Long before the 2013 Beach Ball Classic tipped off, tournament executive director John Rhodes was at work securing teams for the 2014 tournament.
He believes he’s already secured commitments from enough quality teams featuring star players to ensure the 34th Beach Ball will be better than the 33rd.
“I would say next year we’ll probably be back stronger than this year,” Rhodes said. “I’ve got some pretty good verbals with some teams right now. I like the direction we’re going in.”
Rhodes has commitments from eight teams for the 16-team tournament.
He said Franklin (Ohio) and star guard Luke Kennard will be back for his senior season. Kennard is in his second Beach Ball and has scored 43 and 45 points in games over the past two years.
Mullins is committed to return with 6-4 guard Jalek Felton, who will be a sophomore. Felton scored 32 against Socastee on Tuesday.
Bishop Gorman (Nevada), the 2009 Beach Ball champion and a 2011 semifinalist, is set to return with senior 7-foot center Stephen Zimmerman.
Wheeler, a perennial power in Georgia and the 2010 consolation champion, last competed in 2012 and is set to return.
Northland (Ohio), a finalist this year, will return with players including 6-7 forward Seth Towns, who will be a junior, and coach Sean Taylor believes the Vikings will be better next season.
Spring Valley is scheduled to return for a second consecutive year and feature 6-6 forward P.J. Dozier, who will be a senior and missed this year’s tournament with a knee injury. Myrtle Beach and Socastee will also be back.
“We’re going to be really good next year,” Rhodes said.
Rhodes needed surgery late last year for a brain aneurism that was discovered during the 2012 Beach Ball Classic, and the health scare affected his recruiting for the Beach Ball that just concluded.
“Last year I got thrown back a little bit with the brain aneurism and the recovery time, so I sort of got behind with the recruiting process,” Rhodes said. “This year I’m way ahead of the game.”
Allen tops honorees
Senior Grayson Allen took home the top individual honor, Most Valuable Player, as he averaged 24 points per game and shot 66 percent from the field in his four games during the tournament.
Junior Luke Maye (Hough, N.C.) was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player as he averaged 16 points per game and 16.3 rebounds per game during his three games in the tournament. Maye led the tournament in both offensive rebounds with 5.7 per game and defensive rebounds with 10.7 per game.
The All-Tournament Team includes Khadeen Carrington, Bishop Loughlin (N.Y.); Romelo Trimble, Bishop O’Connell (Va.); Russell Sangster, Bullis (Md.); Luke Kennard, Franklin (Ohio); Darral Willis, Madison Memorial (Wis.); Grant Benzinger, Moeller (Ohio); Solomon Cooper, Myrtle Beach; AJ Bush, Norcross (Ga.); Christian Terrell, Providence (Fla.); Wyatt Walker, Providence (Fla.).
• Other awards | Individual Sportsmanship Award: Seth Towns, Northland (Ohio); Individual Hustle Award: Shemar Waugh, Northland (Ohio); Defensive Award: Alterique Gilbert, Miller Grove (Ga.); Team Hustle Award: Norcross (Ga.); Team Sportsmanship Award: Franklin (Ohio).
The name game
The Beach Ball Classic always features some interesting names, and the 33rd edition did not disappoint.
Making the Beach Ball All-Name First Team were Madison Memorial’s Koko Songolo, Miller Grove’s Alterique Gilbert, Providence’s Ben “Lorena” Bobbitt, Northland’s Jhustus Cornley and Bullis’ Russell “American” Sangster.
Second-teamers were Father Henry Carr’s Nathan Asamoah Darko and Girece Kazumba, Bishop O’Connell’s Siyao Sun, and Providence’s Essa Bajalia.
Those on the Third Team were Hough’s Chase Sweetman, Myrtle Beach’s Coleman “Dirty” Martini, Father Henry Carr’s Ross “Decaffeinated” Coffey, Socastee’s Finn Melko and Spring Valley’s Chidi Udogue.
The honorable mention list includes Bishop Loughlin’s Jayvian DeLaCruz, Bishop O’Connell’s Ako Adams, Bullis’ Nebe Samuel, Hough’s Connor Whipp and Ryan “Thank God It’s” Friday, Madison Memorial’s Daurice “Water” Fountain, Providence’s Kinle Pullen and Kedar Bryant, and Spring Valley’s Javondii Myers.
Coaching the all-name team is Moeller’s Carl “Krispy” Kremer, assisted by Miller Grove’s “Don’t Squeeze the” Sharman White and Hough’s Justin Batts “Crazy”.
Down memory lane
Many teams competing in the Beach Ball Classic not only have high school stars of today, but also have notable alumni.
Perhaps the most impressive is Moeller (Ohio) which produced current and likely future baseball hall-of-famers Barry Larkin and Ken Griffey Jr.
Other teams with notable alumni include: Bishop Loughlin (N.Y.) has Mark Jackson and Curtis Sumpter; Bishop O’Connell (Va.) has Kendall Marshall; Bullis (Md.) has Doug Moe; Madison Memorial (Wis.) has Wesley Matthews; Miller Grove (Ga.) has Tony Parker; Norcross (Ga.) has Jeremy Lamb, Al-Farouq Aminu and Jodie Meeks; Northland (Ohio) has Jared Sullinger and Trey Burke.
Contact ALAN BLONDIN at 626-0284.