Some of the talent coming to the 2019 Beach Ball Classic has already been determined.
Tournament executive director John Rhodes said Monday that he has five of the 16 teams already confirmed, with several other commitments in the works.
Perennial Nevada powerhouse Bishop Gorman of Las Vegas will be back next year on its rotating two-year agreement that works in alternating years with Christ the King of New York, which participated in this year’s Beach Ball.
Gorman will feature 6-3 guard Noah Taitz, who averaged 17.5 points per game last season as a sophomore to help the Gaels win their seventh consecutive state championship, as well as 6-9 center Isaiah Cottrell and 6-1 guard Zaon Collins, who will be a senior and junior, respectively.
University (W.Va.) will return when its two star guards will be seniors. Point guard Kaden Metheny averaged 27 points in his three Beach Ball games this year and K.J. Mcclurg posted 23 in a win over Socastee while averaging 16 points.
Host schools Myrtle Beach and Socastee will be joined by another South Carolina team next year.
Dorman High in Spartanburg County features the top two players in the state in the class of 2020, according to Big Shots and Phenom Hoop, in 5-11 point guard Myles Tate and 6-9 forward P.J. Hall.
Both have already been offered by South Carolina and helped Dorman win its second straight Class 5A state title last season.
“I may go for a fourth [S.C. team], but they’ll have to be mighty good,” Rhodes said.
Rhodes also has a short wish list of teams that includes Mater Dei of Santa Ana, California, McEachern out of Atlanta, Archbishop Stepinac (N.Y.) and St. Edward of Ohio, which made its eighth appearance in the past 14 years this year and went 3-1 to win the consolation championship.
Three of St. Edward’s starters will be seniors next year – guard Montorie Foster, 6-4 Grant Huffman and 6-6 Devontae Blanton. Huffman is the Eagles’ top recruit, with offers from Xavier, Miami (Ohio), Toledo and Duquesne and interest from Ohio State, Notre Dame and Dayton.
Mater Dei is ranked 13th in the current MaxPreps Computer Rankings, and California was well-represented this year by Westchester, which reached Monday night’s championship game.
McEachern is ranked No. 2 in USA Today’s Super 25 and recently won the City of Palms tournament in Florida, which featured many of the nation’s top teams. It is led by guard Sharife Cooper, one of the top players in the class of 2020.
Archbishop Stepinac is the reigning N.Y. state Class AA Federation champion and its top two players – point guard R.J. Davis and 6-6 wing Adrian Griffin Jr. – are expected to return.
Rhodes will travel to the 24-team Hoophall tournament in Springfield, Mass., from Jan. 17-21 to check on a few of the teams he is interested in inviting to the 2019 Beach Ball.
“You’re competing against other tournaments, so I’ve got to go out and do my solicitations,” Rhodes said. “You can’t count on anything as a given. You’ve still got to sell your wares.”
The Beach Ball will retain its current format, but the affiliated girls high school CresCom Bank Holiday Invitational that annually precedes the Beach Ball will expand again in 2019.
The tournament expanded from 16 to 32 teams this year, and Rhodes said it will increase to 64 teams in 2019. The championship 16-team bracket will be played at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center and other teams will play at the Myrtle Beach Sports Center.
This year’s CresCom champion, Bishop McNamara of Maryland, is the top-ranked team in the USA Today Super 25 girls rankings.
The Carolinas Challenge women’s college event that coincides with the Crescom will again feature eight teams, with North Carolina, Wake Forest and Coastal Carolina being three of them, according to Rhodes.
“We’re trying to make it two exciting weeks of basketball,” said Rhodes, who hopes to expand the CresCom to 112 teams within the next few years.