Two of the top high school basketball teams in the nation and handfuls of the most highly-recruited players will be in Springfield next weekend.
This year’s Bass Pro Tournament of Champions features eight of the elite teams from coast to coast, including USA Today Super 25 Expert No. 6 Oak Hill Academy of Mouth of Wilson, Virginia, and No. 8 Wesleyan Christian Academy of High Point, North Carolina.
Add in two of California’s best squads, the reigning state champions from Virginia, and some local favorites, and you have the makings for what Springfield Public Schools Director of Athletics Mark Fisher believes will be a crowd-pleaser.
“I think it’s another really good field with good teams and good players,” Fisher said.
More than 40 NBA players and more than 300 NCAA Division I athletes have taken part in the Tournament of Champions since its inception, and this year is highlighted by the No. 2 junior in the country, Harry Giles.
This year’s field of eight teams features 11 players committed to play in Division I programs upon graduating high school, with more players expected to commit to play college basketball by the end of April.
CBS Sports plans to televise the championship semifinals and Saturday’s final.
Parkview coach Bill Brown played in the Bass Pro Tournament of Champions in 1985 on a Vikings team coached by his father, Bob Brown. Now at the helm of his alma mater, Bill Brown has the task of representing Springfield in the Tournament of Champions.
“I begged for this last year,” Brown said. “I knew there are some great teams in Springfield, and for us to be able to participate in this tournament — we’ll try to do everything first class. We’re going to participate and play as hard as we possibly can.”
Parkview plays Paul VI, a team loaded with Division I recruits, reigning Virginia state champions and the 2013 Tournament of Champions winners.
Waynesville also gets a tough opening round game against Oakland, California’s Bishop O’Dowd. The Dragons are ranked No. 25 in the Super 25 Expert poll, but coach Chris Pilz’s Waynesville Tigers are thankful to be part of the tournament.
“This is big for our community, our school, our students — it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity that our guys will never forget,” Pilz said.
In 30 years of Tournaments of Champions, teams from 10 different states have taken home championships. While the makeup of teams, tournament leadership and even the venue have changed through the years, Bass Pro Shops’ backing has been constant.
“In today’s times of sponsorships of events, very seldom do you see a corporate entity sponsor an event five or 10 years. Bass Pro has been with us for 31 years and I think that speaks volumes, not only for their commitment to the tournament but their commitment to students of Springfield Public Schools,” Fisher said.
The tournament tips off Thursday, Jan. 15 at 5 p.m. with Parkview taking on Paul VI. Play concludes with the championship final, Saturday Jan. 17 at 9 p.m.
2015 Bass Pro Tournament of Champions teams
•Bentonville Tigers, Bentonville, Arkansas
•Bishop O’Dowd Dragons, Oakland, California
•Chino Hills Huskies, Chino Hills, California
•Oak Hill Academy Warriors, Mouth of Wilson, Virginia
•Parkview Vikings, Springfield, Missouri
•Paul VI Panthers, Fairfax, Virginia
•Waynesville Tigers, Waynesville, Missouri
•Wesleyan Christian Academy Trojans, High Point, North Carolina
2015 Bass Pro Tournament of Champions schedule
All games at JQH Arena
Thursday, Jan. 15
5 p.m. — Paul VI vs. Parkview
6:30 p.m. — Chino Hills vs. Oak Hill
8 p.m. — Waynesville vs. Bishop O’Dowd
9:30 p.m. — Bentonville vs. Wesleyan Christian
Friday, Jan. 16
4:30 p.m. — Consolation semifinal
6 p.m. — Consolation semifinal
8 p.m. — Championship semifinal
9:30 p.m. — Championship semifinal
Saturday, Jan. 17
2:30 p.m. — Seventh-place game
4 p.m. — Consolation final
6 p.m. — Great Southern Bank Dunk Contest
7 p.m. — Third-place game
9 p.m. — Championship final