What do the University of Indiana, Stanford, Wake Forest, Virginia Tech, Nevada, Clemson and South Carolina have in common?
They all are recruiting high school basketball players who will be in town this weekend for the Garden City Classic.
The three-day event, held by Augusta Christian Schools, Augusta Preparatory Day School and Westminster Schools of Augusta, will feature several annual high school basketball powerhouses, including Christ School and Charlotte Christian - two of the top boys basketball programs in North Carolina.
SCISA Class AAA No. 2 Porter-Gaud and Camden Military will also field strong boys basketball teams at the classic.
"It's bigger than it's ever been," Augusta Christian boys basketball coach Marty Griffin said. "That's really what this is all about. We wanted to bring in some quality teams."
Games will tip off this Thursday at three locations across the area. By week's end, five gyms will be used for a total of 34 boys and girls basketball games during the event. Gymnasiums at Augusta Christian, Westminster and two at Augusta Prep will be used along with Augusta State University's Christenberry Fieldhouse.
The ASU gym will be the site for one of the top games of the weekend - a matchup between Christ School and Charlotte Christian.
The Christ School Greenies field three college prospects including 6-foot-5-inch, 16-year-old senior Malike Cooke, who has committed to Nevada. Mason and Miles Plumlee, 6-foot-9-inch brothers, also play for the Greenies. Mason was given a scholarship offer to Indiana as a freshman. Miles has drawn interest from several schools, including Stanford.
For Charlotte Christian, head coach Shonn Brown, a former assistant basketball coach at Augusta Christian, will return to town with All-State forward Omar Carter and junior guard Damier Pitts. Brown said Carter is being courted by several Big South and Southern Conference schools, while Pitts is drawing interest from Wake Forest and Virginia Tech.
Beyond the individual matchups, the Friday night game will feature two top programs that don't usually meet this early in the season.
"Typically, we don't play this early because we're in the same conference," Brown said. "This will be a big game for us because, win or lose, the selection committee from our association will look at this game at the end of the year for state tournament implications."
Though the other games in the classic won't feature the high level of competition, there are still several interesting matchups.
Former Augusta Christian athletic director and boys basketball coach Mike Gold will bring his Dominion Christian squad and face Augusta Prep on Friday at 8:30 p.m.
Augusta Christian's girls team will face a strong Ashley Hall squad Saturday at 12:30 p.m.
The Westminster boys team will take on Camden Military on Friday at Augusta State with a scheduled start of 5:30 p.m.
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