Basketball fans visiting Myrtle Beach the week between Christmas and New Year's are in luck. In addition to spending the holidays in luxury at the oceanfront Paradise Resort, you will also find yourself vacationing in a hoops paradise with the 35th Annual Beach Ball Classic on Dec. 26-31 at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center.
Featuring some of the nation's most highly recruited high school basketball stars and top ranked teams from all over the country, the Beach Ball Classic showcases the future stars of the NBA and college basketball in a six-day, 16-team tournament. College coaches head to the Grand Strand for the holidays to scout the talent, and fans are treated to thrilling games, high-flying dunks, buzzer-beating baskets and family entertainment.
Boasting an impressive list of alumni who have played in this holiday hoops classic, past Beach Ball Classics have welcomed big names in the likes of Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, Jermaine O'Neal, Jason Kidd, Baron Davis, Raymond Felton, Mike Bibby, Kenny Anderson, Danny Ferry and many more. Beach Ball Classic champions have gone on to win countless state championships in their respective states and the mythical national championship, as named by USA Today and other national publications.
This year's field features several top-ranked teams and highly rated players, names you might not have heard yet but ones everyone will know in the near future. This year's field includes defending national champion Montverde Academy (FL), and No. 2 nationally ranked Mustang High (OK) and senior star Austin Meyer. Poca High (WV) went undefeated to win the 2014 state title, and Bartow High (FL) boast center standout Tony Bradley.
Other teams and players to look for include St. John’s College Prep (MD), which ranked No. 1 in its state; St. Edwards (OH) and highly recruited senior Derek Funderburk; Seton Hall Prep (NJ) and senior T.J. Gibbs, a former Junior All-American; four-time state champion Mater Dei (CA); St. Francis High (GA) and All-American Kobi Jordan-Simmons and Mullins (SC) High junior and University of North Carolina commitment Jalek Felton.
The Beach Ball Classic is about a lot more than basketball. It is very much a community event that brings out local fans and sponsors, including food and beverages provided by area restaurants, entertainment between the games and at halftime featuring local dance, singing and other groups, and door prizes donated by Grand Strand businesses that can be won by purchasing raffle tickets. The proceeds from the raffles go to the Beach Ball Classic Scholarship Fund, which has provided hundreds of deserving high school students with money for college over the years.
Patrons can purchase general admission tickets at the door daily or in advance, and weekly ticket packages are also available. VIP packages include prime seating, meals served throughout the event and a special New Year’s Eve post-tournament party so you can ring in 2016 with a slam dunk. Guests at the Paradise Resort, which is less than 3 miles away from the Myrtle Beach Convention Center, can drive or take the shuttle to the corner of 21st Avenue North and Oak Street. Take a timeout from all the hoops action to relax back at the Paradise Resort’s indoor swimming pool, lazy river and hot tubs, or chill out on your private balcony overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.
The Beach Ball Classic tips off Friday, Dec. 26, and has two full days of games before taking a break on Sunday for the Slam Dunk Contest and 3-Point Shootout. Tournament play resumes Monday, Dec. 28, followed by daily action until the bracket champions are decided and crowned on New Year's Eve. For more information, visit www.beachballclassic.com.