teams.”
Also playing in the tournament will be the top three teams out of Canada, a top five team out of South Carolina – Legacy Charter with a player committed to Georgia and one of the top teams out of Pennsylvania – First Love Christian Academy. Also scheduled to appear is Tennessee Prep.
“When you watch these games there will be 40 plus players that will be considered in the top 350 in the country that will be in Portsmouth, Ohio during this event,” Ferguson said. “It just shows you the level of talent.”
Ferguson said the average height for the teams involved is 6 feet 7 inches and close to 10 players over 7 feet tall.
“It’s really neat to have something of this level in Portsmouth,” Ferguson said. “The first year (in Huntington) it was hard getting teams. Last year it was easier. This year some of these teams are calling us. They want to go where the attention is going to be and we’ve been very fortunate to have coach Tom Crean in attendance from Indiana, coach Bob Huggins from West Virginia in attendance. Oregon’s head coach flew out here specifically from Oregon to Portsmouth, Ohio to watch a couple of games and spent a night here. O.U.’s coach was here, Coach (Mick) Cronin of Cincinnati was down. We’ve seen Georgia Tech. We’ve seen Boston College. We’ve seen Florida State, Georgia, they flock to these events.”
Ferguson said tickets can be purchased at the door and a single ticket is good for the entire day. The price of a ticket is $5 for anyone 17 or under, or a student, and $10 for adults for the whole day’s action.
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.