Some of the best high school basketball players in the nation descend on Springfield on Jan. 12 for three days of highly-touted action.
Organizers of the 2017 Bass Pro Tournament of Champions unveiled the bracket and first round pairings for the 33rd edition of what has become the most attended high school basketball tournament in the country. The field features 15 players thus far committed to NCAA Division I basketball programs, which will push the tournament to more than 400 Division I players coming through Springfield over the past three decades. A total of 50 Tournament of Champions players have gone on to play professionally in the NBA.
Younger talent will be on display in 2017. Sophomore R.J. Barrett of Montverde Academy (Montverde, Florida) is the No. 1 recruit in his class according to ESPN and Scout.com, and the No. 2 sophomore player in the nation according to Rivals.com and 247sports.com.
“This year’s tournament is a little bit different than we’ve had in the past,” Springfield Public Schools Athletic Director Randy Stange said, “in that we have a bunch of really good young players.”
Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth, California) junior Marvin Bagley III did not appear in the 2016 Tournament of Champions due to a transfer eligibility issue, but ESPN’s No. 1-ranked junior in the country has been cleared to play this season. Duke, UCLA, Arizona, Kentucky and Kansas are among the schools to offer Bagley basketball scholarships.
An estimated crowd of more than 10,000 people attended the 2016 championship final and witnessed Ty-shon Alexander of Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Virginia) sink a 3-pointer at the final buzzer to give Oak Hill a 49-48 win over Sierra Canyon.
Sierra Canyon is back to seek vengeance. The Trailblazers will take on Republic (9-1), Blue Division champions of the 2016 Greenwood Blue and Gold Tournament, in the opening round at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 12 at JQH Arena.
Stange and representatives of Bass Pro Shops revealed the bracket for the 2017 Bass Pro Tournament of Champions at a Tuesday morning press conference at the John A. and Genny Morris Conservation Center.
Three state champions, a national semifinalist, a national quarterfinalist and a state runner up are all in the field for this year’s tournament.
Stange said this year’s field of eight teams should offer plenty of competitively balanced games amongst teams used to winning tournaments.
“Someone is not going to be very happy that is a very good team leaving this tournament. One team is going to be really happy, but there is going to be a team with a couple of losses that is a good basketball team,” Stange said.
Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nevada) and Louisiana 2A state champion Madison Prep (Baton Rouge, Louisiana) play the opening game of the tournament at 5 p.m. Jan. 12. The opening round also features an 8 p.m. game between Montverde Academy and 2016 Missouri Class 5 state runner up Kickapoo and a 9:30 p.m. game between Tenessee Division 1 AAA state champion Memphis East (Memphis, Tennessee) and Georgia Class A Private state champion Greenforest Christian Academy (Decatur, Georgia).
Madison Prep, Findlay Prep and Greenforest will all make their Tournament of Champions debuts.
“I love this about the tournament: we have three first time entries. Those guys are so excited to be a part of this,” Stange said. “It will be like Christmas for those guys.”
Additionally, 2017 marks just the second Tournament of Champions appearances for Republic, Sierra Canyon, and Memphis East, and third Tournament of Champions appearance for Montverde. With 17 prior appearances, Kickapoo holds the record for the most all-time berths in the tournament.
2017 Bass Pro Tournament of Champions
Jan. 12-14, JQH Arena, Springfield
Reserved seating, lower level: $45 for three nights or $15 for single night
General admission, upper level and bleachers:
Adults: $36 for three nights or $12 for single night
Students: $30 for three nights or $10 for single night
Thursday, Jan. 12
5 p.m. Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nevada) vs. Madison Prep (Baton Rouge, Louisiana)
6:30 p.m. Republic (Republic, Missouri) vs. Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth, California)
8 p.m. Kickapoo (Springfield, Missouri) vs. Montverde Academy (Montverde, Florida)
9:30 p.m. Memphis East (Memphis, Tennessee) vs. Greenforest Christian Academy (Decatur, Georgia)
Friday, Jan. 13
4:30 p.m. Consolation semifinal
6 p.m. Consolation semifinal
8 p.m. Championship semifinal
9:30 p.m. Championship semifinal
Saturday, Jan. 14
2:30 p.m. Seventh place game
4 p.m. Fifth place game
6 p.m. Great Southern Bank Slam Dunk Contest
7 p.m. Third place game
9 p.m. Championship final
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