May 23, 2006

Maddux: Memorial Day camp could help VU recruiting

The reach of Hurricane Katrine has extended to Nashville, as this weekend the Music City will host the Nike Memorial Day Classic. Because of the horrific impact of Katrina last summer, Nike made the decision to move the event. One of the cities that aggressively sought to get on Nike's short list was Nashville.

When Nike put the word out that it was interested in relocating the MDC, Tennessee Travelers coach Charlie Benson immediately started to rally his troops to bring the tournament to Nashville. One of his first phone calls was to Maddux, who gladly offered his time and connections throughout the city to present a competitive hosting bid.

"Charlie Benson, my old AAU coach, asked me to help him," said Maddux to "It was relocating from New Orleans after the Hurricane Katrina devistation down there. Nike was looking for a place to have the tournament, and they looked at several cities. With the Travelers being here as one of the showcase Nike teams, Charlie put in a bid to do it."

When Nike came to town to kick the tires, Maddux and his team rolled out the red carpet. "I had (George) Plaster meet with them. I had (VU color commentator) Tim Thompson help because of his Nike background. Plaster because of the radio show to help support them., which is the leader in recruiting coverage, ended up playing a big part in landing the tournament for Music City. Based in Brentwood, a southern suburb of Nashville,'s senior leadership spent considerable time with the Nike brass to convince them that the city had what it takes to host the elite tournament. We had Shannon (Terry) at Rivals offer his involvement," said Maddux. "They were extremely supportive in convincing Nike to pick Nashville."

Elite prospects heading to Nashville
The landing of the MDC can hardly be overestimated in terms of its impact on Nashville's growing prominence on the national sports scene. "It's huge for the city and it's big for a lot of different reasons," said Maddux to "You think of all the players who have played here over the years, it's a who's who of college basketball."

Who's who, and how. According to Maddux, the Memorial Day Classic will bring most of the best high school basketball recruits in the nation to Nashville. "You'll see the best players high school players in the country play in Nashville that weekend," said Maddux.

In all, 88 traveling teams from all across the nation will compete in the Memorial Day tournament. More than 1200 kids will compete in the event, which features three age brackets: 17-under, 16-under and 15-under. In the 17-under bracket, which features 44 teams, the courts will be stocked with many of the top prospects in the 2006-07 recruiting class.

The Memorial Day Classic is one of three "high profile" camps Nike holds. "The Peach Jam is the elite 17 and under tournament, then they have the Nike All-American camp and this one," said Maddux.

The tournament has quickly become one of the best opportunities for basketball fans to see the best up-and-coming AAU players, many who will sign scholarships with Division 1 programs this fall. "You have the top Nike teams, which obviously have the top Nike players that are 17 and under."

Unlike many of the summer tournaments, the Memorial Day Classic is closed to all college coaches. All games are open to the public, however, which gives fans a front row seat to watch the future stars of the college and professional basketball world.

Last year, 12 of the top 30 players in the nation competed in the Nike Memorial Day Classic, including #5 Brandan Wright (committed to North Carolina), #3 Thaddeus Young (Georgia Tech), #2 Kevin Durant (Texas) and #8 Spencer Hawes (Washington).

"This is one of those events that is truly for the love of the game," said Maddux. "We're hoping to have some community leaders come and speak from a life skills standpoint, and make it not just a basketball event. Rivals will stand behind this event very strongly. We're excited about it!"

Huge opportunity for Nashville
The opportunity to host a Nike tournament is unprecedented for the city of Nashville, which worked quickly to put in an aggressive bid to win the tournament. According to Maddux, it was the combination of local support, appropriate venues, hotel and airport facilities, and volunteer help that got Nike's attention.

"Nashville made sense because of the city's proximity for travel, and the convention bureau is excellent," he said. "You've got to have great facilities, you have to have a good airport, and you have to have a lot of hotels. Nashville really stepped up and provided that."

More than anything, a large number of available state-of-the-art basketball courts played a big role in winning the MDC. With the brand new Ensworth School as the "headquarter court," Nashville was able to offer a wide rangs of options that no other city could match. "Nike is big on it being a Nike experience," said Maddux. "Nike saw that facility with the main gym and thought that was definitely a Nike experience. You have to have facilities. It can't be at a Joe Blow community center."

Ensworth alone wouldn't have been enough to woo Nike, however. With 12 pools, and three different tournament age brackets, the event required three accessible sites, with several adjacent courts. "Lipscomb and FRA really stepped up as well," said Maddux. Franklin Road Academy is hosting the 15-under tournament. Lipscomb is co-hosting the 16-under tournament with Ensworth.

Potential VU recruit Hummel scheduled to play Saturday morning
One prominent recruit scheduled to participate in the MDC is Robbie Hummel, who plays for the SYF Players AAU team out of Indianapolis, IN. Hummel, a 6-8 200-pound shooting forward from Valparaiso, has received a scholarship offer from Vanderbilt, as well as Indiana, Purdue, Iowa, Valpo, North Carolina State, Xavier and Ohio State, among many others.

SYF is scheduled to compete in Pool N in the 17-under Division, which also includes the D.C. Blue Devils and Mean Streets Express AAU teams. Hummel and his teammates will tip of their first game of the MDC on Saturday against Mean Streets at 10:30 a.m. on Ensworth's Court 4. Mean Streets features 6-4 guard Derrick Rose, a 5-star prospect who has offers from Arizona, Illinois, DePaul, Louisville, Memphis, North Carolina, Virginia, Kansas and many others.

VU could get direct benefit from Nashville's hosting
Though the MDC is a closed event -- meaning, college coaches are not allowed to watch any games -- there's no doubt the appearance of the tournament in Nashville could be a huge plus for Kevin Stallings and the VU basketball program.

Often when Vanderbilt tries to recruit the elite prospects from across the nation, most have little to no concept of where the school is located or what Nashville is really like. With so many of the top recruits coming to Nashville -- and many for the first time -- the Memorial Day Classic provides a completely unique opportunity for recruits to experience Vanderbilt's home town atmosphere close up and first hand.

"This is a big deal for Vanderbilt," said Maddux, who said that even though Stallings can't attend the tournament, he can certainly host recruits on "unofficial visits" to the Vandy campus. Reportedly, several potential Vandy recruits plan to do just that, including Hummel.

Tournament schedule and format

Friday, May 26, 2006
Team Arrivals
Team Registration
Coaches Meeting

Saturday, May 27, 2006
Tournament Action
15U - Franklin Road Academy
16U - Ensworth Middle School & Lipscomb High School
17U - Ensworth High School
Off-site event for athletes

Sunday, May 28, 2006
Tournament Action
15U - Franklin Road Academy
16U - Ensworth Middle School & Lipscomb High School
17U - Ensworth High School

Monday, May 29, 2006
Tournament Action
15U - Franklin Road Academy
16U - Ensworth Middle School & Lipscomb High School
17U - Ensworth High School

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