Every year during the spring, teams from all over the southeast, both sponsored and non-sponsored make the trip to Suwanee Sports Academy for the Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions. Every year, this tournament has gotten larger and larger, with this year’s field looking to make a statement.
The event is a rare opportunity to provide a stage where all teams are welcome to compete at a high-level and on a national stage.
“After we went on a tour of all three show company events last weekend in Indiana and Kentucky, I am excited for what the Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions is," HoopSeen.com's Justin Young said.
"We have a chance to see teams from every shoe circuit and non-sponsored teams in one giant bracket. This tournament is one of the few events that bring everyone together. In today’s grassroots game, I think there are a lot of programs that welcome and want that. I’m glad we can service the youth basketball in that regard."
A couple of those shoe company teams for the 17U division include the Georgia Stars, Stackhouse Elite, Southern Stampede, Florida Elite, Elfrid Payton Elite, Game Elite, Atlanta Celtics, Upward Stars, and Atlanta Xpress.
However, HoopSeen events this year have also seen their far share of non-shoe-sponsored teams that will be looking to make a name for themselves.
“The best part of the Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions is watching talent, not reputation, rise to the top. A non-shoe company team won the tournament last year. The SC Raptors Elite won it in impressive fashion," Young said. "I’m a big believer that the talent gap between those who are sponsored and those who are not isn’t all that big. We see that every year here at Gibbons."
With the stage set for a number of different teams with all kinds of talent, here are a few players in the 17U Division that could be difference makers at this year’s Gibbons:
Wendell Carter, Georgia Stars: Carter has separated himself as a contender for the top player in the class of 2017 with his play this spring. The Stars big man could have a huge weekend ahead of him, and could be poised for a weekend that goes down in the Gibbons memories.
Jacara Cross, Douglas Bros: This year, the HoopSeen staff had close eyes on Cross, who did not disappoint. The 2016 Cedar Grove forward was great all year long, and his spring included a great showing at the Norman Parker Showcase.
Preston Parks, SC Raptors Elite: Parks has some tough shoes to fill as the Raptors’ point guard. Last year, Juwan Evans was the MVP of the Gibbons and led his team to the championship. Parks is more than capable of elevating his name with his play this weekend.
Keon Clergeot, Florida Elite: Florida Elite always seems to bring great guards to Suwanee Sports Academy to showcase themselves. Clergeot could be the next guard in that line, as the point man can fill it up in a hurry.
Trent Frazier, Wellington Wolves: Frazier was one of the top performers of the Atlanta Jam back in the first April live period. The 2017 point guard’s play earned him multiple new offers as well as high major looks. He could be one to keep a close eye on the Gibbons.
Javien Williams, Birmingham Storm: Williams was another top performer at the Atlanta Jam. Coming into the event, he had very little recruiting to speak of, but he left the weekend with coaches buzzing about his play. He has a chance to keep his buzz going at Gibbons.
De’Jon Jarreau, Elfrid Payton Elite: On out trip through the shoe company events, we got to see Jarreau in Lexington at the EYBL circuit stop. Jarreau is a big guard who will be a nightmare to match up with. He will be a fun one to see at Gibbons.
Zep Jasper, Southern Stampede: The Laney point guard entertained the HoopSeen staff in big games all year during the high school season. Despite Stampede having a rough time this spring, so not count them out at Gibbons with guards like Jasper.
Robert Baker, Game Elite: Baker has been one of the hottest prospects all spring, earning him a number of high major offers from power conference schools. His length and versatility could prove to be a problem for opponents.
Jordan Lyons, Heat Check: Lyons played some standout ball over the first live period earning him a handful of new offers in a matter of days. The 2016 super shooter will fill it up as he always does. We will see if Heat Check can make a run on his shoulders.
Kamar Baldwin, Atlanta Celtics: With a lot of elite level national players, Baldwin quietly does his thing for the Celtics, producing big time. We have been big fans of his game for some time, and he could be a name to remember at Gibbons.
Niko Oliver, Florida Tarheels: Another name we learned at Atlanta Jam, Oliver has seen a big boost in recruitment with his play this spring. His elite level guard play should be a great fit for the big stage of Bob Gibbons.
De’riante Jenkins, Upward Stars: Upward Stars is another team that always shows out at SSA and at past Gibbons tournaments. This year, they will be led by Jenkins, who will be one of the better athletes in the field.
Davion Mintz, Charlotte Nets: Mintz is a guard who has good size and can score the ball at an elite level. The North Mecklenburg product is a well known commodity in North Carolina, and it will be exciting to get a look at him this weekend.