The 2015 Tournament of Champions lineup is being hailed as the best group of teams it has ever had
WAYNESVILLE – For only the second time since the tournament's history, the Waynesville Tigers basketball team will be hitting the court in JQH Arena in Springfield for the Bass Pro Tournament of Champions.
The tournament runs from January 15th through the 17th.
After cruising to a 24-3 record, grabbing the Class 5 District 10 championship as well as the Ozark Conference championship and finishing the season as a sectionalist, the Tigers were an obvious choice for the tournament according to Waynesville coach Chris Pilz.
“We deserve to be there because of what we've done the last couple of years and what people are anticipating we might do this year,” Pilz said.
Parkview, another Ozark Conference team, made the tournament lineup this year too.
A few talent-packed teams will stand in the way of Waynesville besting its third place finish from 2008, the only other time the Tigers were invited to the tournament.
Oak Hill Academy, a school from Mouth of Wilson, Virginia, is making it's Tournament of Champions debut. NBA fans may know some of the names that have come out of Oak Hill — Rajon Rondo, Carmelo Anthony, Stephen Jackson, Ben McLemore and even Kevin Durant played there before he transferred to Montrose Christian School before graduating.
Wesleyan Christian is a school from High Point, North Carolina, and they are a returning school from last year. The Trojans have 6'9' power forward Harry Giles, who is ranked as the top recruit by Scout.com for the class of 2016.
Bishop O'Dowd (Oakland, California) will also bring a top ranked player with them to Missouri. 6'9” Ivan Rabb plays power forward for the Dragons and is the top player in the 2015 class according to Scout.com.
“[The tournament administrators] are saying this is the best group of teams and players that they've assembled,” Pilz said. “It'll definitely be a challenge, but you've got to work extremely hard to get in position to be invited to this.”
It'll be worth it for Waynesville and its fans who want to make the trip down to Springfield.
“[The Tournament of Champions] is the best high school basketball tournament in the country,” Pilz said. “We may wind up playing in front of 11,000 people. It's a once in a lifetime opportunity for these kids. It'll be an experience they won't forget.”
As for how Pilz thinks his team stacks up against the competition, well, he said we will just have to wait and see.
“There's a lot of big fish in this tournament,” Pilz said. “But when you go fishing you hope you catch a lunker every once in a while. So we'll go down, play hard, represent our community well and hopefully we can get some Ws.”