MURRELLS INLET — Big Shots, which started with just 19 teams, has developed a following more worthy of its name over the past nine years.
Drawing in 80 All-American basketball players and over 300 college coaches during the week, Big Shots Vice President and National Recruiting Director Kevin Schneider expects 375 teams to participate.
The All-American camps tipped off Wednesday at St. James High School and will continue on Thursday at St. James Middle School before the annual Big Shots Myrtle Beach tournaments start on Friday and run through Sunday.
"It's a major stop for teams nationally as well as college coaches," Schneider said. "It started with teams that came to our first event; we just built relationships with those guys and with our relationships with the college coaches over the past 20 years. The kids that come play in Big Shots, they're going to get great exposure with tough competition as well as college coaches in the seats."
Bringing in such talent, Schneider believes his camps and tournaments compete with other top tournaments across the country.
"There are 80 All-American players at our All-American camp and you get to see 80 of the best players playing in Big Shots Myrtle Beach as well as some of the best players in the country going at it," he said. "It's a great way to evaluate the talent because they're going up against each other. There's been numerous players that have made names for themselves after a few games."
Greensboro (N.C.) Day School point guard Will Dillard made a name for himself after just his first game. Dillard, who is the youngest player at the camp as a rising ninth grader, scored 24 points to lead his team to a victory and turned some heads along the way.
"It's an honor to play in front of these schools and have a chance to try out basically and get a chance to prove myself to some big name colleges," Dillard said. "I'm trying to prove that no matter how small I am I can play any position I need and I'll do anything I need to do to win."
But being under the microscope doesn't bother Dillard. "I don't take the spotlight into consideration, I just go out there and play my game," he said. "I feel like this camp will have a big impact on me and help my game in the future."
Mullins point guard Jalek Felton, one of the top players in the 2017 class, was excited to show off his talent in front of some of college basketball's top programs.
"It's great playing in front of college coaches; it kind of motivates me makes me want to go even harder," Felton said. "I want to be the player they're fighting for and I just want to prove I'm the top player in my class and get to the next level."
Memphis assistant coach Robert Kirby said Big Shots is just one of the many stops along the way, but it's a great opportunity to grade talent.
"You get to see a lot of guys in one spot," he said. "There's a lot of different guys from different parts of the country match up against some of the best players and see how they match up. So it's very good competition."
But Kirby isn't exactly looking for pure scorers.
"Being the hardest playing guy in the gym and someone that shares the ball [is what I'm looking for]," Kirby said. "A lot of times guys get caught up trying to score the ball. We're looking for the guys that can get it done and at the same time are great team players."
Kent State assistant DeAndre Haynes said he's looking for players that fit the Flash's system and ones that show leadership.
However, Haynes noticed a few players that weren't on his radar going into Wednesday.
"We're looking for someone to show some leadership and someone that fits our system," Haynes said. "Big Shots is real big, this is actually my first time here. I came here to look at a few select guys and I ended up finding at least 10 or 11 guys I wasn't aware of. I was going to follow up with them after the camp and try and get them to come to our university."
With college coaches getting just a few opportunities to scout players in person, Schneider said Big Shots is one of the biggest tournaments these coaches look at.
"There's going to be at least 300 coaches and they're kind of on the clock and can kind of narrow down on players that they want to go get," Schneider said. [The players] have been working for this for a while now and it's their time to shine. So we're honored to have the opportunity to provide that for the players."xxx
Contact MAX McKINNON at 626-0302.