December 24, 2012 10:17:10 AM
STARKVILLE -- Once the decorations are tucked away and Santa Claus bids farewell, basketball will return to the forefront at Mississippi State University's Humphrey Coliseum.
A full week of basketball will tip off Wednesday with the second Travis Outlaw Slam Dunk at The Hump tournament, hosted by Starkville High School. The three-day event will feature three games a day through Friday.
"We are excited to be bringing this tournament back to the Hump this year," Starkville High Athletic Director Stan Miller said. "This year's tournament is smaller, but we are still focused on having a great week of basketball. As the years progress, we really hope to grow this into a top-notch event."
In the inaugural event, 12 games were played with teams from four neighboring states and six local squads. The tournament proved a huge success and inspired organizers to create plans for this year's event.
"Playing in the Humphrey Coliseum is a unique opportunity," Starkville High boys basketball coach Greg Carter said. "A lot of players will never have the opportunity to play in that type of environment again. We want this to be a showcase event participants always remember."
Outlaw played at Starkville High School in the early 2000s. Presently with the NBA's Sacramento Kings, Outlaw has appeared in 531 games in a nine-year NBA career.
"We have had a lot of community support for this event, and we really appreciate the sponsors," Miller said. "Travis really stepped up and helped make the tournament a reality last season. It is something we had wanted to do for several years.
"The folks at Mississippi State have gone out of their way to accommodate us. (Basketball game management director) Jay Logan and his staff have been outstanding. They have gone out of their way to make sure this is a top-notch experience for all of the people involved."
Starkville (4-5) and New Hope (7-5) each will play three games in the all-boys tournament. Aberdeen (8-3) will play twice, while Columbus (7-5) will play once. Lanett, Ala. (9-2), Midfield, Ala. (7-6), and Hamilton, Tenn. (7-3) also will participate.
"The holiday tournaments are fun because it helps get you ready for postseason basketball," Carter said. "You get to face some teams you normally would not see and you get to work against different styles of play. It is a good opportunity for your players to get some experience especially in a back-to-back setting.
"These experiences help you get ready for the type of challenges you will see in the postseason."
After Friday's final round, the MSU women's team will take on Northwestern State at 7 p.m. The MSU women will face Troy at 7 Saturday night. The MSU men close the week at the arena with a 3 p.m. Sunday game against Alabama A&M.
Travis Outlaw Slam Dunk at The Hump
All tickets are $7 (includes all games each day).
Wednesday, Dec. 26
Lanett (Ala.) vs. New Hope, 3 p.m.
Hamilton (Tenn.) vs. Aberdeen, 4:30 p.m.
Midfield (Ala.) vs. Starkville, 6 p.m.
Thursday, Dec. 27
New Hope vs. Midfield (Ala.), 3 p.m.
Aberdeen vs. Lanett (Ala.), 4:30 p.m.
Starkville vs. Hamilton (Tenn.), 6 p.m.
Friday, Dec. 28
Midfield (Ala.) vs. Columbus, 11 a.m.
Hamilton (Tenn.) vs. New Hope, 12:30 p.m.
Lanett (Ala.) vs. Starkville, 2 p.m.
Scott is sports copy editor and reporter