ENGLEWOOD — Six members of the Wayne basketball team attended the press conference that announced the field for the 14th annual Premier Health Flyin’ to the Hoop basketball tournament at the Good Samaritan North Health Center in Englewood on Tuesday, Oct. 13.
This year’s tournament will feature a special twist when Coach Travis Trice and Wayne face his son D’Mitrik Trice, who now plays for IMG Academy, a top nationally ranked team from Florida. D’Mitrik, who played on Wayne’s state championship team last season, is attending the prep school which allows seniors an extra year of high school eligibility before heading to college.
“It’s going to be interesting,” said Coach Trice, in regards to coaching against his son. “I’m so excited for D’Mitrik, he has worked so hard. I’m excited for people in this area to see what he’s done with being able to focus just on basketball. He’s been working with his brother (Travis Trice, a Michigan State standout and New York Knick signee) who was getting ready for the NBA draft and D’Mitrik was with him every step of the way.”
“We will be ready; we will have to game plan for him like anybody else. I pray he is healthy, that he plays incredible, but I pray Wayne wins the game,” said Coach Trice.
Wayne is one of 42 teams from 12 states that will be represented in this year’s tournament taking place at the Trent Arena in Kettering on Jan. 15-18, 2016.
Although Dayton, under normal circumstances, would not be considered by most as a popular January tourist destination, over 20,000 fans, 100 college coaches, and 100 media from across the nation will flood the area to take in this high profile event. It is estimated that $1.9 million will be poured back into the local economy over the event weekend.
The Flyin’ to the Hoop tournament is ranked by CBS Sports/Max Preps as the number two high school basketball showcase in the nation. Flyin’ to the Hoop features some of the best high school basketball talent in the country with over 35 players who have played or are currently in the NBA. Hundreds of players have gone on to play division 1 college basketball.
“This tournament is very important, “said Wayne basketball player Trey Landers. “It’s a great experience, you meet new people and you get to play against the top players in the country.”
“You are playing against better competition and elite players, “said Wayne senior Rodrick Caldwell. “It will really test our game and test our team.”
“It’s a big opportunity for me, “said Wayne sophomore L’Christian Smith. “College coaches come from everywhere; it is another experience that not too many people get to experience.”
Last year Wayne beat the No. 1 ranked team in the nation, Findlay Prep from Las Vegas, Nev. in an epic overtime battle to set them on course for a Div. I state championship season.
“Beating Findlay Prep last year gave our guys extreme confidence, “said Coach Trice. “We knew we could beat anybody, we knew we could play with anybody in the country, let alone in the state, and those things we were able to revert back to during the season and it really helped us in our tournament run.”
“It was a confidence booster, “said Wayne senior Demond Parker. “If we beat them, we felt nobody could play with us. We played at such a high level that game there was no reason we should play anywhere lower.”
Wayne will again be looking to put their stamp on this year’s tournament as they face another top national opponent and look to prepare for another successful season.
“To be honest with you, I feel we have enough to make that championship run again, “said Coach Trice. “A lot of things have to happen in your favor as you go through the season, staying injury free and the ball has to bounce your way sometimes. I feel talent wise and positionally we have enough to make a run.”
Wayne will take on IMG Academy at 8:30 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 16 at the Trent Arena in Kettering. There will be 23 games contested over the four-day event, tickets are on sale now. For more information you can visit the website www.flyintothehoop.com or call 937-704-9670, ext. 130.
Reach Steve Granata by contacting editor Greg Smart at 684-8088.