By RENALDO DORSETT
THE 2015 Battle 4 Atlantis will include another stacked field, 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 at next year’s event with the Aggies’ Tavario Miller and the Longhorns’ Shaquille Cleare.
The Aggies will also field the No. 6 recruiting class in the nation, giving local and visiting college basketball enthusiasts a look at a lineup that features three of the top 35 countries in the nation, according to ESPN.com.
The Aggies will welcome a trio of front court players from Texas products, including high school teammates Tyler Davis (No.27) and DJ Hogg (No.35), along with post player Elijah Thomas.
Miller, a 6’7? sophomore forward, is currently averaging 4.5 points and 2.8 rebounds per game.
In his season debut just 18 minutes, Miller set a new career-high with 15 points on 6-6 shooting from the field and also added six rebounds. It was the first time he reached double-figures in his career, surpassing his previous high of nine points against LSU last season.
In his freshman season he averaged 1.8 points and 2.4 rebounds in just under 10 minutes per game.
Originally from North Long Island, Miller is the son on Miss Patricia Bain and Gregory Miller and grandson of Mrs Rossie Knowles.
Despite their recent controversies, Syracuse has still managed to sign the No.7 recruiting class in the nation for the upcoming season which includes four players in ESPN.com’s top 100.
Dynamic wing (No.23) Malachi Richardson will lead the class which also includes No.56 Moustapha Diagne, No. 74 Tyler London and No.92 Franklin Howard.
Washington boasts of the No.17 incoming freshman class with No.49 Dejounte Murray and No.58 Marquese Chriss.
The Longhorns will feature the aforementioned Cleare and the No.21 recruiting class for 2015 led by No.45 Ed Davis and No.47 Kerwin Roach.
After a pair of disappointing seasons, the 6’9? 270-pound Cleare transferred from the Maryland Terrapins in the Atlantic Coast Conference to join the Longhorns in the Big 12.
Cleare joined the Terrapins’ programme as a highly touted recruit out of the Village School in Houston, Texas, where he averaged 26.5 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks per game. He was listed as the No.30 overall prospect by ESPN and No.53 by Rivals.com for the Class of 2012.
Following his stellar high school career, Cleare appeared in 37 of 38 games for the Terps, including eight starts. He averaged 3.7 points and 2.7 rebounds in 12 minutes per game as the team finished 25-13, 8-10 in the ACC.
The Androsian native is the son of Brian and and Agatha 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.
The 2015 field will offer an opportunity to renew some of the most notable conference rivalries that have been sidetracked by conference realignment.
Syracuse and UConn had one of the most heated rivalries in the Big East before the Huskies moved to the American Athletic Conference.
Texas and Texas A & M are another pair of former rivals (Big 12) that have not met on the hardwood since the Aggies left the Big 12 for the SEC.
Gonzaga and Washington had a popular rivalry in the 1980s and 1990s but recently, have not played since 2006.
They planned to renew the rivalry with a home-and-away series in 2016, but the Battle 4 Atlantis will provide a preview a year early.
Michigan could possibly play Syracuse for the second straight season if the two were to meet at the B4A after they face each other last season in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.
Charlotte has had recent success in non-conference tournaments, winning the Puerto Rico Tip-Off in 2013 and reaching the Charleston Classic final last season.
Conference USA is the host league of the event and must have a representative in the field each year.