The 36th anniversary of the event will feature teams from coast-to-coast participating in three tournaments at the newly renovated Broughton's Holliday Gym. One of the oldest and largest high school invitational tournaments in the country, the Holiday Invitational annually draws between 20-25,000 spectators who are eager to see the future college stars.
The GSK Holiday Invitational begins today and the event will run until Saturday with some teams playing all three days. NC State commitment C.J. Leslie will be playing in the event for Word of God Academy, and targets John Wall (Word of God), Ryan Kelly (Ravenscroft), Aru Kok(Ravenscroft), Reggie Bullock (Kinston), and Earnest Ross (Panther Creek) are also participating.
EIGHT TEAM BOYS TOURNAMENT
DeMatha Stags (Hyattsville, MD) - The Stags will play in the GSK for the 6th time, dating back to 1976 when they were the first national team to play in the tournament. The historic program is led by Coach Mike Jones and will feature the trademark defense that has made the program one of the best in the country. Naji Hibbert, 6-5 junior guard has offers from Clemson, Maryland and Miami. New arrival Rahem May-Thompson played England's U16 World Championship team last season. Two sport star 6-4 Kenny Tate has football offers from programs like Florida, Ohio State and Tennessee. 6-2 sophomore Josh Selby has a lot of promise. The Stags have won three straight conference titles.
Jordan Falcons (Durham, N.C) - 6-5 Senior Justin Watts averaged over 22 points a game last year for the Falcons. One of the top seniors in the state, Watts has offers from Illinois, Georgia Mason, East Carolina, amongst others while getting attention from other high major schools like Georgia, Kentucky, Clemson and Louisville. Coach Kim Annas looks to get the Falcons soaring again.
Southern Durham Spartans (Durham, N.C) - The defending 2006 GSK Tournament four-team champs are in the eight-team tournament this season. Coach Art Richmond lost six seniors from last year's team. Led by versatile 6-2 junior guard Marcus Wells, the Spartans hope for key contributions from speedy senior guard Jamario Clayton, 6-7 Brandon Anderson and 6-4 rising sophomore David Jordan.
Ravenscroft Ravens (Raleigh, N.C.) - Coach Kevin Billerman should have a high powered team this season. The Ravens feature a huge frontline of three juniors that are all major college prospects. Junior Ryan Kelly averaged 15 points, nine rebounds, and four blocks a game last season and has offers from N.C. State, Virginia and Virginia Tech. 6-11 Matt Wilson, a transfer from Millbrook is getting looks from South Carolina, Clemson and Davidson while Sudan native 6-11 Aru Kok is being recruited N.C. State, American University, Georgetown and Baylor. The trio of posts will team up with returning leading scorer Dominic Parker, who averaged 17 points a game last season.
Taft Toreadors (Woodland Hills, CA) - Coach Derrick Taylor and his Taft squad make a return trip to the tournament from Southern California. The Toreadors return all five starters, including three D1 commitments already. Point guard Larry Drew, who has started his freshman year, averaged 15 points and seven assists last season and will play for North Carolina. Eugene Phelps, 12 points and 9 rebounds, is headed to Long Beach State and Justin Hawkins is headed to UNLV. Both Drew and Hawkins are sons of former NBA players. Bryce Smith, Terran Carter and Michael Williams will are key to the season as well.
Knightdale Knights (Knightdale, N.C.) - Four years after opening their doors, the Knights are no longer the new kids in town. Coach Battle Watkins' squad will be anchored by a pair of juniors in Dijon Manns and Stan Okoye. The 6-4 Okoye is getting looks from Appalachian State, Elon and James Madison plus academic heavyweight schools like Columbia and Cornell.
Word of God (Raleigh, N.C.) - Speedy guard John Wall went into the summer a virtual unknown and catapulted up the rankings to enter the season as the nationally 12th ranked player by Scout.com. The 6-3 junior has offers from Kentucky, Indiana, Kansas and N.C. State. Wall will team with N.C. State commit C.J. Leslie, a 6-7 sophomore forward. Coach Levi Beckwith's squad won the N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association 1-A championship last season.
4-TEAM BOYS TOURNAMENT
Broughton Capitals (Raleigh, N.C.) - Coach Ferrell will be looking for big things from co-captains Dexter Randolph and Luke Davis. The history rich Caps program is coming off another 20 win season last year but returns only four lettermen and one starter.
Green Hope Falcons (Cary, N.C.)- Coach Mickey Bissette's squad has a group of seven seniors ready to content for a strong season in the Tri-Eight conference. The Falcons will have a balanced attack as six players are averaging at least seven points a game so far this year. Forward Reuben Ford and guard Steven Edwards will be counted on to help power the offense and the paint will be manned by 6-10 senior center J.D. Pelham, who has signed with Lafayette.
Panther Creek Catamounts - (Morrisville, N.C.) Coach L.J. Hepp is at the helm at Panther Creek, a school in their 2nd year of existence. The Catamounts who have no senior class in their school yet, return their entire team from last year including all five starters. 6-4 junior Earnest Ross averaged 27 points a game last season and is receiving interest from N.C. State, Wake Forest, UNC, Virginia, Virginia Tech and Clemson. Mike Hood added 13 points a game last season.
Northern Durham Knights (Durham, N.C) - Coach Matt Hunt's challenge is to mesh the old with the new this season. The Knights return three starters in Ben Frush, Jerry Fairley and Kenny Holley while picking up two big transfers. Hunter McClintock, who played at Cummings last year, averaged 24 points a game last year and Jeff Thomas comes from Cedar Ridge where he put up 21 points a game. McClintock, Thomas, Fairley and Frush are all being recruited to play in college.