Tourney Time: Bevy of Holiday Tournaments

The nation's top player, Dwight Howard, will be in Delaware at Slam Dunk to the Beach - and so will we. Take a look at previews of all the top holiday tournaments this week.

Slam Dunk To The Beach, Dec. 26-30

LEWES, Del. – Tournament director Bobby Jacobs loves to promote his event as "the final four of high school basketball." The "Slam" is loaded … again. Dec. 27th's schedule might be the best day of high school basketball so far this year as guys like Dwight Howard, Jason Rich, A.J. Price, D.J. White, Roy Bright, Brandon Rush, Chris Miles and Gabriel Pruitt lace them up.

The "Slam" is a five-day marathon designed for the most die-hard fans. The basketball is usually excellent and games generally feature more than one Division I player with most games that begin after noon having a handful. This is truly one of the must-see events of the holiday schedule.

From the blimps that hover over the court to the best hospitality suite in high school basketball, Jacobs spares no expense in making the Slam Dunk To The Beach one of the truly special events in high school hoops.

This event will be covered by

National Academy Invitational (Texas), Dec. 27-30

HOUSTON, Texas - Hal Pastner hasn't wasted any time in turning this event into one of the premiere holiday tournaments in the nation. Oak Hill Academy (Va.) has won the first two years, but the Warriors won't repeat – because they aren't in this year's field.

A pair of California teams – Mater Dei and Fairfax – will be in this year's National Division – along with Stu Vetter's Montrose Christian (Md.) program, Kansas-bound 7-footer Sasha Kaun of Florida Air Academy and two of the top locals squads – Jawaan McClellan's undefeated Milby High team and his future teammate at Arizona, 5-9 sophomore point guard Nic Wise of Hightower High. The final two teams in the national bracket are Florida powerhouse Dillard High and Booker T. Washington (Okla.).

There is also a Texas division which will feature Texas-bound guard Daniel Gibson of Jesse Jones High, Clements junior floor leader David Devezin and Westbury Christian and its loaded frontcourt.

GlaxoSmithKline Holiday Basketball Tournament (N.C.), Dec. 27-30

RALEIGH, N.C. – This is one of the longest-running events in the country as it steams toward its 32nd straight year. The event, which traditionally features a bevy of future ACC prospects, annually draws a three-day crowd in the 20-25,000 range.

Fans can see a host of Top 100 players from 12 high school basketball programs. Top-ranked Oak Hill Academy is an entry in the field. Led by potential NBA candidate Josh Smith and the nation's top unsigned point guard Rajon Rondo, Steve Smith's boys are always loaded and are naturally the marquee draw of this event.

Cincinnati Moeller has a pair of Top 100 prospects in Andrew Brackman (NC State) and Josh Duncan (Xavier). Other standouts in attendance are Demarcus Nelson, Cameron Stanley, James Mays, Roy Hibbert, Davis Nwankwo, Mack Montgomery and David McClure. However, West Brunswick senior Cedric Simmons, an NC State signee, could turn out to be the local favorite of the fans. Stanley and his teammates from Garner (N.C.) High will go up against Nelson and Sheldon High (Calif.) in the opening round while a potential second-round matchup could pit Simmons' West Brunswick (N.C.) High squad against the Duke-bound McClure and Trinity Catholic (Conn.).

Beach Ball Classic (S.C.), Dec. 26-30

The tournament began back in 1981 and has featured NBA stars Vince Carter and Kobe Bryant in the past. There's plenty of talent down in Myrtle Beach this year with Rudy Gay, Randolph Morris, Darius Washington and plenty of other elite seniors in the field.

Gay and Morris will go up against one another Friday at 8:30 and other top first-round matchups will pit Calhoun County (S.C.) guard Zam Frederick (Georgia Tech) against Edgewater (Fla.) scoring machine Darius Washington (Memphis) and Denham Springs (La.) junior forward Tasmin Mitchell, who is's top player in the Class of 2005, against perennial New York power St. Raymond's (N.Y.) and its duo of Gavin Grant (N.C. State) and Brian Laing (Seton Hall).

Other top players in the tournament include Nansemond River (Va.) guard Marquie Cooke, Cedar Hill (Texas) floor leader Jason Horton (Missouri), Bishop O'Connell (Va.) and its UNC-bound junior guard Marcus Ginyard, Cardinal Dougherty (Pa.) duo Kyle Lowry and Shane Clark, both of which are headed to Villanova, and others.

Dell Curry Shootout, Jan. 1-3

Director Jeff Hood's vision for a marquee high school event to ring in the New Year continues.The 4th annual Dell Curry Shootout is quickly becoming a big time event. One of the neat things about this tournament is the presence of Curry himself. The former NBA standout chats up the kids, signs autographs and will even hang a banner when his help is needed. It's not his event just in name, he's working the three-day event like it's his job.

16 boys teams roll into Charlotte Latin's gym, including a handful of McDonald's All-American candidates. Guys like Randolph Morris and Lamarcus Aldridge highlight the action. Aldridge expects to return to action after injuring himself at the City of Palms.

Mount Zion's loaded roster has stars aplenty. Charlotte Latin, which reached the finals last year, has Anthony Morrow and Our Savior boasts Tello Palacios. The event runs Jan. 1-3. will cover this event start to finish

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