Cayman’s basketball fraternity is buzzing in anticipation that some of the best college teams in the United States are set to tip off here in a tournament.
Although it will not happen until November 2017, local excitement is already building after four of the eight teams scheduled to participate in the inaugural Cayman Basketball Classic were announced last week by tournament organizers.
The tournament’s venue has yet to be decided.
Cayman youth players are particularly enthused because it will mean an invaluable opportunity to get spotted for university scholarships and possible professional tryouts.
The University of Cincinnati, the University of Iowa, the University of Alabama-Birmingham and the University of Wyoming have confirmed their participation. All four have qualified for the 2015 NCAA Tournament.
Victor “Voot” O’Garro, Cayman basketball’s technical director, confirmed the four teams will play in the pre-season tournament, which will be similar to other popular competitions like the Maui Invitational and Battle 4 Atlantis. The other teams are expected to be announced soon. Cayman’s Director of Sports Collin Anglin said, “I am extremely excited about this tournament. 2017 will be here before we know it and preparations are moving along quite well.”
Anglin said that, with Joe Wright, who is a former professional player, and coach Voot, they discussed the possibility of holding a tournament a few years ago and began laying the groundwork.
“Now here we are with four teams that made the NCAA tournament last year, already committed to this tournament and the others are surely soon to follow,” he said.
Anglin is a terrific player himself who plays in the local league for the Warriors. He is also involved in coaching and administration.
Anglin added that these types of tournaments, particularly NCAA Division 1 basketball, are “incredible for sports tourism.”
He said, “Just to put it in perspective, the Maui Invitational tournament has generated over $140 million for their economy over the last 30 years.” He said that the Battle for Atlantis in the Bahamas has also become a huge success.
“These teams have incredible followings,” said Anglin. “With Cayman being only one hour’s flight south of Miami and our wonderful reputation as a destination, it’s the perfect combination for college basketball fans.”
Anglin confirmed that this will be an annual tournament and he is already negotiating with teams for the 2018 event.
“Most universities plan their travel schedules at least two or three years ahead,” he said. “We are going to see the tournament get even better and better each year.
“Everyone is excited about this tournament. There is not one person whose face does not light up when they hear about it.”