Saturday, October 19, 2013

Major prep basketball tournament coming to Charlotte

Charlotte is about to get its big-time prep basketball tournament back.

Four years after he last put on the successful Bojangles’ Shootout, local organizer Jeff Hood will kick off a new event in December, sources said. Hood, who would not comment on the report, sent out a media release announcing a “major high school basketball endeavor planned for Charlotte.” A news conference will be held Monday morning in uptown Charlotte.

“Charlotte and the surrounding region makes for a wonderful destination and community to host a major event, especially as it relates to high school basketball,” Hood said in the release. “With the loss of several high-level high school basketball events, it is time to look at restoring a tradition, which at one time had Charlotte highly placed upon the national high school basketball map.”

While working with the Dell Curry Foundation, which later morphed into Athletes United For Youth, Hood and Curry, the former Charlotte Hornets star, organized the first Dell Curry Shootout in 2000. It drew more than 5,000 fans to the Bojangles’ Coliseum. Three boys games and one girls game were played, each matching a Charlotte-Mecklenburg public school against a local private school. It was the first time in 16 years that public and private schools had played.

In 2001, Hood altered the format and added a national boys field in addition to a regional boys and girls tournament, later landing title sponsorships from Lowe’s and Bojangles’. Over the years, several future NBA players participated, including Raymond Felton, Anthony Morrow, Stephen Curry, Kendall Marshall, Wayne Ellington and Gerald Henderson.

One of the featured games in 2007 had national football prep player of the year Terrelle Pryor against future Utah Jazz forward Derrick Favors. Pryor, who starred at Ohio State, is now quarterback for the Oakland Raiders.

The girls event featured stars like Tennessee’s Cierra Burdick, who was a prep All-American at Butler High, and national prep player of the year Maya Moore, who later won a national title at Connecticut and is now in the WNBA.

In 2008, USA Today named the Bojangles’ Shootout the top post-Christmas high school tournament in America. But shortly afterward, Hood left Athletes United For Youth and the tournament began a downward sprial in terms of attracting talent and fans. In 2010, the Charlotte Sports Commission took over the event, renaming it the Hardwood Classic in 2011. The Sports Commission said it lost $13,000 in 2011 and canceled the event in 2012.

Hood’s new event will benefit Hoodie’s House of Hope For Youth, a nonprofit started in 2010 to help underserved youth in Mecklenburg County.

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