After a successful inaugural event last December, the Tarkanian Classic is one of the premier Christmas tournaments of 2013. Six teams ranked in the recently updated Student Sports FAB 50 national rankings will make an appearance, highlighted by No. 6 Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.), the defending Platinum Division champion, and No. 2 Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.) in the new prep school division.
In just its second year, the Tarkanian Classic has quickly become an elite holiday tournament. In last year’s Platinum Division final, eventual CIF Open Division champion Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) defeated eventual NIAA Division I champion and host Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas), 76-60, behind a 23-point, 13-rebound performance from tourney MVP Stanley Johnson.
Johnson is back for Mater Dei, ranked No. 6 in the current Student Sports FAB 50 national rankings. The Monarchs and No. 9 Bishop Gorman could once again meet in the Platinum Division final. The Platinum Division field also includes FAB 50 No. 27 Bishop O’Dowd (Oakland, Calif.) and No. 46 Redondo Union (Redondo Beach, Calif.).
“Coming into a national tournament like Tarkanian, you always can make your mark,” Johnson said. “Last year was last year, however, and this is a new team. We are just going to take it one game at a time and work our way through the tournament.”
In last year’s final, highly touted Bishop Gorman junior Stephen Zimmerman attempted only four field goals, making one, and finished with seven points. That didn’t sit well with the locals so expect “Big Zimm” to make a much bigger impact on the outcome of this year’s Platinum bracket. Similar to Johnson, Zimmerman is a bonafide Mr. Basketball USA national player of the year candidate.
Mater Dei has Redondo Union and Lone Peak (Highland, Utah) on its side of the Platinum bracket and Bishop Gorman has Bishop O’Dowd on its side. If Bishop O’Dowd, which finished last season in fifth place courtesy of its 50-46 victory over Pinnacle (Phoenix, Ariz.), can have another strong performance, a potential semifinal could pit Zimmerman against Bishop O’Dowd’s Ivan Rabb, a 6-foot-9 junior forward. Both are considered top five prospects nationally in the 2015 class.
In 2012-13, Lone Peak had a historic season from a national perspective for a program from a non-power state, finishing No. 4 in the Student Sports FAB 50. Only one starter is back, but it’s BYU commit Tyler Haws and he and transfer Frank Jackson will make Lone Peak a tough out. Haws has big-game experience and media and national scouts will get their first extended look at Jackson, one of the better players on the West Coast in the 2016 class.
The best first round matchup in the Platinum Division could be Lone Peak versus Modesto Christian (Modesto, Calif.). Forward Anthony Townes, one of the West Coast’s better 2015 prospects, leads Modesto Christian. The winner is likely to face Redondo Union, the defending CIF Division II state champion, in a 2pm Friday quarterfinal with the winner playing in the 9pm semifinal at the Orleans Arena.
In last year’s tournament, Our Savior New American (Centereach, N.Y.) reached the semifinals before falling to Mater Dei, 55-39. This year, that club returns as part of the inaugural Prep School Division, a series of games that will showcase some of the nation’s best players. FAB 50 No. 2 Findlay Prep headlines the Prep School Division, which includes No. 8 Prime Prep (Dallas), La Lumiere (LaPorte, Ind.) and traditional national power Montrose Christian (Rockville, Md.).
On Friday, December 20th, at the Orleans Arena, four featured games of the Tarkanian Classic will include the Platinum Division semifinals and two of the best matchups in the prep division loaded with future D1 players. The two semifinals at the Findlay Prep vs. Prime Prep game will be televised by the CBS Sports Network.
That evening, former UNLV and Hall of Fame coach Jerry Tarkanian, for whom the tournament is named after, will be honored for his accomplishments in high school, junior college and major college basketball.
Headliners playing at the 2013 Tarkanian Classic include:
Emmanuel Mudiay, Prime Prep
Stanley Johnson, Mater Dei
T.J. Haws, Lone Peak
Rashad Vaughn, Findlay Prep
Kelly Oubre, Findlay Prep
Jalen Coleman, La Lumiere
Craig Victor, Findlay Prep
Sam Logwood, La Lumiere
Jonah Bolden, Findlay Prep
Kobie Eubanks, Our Savor New American
Evan Wardlow, El Camino Real
Julian Richardson, El Camino Real
Terrell Carter, Redondo Union
Ian Fox, Redondo Union
Chris Sullivan, Long Beach Poly
Mario Soto, Mater Dei
Noah Robotham, Bishop Gorman
Stephen Zimmerman, Bishop Gorman
Chase Jeter, Bishop Gorman
Ivan Rabb, Bishop O’Dowd
Check Diallo, Our Savior New American
Joseph Toye, La Lumiere
Allonzo Trier, Montrose Christian
Horace Spencer, Findlay Prep
Anthony Townes, Modesto Christian
Rex Pflueger, Mater Dei
Paris Austin, Bishop O’Dowd
Trey Belton, Sheldon
T.J. Leaf, Foothills Christian
Terrence Ferguson, Prime Prep
Justin Jackson, Findlay Prep
Frank Jackson, Lone Peak
Derrick Thornton Jr., Findlay Prep
Michael Cage Jr., Mater Dei
Kassoum Yakwe, Our Savior New American
Christian Ellis, Modesto Christian
Leland Green, Redondo Union