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In the past, the spring months were a relatively quiet time for travel programs. Clubs were merely prepping for the summer events when the college coaches would be in the stands. That is now changing in Florida, where two tournaments are building strong reputations.
The FGB Spring Showcase, which has been run by Kenny Kalina of Florida Girls Basketball for the past four years, will be played at Florida Southern College in Lakeland on the weekend of April 6-7. On May 24-26, Miguel Diaz and the Miami Suns program will host the Miami Suns Memorial Day Classic at Palm Beach Atlantic and Northwood University.
The FGB Spring Showcase has grown every year since its inception, and this year Kalina will have 40 teams. The youngest division in the tournament will be for eighth graders.
“We aren’t looking to have a huge number of teams. We are looking to put together a really good event,” Kalina said. “I think we’ve had success because we can provide teams with great competition, and we get very good media coverage from people like Bret McCormick at All Star Girls Report.”
The media will be on hand to scout the talent, and a number of top prospects come from Kalina’s FGB program. Perhaps the biggest draw is Jonell Williams, a 6-2 forward from the Class of 2015. Williams, who already has an offer from Florida, is rated as the No. 72 prospect in her class by ASGR. FGB also relies on a pair of veteran guards from the 2014 Class. Dominique Simpson is rated at No. 74 by ASGR, while Sha’quoia Crockett is listed at No. 67. A final FGB player to watch is 2015 guard Kiara Desamours, who is “about to blow up” according to Kalina.
In addition to the FGB squad, the Spring Showcase will highlight the Miami Suns Fowles and Peak Performance National out of Atlanta.
In May, the Suns expect to host 48 teams for their Memorial Day Classic. Suns program director Miguel Diaz believes the tournaments give everyone a great opportunity to shine, especially the younger players.
“Our event gives the clubs in the state a chance to play in a good tournament without hurting their travel budget. Most of the clubs need their travel money for July,” Diaz said. “The other thing our event does is it gives the young players a chance to shine for the first time. We give the talented young players a chance to get some experience against quality competition before they are on the stage in front of the coaches in July.”
The competition at the Memorial Day Classic will be highlighted by Diaz’s six Miami Sun teams. They will battle several top-flight in-state foes, including FGB, Central Florida Elite, East Tampa Thunder, Florida Flight and the Orlando Yellow Jackets; as well as highly-regarded out of state programs such as the Memphis Tri-State Elite and the Ring City out of the New York City metro area.
The addition of “outside” programs is an exciting development for the event.
“This is growing into something that has a chance to be very big,” Diaz said. “Some of those clubs see a chance to come to South Florida and visit the beaches and other attractions. Once you start bringing in some of those programs, other programs want to follow because of your competition level.”