John Rhodes, executive director of the Beach Ball Classis and Myrtle Beach mayor, is among three to be honored Monday night during the S.C. Athletic Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Columbia.
Rhodes will receive the Willie Jeffries Ambassador Award recognizing his commitment and dedication to the Beach Ball Classic, according to a press release.
“It’s very special,” Rhodes said Monday afternoon before the ceremony. “It was quite a surprise when they called and told me I was going to be honored. ... You do things, but you don’t expect to get this kind of recognition for doing what you love.”
The Beach Ball Classic tournament is held annually in December and features high school basketball players who’ve gone on to successful college and NBA careers, such as Raymond Felton and Kobe Bryant.
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Rhodes said the classic has become considered one of the premier high school basketball tournaments in the country and the “best thing that’s happened to high school basketball in South Carolina.”
“We’re still bringing in great players and great awareness to high school basketball programs in South Carolina,” he said.
Rhodes has led the Beach Ball Classic for more than 30 years and Myrtle Beach will host the tournament for the 33rd time this year. When Rhodes suffered a bleeding brain aneurysm and had to have brain surgery during the classic last December, he couldn’t separate from the tournament.
“He’s been keeping track of Beach Ball on the Internet on his computer,” city spokesman Mark Kruea said in December.
Previous recipients of the Willie Jeffries Ambassador Award include University of South Carolina athletic director and former baseball coach Ray Tanner – who received the inaugural award in 2011 – and Steve Wilmot, executive director of The RBC Heritage Golf Classic on Hilton Head Island.
Others being honored Monday night include longtime Post & Courier sports columnist, Ken Burger, who will receive the Herman Helms Media Excellence Award, and former South Carolina two-sport star, Jeff Grantz, who will receive the Dom Fusci Leadership in Action Award.
Eight people will be inducted into the hall of fame, including Tanner and Jim Phillips, posthumously, who served as Clemson's play-by-play voice for 36 years.