Whether it’s your first time or you’ve been to all 32 previous years of the Bass Pro Tournament of Champions, the 33rd edition promises to entertain.
Springfield’s JQH Arena hosts one of the premier high school boys basketball tournaments in the nation with teams from the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, and six places in between, converging on the Missouri State University campus for a three-day tournament with a nationwide reputation.
Here are five things basketball fans can expect to see when they attend the Bass Pro Tournament of Champions Jan. 12-14:
Future NBA stars
From 2003 to 2014 and counting, at least one Tournament of Champions all-tournament team member per year went on to the NBA. Five 2015 or 2016 Tournament of Champions alumni could be selected in the first round of the 2017 NBA Draft, having become eligible this season.
John Wall, Tyler Hansbrough, Anthony Tolliver, Damarcus Cousins, Bobby Portis, Ben Simmons and D’Angelo Russell are but some of the NBA players who competed in Springfield during their high school careers. Simmons, brother of Southwest Baptist University men’s basketball assistant coach Liam Simmons, went on to become the No. 1 player selected in the 2016 NBA Draft.
Past NBA players
Memphis East (Memphis, Tennessee) features some top notch recruits including No. 59-ranked junior T.J. Moss, Tennessee Gatorade Player of the Year Alex Lomax and Jayden Hardaway.
Hardaway is the son of four-time NBA All-Star Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway, a 1996 Olympian who now serves as an assistant on a staff that steered the Mustangs to a 32-2 record and the Tennessee Division I AAA state championship in 2016.
There are always surprises, such as last January when Larry Hughes, a St. Louis native who played 14 seasons in the NBA, fired a t-shirt cannon with such force that his ammunition may still be lodged in the ceiling at JQH Arena.
Jaw-dropping slam dunks, 3-pointers, passes and much more
Whether it’s a player, coach, official, scout or spectator, anyone who has attended a Bass Pro Tournament of Champions game has a story to tell.
Sometimes it’s the memory of a high-scoring individual performance, like when Ted Dupay scored 58 points for Mariner (Cape Coral, Florida) against Bolivar in 1998. Scott Brakebill scored 42 points for the Liberators in the same game.
In 2015, Dupay’s single-game Tournament of Champions scoring record came under fire when Malik Monk of Bentonville, Arkansas (now with University of Kentucky) rained down 50 points in a loss to Chino Hills (Chino Hills, California).
Some people don’t rattle off statistics, but they can recall how physically impressive players like Oak Hill Academy’s Daniel Giddens can be in this 2015 performance.
Often a single play, like Christian Popoola Jr. of Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas, Nevada) winning the 2016 Great Southern Bank Dunk Contest by leaping over another player hangs in the mind’s eye.
For the basketball-loving diehards who commit to watching all 12 games over three days, Tournament of Champions memories can run together into one, big montage of experience.
College coaches (some familiar)
The courtside row of chairs on the north side of the court at JQH Arena often resembles a who’s who of college basketball coaches. The likes of John Calipari, Bill Self, Tom Crean, Mike Anderson and Kim Anderson have all paid visits to the tournament in recent years.
Missouri State Bears basketball fans are also likely to catch glimpses of former Bears bosses Steve Alford, now at UCLA, and Cuonzo Martin, now at California. The two have even been spotted sitting courtside together.
Potential national champions
It has happened before, as recently as April 2, 2016. Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Virginia) defeated La Lumiere (LaPorte, Indiana) 62-60 in the championship game of the Dick’s Sporting Goods High School Nationals at Madison Square Garden in New York.
It could happen again. Four of the top 10 teams in the USA Today Super 25 Expert rankings are in the field for this year’s Tournament of Champions.
Montverde Academy (Montverde, Florida) is No. 2, Memphis East (Memphis, Tennessee) is No. 3, Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nevada) is No. 4, and Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth, California) ranks 10th. There is plenty of season left to decide the field for the Dick’s Sporting Goods High School Nationals, but the field of Tournament of Champions teams appears well positioned to see more than one team advance to the finale in New York.
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
Television broadcast information (all times Central)
Friday, Jan. 13
8 p.m. Championship semifinal—CBS Sports Network
9:30 p.m. Championship semifinal—CBS Sports Network
Saturday, Jan. 14
9 p.m. Championship final—CBS Sports Network