A high school basketball tournament honouring a Vancouver sports writer will tip-off at the Langley Events Centre in December.
The LEC is inviting the best in B.C. high school hoops to hit the hardwood in the first annual Tsumura Basketball Invitational.
And there will be a special guest from south of the border joining them.
The two-day event will take place Dec. 1-2 at the LEC, and will feature the top ranked boys and girls teams from The Province's Big 10 pre-season rankings. The event will be the first chance of the 2012/13 season for fans to see the top teams play in a preview of the respective AAA tournaments taking place at the LEC in March of 2013.
The event is named in recognition of Howard Tsumura (high school sports writer at The Province since 1990), a long time supporter of all amateur athletics in B.C. and a respected and prominent figure on the boys and girls hoops scene.
"To be asked by the staff in Langley and at the LEC to be involved in such an exciting way to start the high school basketball season, wow, what an honour, I can't wait for December," Tsumura said.
On the girls' side, it will be an early season test for the defending champion and No. 1-ranked South Kamloops Titans, as they will face the second-ranked Brookswood Bobcats.
Both teams feature a strong core of returning players from last season, and are expected to be competing for a title when the Triple A girls championships are hosted at the LEC for the first time come March.
Bobcats coach Neil Brown knows what to expect from South Kamloops.
"Emma Wolfram was the B.C.'s most valuable player and will attract scholarship offers from all over North America, but they are a very deep team behind her," Brown said. "They won the Triple A championship and finished second in the junior championships, so there's a lot of talented players for us to match up with early in the season."
For the boys, with a dearth of returning players, both the top-ranked Walnut Grove Gators and No. 2-ranked White Rock Christian Academy Warriors are expected to be in the mix for the 2013 AAA provincial championship.
The boys teams will have their work cut out for them however, as they each will be facing Findlay Prep from Las Vegas.
"We are extremely excited and honoured to be a part of this event. Our students will have a great opportunity to experience this part of Canada and be able to perform in an excellent venue," Findlay Prep associate head coach Todd Simon noted.
The expected roster for Findlay Prep when they visit Canada in December should feature three of ESPN's Top 100 high school basketball recruits from the class of 2013. They include 6'3" shooting guard Allerik Freeman (undecided), 6'3" point guard Nigel Williams-Goss (Washington 2013), and 6'10" power forward Christian Wood (UNLV 2013).
Walnut Grove Gators head coach George Bergen looks forward to the opportunity,
"Obviously, these are some of the top players in all of high school basketball," the veteran Walnut Grove Secondary teacher/coach said. "This is very exciting news for the B.C. basketball community, to get a glimpse of what ball south of the border looks like at its highest level. It'll be a great challenge and one that I'd like to thank the LEC for organizing."
Findlay Prep finished the 2011/12 season 32-1, and is the Powerade Fab50 No. 2-ranked boys team in the U.S., behind only Oak Hill Academy.
Findlay highlighted their season by winning the ESPN Rise National High School invitational championship for the third time in the past four seasons.
In the past three years alone, Findlay Prep Basketball has produced first-round NBA draft picks in Boston Celtic Avery Bradley (19th overall, 2010), Cleveland Cavalier Tristan Thompson (4th overall, 2011), and San Antonio Spur Cory Joseph (29th overall, 2011).
Thompson and Joseph are both Canadians, and preceded fellow Ontario natives Myck Kabongo, currently playing at the University of Texas, and Anthony Bennett, who will be a freshman at UNLV this season. The school has countless other alumni playing at top level NCAA Division programs around the United States.
"Findlay Prep has a long history of producing exceptional basketball talent," Trinity Western University men's basketball coach Scott Allen noted. "Their roster is stock-full of big, athletic players who are going to provide a unique challenge for the teams; the fans who come are going to see players who will excel at the NCAA level and in the next few years should hear their names called in the NBA draft."
Allen assisted with the logistics of bringing the games to the LEC.
Game times and further teams competing in the inaugural Tsumura Basketball Invitational will be announced in September.
Tickets will go on sale at that time.
For more, visit www.langleyeventscentre.com.