Although some of the nation's top seniors are playing elsewhere over Memorial Day weekend, Bob Gibbons' Tournament of Champions club basketball event should be a treat for hard-core fans hoping to glimpse college and NBA prospects of the future.
North Carolina signee P.J. Hairston and UNC/Duke legacy big men Cody Zeller and Marshall Plumlee are some of the top seniors who will attend. Top juniors include scout.com's No. 1-rated player in the Class of 2012, Andre Drummond, as well as top-10 prospects J.P. Tokoto and Shabazz Muhammad.
N.C. State fans will get to see Class of 2012 low post signee Joseph Uchebo play alongside Hairston for the CP3 All-Stars team. The event takes place Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Triangle venues that include arenas on campus at Duke, North Carolina and N.C. State. (The full schedule is available at bobgibbons.net).
This will be my seventh year covering the event. The players who've participated in that time have been outstanding:
- Greg Oden was a No. 1 NBA draft pick, and John Wall seems destined to be one, too.
- Michael Beasley (who was committed to Charlotte at one time) was national player of the year at Kansas State.
- O.J. Mayo was a No. 1-rated recruit whose recruitment got Southern California and Tim Floyd in a whole lot of trouble.
- Brandon Jennings began what could be a trend when he played a year overseas in order to make money while waiting to grow old enough to meet the NBA's age limit.
The most amazing team to play in the tournament during that time was the Spiece Indy Heat club in 2005 that included Oden, Michael Conley, Daequan Cook and Eric Gordon. The best moment was a no-look bullet pass from Wall to Ryan Kelly in 2008 for a dunk that brought the crowd at Cameron Indoor Stadium to its feet. The worst moment might have been a Derrick Favors flagrant elbow that resulted in his ejection in a semifinal game in 2008.
Even though there's not an Oden, a Wall or a Favors in this year's event, the talent is good enough that it will provide more memorable moments for fans who want to see gifted players before they begin getting national attention.