5 Things with Josh Tec: Bob Gibbons Anticipation
One of the biggest, most historic platforms in AAU basketball is on the horizon. This weekend, the Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions returns and promises to provide some of travel ball’s best action. Suwanee Sports Academy has been home to some great Gibbons moments in its modern incarnation, and this weekend will be another installment in that lineage.
Because I can’t contain my brain, I have to pour some of what has me so excited for this event on the page for y’all. Since the lineup and schedule dropped, I’ve probably looked it over no less than 100 times. It hasn’t even been two days yet.
Before we get too deep into the weeds, I wanted to let the boss, JY, delve into what makes Gibbons different. He’s been around for a lot of them dating back to the days when it was held at Cameron Indoor, so his perspective is a valuable one.
“We’ve seen a pivot in the way grassroots basketball is played with the increase of showcase games instead of a traditional bracket-style weekend event. Showcase games are great, and they give you a lot of scheduling flexibility. However, there is just something different about a bracket that brings out the very best competitors. Survive and advance has been and will always be the great separator in debate. I love a winner and the Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions celebrates that more than any other event in grassroots basketball.”
Now, here are five things that I’m most anticipating this weekend:
1. HSA Standings
One of my favorite parts of the last few weeks has been analyzing and following the HoopSeen Association Standings. It’s one of the coolest new features we’ve added. As a KenPom obsessive, I enjoy having an algorithm-based ranking for our association. After each weekend, I love to pour over the new data.
After the smoke clears and the dust settles, what will the HSA standings look like after the weekend? All of the teams vying for their respective top spots will be in action this weekend, so there will undoubtedly be shake-ups to discuss next week.
As things currently stand, the Atlanta Allstars lead the 17U division, Team Wall sits atop 16U, and 1of1 Elite is No. 1 in 15U. Will these squads remain on their thrones at the start of next week? I’m itching to find out.
2. The Hot Name
This is one of the AAU events that can catapult a player onto a different level. A great Gibbons outing can turn an unknown into a commodity. It can turn an established prospect into being discussed among the best in their class. We’ve seen it happen on an annual basis.
Last year a name that comes to mind is Ernest Udeh. He was a well-regarded prospect prior to Gibbons, but—to me at least—his overwhelming dominance at Gibbons helped set the stage for the rise that he saw throughout the remainder of the summer. Who’s that guy going to be this year?
It’s tough to predict this type of thing. We try to do it every year with the NCAA Tournament, and we’re all inevitably off. This is something that has to just occur in an organic way. That’s what makes it fun. It’s a surprise.
3. Young Guns
In the same vein, Gibbons is always an event that promises a strong crop of younger players. From 16U below, you can find gems for the future. I think back to last year when I got to see the Atlanta Celtics’ 2024 group. At that time, I hadn’t delved too deep into that class because they were so young, but the promise they all showed was undeniable. I thought the same in regards to guys like Marvel Allen and Carl Cherefant. They were out of my general geographic region, but they made statements at Gibbons that planted them firmly on my radar.
This year, we’ve seen the underclass divisions show loads of potential. Frankly, 16U and below have been so much fun to follow this spring. I’ve already filled my notes with a ton of new names from the younger divisions, and I know that I’ll have more to add after Gibbons.
I’ll be starting my weekend off with 16U action on Friday night, and I can’t wait.
4. Surprise Run
It’s always fun to see a team get hot and go on an unexpected tear through a tournament like this. Last year, Jacari Lane helped lead Alabama Fusion to a 17U championship appearance. While they ultimately came up short against the Ernest-Udeh, Ven-Allen-Lubin led Southeast Elite juggernaut, their run was one that nobody projected going into the weekend. For that matter, nobody expected Southeast Elite to be as dominant as they were either.
Who has a run in them this year? I’m not daring enough to make a prediction yet, but I can’t wait to see who does it and how it unfolds.
5. Matchup Buzz
Finally, nothing beats watching a bracket of this caliber shape up in real-time. I know that the HoopSeen team will be abuzz when certain matchups start to come into realization. Someone will watch a major upset or see two high-level teams win games that pit them against each other in the ensuing round, and they’ll send out a text about it that has the rest of the team’s thumbs moving in hyper speed in reply.
One set-in-stone game that I’m already eager to see is a 16U game to kick off the weekend between Team Mookie and Team Curry on Friday night. I’ll be there and locked in for that one. Team Mookie has been among the best in the 16U and 15U divisions so far this season, so I’m excited to see how their 16U team matches up against a program with the esteem of Team Curry.