BRISTOL, Va. — Virginia High athletic director Brad Harper and VHS girls basketball coach Kevin Timmons have been on a two-year search mission.
The payoff will come Jan. 20-22 with the latest edition of the FriendshipCars.com FCA Prep Showcase at the Bearcat Den.
“Kevin and I have put a lot of work into this event, and we’re grateful for the opportunity,” Harper said. “With the Arby’s Classic in Bristol, Tennessee, and this Prep Showcase in Bristol, Virginia, we’re giving local fans some high-quality boys basketball.”
Before last year’s Prep Showcase was canceled due to COVID, Timmons said he already had an agreement from Oak Hill Academy and was in talks with the coaches from IMG Academy (Bradenton, Florida) and La Lumiere from La Porte, Indiana. Both teams are currently ranked among the top 10 in national polls.
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“Oh, man, we had some real draws,” Timmons said. “We’ve lost a couple teams this year, but the basics are the same.”
Oak Hill, the longtime Bearcat Den favorite, will be unable to compete due to its involvement in the new eight-team National Interscholastic Basketball League. The No. 16 OHA Warriors defeated No. 17 Wasatch Academy on Thursday afternoon in the opening round of the nationally televised La Porte Invitational.
What teams and players will be featured at the Bearcat Den later this month?
“It’s hard to single out a headliner,” Timmons said. “We’ve got an interesting mix of national, regular and local powers.”
The top matchup is scheduled for the Saturday session on Jan. 22 when defending Virginia High School League Class 2 runner-up East Rockingham will face the defending West Virginia Class AA runner-up Poca Dots from Putnam County.
Poca features 6-foot-3 guard Isaac McKneely, a University of Virginia recruit who was selected as the West Virginia player of the year last season.
East Rockingham relies on Tyler Nickel, a 6-7 small forward who has signed with North Carolina.
“We put a lot of work into putting that matchup together, and we love it,” Harper said.
Moravian Prep (Hudson, North Carolina) features former Grundy playmaker Hamilton Campbell along with brothers Eli and Isaac Ellis.
“Moravian is one of the best teams, if not the best, in North Carolina this year,” Timmons said. “Campbell is playing out of his mind, and the Ellis brothers are eighth and ninth graders who have no fear.”
Timmons is also high on Winston-Salem Prep, Hamilton Heights Christian Academy (Chattanooga), Ohio’s ISA Osborne Academy and Southwest Academy from London, Ontario, Canada.
Winston-Salem Prep is led by 6-3 guard Quante Berry, who has committed to play at Providence.
Regional powers include Southwest District favorite Graham, Mountain 7 District favorite Abingdon, Eastside, Sullivan East and Radford.
“We added more local teams to help with attendance,” Harper said.
According to Harper, VHS officials intended to bring in 2021 West Virginia Class AAA state champ Shady Spring.
“Shady Spring ran into an issue with scheduling, so we had to make some adjustments. But all the schools and coaches have been great to work with,” Harper said. “This is a chance to for us to show off our venue and hospitality.”
The large field also has Holston, Virginia High, Twin Valley, Narrows, Carolina Basketball Academy, Blue Ridge and Princeton, West Virginia.
“Fans can see lot of quality basketball, established programs and college-bound players,” Timmons said.
A leader of the Big Shots Elite Tri-Cities basketball program, Timmons has contacts throughout prep basketball and is a master of networking.
“This is one of the largest and most diverse fields we’ve had,” Timmons said. “Our goal is to make the Prep Showcase bigger and better every year. We think fans will like what they see this year.”
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