The Cayman Islands could soon be a major player in American college basketball.
Director of Sports Collin Anglin states there are discussions ongoing between local government, the Cayman Islands Basketball Association and the National Collegiate Athletic Association on the possibility of staging a basketball tournament on Grand Cayman.
“I don’t want to divulge too much information as we’re waiting for things to happen,” Anglin said. “But there is something in the works and we hope to get absolute confirmation in the next three months.
“An NCAA basketball tournament is being planned here. Government would support it but it would be a project outside of government. It would be a partnership between the association and the private sector.”
The proposed time frame for the tournament would be late 2015, to coincide with the NCAA preseason for division one schools. Institutions like the University of Miami and the University of Florida play their seasons from November until March, climaxing with postseason competitions like the NCAA Tournament.
Anglin and other officials have reportedly received input in the discussions from former American basketball player Joe Wright. Anglin states the proposed Cayman tournament would cater to many schools.
“This tournament is going to happen. We have passed information to various schools and it will be open, not just restricted to certain schools or divisions like the Atlantic Coast Conference. It would be a preseason kickoff tournament, like the Maui Classic. The Bahamas had one recently.
“The proposed venue is the new John Gray High School indoor facility. That in itself is supposed to be epic and have seating for 2,500 people, wooden flooring and built for international standards for basketball, netball and volleyball.
“It was started in the last administration, in Alden McLaughlin’s time. Agreements were signed under the People’s Progressive Movement government. The facility is critical to our sports tourism product and the local sports scene.”
Over the last two years, Nassau, Bahamas has staged a preseason tournament titled the Battle for Atlantis. Usually taking place in late November just before Thanksgiving, tournament action centres around Atlantis Resorts on Paradise Island. Matches are played in the Imperial Arena, a grand ballroom which is turned into a basketball venue.
The tournament is known for being the richest division one preseason event as schools are awarded $2 million in exchange for their participation. Last year, contests were televised on AXS TV and NBC Sports Network with the likes of ESPN, CBS and Fox Sports providing added media coverage.
In 2012, Mason Plumlee guided the Duke Blue Devils to the title, ahead of a field including the Louisville Cardinals and the Memphis Tigers. For 2013, the competing schools are expected to include the Kansas Jayhawks, University of Southern California Trojans and Michigan State Spartans.
Anglin states attracting American basketball powers here will be historic.
“A tournament of this magnitude would be, I think, the biggest event in Cayman’s sports history when we think of the type of following and TV coverage with them. The economic impact these tournaments have proven to have in the past would be huge for Cayman.”