Bob Gibbons is a cult legend on the AAU/prep basketball recruiting circuit. Now a bona fide senior citizen, Gibbons continues to organize one of the nation's most prominent -- and well respected -- national prep club events, with top talent from everywhere in America converging on North Carolina in late May. This year, those future stars may not have anywhere to go.
The locational dilemma is the result of a new NCAA ruling that prohibits NCAA Division I programs from allowing their facilities to be used for non-school affiliated events. According to the News & Observer and Charlotte Observer, the proposal adopted in early April puts a serious crimp on Gibbons' annual event, which used 12 courts on Duke, North Carolina and North Carolina State's campuses in 2010.
Now, the longtime recruiting analyst -- who briefly worked for Rivals.com in fall 2004 -- is scrambling to try and find at least 18 courts in non-NCAA venues to host games for the massive tournament.
"I don't know what we are going to do," Gibbons said. "I've got teams that have already purchased their airplane tickets to come. This really yanks the rug from under us."
Interestingly, the new ruling didn't catch other major events as off guard as it did the Bob Gibbons' Tournament of Champions. However, at least one prep hoops analyst said that might be due to Gibbons' inability to lock venues into long term agreements before the ruling was finalized.
"People knew it was coming, like the Hoop Group Event; Pittsburgh Jam Fest, which was still held at the University of Pittsburgh," ScoutsFocus head man Joe Davis told Prep Rally. "Hoop Group signed a long term contract before the final decision was made by the NCAA last year.
"Also the NBA-PA Top 100 camp, which attracts the Top 100 high school juniors and rising seniors will still be held at the University of Virginia [John Paul Jones Arena] because they also signed a long term contract with their facility."
Whether that foresight -- be it financial or regulatory -- was truly the saving grace of other top national tournaments may never truly be known. What is certain is that the largest prep tournament not affiliated with Nike or Adidas is in serious trouble unless it can find a shed load of new basketball courts with adequate support facilities it can use in late May.
- North Carolina