The City of Palms Classic will be back at Florida SouthWestern State College’s Suncoast Credit Union Arena next December for the second year of a 10-year deal.
Tournament director Donnie Wilkie has unveiled five teams that have committed to the 16-team field, plus two probables and two growing maybes.
Two California teams have accepted 2017 invitations. Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth), which has 6-foot-11, 220-pound junior Marvin Bagley III on the team and is ranked No. 2 in USA Today’s Super 25 will be at the Classic. So will Mater (Santa Ana), which won the tournament in 2006 and 2008.
Hudson Catholic (Jersey City, N.J.)) will return for elite point guard Jahvon Quinerly’s senior season.
Webster Groves (Mo.) is the alma mater of Classic president and founder Bill Pollock and will be in the field. It’s also the current school of 6-foot junior point guard Courtney Ramey, considered among the top 50 juniors in the nation.
Nova University School (Davie, Fla.), which is loaded with underclassmen this season, including 6-10 sophomore Vernon Carey Jr., and 7-1 sophomore Balsa Koprivica, has accepted its invitation. Carey Jr. is the son of the former Miami Dolphins offensive lineman.
IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) and Mariner (Cape Coral, Fla.) are probable for next year.
IMG, which won the third-place game in this year’s Classic and became a crowd favorite, is likely to return during former Lehigh Senior High forward Emmitt Williams’ senior season.
Mariner High won one of its three games this week and should return one of Southwest Florida’s top teams next season.
The growing maybes could set up a 2017 title game rematch between Memphis East, which returns three of its starting five players, including standout guards T.J. Moss and Alex Lomax, and Montverde Academy. But the Mustangs are allowed just one, 300-mile trip away from their home arena per season, per Tennessee state association rules. So scheduling them could be an issue should other national tournaments come calling.
And then there’s Montverde Academy, a Classic participant every year since coach Kevin Boyle arrived in 2011.
“They’re invited if they want to come back,” Wilkie said. “There’s only one team that’s invited every year, and that’s Kevin Boyle’s team.”