Don't be surprised if you spot a few future NBA superstars at the Breakers Resort during the last week in December. And if you want to watch them play, it's only a couple of blocks away to see all the high-flying hoops action of the Beach Ball Classic.
Held at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center on Dec. 26-31, the 35th Annual Beach Ball Classic is a holiday tradition in Myrtle Beach. This nationally acclaimed tournament features some of the top high school basketball teams and talent in the country competing for the crown. The six-day showcase involves 16 teams from all over the nation, some ranked in USA Today's Super 25, and many of the most highly rated recruits putting their skills to the test and on display.
The Breakers Resort serves as the hotel sponsor and headquarters for the teams and fans at this year's tournament, which includes the winners of the last two USA Today national titles – defending champion and No. 1-ranked Montverde (FL), which is led by standouts Simi Shittu and Bruno Fernando, and No. 4 Mater Dei (CA), which is coached by the legendary Gary McKnight. Expect a packed house at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center when these two teams try to play their way to an East Coast-West Coast championship game on New Year's Eve.
But they won't have an easy path to the finals with a field that includes state and national powers like Archbishop Moller (OH), Bartow (FL), East Jackson High (GA), Mustang High (OK), Poca High (WV), Saint Edwards (OH), Saint Francis High (GA), Saint John's College Prep (MD), Seton Hall Prep (NJ) and Shadow Mountain (AZ). Several South Carolina teams will take part in the tourney, too, including Grand Strand area teams Myrtle Beach, St. James, Socastee, and Christian Academy of Myrtle Beach.
This year’s event “will leave fans on the edge of their seats,” said Beach Ball Classic Executive Director John Rhodes, who also happens to be the third-term Mayor of Myrtle Beach and a Beach Ball Classic co-founder. “With 16 of the nation’s top teams contending, there’s sure to be a lot of excitement. It couldn’t get much better than this.”
With all the talent in town, college coaches from all over the country will come to Myrtle Beach to see the likes of Mustang's Austin Meyer, Bartow center Tony Bradley, St. Edwards' Derek Funderburk, Seton Hall Prep's T.J. Gibbs, Saint Francis' Kobi Jordan-Simmons and Mullins' Jalek Felton, whose brother, NBA veteran Raymond Felton, also starred in this tournament. Other Beach Ball veterans include NBA superstars Kobe Bryant, Jermaine O'Neal, Baron Davis, and Jason Kidd, just to name a few.
The Beach Ball Classic tips off Dec. 26, and hosts the fan-favorite Slam Dunk and 3-Point Shooting Contest on Dec. 27. The championship and consolation games will culminate on New Year's Eve, followed by a New Year’s Eve party for VIP ticket holders. Special events will also be held at the Breakers throughout the event.
For basketball fans traveling to Myrtle Beach the week before Christmas, be sure to catch the girls in action at the CresCom Bank Holiday Invitational high school basketball tournament and the Carolinas Challenge women's college basketball exhibition on Dec. 17-22. Sixteen high school teams from all over the country converge on the Myrtle Beach Convention Center floor for six days of action, while national powers North Carolina, South Carolina and Wake Forest, along with locals' favorite Coastal Carolina, will play at the college-level event.
For more information about the teams and schedule, or to purchase tickets to any of these tournaments, visit www.beachballclassic.com.