Dr. Matt Robinson, chairman of the Slam Dunk to the Beach basketball tournament and a University of Delaware professor, speaking to media and sponsors along with state and county politicos at a press conference Nov. 13 at Fish On in Lewes quoted legendary basketball coach John Wooden: “Amazing what can get accomplished when no one is taking credit.”
Robinson and the Delaware Sports Commission have recaptured the magic of hosting a big-time national tournament inside a small state, with Cape Henlopen’s magnificent facility as the hub of hoops, and an ocean and Boardwalk for strolls between sessions.
Cape Henlopen Athletic Director Bob Cilento said, “Everyone does such a great job. They know how to run a basketball tournament.”
The 2017 lineup includes two of the Top 10 teams in the East and five of the top 35 high school seniors. These elite players will take the court at Cape Henlopen High School Dec. 27-29.
This year’s event will feature the largest field in tournament history, with 20 high school teams hailing from across the country. The top players as ranked in the latest ESPN100 for the Class of 2018 include: Cameron Reddish (Westtown School) – third; Simisola Shittu (Vermont Academy) – sixth; Immanuel Quickley (John Carroll) – 12th; Nazreon Reid (Roselle Catholic) – 18th; and Jalen Carey (Immaculate Conception) – 34th.
“We are excited about the quality of the teams and players for this year’s edition of Slam Dunk,” Robinson said. “We have some familiar teams and faces back, and some new teams that I am sure will not disappoint the fans. The local businesses and community have played such a huge role in the success of the event, and Slam Dunk is a top economic driver for southern Delaware during the tourism off-season.”
Tickets are on sale at www.slamdunktothebeach.com.
This year’s 20-team field will match last season’s total as the largest since the tournament returned in 2014. The national field joining Delaware’s Cape Henlopen, Caravel, Howard and Smyrna includes:
• Archbishop Wood (Warminster, Pa.)
• Bishop Loughlin (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
• Bishop McNamara (Forestville, Md.)
• Dillard (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)
• Eleanor Roosevelt (Greenbelt, Md.)
• Gonzaga College (Washington, D.C.)
• Gray Collegiate (West Columbia, S.C.)
• Harvard Westlake (Los Angeles, Calif.)
• Immaculate Conception (Montclair, N.J.)
• John Carroll (Bel Air, Md.)
• Roselle Catholic (Roselle, N.J.)
• Sidwell Friends (Washington, D.C.)
• St. James (Hagerstown, Md.)
• St. John’s College (Chevy Chase, Md.)
• Vermont Academy (Saxtons River, Vt.)
• Westtown (West Chester, Pa.)
"Dillard High School has competed all over the country, including Alaska,” said Dillard High School Head Coach Darryl Burrow in a press release. “But our journey would not, and could not, be complete without Slam Dunk to the Beach. This event is second to none.”
The iconic tournament has hosted many future NBA and college superstars over the years, including Carmelo Anthony (2000), LeBron James (2001), Kevin Durant (2003) and Dwight Howard (2003). The 2017 event will once again have numerous participants from ESPN's top-rated players from each graduating class.
Already a two-time Slam Dunk to the Beach All-Tournament Team selection, Cameron Reddish will be making his fourth appearance in Lewes as a senior for Westtown. The third-ranked player in the 2018 class committed to the NCAA’s Preseason No. 1 team Duke University in September. Not far behind Reddish in the ESPN100 is Canadian power forward Simisola Shittu from Vermont Academy. The sixth-ranked player in the senior class joins Roselle Catholic’s Nazreon Reid as big men projected as top 10 picks in the 2019 NBA Draft.
Several underclassmen are ranked by ESPN as well, and leading the Slam Dunk group once again is junior Juwan Gary of Gray Collegiate Academy. Gary scored 16 points in last season’s instant classic between Gray Collegiate and Westtown at Cape Henlopen High School.
Johnny Juzang of Harvard Westlake will come a long way to lead the sophomore class at Slam Dunk to the Beach. The Los Angeles native ranks as ESPN’s No. 3 small forward in the Class of 2020. Gonzaga College’s Terrance Williams will also look to make an impact as a rising sophomore power forward.
The commission also announced the matchups for the 2017 Slam Dunk, which breaks down into day and night sessions, featuring three or four games in each session.
The tournament begins with Delaware’s 2017 state champion Smyrna against Howard at noon, Wednesday, Dec. 27. Fans will get their fourth look at Roselle Catholic in the night session, as the Lions rejoin the action at Cape Henlopen against another returning squad, Gray Collegiate at 6:30 p.m. The nightcap at 8 p.m. will give fans their first opportunity to watch ESPN100’s No. 2-rated power forward Simisola Shittu, as his Vermont Academy team plays Sidwell Friends.
Day two of Slam Dunk to the Beach will feature nine games and an earlier start to the day, as Harvard Westlake tips off against Gonzaga College. Thursday’s action features some real firepower, as all seven games on the schedule will feature a player ranked in the Top 25 of ESPN’s class rankings.
The final day, Friday, Dec. 29, showcases two USA Today Super 25 Regional teams from 2017, when Archbishop Wood takes the court at 3 p.m. and Gonzaga College plays to start the night session at 5 p.m. Basketball fans in Lewes will get one last chance to watch Cameron Reddish and Indiana commit Jake Forrester, as Westtown goes up against Sidwell Friends.
The full schedule, with start times for all 19 games, can be found at www.slamdunktothebeach.com.
The Delaware Sports Commission has once again brought aboard Position Sports Inc., a national sports marketing company, to manage all event operations. Position Sports has worked with many of the world’s leading brands, including current clients Nike, Jordan Brand, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and USA Basketball.
For more information on the tournament, follow @SlamDunkToBeach on Twitter and Facebook at Slam Dunk To The Beach.