Hoops Tournament Director talks about bringing second big D1 tourney to Niceville
PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG) -It may seem like a long way off, still the week of Thanksgiving is shaping up to be a very big one for college basketball fans in our area.
There are now two huge Division One tournaments scheduled to take place the third week in Novmber.
I spoke about that Friday morning with Maury Hanks. He's the Tournament Director for the Emerald Coast Classic, the D1 hoops tournament that's been played at Northwest Florida the last 6 years. FSU winning that event last November. Hanks also the Tournament Director for the Cayman Islands Classic, now in it's 4th year. That event making the move to Niceville this year, and will be played at the start of Thanksgiving week, just ahead of the E-C-C.
The owner of that latter tournament, Caymax Sports, deciding to make the move based on the Cayman Islands current lockdown, and the unknown ability to bring teams and fans to the islands even in November.
"Yes the people in the Cayman Islands that run the Classic, Caymax sports and I have been speaking for probably two or three months." Hanks told me via Skype Friday morning. "And we looked at a number of different venues and you know I told them from the start that I run the Emerald Coast Classic there. And it's a great venue there. (NWF A.D.) Ramsey Ross and his staff do an outstanding job, great hotels. It's a great resort destination, very similar to the Cayman Islands, with the tropical beach feel. And I thought we could make it work. And so we looked into it and after consulting with the government there in the Cayman Islands the people at Caymax Sports decided to bring the tournament to the Destin area."
So, barring changes, we can expect to see 8 teams compete in the Cayman Islands Classic, from Monday, November 23rd through Wednesday, November 25th, with that field bringing in Miami, K-State, Ole Miss, Oregon State, Northern Iowa, LaSalle, Western Kentucky and Nevada.
Then starting that Friday, November 27th, in come four more teams for the Emerald Coast Classic.
"Yes we've got what I think is the best 4 team tournament in the country for the Emerald Coast Classic." Hanks told me. "We've got Florida, Iowa State, Illinois and the University of Oregon. Florida and Oregon are going to be top 20 teams. Illinois if they get a couple of kids to come back and not go to the draft, they'll be a top 20 preseason team."
Certainly we are all hoping things, come November, will be a bit closer to life as normal, with fans being able to go to a college basketball game. After all, this is a college hoops fans dream week right here in our back yard!
“But like you said everything is up in the air.” says Hanks. “Nobody knows if there will be fans let alone if there will be college basketball. But we have to prepare like there will be college basketball. We’re really excited about bringing the Cayman Islands Classic to Northwest Florida State College.”
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