It’s nothing new that Las Vegas is considered the hub of summer basketball, but now the prep tournaments here are more important than ever.
Because of an NCAA rule change that went into effect last August, young prospects are counting on getting maximum exposure in the adidas Super 64, the Reebok Summer Championships, the StarVision Center Stage Tournament and VisionSports’ The Main Event.
Thousands of high school players and hundreds of college coaches have arrived for the four events, which run through Sunday. The tournaments begin Wednesday except for the Summer Championships, which start Thursday.
The summer circuit in July became more important this year after the NCAA decided in April 2008 to eliminate the live evaluation period in the spring. That meant college coaches could no longer scout potential recruits in April unless at a scholastic event.
“It puts a ton of importance on July,” Las Vegas Prospects coach Anthony Brown said. “We usually only play in two tournaments in July. (This year) we’ve played in everything that’s been sanctioned because (colleges) can only listen to Internet scouts so much before they finally have to see the kids themselves.”
When the Prospects begin play in the adidas Super 64, it will be their fifth event — and most important — this month.
“It’s the only month (coaches) can really see us, so it makes it a little more competitive,” said Prospects point guard Johnathan Loyd, who will be a senior at Bishop Gorman High School this fall.
Prospects guard Chris McCall said the rule change made July more significant, but he doesn’t feel added pressure.
“It makes it a lot more important,” said McCall, who will be a senior at Cheyenne. “Not too much pressure, per se. It just makes you want to get better every time out.”
The Prospects are among the more notable local teams, having helped churn out current college players such as UNR’s Luke Babbitt, Colorado State’s Andre McFarland, Creighton’s P’Allen Stinnett and San Diego State’s Billy White.
Brown said this year’s 17s squad will be led by the 5-foot-8-inch Loyd, who has scholarship offers from Northern Arizona and Weber State.
“We call him ‘Coach Loyd,’ ” Brown said. “He goes so hard. He blocks shots at his height, he gets the loose ball. I love that kid.”
The Super 64 field is highlighted by defending champion Grassroots Canada Elite, which features Findlay Prep forward Tristan Thompson and guard Cory Joseph.
Thompson has orally committed to Texas. Joseph is one of the top uncommitted players in the nation. Both are ranked among the top 12 in the class of 2010 by Rivals.com.
Local entrants this week include Las Vegas Dogcatchers Elite (Super 64), Las Vegas Blue Devils (Center Stage), Vegas Rebels (Center Stage) and Mad Moves Inc. Basketball (The Main Event).
Though the 136-team field in the Reebok Summer Championships includes no teams from Nevada, the event has at least three high-profile local prospects in the class of 2010.
Palo Verde forward Moses Morgan will play for I-Can All-Stars, Findlay Prep post Godwin Okonji for Belmont Shore and Centennial guard Ben Vozzola for Branch West.
The Super 64 is headquartered at Rancho High School and will be held at eight sites.
Eleven sites will host the Center Stage Tournament, headquartered at UNLV.
The Reebok Summer Championships will be headquartered at Foothill High and held at six sites.
The Main Event, held at 12 sites, is headquartered at Canyon Springs High.
For schedules and results, go to adidassuper64.com, starvisionsports.com (Center Stage), ballercircuit.com (Reebok Summer Championships) and visionsports.com (The Main Event).