375+ Teams Set for Deep South Classic at Raleigh Convention Center
Published:After setting the standard for women's basketball spring events over the past 17 years, the Deep South Classic reached a new level in 2013 and 2014 when the event moved to the Raleigh Convention Center. In 2015, the marquee event returns April 24-26.
The shift to the Convention Center in downtown Raleigh put the entire event, with 18 courts, under one roof. In addition, the hotels that house the players and coaches were within easy walking distance, and the City of Raleigh gave participants easy access to restaurants and shopping.
"It was amazing. I didn't hear one bad word, and people were falling all over themselves complementing us," said Bret McCormick, analyst for the All Star Girls Report and a member of the event staff. "Once you get to the venue, you didn't have to leave. Most of the teams were staying at hotels within walking distance, and everything was right there."
In addition to convenience, the location makes the event more productive to the competing teams and the college coaches who are scouting the athletes. The close proximity of all the courts makes it easier for those coaches to watch multiple games, and that is good news for the prospects.
"We have talent at any level, and I think that is the most important thing," McCormick said. "We will probably have over 1,000 Division I players. We have the top notch kids in every class, but we also have the kids who are a great fit for the mid-major programs and the smaller colleges. We have whatever you need to find.
"It also worked great in terms of exposure. Everyone had a better chance to be seen. A coach could bounce between two courts where they were watching high profile players, and then they could still take a few minutes to check out a third court where there is a player they have heard about a little."
"The fact that they are playing at one venue is very important. That's especially true for the younger teams," noted Walter Welsh of the Excel program in New York. "If you have the younger kids, this ensures that you are going to get some exposure. A lot of times they get overlooked, but in this location the college coaches can easily check out the younger kids."
Also while participating in this premier event the Greater Raleigh Sports Alliance (GRSA) encourages teams to visit one of the eight institutions of higher education in this region. These obviously include North Carolina, Duke and North Carolina State from the ACC, North Carolina Central of the MEAC, Shaw University and St. Augustine College of the CIAA. Meredith College is highly recognized women's college that participates in Division 3 and William Peace University is in the beginning era of going co-ed in the beautiful downtown Raleigh area.
The hallmark of the Deep South Classic has always been the action on the basketball court. Past Deep South rosters are littered with players who would go on to become collegiate All-Americans, national champions, and WNBA performers. The history of the event is filled with special stories about special players. For example, a little known Alana Beard lit up the event and captured the attention of the Duke coaching staff for the first time. There have also been countless legendary duals between future stars, such as when Sylvia Fowles and Erlana Larkins battled Candace Parker and Juantia Ward, or when Sade Wiley-Gatewood squared off against Alexis Hornbuckle.
Numerous young athletes have risen to national prominence while competing at the Deep South Classic. The event is annually covered by numerous prominent media outlets, and the sidelines are constantly crowded with hundreds of major college coaches who know that they will see future talent in Raleigh.
Here is a quick look at a few of the players who helped launch a stellar career at the Deep South Classic:
Matee Ajavon, Rutgers, Washington Mystics, La'Tangela Atkinson, North Carolina, Seattle Storm, Chante' Black, Duke, Tulsa Shock, Essence Carson, Rutgers, New York Liberty, Katie Collier, currently at Washington, Jasmine Dixon, UCLA, Lauren Ervin, Arkansas, Crystal Erwin, Notre Dame, Kelly Faris, Connecticut, Tye'sha Fluker, Tennessee, Chicago Sky, Sara Hammond, currently at Louisville, Bria Hartley, currently at Connecticut, Tiffany Hayes, Connecticut, Atlanta Dream, Tayler Hill, Ohio State, Charde Houston, Connecticut, Minnesota Lynx, Richa Jackson, currently at Duke, Tiffany Jackson, Texas, Tulsa Shock, Ivory Latta, North Carolina, Tulsa Shock, Xylina McDaniel, currently at North Carolina, Nikki Speed, Rutgers, Janee Thompson, currently at Kentucky.