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Martin Luther King Classic boys basketball tourney features 'best team' to ever play in Utah

FILE: West Jordan and Bingham play a boys high school basketball game at West Jordan on Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017. Bingham won 54-50.
FILE: West Jordan and Bingham play a boys high school basketball game at West Jordan on Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017. Bingham won 54-50.
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Basketball junkie?

Monday’s Martin Luther King Day will showcase a six-team, one-day high school basketball tournament at Salt Lake Community College. The Martin Luther King Classic will feature top local teams, plus some out-of-state squads which have received national attention because of their potential Division I stars.

This will certainly provide a hoop fix.

“This is a great opportunity to see some of the up-and-coming talent in the state playing against some very good teams for a good cause,” said organizer Golden Holt, Orem High’s basketball coach.

The event will be held on the SLCC campus, 4600 South Redwood Road.

No. 2 (4A) ranked Sky View (7-4) will open the tournament at 1 p.m. against No. 3 ranked Dixie (9-2). Bingham, the defending 5A state champions, will take on Bishop Montgomery (Torrance, California) at 3 p.m. The California team won the state 7A title last year and are 14-0 this year. MaxPreps has ranked Bishop Montgomery No. 10 in the nation. The Knights feature David Singleton, a 6-4, senior guard, who is ranked in ESPN’s top 100 players. He signed with UCLA.

“There are several tournaments around the country that play on Martin Luther King Day,” Holt said. “I thought it might be fun to add a second tournament in addition to the (Vivint Great Western) shootout so we can continue to show off the talent of Utah basketball to the world. I hope this will be an annual tournament.”

American Fork will play British Columbia Christian Academy at 5 p.m. Isaac Johnson, a 6-10 junior who is averaging 18.9 points and 5.6 rebounds per game, leads the Cavemen in scoring. BC Christian is a lengthy and athletic team. Its smallest player on its starting five is 6-6.

Olympus, the only undefeated team left in Utah at 11-0, is ranked No. 1 in 5A. The Titans play Orem at 7 p.m.

According to Holt, Olympus has plenty of talent returning from last year’s loss to Springville in the state 4A title game. Rylan Jones leads the team in scoring with 19.3 points per game. Jeremy Dowdell is averaging 18.2 points and leads the team in 3-pointers made with 31. Harrison Creer averages 18.1 points per game and as a team the Titans are shooting 54 percent from the field along with 40 percent from the 3-point line.

“I’m a big believer in team chemistry and that if we share the ball, there will be plenty of shots for everyone,” said Olympus coach Matt Barnes. “Our guys have bought into that and it’s a beautiful thing to be part of.”

Orem is the top-ranked 4A team. Ross Reeves leads the Tigers in scoring at 18.4 points per game and also leads the team in 3-pointers made with 23.

The Tigers also feature guard Puka Nacua, who has made a big splash nationally as a football receiver. His older brothers have played football at BYU and Utah. Nacua just finished doing a combine at the U.S. Army All-America game. “He’s very young for a junior, he could be considered a sophomore. But he is very athletic and a very good receiver — he catches everything.,” said Holt.

Tickets will be on sale at the door. Adults are $10 for the entire day. Students and seniors are $5 and fans 14-and-under are free.

“We wanted to do a more broad tournament in January (after the Vivint Shootout in December). A lot of people do tournaments in honor of Martin Luther King, giving young men opportunities to show what they can do.”

As for the outside teams, Holt said Bishop Montgomery might be the best high school team to ever visit and play in Utah after winning the California 7A state title last year. “They are ranked No. 10 in the country, are undefeated and have six Division I players on their roster. When they play Bingham, they’ll play a team that won a state title here a year ago.”

All the Utah teams are ranked in the top 20 in the state.

“My goal is to build up the platform, get some corporate sponsors and create some scholarships for needy students in our state. That is our longtime goal. We don’t make money on it, we’re just trying to give back.”

Martin Luther King Classic schedule

Dixie vs. Sky View, 1 p.m.

Bishop Montgomery vs. Bingham, 3 p.m.

BC Christian Academy vs. American Fork, 5 p.m.

Orem vs. Olympus, 7 p.m.