By RENALDO DORSETT
ALREADY touted as one of the top early season tournaments in NCAA basketball, early reports indicate the Battle 4 Atlantis has scored another stacked field for 2016.
According to Jeff Goodman of ESPN, the first group of teams to confirm for next year’s tournament includes the Michigan State Spartans, the Louisville Cardinals, the Wichita State Shockers, St John’s Red Storm and Virginia Commonwealth University Rams.
It will mark the third consecutive year that a Bahamian will play at home in the Battle 4 Atlantis with point guard Lourawls “Tum Tum” Nairn who just finished his freshman season with the Spartans.
Nairn will be a junior at the time of the tournament.
The 2016 field will also mark the second time the Cardinals will play in the Battle 4 Atlantis following their appearance in 2012. They fell to Duke in the tournament finale in Nassau but went on to win the NCAA national title.
The reports of the 2016 field emerged while this year’s tournament still remains a much debated topic among NCAA basketball analysts.
The 2015 Battle 4 Atlantis will include a talented group, with not only two Bahamians, but some of the top incoming freshman classes in all of NCAA Division I basketball.
Another strong field for the tournament, which continues to grow in prestige each year, will include the Syracuse University Orangemen, the Michigan Wolverines, The University of Texas Longhorns, The Gonzaga University Bulldogs, The University of Washington Huskies, The Texas A&M Aggies, University of Charlotte 49ers and the University of Connecticut Huskies, who are making their second appearance at the tournament.
A strong Bahamian presence will again be on display with the Aggies’ Tavario Miller and the Longhorns’ Shaquille Cleare.
This year marks the second consecutive year the Bahamian public will have an opportunity to watch local players in action at the Battle 4 Atlantis when the 2015 edition of the tournament tips off next Thanksgiving at the Atlantis resort on Paradise Island.
Buddy Hield of the Oklahoma Sooners and Wannah Bail of the UCLA Bruins became the first Bahamians to play in the tournament when they competed in 2014.
The tournament is staged at the 3,900-seat Imperial Arena, a ballroom converted to a basketball venue. The event is televised live on ESPN and AXS TV. ESPN2 airs opening round games while ESPN airs the semi-finals, third place and championship games.