The National High School Invitational, which has included some of the top boys and girls high school basketball teams, is moving after five years in Maryland to New York City’s Madison Square Garden and has been renamed the DICK’S Sporting Goods High School National Tournament.
The season-ending event, televised by ESPN’s networks since it began in 2009, will be held April 3-5. It will include eight boys teams and four girls teams and will be seeded with an eye toward USA TODAY’s Super 25 rankings, said the event’s organizer, Rashid Ghazi of Paragon Marketing. The teams will be named in March.
“We are very thrilled to host the boys and girls finals of the DICK’S Sporting Goods High School National Tournament,” said Joel Fisher, the executive vice president of sports for Madison Square Garden. “Every basketball player dreams of playing in the Garden and we’re really happy to provide that opportunity with these kids.”
Though the Garden is more associated with pro and college sports, it has held its share of high school basketball events, including New York City’s Public School Athletic League championships for many years (though not scheduled in 2014), the Jordan Brand Classic from 2007 to 2010 and the McDonald’s All America Games in 2002.
“We’ve hosted some of the most legendary players in the world when they were in high school,” Fisher said. “Including Lew Alcindor (now Kareem Abdul-Jabbar), Bob Cousy, Nancy Lieberman-Cline, Connie Hawkins, as well as current New York Knicks Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony. This opportunity gives these kids a chance to play here with memories they’ll never forget.”
The NHSI began in 2009 at Georgetown Prep in North Bethesda, Md., with Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.) winning the title and finishing the year as the top team in the Super 25 boys basketball rankings. The event was held every year at Georgetown Prep, with the exception of 2010, when it was at Coppin State in Baltimore.
This is the first time the event has had a lone title sponsor other than ESPN. For DICK’S, it fits easily with its marketing strategy.
“It’s really a natural fit for us for two reasons,” said Mark Rooks, the vice president of sports and community marketing for DICK’S. “We’ve been a longtime supporter of high school athletics and we’re excited to be a sponsor of a prestigious high school tournament. This event stands out from the crowd. There are a lot of high school all-star events, but there aren’t many like this that bring high school teams together.”