Written by SportsDayDFW.com
25th Annual Great American Shootout to draw prime basketball talent, coaches
If there is someone in North Texas this weekend who looks a lot like Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski, Kentucky coach John Calipari, Kansas coach Bill Self or North Carolina coach Roy Williams, it might really be them.
Between 350-400 college coaches are expected to check out the 25th Annual Great American Shootout held Thursday through Sunday at 10 sites with many of the country’s best high school players on some of the 392 teams.
“The first year we had 41 teams and thought that was a great turnout,” tournament founder Mike Kunstadt said. “We never thought about it getting this big. It says a lot about basketball coming into its own in the state of Texas.”
The shootout has established itself as one of the top tournaments during the NCAA’s July evaluation period in which coaches can watch players. Under NCAA recruiting rules, college coaches need special seating during the tournament to reasonably avoid contact with players or parents. And with shoe companies having clinics last weekend, top talent is available for the shootout before playing in summer season-ending tournaments in Las Vegas and Orlando.
“Sometimes the schedule works out better for our date than others,” said tournament director Sam Lowe. “The way it’s worked this year, we’ll have our best field that we’ve had since the [Kentucky-signed Aaron and Andrew] Harrison twins were here a couple years ago. And the better the players, the more attractive it is to coaches. Usually schools rotate in a head coach [to observe] for a couple days and then an assistant for a couple days.”
The shootout has helped put many players in a national spotlight, including Deron Williams at The Colony and Chris Bosh at Lincoln, who played on summer teams with more high-profile stars but blossomed into their own prominence with exceptional showings, said Kunstadt. The field has included almost every North Texas player of note including steady appearances by Oklahoma State star Marcus Smart while he was at Flower Mound Marcus, Kenyon Martin while at Bryan Adams, LaMarcus Aldridge at Seagoville and Darrell Arthur at South Oak Cliff.
Games will be played on 33 courts at 10 sites including Duncanville High School and the Bob Knight Field House. Tipoffs begin at 1:45 p.m. Thursday with games going as late at 10 p.m. on the first two days. The bracket championships are played Sunday afternoon. Lowe said seeding, pool play and random draws divide the highest-level NBA Division into three equal 32-team bracket champions. NCAA rules capping the number of games in short time periods prevent setting up a single champ for the 96 top teams. College referees officiate most of the top brackets.
Summer select teams will make the trip from 15 states, including Alaska. The field features some highly anticipated matchups. Pool play will see a bout between two of the nation’s most highly regarded teams: the Texas Titans sponsored by Dallas-billionaire Kenny Troutt vs. the Dallas Seawolves. The game also boasts a matchup between the Seawolves’ top-rated 7-0 senior center Elbert Robinson of Garland Lakeview and the Titans’ 6-9 junior Tyler Davis of Frisco Liberty. The Titans’ frontcourt also includes 6-10 Haitian junior Djery Baptiste, who is expected to transfer to a Dallas school this fall.
“Top teams and top players want to go against the best,” Kunstadt said. “That’s what brings the college coaches. When all of those start working at the same time, it attracts even more.”
The Titans will be considered a favorite with Triple A Academy’s King McClure at shooting guard, Alex Robinson of Mansfield Timberview at point and junior D.J. Hogg of Plano West at forward, all major college prospects. Titans’ 6-7 junior guard Mickey Mitchell, another major recruit, isn’t playing this summer as he heals from a knee injury.
Among other top players in the tournament will be Prime Prep’s Emmanuel Mudiay, consistently rated as the top national point guard in the Class of 2014, playing with Mo Williams Academy. Team Texas has recent Oklahoma State guard commit Austin Grandstaff of Rockwall along with Prime Prep junior forward Elijah Thomas. Plano’s ProSkills is led by athletic 6-7 forward Zach Smith of Plano East. Mansfield’s Micah Littlejohn and Kevin Hervey of Arlington Bowie highlight another strong Dallas Mustangs program.
Main gyms: Duncanville High School, Bob Knight Field House
The tournament: Featuring 392 teams at gyms across Dallas. There will be 96 select clubs playing in the NBA division, with three bracket titles for high school teams with many of the country’s most highly rated players participating.
Tournament pass: Adult $35, student $25; Daily pass: Adult $10, student $8