We’re going to make you care more about high school basketball than you ever have before. Ok, so maybe that won’t actually happen, but we’ll introduce you to some names and teams that may pique your interest for a week or so. The 35th edition of the Hugh Campbell Basketball Invitational tips off today and continues over the course of the next week at the AF Adderley Gymnasium to decide the top Senior Boys Basketball teams in the country. By now we know the drill, a double-elimination format until we get to the Pool Championships against the backdrop of a bracket that I’ll never understand, and at the end of it all we crown the top team in the country Monday night. This is too important for you to head into this week blindly, so let’s get prepared.


Ranking the Pools

One of the biggest points of contentions (and there are many…so very very many) in every edition of the tournament is the decision of the selection committee on the construction of the pools. For years the selection committee has been viewed as a nefarious conglomerate hell-bent on world domination…achieved somehow through deciding the path toward a local high school basketball tournament. Every coach, every pundit, every person with a passing interest in the tournament has criticized the committee for a myriad of things, but mostly for the greatest of all sins – being too Nassau centric.


Pool III

Every pool has their top two seeds expected to advance to the elite eight, in this case it’s the CI Gibson Rattlers and the Jack Hayward Wildcats. What makes Pool III the strongest is that third seed, the Jordan Prince William Falcons. The Rattlers looked like world beaters for much of the season until they ran into Anatol Rodgers in the GSSSA semis and lost back-to-back games for the first time all year.  The Wildcats reached the GBSSSA final, as did Prince Will in the BAISS, but both teams finished second in their respective leagues


Who To Watch

The Rattlers’ programme is traditionally powered by elite guards and this year’s team is no different. Tyrell Butler and Terrence Storr are arguably the best backcourt in the country, but the Rattlers lack size and depth in the front court. The Wildcats’ Jalen Hall is the driving force behind their offence but his supporting cast with Mickell Bethel and Clevon Clarke made the team one of the best in Grand Bahama. The Falcons’ roster is in a state of flux with several underclassmen who’ve acquired big game experience in this recent run and Quebel Martin asked to fill the void left by Adam Johnson. A pair of blowout losses in the BAISS championships has this team backpedaling into postseason tournament play.


Don’t Be Surprised If…

The best player from South Andros ends up in Nassau or Freeport next year, it’s pretty much a tradition.




Pool II

The defending champions on a path to repeat make this a strong pool all on their own. The Tabernacle Falcons just added the title in Grand Bahama to their resume and looked every bit the juggernaut in doing so. The Doris Johnson Mystic Marlins are perennial GSSSA contenders and were eliminated in the semifinals by the eventual champions this season.



Who To Watch

The entire Falcons team. Last year’s Hugh Campbell MVP, Franco Miller Jr, is now in prep school in Canada – but the remainder of the Falcons roster remains virtually unchanged. Joshua Dames is a sharpshooter that got valuable junior national team reps this summer, Desmond Butler and Alfredo Brown bring consistency and stability while Shyrone Kemp is going to try to dunk everything and on everyone. The 10YS team puts the over/under on the amount of bodies he catches in this tournament at five. The Mystic Marlins are another team that lost loads of talent but were able to rebuild with some key additions. Malachi McCoy is a freak athlete who can score in bunches but we’re still waiting on junior national team member and Eleuthera transplant Janus Shepherd to have his statement game.



Don’t Be Surprised If…

Tabby drops a 30-piece on several teams in this pool





Pool I

A year ago, this pool would have likely been the strongest in the field, but yesterday’s home runs won’t win today’s games. The Anatol Rodgers Timberwolves lost both Dominick Bridgewater and Davanno Whitfield but became the story of the GSSSA season when they pulled off the upset over the Rattlers to advance to the league finals. The St. George’s Jaguars, the defending champions are another one of those teams in the midst of a roster overhaul.



Who To Watch

Jayson McHardy stepped into a lead role and Andre Calvert is one of the country’s best shooters at the high school level. Kingcy Thompson is the only holdover from last year’s St. George’s team and the programme added two-sport  and junior national team member Christopher Johnson to their young supporting cast in a rebuild.



Don’t Be Surprised If…

People learn for the first time where Patrick J Bethel High School is actually located




Pool IV

The CC Sweeting Cobras may be peaking at the right time, which is the absolute most important thing about postseason play. In a single game sample size, anything is possible and superior talent doesn’t always win out. (Yes, I’m still salty about the 2015 Final Four. Yes, that was a shot clock violation on Nigel Hayes. No, I’ll never get over this). The Aquinas Aces are a very talented team across the board and finished in the Final Four of the BAISS semis but squandered a late fourth-quarter lead in the single-game elimination. The Sunland Stingers began the year well, travelling to tournaments in the US to increase their exposure but that success faltered over the course of the year and headed into the playoffs.



Who To Watch

The Cobras strength is on the wings with Marco Beckford, a polished scorer, and Brandon Strachan an improved three-point shooter late in the season who’s unorthodox game is trademarked by a floater no one can seem to stop. The Cobras also have a legitimate stretch-four in Cassius Turnquest, a rim protector who also has three-point range. The Aces are led by John Nixon, a versatile player that can score from all three levels and lighting quick floor general Jordan Freemantle while the Stingers will go as far as Joshua Cornish can take them.



Don’t Be Surprised If…

The Aces shake up the world (or just the people in this country with a passing interest in high school basketball) and advance to the final four. I have irrational confidence in this team and I need them to affirm my confirmation bias.




Who’s Not Here

The common narrative is that the BAISS is weak, the GSSSA and teams out of Grand Bahama are your title contenders, and that’s how we frame the inter-island rivalry. This is the year that the SAC Big Red Machine would have thrown a wrench in those plans. The talent disparity between the top teams in the BAISS and the GSSSA is not the traditional gap we’ve seen in the past and SAC may have been the most balanced team we’ve seen all season. They completed a two-game sweep over the Prince Will Falcons by an average of 21 points and would have been an intriguing matchup for anyone in this tournament, but we’ll have to wait until Nationals to see how this plays out.