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High School Insider: Prep basketball tournament between states coming here

Event at Ben Davis will pit teams representing states from Midwest

12:00 AM, Jan. 27, 2013 EST

Hamilton Southeastern fans watch as Royals junior Tyler Jenkins steps up to the free throw line during second half action against Tech Saturday night. / (Doug McSchooler/for The Star)

Ever wonder how the best high school basketball players from Indiana would stack up against the best from other states?

The opportunity is coming in July.

The National High School Basketball Coaches Association will put on a first-of-its-kind tournament July 14-16 at Ben Davis. The still-to-be-named event will be for seniors-to-be representing their state.

Indiana Basketball Coaches Association executive director Steve Witty said 12-16 states have shown interest so far; he hopes to have a final tally by March 1. The plan is to stage it as a national championship of sorts, while also implementing leadership and mentorship components into the event. Arrangements have been made for the teams to stay at Marian University.

"Right now we have a really firm commitment from eight or nine states from the Midwest area that would be able to drive in," said NHSBCA President Greg Grantham. "There are three or four other states that said they would fly in and three or four others that hinted they didn't know if they could swing it financially. We're hoping to get at least 12 and put on a quality first-class event and then build it from there."

Each state's coaches association is in charge of picking its team. Indiana already has a selection process in place through the IBCA; the Junior All-Stars have played exhibition games against the senior Indiana All-Stars since 1996 and played a two-game series against the Kentucky juniors for the first time last year.

One of the more interesting aspects of the event is the timing. July is typically dominated by shoe-sponsored travel teams playing in tournaments all over the country. While this year's event will not fall during an evaluation period for Division I college coaches -- July 14, the first day of the event, is the last day of the first of three five-day evaluation periods during the month -- it's possible that it could be in the future.

Witty said the National Association of Basketball Coaches supports the event and would like to see it flourish.

"This will be a trial run, but the NABC has told us it would like to see more of these type events," Witty said. "Eventually we'd like to move it to an evaluation period. But Division II, Division III, NAIA and junior college coaches will still be able to come this year."

Witty will have a better idea after March 1 on the number of teams in the tournament. There is no guarantee it will stay in Indianapolis beyond a year or two, though the central location and interest in high school basketball here makes it a good fit.

"Maybe we'll branch out eventually and let other cities bid to host it," Grantham said. "But Indiana has a lot of experience hosting events like this. It has a lot of potential."

More class hoops

The class basketball discussion is not over. Is it ever?

Witty said that next week he will begin sorting through the results of a survey sent to boys and girls coaches statewide on issues with the current four-class system. The answers to the survey will give the IBCA a better idea on which issues (travel distance in sectionals, attendance, etc.) are most pressing to coaches.

From there, an IBCA committee will attempt to address those issues and again survey its membership on a tournament compromise idea (or ideas). Several possibilities were floated at town hall meetings last summer, although the Indiana High School Athletic Association has since installed a "tournament success factor" for all team sports based on a two-year cycle.

The IBCA can't formally present its proposal to the IHSAA until 2014.

"I think we'll need 70-80 percent support before the IHSAA will even consider it," Witty said. "What the most important issues that need addressed? That's what we need to figure out next."

Food for thought

Interesting question posed to me on Twitter: Who is your starting five, regardless of class, right now in Indiana high school basketball? I'm going to give it some more thought and post it here next week. Let me know what you think.



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