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City of Palms Classic cancelled

Pandemic shuts down premier high school basketball tournament

By CJ HADDAD - | Oct 8, 2020

For the first time in its 48-year history, there will be no City of Palms Classic played on the hardwood this year.

Organizers with what is possibly the most high-profile high school basketball tournament in the country came to the decision to look towards next year due to COVID-19.

“Because of health and safety concerns, officials for the Culligan City of Palms Classic have decided to cancel to 2020 high school basketball tournament, which was scheduled to be played Dec. 18-23 at Suncoast Credit Union Arena on the campus of Florida SouthWestern State College,” read a release from the tournament Wednesday.

“Tournament organizers had been preparing several contingency plans, all with the safety and well-being of players, fans and officials in mind. However, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, organizers decided this week that the best plan of action was to cancel the tournament for 2020 and look toward 2021.”

Powerhouse Montverde Academy was set to defend its title and headline a field of what was to be another year of exceptional high school basketball programs and talent. Lehigh Senior High School was also to compete in the Sunshine Series and the Hugh Thimlar Trophy, which it took home last year in the inaugural bracket of the tournament.

“This was without a doubt the toughest decision we have ever had to make regarding the nation’s top high school basketball tournament,” said tournament executive director John Naylor in a release. “With the health of the teams and fans our number one priority, we had to make this decision. We know how much people across the nation – and especially in Lee County – look forward to this great event each year, and we know the 2021 version will be viewed with high anticipation.”

Since the tournament began in 1973, more than 530 players have gone on to play NCAA Division I basketball. More than 140 players from the tournament have eventually worn an NBA uniform, including Tyreke Evans, John Wall, Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving Joel Embiid, LaMarcus Aldridge and Andrew Wiggins. At the start of the 2019-2020 season, 75 players on NBA rosters (more than 15%) had played in the classic.

In the 2019 NBA Drat, three City of Palms alumni were selected in the top-10 and five in the first round.

For more information, visit www.cityofpalmsclassic.com.

— Connect with this reporter on Twitter: @haddad_cj