Eighteen boys’ high school basketball teams will converge on Columbia High School on December 26-30 for the Converse Invitational Basketball Classic.
The tournament field includes six teams from out of the state of Georgia, three of which won their respective state champions in 2011. Columbia, the Georgia Class AAA two-time reigning champion, will play host to Mississippi state champion Meridian, Alaska state champ West Anchorage and Alabama state champion Wenonah.
The tournament was the vision of Columbia boys’ basketball coach Dr. Philip McCrary to give exposure to local high school talent as they play against some of the best in the state and country.
“We put on a similar tournament in the 1990’s, but without a true corporate sponsor we were unable to keep it going,” said McCrary, winner of four state championships in the past six seasons. “I decided to take our team to tournaments to get Columbia and DeKalb County’s names out there while competing across the country.”
Trips to places such as the Bahamas, Hawaii and Alaska helped McCrary build a rapport with corporate sponsors he was able to sit down with to discuss bringing similar tournaments to DeKalb County. That rapport paid off with the sponsorship of the 2011 tournament.
“I was able to sit down with Converse in Hawaii and they were excited about the possibility of sponsoring a tournament in DeKalb,” McCrary said. We continued talks and I presented the plan to DeKalb Schools Associate Superintendent for Support Services Dr. Tim Freeman and Director of Athletics Ron Sebree who agreed to let us put on the tournament.”
Joining Columbia from DeKalb County are Tucker (2007 Class AAAA champion),
Martin Luther King Jr. (2007 Class AAAA Final Four), Chamblee (state tournament participant) and Southwest DeKalb (Elite 8 in 2011).
Other Georgia schools include Harrison (Cobb Co.), Buford, Eagle’s Landing, Meadowcreek, South Gwinnett, Crisp County and Butler (Augusta).
The three other out of state teams include Christian Life Academy (Baton Rouge, LA), Norland (Miami, FL) and Newton (Newton, MS).
The tournament is designed to provide a showcase for DeKalb County basketball against schools from across Georgia and other states as well as giving exposure to all the players participating.
“The tournament being held here speaks volumes for the state of DeKalb County basketball,” said McCrary. “I’m really excited about the direction of basketball and athletics in general in DeKalb County.” McCrary says the ultimate goal for the tournament is to provide scholarships in the near future to aid athletes wanting to continue their education.
Traveling DeKalb Basketball DeKalb teams will also be traveling around the country to play in tournaments in Columbia, South Carolina; Columbus, Ohio; Miami, Jacksonville, Ft. Pierce and Fort Myers, Florida; Springfield, Missouri;
Springfield, Massachusetts; as well as Freeport, Bahamas.
Many of the DeKalb teams will also be competing in the DeKalb County Holiday Tournament on December 16-22 while several of the top DeKalb teams will participate in the DeKalb Elite Hardwood Classic at Tucker on December 10-11.
Mark Brock is the Statistician and Information Officer for DeKalb County Schools Athletics