December 28, 2011 10:15:00 AM
STARKVILLE -- One of Starkville's native sons will spread holiday cheer - basketball style - this week.
The Travis Outlaw Slam Dunk at The Hump, hosted by Starkville High, tips off with four games set for today in the Humphrey Coliseum on the Mississippi State University campus.
"We want a top-notch basketball experience," Starkville athletic director Stan Miller said. "I think we can grow this into a premier event."
The three-day tournament is being supported by Starkville native Outlaw, who presently plays in the National Basketball Association with the Sacramento Kings.
Locals teams playing at MSU include Aberdeen, New Hope, East Oktibbeha, Columbus, Louisville and the host squad.
"The boys are real excited about playing in the coliseum," Columbus coach Sammy Smith said. "It is a unique opportunity and we will face a very talented opponent.
"It's all about getting better and we look forward to this opportunity."
The 12-game tournament will also include teams from four neighboring states.
"We have been working on this for several years now," Miller said. "We are grateful to Mississippi State for going in with us and making this tournament possible."
From a local standpoint, New Hope enters fresh off a win against Noxubee County. Columbus comes to town after splitting two games in the Joe Horne Christmas Classic. Starkville was undefeated before losing twice in that event.
"The competition in this tournament is outstanding," Starkville coach Greg Carter said. "We will have to be focused and ready to play well."
Scott is sports copy editor and reporter