by RENALDO DORSETT
WITH the stage set for the 2014 Battle 4 Atlantis, this year’s event will include eight of the top NCAA men’s basketball programmes and for the first time Bahamian players on the floor which should lead to one of the most successful editions to date.
The eight-team field will feature the North Carolina Tar Heels, Georgetown Hoyas, UCLA Bruins, Florida Gators, Wisconsin Badgers, Oklahoma Sooners, UAB Blazers and Butler Bulldogs.
The tournament tips off on Wednesday (November 26) when the Tar Heels will face the Bulldogs at 12pm.
The second game of the tournament should be of particular note to the Bahamian public as it will feature a matchup of Bahamian players competing for their respective universities in the B4A for the first time.
Buddy Hield and the Oklahoma Sooners will face Wannah Bail and the UCLA Bruins at 2pm.
For the Sooners, Hield is headed into his junior season as the team’s leading scorer and first round NBA draft prospect.
Hield finished the regular season ranked No.9 in the Big 12 in scoring at 16.8 points per game, second in steals at 1.5 per game, third in three-point field goals made at 2.8 per game and fourth in three-point percentage.
Wannah Bail enters his sophomore season with the UCLA Bruins after a lengthy recruiting process which took him all the way to the Canary Islands for a season.
While the top men’s NCAA basketball programmes will flock to Paradise Island during next month’s Thanksgiving Holiday, simultaneously, women’s NCAA basketball will take centre stage in the nation’s second city.
The 2014 Junkanoo Jam is slated to be hosted November 27-29 in Grand Bahama featuring eight elite schools.
The local Grand Bahamian community will have an opportunity to see its own home-grown talent in action as Jonquel Jones and the George Washington Colonials became the latest to join the field.
The Colonials will compete in the Freeport Division of the tournament, set to tip off at the St George’s Gymnasium.
It will be the Colonials’ fourth appearance at the Junkanoo Jam, the most of any Division I school in tournament history, with prior visits in 2003, 2005 and 2009. No other team has participated in more than three Junkanoo Jam tournaments (Arizona State, Florida, Kansas State, USC, Virginia).
“The Junkanoo Jam always features top-notch competition, and this year is no different with four teams that played in the NCAA Tournament,” said Colonials head coach Jonathan Tsipis on the school’s athletic website,
“We look forward to this early challenge in our schedule. We are also excited to be able to bring Jonquel Jones home and give her friends and family in Freeport a chance to see her play.”
This summer, Jones was a dominant force on the Bahamas’ national team which finished fifth at the Caribbean Basketball Confederation championships in July. She was the tournament’s second leading scorer when she averaged 17.2 points and led the field in rebounds with 14 per game.
In her sophomore season, Jones was named Atlantic 10 All-Conference honours when she was named to the second team. She averaged 15.7 points and 11.1 rebounds per game in her sophomore season to help the Colonials finish 23-11 overall and advance to the third round of the Women’s National Invitation Tournament (WNIT).
The North Carolina State Wolfpack, Purdue Boilermakers, and Texas Tech Red Raiders will also compete in the Freeport Division.