Las Vegas Offers Big-Time Summer Basketball Experience

As if Las Vegas needed another reason to attract outsiders.

With all of the sights and sounds of Sin City bringing in money year round, it's interesting to note that summer basketball in late July has typically been a big boost to the city's tourism revenues.

Las Vegas recently has been home to one of youth basketball's craziest weeks. Four tournaments have set up shop in Vegas during the NCAA's July evaluation period--the Reebok Summer Championships, the adidas 64, the National Youth Basketball Championships and the Main Event. All together, the tournaments brought more than 1,000 teams to Las Vegas in 2009.

The landscape was shaken recently--in February, the Summer Championships announced it was not running a tournament in 2010 due to budget concerns and the sponsorship deal with Reebok coming to an end. It left close to 5,000 basketball players without a tournament to play in during the open evaluation period.

"It's hard to let go of something that we all worked so hard to develop," said Jim Allen, co-founder of the Summer Championships, "but we have exhausted all efforts to secure the sponsorship needed to offset the loss of our sponsors and without it, we cannot operate at the level that we developed that has become the standard for these summer prep basketball tournaments."

The adidas 64 still plans to go on, though, and could expand its format to accommodate the teams shut out by the Summer Championships' suspension. The adidas 64 games are played at seven different high schools across Las Vegas as well as the Tarkanian Basketball Academy just west of Las Vegas Boulevard.

The adidas 64, which runs from July 22-26, is the smallest of the Las Vegas summer tournaments. The 2009 version had 96 high school-aged teams, according to the Las Vegas Sun. Tournament participants had a guarantee of four games--and a lot of Division I coaches looking on.

The Main Event and the National Youth Basketball Championships are both organized by Vision Sports. In 2010, the Main Event will go from July 21-25 followed immediately by the NYBC from July 26-30.

The NCAA's second open recruiting period for men's basketball in the summer is July 22-31.

Along with several AAU national tournaments and Super Showcases in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., during the same period, the Las Vegas events are some of the most sought-after recruiting turfs in the country. And the college coaches treat it as such.

"People look at it this way, that coaches are coming to Vegas like this is vacation," Kansas coach Bill Self told the Las Vegas Sun. "There's nobody here vacationing."

Instead, they're showing up at a one-stop shop, full of parts that could build the next college basketball national champion.

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