There is a new power tournament in the west. The second annual Arizona Cactus Classic at the University of Arizona tips off this weekend and tournament organizers have every top name in the west in the event.
Tournament organizer Jim Storey and his staff have secured 32 teams for the 79-game event this weekend in Tucson. After last year's successful event, this year's field looks deeper and just as exciting.
West coast powers highlight pools
Last year's champs, Pump 'N Run Elite, is one of the 25 west coast teams in the tournament field. The nation's No. 2 overall player, Jrue Holiday, anchors the team. Point guard Larry Drew looks to lead his squad to a back-to-back championship. Arizona fans are happy to see him in Tucson, too. The Wildcats are high on his list.
The Oakland Soldiers will certainly give opponents a challenge. Forwards Drew Gordon, a recent UCLA commitment, and Matt Simpkins will be smiling a little more than usual. The big men have Brandon Jennings running the show for the weekend. Like Drew, Jennings has Arizona on his short list.
Belmont Shore could surprise teams with a lineup consisting of USC commitment Dermar Derozan, Oklahoma State pledge Troy Gillenwater, four-star wing Renaldo Wooldridge and 2009 guard Roberto Nelson.
Every major prospect on the West Coast will be in attendance and it should make for great basketball as regional rivalries are played out on a national stage.
The tournament is also deep with talented young players. With the likes of 2010 star Jeremy Tyler and his California Supreme club in the field, the bar is certainly raised. The 6-foot-8 San Diego native emerged at the Cactus Classic last year on the national scene.
He's not alone on his team. Gary Franklin, Tyler Lamb and 2010 USC commit Dwayne Polee are all on the same team.
The Wisconsin Playground Warriors boast top 10 sophomore Jamil Wilson. K. Hollis Thompson of the West Coast All-Stars is another eye-catching youngster.
Compton Magic lists Kentucky commitment G.J. Vilarino, Daniel Orton of Oklahoma and California youngster Xavier Thames on it's roster. All 2009 prospects are ones to watch.
Texas D-1 Ambassadors have a pair of 2009 prospects, John Henson and Corey Jefferson, on the roster. Both 6-foot-9 post players impressed with their potential at the Jayhawk Invitational two weeks ago.