The nation's premier high school basketball tournament will be getting some company on Florida's Gulf Coast in December.
The prestigious City of Palms Classic – held annually before Christmas at Bishop Verot High School in Fort Myers – will be joined by a second national-caliber tournament 40 minutes south in Naples for the 2012-13 season.
The Gulfshore Shootout has been primarily a local event since 1996 under the direction of Golden Gate
High School head coach Joe Consolino. But with the help of assistant coach and local financier Alexander Getta, an ambitious expansion of the event is in the works.
The 2012 Shootout will be held at Golden Gate's 2,000-seat gymnasium and include 20 teams representing 15 states, as well as a pair of international programs. There will be a full 16-team bracket as well as a four-team sub-bracket.
"We felt there was a need for it," said Getta, who will serve as the Shootout's president. "Naples is a beautiful city and we strongly feel we will have a field of teams that is among the best in the country."
Getta and organizers will hold a national press conference sometime in the next 60 days to announce the participating teams and full details, but the programs that have already surfaced suggest the Shootout will be an elite affair.
National heavyweights De La Salle (Concord, Calif.)
, Milton (Ga.)
, Montverde Academy (Fla.)
and St. Benedict's Prep (Newark, N.J.)
have all been confirmed as participants.
Milton captured Georgia's Class AAAAA state title in March, while talent-rich Montverde Academy and St. Benedict's Prep participated in the National High School Invitational after successful seasons. De La Salle is a perennial power in California coming off a 28-3 campaign.
But according to Getta, that foursome is just the tip of the iceberg.
"More than likely, every team in the field will be represented in ESPN's Fab 50 or the MaxPreps rankings before the season," Getta said.
The Shootout is also planning some off-court entertainment. "Bracket Town" will be home to an interactive area for fans, players and coaches. There will also be a lobster banquet at the world-renown Ritz Carlton in Naples on Dec. 30, an off-day due to Florida High School Athletic Association rules prohibiting games on Sundays.
"Our goal is for every single team that comes to Naples and participates in the event to want to come back," Getta said.
The emergence of the Gulfshore Shootout as a national attraction also cements Florida's status as the center of holiday high school basketball – if it wasn't already. In addition to the City of Palms Classic, the Sunshine State is home to several other prominent December events, including the Kingdom of the Sun Tournament in Ocala, the Hawk Kreul Classic in Coral Springs and the Great Florida Shootout in Kissimmee.Coaches interested in participating in the Gulfshore Shootout can contact Alexander Getta at email@example.com.