Those attending the 2017 edition of the Beach Ball Classic better have their cameras ready.
An already loaded field recently received quite the boost, as Spartanburg Day School — which features top Class of 2018 recruit Zion Williamson — confirmed it would participate in this year’s event.
“We’ve got the ‘Human Highlight Reel’ coming … or let’s call him, ‘Human Highlight Reel No. 2,’ ” said Myrtle Beach mayor and Beach Ball Classic executive director John Rhodes. “Zion Williamson from Spartanburg Day may probably be the most exciting player we have ever had at Beach Ball.”
This past season, Williamson led the Griffins to a second consecutive SCISA Class 2A title, scoring just shy of 37 points per game to go along with 13 rebounds. About as noticeable as his output on a nightly basis, the junior standout also made quite the impact online, with a bevy of his dunks going viral — some of which were featured on the SportsCenter Top 10.
Currently, Williamson is ranked the No. 2 player in the country, behind Sierra Canyon (Calif.) small forward Marcus Bagley. In the belief of Rhodes, however, there is no one better in next year’s class.
“Honestly, I think he is better than Bagley, because his game has many more dimensions,” Rhodes said. “He can make 3-pointers, he can rebound, he can play defense, he’s quick. You see highlight films of him … he’s better than the highlights.”
While Williamson and Spartanburg Day will be the chief draw, this year’s Beach Ball Classic will also feature Lone Peak (Utah), Moeller (Ohio) and Scott County (Ky.) — which will make its second consecutive appearance at the event. Also giving Rhodes a thumbs up was Crossroads School in Santa Monica, Calif., which features Shareef O’ Neal, son of NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal.
Monteverde Academy (Fla.), winner of the 2015 Beach Ball Classic, also is expected to participate in this year’s tournament. The top team in New York, Loyola Lutheran, also has committed to this December’s activities.
“Scott County was all sophomores last year, they’ll be back with a group that is coming right along,” Rhodes said. “Loyola Lutheran, the No. 1 team in New York is coming, as is Crossroads out of California.”
This year’s event will also feature its first squad from Alabama, as Lanett is expected to make the trip to the Grand Strand.
“Sometimes, people ask me why I bring in some teams, like Latta when they had Raymond Felton,” the Myrtle Beach mayor said. “This year, we’re bringing Lanett, which won a state championship in Alabama. They have two juniors each scoring double figures and will be a good add to the tournament.”
In addition to those teams, a contract offer was presented to Cox Mill (Concord, N.C.).
Tournament mainstays Myrtle Beach and Socastee will also be in this year’s event.