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NOTES: Tarkanian Classic to feature future college stars — and maybe NBA prospects

Grant Rice is very measured with his comments and not prone to hyperbole.

So, when Bishop Gorman’s boys basketball coach uses a word like “guarantee” while discussing the upcoming Tarkanian Classic, it carries added weight.

“Some of these kids in two or three years, obviously, are going to be in college on ESPN,” said Rice, who doubles as the tournament’s co-director. “But then a few of them, I can guarantee two or three years down the road, there’s going to be some NBA players that are playing in the tournament this weekend.

“We just want people to come out and get that chance to watch some of these kids play.”

The fourth annual Tarkanian Classic, featuring 15 local boys teams, starts at noon Wednesday with games at Bishop Gorman and Faith Lutheran. This year’s event includes one 12-team and three 16-team high school brackets — up from three brackets last year — in addition to the prep school division.

The title game for the Platinum Division is scheduled for 6:20 p.m. Saturday at Gorman. The complete schedule, which also includes games at Desert Oasis, Heinrich YMCA and Orleans Arena (Friday), can be found at Nevadapreps.com.

“Definitely, it’s taken off,” Rice said. “It’s just been a lot of people that have wanted to get involved. They’ve seen it grow and have seen what good basketball it is, and they’ve seen what a good thing it is for the city of Las Vegas.”

UNLV fans can get a glimpse of the future as recruits Justin Jackson of The Hill Academy (Ontario) and Findlay Prep’s Carlos Johnson are expected to play this week.

The event also boasts four of Rivals.com’s top seven players in the class of 2017: Trevon Duval (No. 2) and Billy Preston (No. 6) of upstart Advanced Prep International (Texas); 6-foot-11-inch DeAndre Ayton (No. 4) of Hillcrest Prep (Ariz.); and Jarred Vanderbilt (No. 7) of Victory Prep (Texas).

In addition, the Tarkanian Classic added a nine-team girls division this year. The girls will play showcase games on Friday with tournament games taking place Saturday and Monday.

“We kind of talked about it last year, but it just didn’t work out,” Rice said. “A few of us got together … and we just decided, ‘Let’s make it happen.’ … Next year we plan on having at least two divisions of 16 in our girls tournament, and we’ve already heard from some really good teams that want to come out next year.”

GAELS DOT RANKINGS — Rivals.com released its rankings of the top 250 football players for the class of 2017 and six locals made the list, including five from Bishop Gorman.

The Gaels’ Tate Martell is the highest rated of the bunch at No. 19 overall (No. 2 quarterback), followed by teammate Tyjon Lindsey at No. 24 (No. 4 wide receiver).

Defensive lineman Haskell Garrett (No. 106), defensive back Alex Perry (No. 165) and recent Southern California safety commit Damuzhea Bolden (No. 200), all from Gorman, were joined by Centennial defensive lineman Greg Rogers (No. 173).

Curiously, Rivals.com lists Perry as the No. 6 prospect in Nevada — behind Rogers and Bolden, who are fourth and fifth, respectively. Gorman’s Biaggio Ali Walsh, the state’s leading rusher, did not make the Rivals250.

LOCALS ADDED TO U.S. TEAM — Bishop Gorman senior offensive lineman Julio Garcia and Ali Walsh were named to the U.S. Under-19 national team for the International Bowl, USA Football announced this week. The Under-19 team plays Team Canada on Jan. 31 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

Garcia, a UNLV commit, and Ali Walsh are the fifth and sixth locals chosen for the event, which features seven games in six age groups.

RECENT COMMITMENTS — Coronado senior Jaiden Johnson to Iowa State for softball.

Contact reporter David Schoen at dschoen@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5203. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidSchoenLVRJ

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