Friday, December 20, 2013
The Wando Warriors collide with some of the East Coast's top talent in the 21st annual Rotary Roundball Classic tipping off Dec. 27 at North Charleston High School.
This year's 16-team field is loaded with 10 powerful in-state teams, along with some of high school basketball's top prospects from six out-of-state squads.
“The level of competition in this year's tournament is awesome,” Wando head coach David Eaton said. “The out-of-town teams are loaded with college talent. It's going to be fun to see those teams. And I love playing the local teams that we don't normally get a chance to see. There are some really good teams from this area that we wouldn't usually play against.”
Wando enters the tournament ranked No. 3 in Class 4A with just one loss on the season, aligned in the Rotary International bracket with Imhotep Charter (Penn.), Pinewood Prep, Linden High (N.J.), Charleston Collegiate, Porter-Guad, St.John's College High (District of Columbia) and North Charleston. The Warriors open in the first round against the Porter-Gaud Cyclones at 4 p.m. Two-star point guard K.J. James leads the one-loss Cyclones as the No. 5 prospect in the 2014 S.C. class.
“We love that we're facing Porter-Gaud first just because we don't get to play those guys a lot,” Eaton said. “There's always a lot of talk about; they have good players, we have good players. So I really look forward to the challenge of playing against those guys.”
Wings Academy (N.Y.), James Island Charter, Goose Creek, West Ashley, Buford (Ga.), Academic Magnet, North Gwinnett (Ga.) and Summerville line the Rotary International Bracket.
Goose Creek is ranked No. 8 in Class 4A after winning 22 games and playing for a state title last season. Senior point guard Dantez Bennamon is ranked No. 16 in S.C.'s 2014 class, was listed as a preseason top-five player and has an offer from Presbyterian College. Academic Magnet touts senior point guard Tyree Moore, the No. 25 S.C. prospect, while Charleston Collegiate is led by guard Ty Solomon, the state's No. 11 2014 prospect.
Wings Academy's Jessie Govan is ranked as the No. 8 center prospect in the nation. At 6-foot-10, Govan has a long list of college offers from top programs like No. 1 Arizona and 2013 national champion Louisville. Govans' teammate Desure Buie has offers from Seton Hall and a host of mid-majors as a three-star point guard prospect. Wings won 27 games last season, the Bronx borough championship and advanced to the Public Schools Athletic League (N.Y) semi-final game.
Cincinnati signee Quadri Moore leads Linden High as the No. 12 center prospect in the nation. The four-star, 6-foot-10 center led Linden to the Georgia Group 4 championship game in 2012.
St. John's boasts three major college recruits in senior guards Tre Campbell and James Palmer and sophomore point guard Anthony Cowan. Campbell is rated as the best player in Washington, D.C. by 247 Sports and has already signed with Georgetown. Palmer is a three-star guard committed to Miami (Fla.), and Cowan has already received offers from Maryland and Xavier.
Imhotep Charter is reigning Class 3A state champion of Pennsylvania, won back-to-back Class 2A titles from 2011-12, and is led by two-star senior forward and St. Francis commit Basil Thompson.
“That's the great thing about this tournament,” Eaton said. “It's full of really talented players. It's a really good opportunity to get to see some of these guys in person and see how the in-state players matchup against them.”
Wando has become a staple in the Roundball Classic, competing in the prestigious tournament the last five seasons and winning its bracket in 2010. Imhotep and Pinewood tip off this year's tournament at 10 a.m. Friday.