February 24, 2020

Teams for 2019 Cayman Islands Classic Basketball Tournament announced


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Caymax Sports Ltd., organisers of the Cayman Islands Classic Basketball Tournament, today announced the eight US college teams that will compete in the third annual tournament scheduled for 25 to 27 November at the John Gray Gymnasium. Loyola-Chicago, Nebraska, New Mexico State, Old Dominion and University of South Florida – five teams which advanced to 2019 post-season play – will headline the event along with Colorado State, George Mason and Washington State.

New Mexico State and Old Dominion advanced to the 2019 NCAA Tournament, while Loyola of Chicago and Nebraska played in the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) and South Florida captured the 2019 College Basketball Invitational championship.

“We’re thrilled that our Tournament Director Maury Hanks has put together another competitive tournament, featuring several teams that college basketball fans will be hearing about during the upcoming season,” said Caymax President Victor ‘Voot’ O’Garro. “The Cayman Islands Classic is gaining a strong reputation. Coaches who have played here in the last two tournaments continue to talk about the warm Cayman Islands hospitality and how well organised the event is. We plan to build on that momentum.”

“The Cayman Islands has earned a reputation for being a premier destination for sporting events and I am very pleased that we will once again have the opportunity to host the prestigious CI Classic for the 3rd consecutive year,” said Hon. Moses Kirkconnell, Minister for District Administration, Tourism & Transport. “This tournament brings some of the leading US Men’s College Basketball teams to our shores and also delivers significant economic and promotional benefits to our Island. Last year over a billion active users were able to tune in via Facebook’s extensive streaming network, providing the Cayman Islands with tremendous global exposure.”

He added, “As well as providing excellent facilities at the John Gray gymnasium, we look forward to extending our unique brand of Caymankindness to the visiting teams to ensure their time with us will be productive and memorable.”

New Mexico State has a rich basketball tradition having played in the NCAA Tournament eight times in the past 10 years, including the last three consecutively. Behind head coach Chris Jans, the Aggies are the two-time defending Western Athletic Conference regular season and post-season tournament champion. They are also coming off a school-record 30-4 overall mark this past season.

Old Dominion posted a 25-6 record en route to winning the Conference USA regular-season and tournament titles while advancing to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2011. Guard Xavier Green, the C-USA tournament most valuable player, is among the top returning players. Jeff Jones just concluded his sixth year as head coach of the Monarchs being named the Conference USA Coach of the Year. During his 27 years as a collegiate coach Jones has taken teams to the NCAA Tournament eight times, including previous stints at Virginia and American.

Loyola of Chicago is the two-time defending Missouri Valley Conference regular season champion under coach Porter Moser. The Ramblers’ run to the NCAA Final Four in 2018 was one of the great college basketball stories of this decade en route to posting a school-record 32-6 mark. Junior centre Cameron Krutwig, who finished third in the Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year balloting, will lead the Ramblers fortunes this upcoming season.

South Florida is looking to ride the momentum from this past season when it posted a school record 24 victories (24-14 mark), which was the top improvement turnaround in the NCAA winning 14 more games than in 2017-18. Second-year head coach Brian Gregory has three top players to continue the Bulls’ rise in the American Athletic Conference headed by junior guard David Collins, who was named the most valuable player in the College Basketball Invitational.

South Florida guard Laquincy Rideau set a league single-season record with 101 steals and was one of three players in the NCAA with 100 assists and 100 steals. Forward Alexis Yetna was named the American Athletic Conference Freshman of the Year after averaging 12.3 points and a school freshman record 9.6 rebounds.

Nebraska and Washington State are opening new chapters in programme history with first-year coaches Fred Hoiberg and Kyle Smith, respectively. Hoiberg inherits a Nebraska programme that went 19-17 this past season while advancing to the second round of the NIT. He led Iowa State to four NCAA Tournaments from 2010-15, including a trip to the Sweet 16 in 2014, before becoming head coach of the NBA’s Chicago Bulls from 2015-18.

George Mason, under coach Dave Paulsen, posted an 18-15 record this past season while winning the most conference games (11) since joining the Atlantic 10 Conference in 2013-14. Senior guard Justin Kier, named the Atlantic 10 Most Improved Player, will be the Patriots’ top returning player after leading the team in scoring (14.2 avg.) and rebounding (7.6 avg.) while earning all-league honours.

Colorado State, under the guidance of second-year coach Niko Medved, is led by 6-foot 11-inch senior centre Nico Carvacho, who ranked No. 1 in the NCAA in rebounding this past season with a 13.2 average. Carvacho earned U.S. Basketball Writers Association All-District honours as well as first-team All-Mountain West Conference honours, while being named to the league’s All-Defensive Team.

Kyle Smith was named the new head coach at Washington State on 27 March after a successful coaching tenure at San Francisco where he guided the Dons to three straight 20-plus victory campaigns. Forward CJ Elleby, who was named to the Pac-12 All-Freshman Team after averaging 14.7 points and 7.1 rebounds, is among the top returnees for the upcoming season for the Cougars.

Participating coaches are eager to play in the Cayman Islands Classic which has quickly become one of the top pre-season college basketball tournaments.

“We are very excited about participating in the Cayman Islands Classic,” said Nebraska head coach Fred Hoiberg. “I have spoken with multiple coaches who played in the tournament in recent years and all have said it is a first-class event held in a beautiful location. We believe this will be a tremendous experience for our team and our fans.”

“The Cayman Islands Classic is without a doubt one of the nation’s premier holiday tournaments,” said Old Dominion head coach Jeff Jones. “Maury Hanks has put together an extremely competitive field and we are thrilled to be a part of it. Visiting the Cayman Islands and enjoying the world class beaches and hotels will be a great treat for our team and fans.”

“We are thrilled to be a part of the Cayman Islands Classic,” added South Florida head coach Brian Gregory. “It has quickly grown into a premiere early season event. We are excited to be a part of such a high-quality field.”

For more information about the Cayman Islands Classic visit www.caymanislandsclassic.com or email Coach Voot O’Garro at [email protected].

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