by RANDY SMITH
High school basketball players from both New Providence and Grand Bahama will be afforded the opportunity of a lifetime this weekend when they get the chance to perform in front of the biggest name currently in Bahamian basketball.
The inaugural Buddy Hield Invitational is being put on by MAD Events and is set for Saturday at 11 a.m. at the Kendall Isaacs National Gymnasium.
Hield, who was selected by the Pelicans with the sixth pick in the first round of the National Basketball Association (NBA) draft, was recently awarded an ESPY for Best Male College Athlete and is looking to give back to the community on his first trip back home since being drafted.
The 6’4” wingman from Grand Bahama led the Oklahoma Sooners to a Final Four appearance in his senior seasion. He averaged 25 points and five rebounds per game and finished his career as the school’s second leading scorer all time.
The single day tournament will feature 20 of the nation’s top high school basketball players going head to head for the chance to be crowned as champions of the historic event.
Hield will coach one team while Jay Phillipe; head coach of the Sunland Stingers coaches the other. There will also be a $10,000 scholarship awarded to the tournament’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) by MAD Events.
“We’re going to have Team Elite go up against Team Alpha for the chance to be crowned as champions of the first ever Buddy Hield Invitational,” said MAD Events CEO Tamar Pinder. “The kids playing were selected based on statistics and we expect some tough competition on the court. Buddy also said that he’s bringing some surprise guests along with him as well, so we’re all looking forward to that.” Along with the All-Star Game, action on the court also includes the 3-point shootout and the High Flyer’s slam-dunk contest.
“There was a lot of trash talking going on between me and Buddy these last few days about whose team is going to come out on top,” said Phillipe on the invitational. “It’s truly an amazing platform; It’s a chance for the elite players to be recognized for the work that they put in during the season and also a chance for them to go up against the best of the best.”
A wide cross section of players invited to the event will include local players abroad like Sebastian Gray of Sunrise Christian Academy and Livingston Bromwell of Ridley College; the GSSSA, Hugh Campbell and National Championship MVP Corey Sands of CC Sweeting, Adam Johnson of the BAISS champion Prince William Falcons, the dynamic backcourt of Franco Miller Jr and Janeko Russell of the Tabernacle Baptist Falcons and Phillipe’s own Kaleel Solomon and Romero Cornish of the Sunland Baptist Stingers.
Ticket prices for the invitational are $10 for adults and $5 for kids. Although the invitational is the crown jewel of the weekend, MAD events is also hosting a number of other events to allow Hield to meet some of his fans around the island.
On Thursday, July 21, there will be a meet and greet fundraiser at Sapodilla Fine Dining restaurant that kicks off at 8 p.m. Those looking to RSVP for this are asked to call 327-2161. On Friday, Hield will sign autographs in the Marathon Mall beginning at 4 p.m. and on Saturday night, MAD Events is hosting the MAD House Party with Buddy Hield at Mario’s Bowling Alley and Entertainment Palace. Tickets will be available as of Tuesday at the Royal Spa, Signature Styles and Airbrush Junkies.
“This is just a celebration for Buddy and all that he’s done,” Pinder added. “We invite everyone to come out and support someone who loves The Bahamas and represents it everywhere he goes.”
Public Relations coordinator for the event Gandhi Pinder added: “Buddy is extremely humble; he loves his country and is very excited about this opportunity to share his story, talents and passion for the game with our ‘future stars.’ He will spend 4 days in Nassau and continue with a clinic in Freeport that runs until the 30th of July. He is looking forward to connecting with his fellow Bahamians.”
Those seeking more information on this weekend’s event are asked to email firstname.lastname@example.org call 646-0867, 445-5714 557-2511 and check out The Buddy Hield Project Bahamas on Facebook. A number of entities have come on board to sponsor the event including The Ministry of Tourism, The Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, Bank of The Bahamas, Bamboo Shack, Digi Print, CBL Bahamas, Super Club Breezes, Bahari, Going Places Travel, Success and Enemies, Royal Spa, KO Productions, J.S. Johnson, Sun All Bahamas Sapodilla Estate, Club One Fitness Center, Gippy’s Printing and Captured Ambitions.