2017-18 MTE and Neutral Site Showcase Preview Series: HoopHall Miami Invitational

Graham, Devonte'
Devonte’ Graham and the Kansas Jayhawks are among the nation’s best teams heading into the 2017-18 season, and are the headliners in the 2017 HoopHall Miami Invitational.

CALGARY, Alta. — The 2017-18 season is just around the corner, and while there’s a debate on Twitter as to when the season actually starts, it can’t get here soon enough.

Schedules are being released with each passing weekday, and many of them feature early-season tournaments and multi-team events all throughout non-conference play. According to Chris Dobbertean and Blogging the Bracket, there are over 30 multi-team tournaments, and another handful of neutral site showcases and non-exempt events.

So, with the season coming up, we thought we would go through and preview all of the early-season tournaments, the non-exempt tournaments, and a wide array of the neutral site showcase events. In total, we will preview 75 different events over the course of the next 75 days, culminating on opening day.

We selected the events at random, and have broken some up into two pieces, like the Phil Knight Invitational, since there are two separate brackets.

Today, we take a look at the HoopHall Miami Invitational.

Event: HoopHall Miami Invitational
Location: American Airlines Arena, Miami, FL
Dates: Various Dates (Campus Sites); December 2nd, 2017
Number of Teams: Four
2016-17 Winner: N/A


Event Overview

December 5th marks the third installment of the HoopHall Miami Invitational, a premiere basketball showcase that brings some of the nation’s top teams to beautiful Miami, FL for a pair of high-profile basketball games.

Other than the basketball games, the Hall of Fame and American Airlines Arena partner to bring the event to the local south Florida community with a business luncheon at American Airlines Arena, local high school games at the arena, and a youth skills clinic ran by one of the participating teams at the Overtown Youth Center. There’s no word as of yet as to which team will host the youth skills clinic this season.

Last year, eight teams took part in the event, which played out on two different days. On December 3rd, 2016, the Wofford Terriers fell to the Miami (FL) Hurricanes, 74-57, while the Illinois Fighting Illini knocked off the VCU Rams, 64-46.

A week later, the Georgetown Hoyas notched a 93-78 win over the La Salle Explorers, and the Temple Owls took home a 74-65 victory over the DePaul Blue Demons.


2017 Field

Toledo Rockets, Oakland Golden Grizzlies, Texas Southern Tigers, Syracuse Orange, Kansas Jayhawks, Miami Hurricanes (non-exempt) and Princeton Tigers (non-exempt)

Without question, the headliners of the event are the Jayhawks and the Syracuse Orange. The Princeton Tigers and the Hurricanes are the ‘marquee’ game during the actual showcase, but there are several campus site games that both the Jayhawks and Orange take part in that build up to the HoopHall Miami Invitational.

Bill Self and the Kansas Jayhawks are looking for yet another Big 12 title, and they have a National Player of the Year candidate leading the way. Guard Devonte’ Graham is among the nation’s best players, and he’s ready to take on a leading role within the program. He averaged 13.4 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 4.1 assists per game as a junior, and is the Jayhawks’ top returning scorer.

Fellow guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (9.8 ppg) returns to give Kansas a strong one-two punch on the back end. Add in another top-level recruiting class, headlined by five-star power forward Billy Preston, and the Jayhawks won’t skip a beat despite the level of talent they lost from last season.


Their opponents on December 5th, the Syracuse Orange, are on the opposite end of the spectrum in 2017-18. Many projected the Orange to be a middle-of-the-pack team this season in the ACC, but that was before Taurean Thompson withdrew from school and left the program.

With Thompson now out of the picture, and having committed to the Seton Hall Pirates for the 2018-19 season, the Orange are now without six of their top seven scorers from a season ago. The lone returnee is sophomore guard Tyus Battle. He finished third on the roster in scoring last season, averaging 11.2 points per contest.

Down the stretch, Battle showed that he is capable of leading the offense on a nightly basis. He scored in double-figures in each of the Orange’s last seven games, a stretch that included back-to-back 20+-point games. Over the seven games, Battle averaged 17.4 points per contest.

In the games leading up to the event, the Orange and Jayhawks will be tested by a trio of programs who are all capable of pulling off an upset or two.

Three seasons ago, the Texas Southern Tigers went on the road and knocked off the high-powered Michigan State Spartans inside the Breslin Center. The Tigers boast a potential SWAC Player of the Year in guard Demontrae Jefferson, who averaged 14.8 points and 3.3 assists per game last season. Texas Southern doesn’t play a home game until conference play begins, so expect them to be more than ready for road contests.


The schedule for the Tigers during the HoopHall Miami Invitational is as follows:

November 17th OR 18th: @ Syracuse
November 21st: @ Kansas
November 30th: @ Oakland
December 2nd: @ Toledo


Across the country, the Oakland Golden Grizzlies are considered as one of the top teams from outside of the power conferences, and for good reason. Despite losing Isaiah Brock, who decided to step away from the sport after one memorable season with the Golden Grizzlies, the roster is chalked full of talent. Illinois transfer Kendrick Nunn is ready to light up the Horizon League, and joins a back court that features Martez Walker.


The schedule for the Grizzlies during the HoopHall Miami Invitational is as follows:

November 18th: @ Toledo
November 20th: @ Syracuse
November 24th: @ Kansas
November 30th: vs. Texas Southern


The biggest question mark team out of the three would be the Toledo Rockets. Gone are both Jonathan Williams and Steve Taylor, Jr., but they return Jaelan Sanford, who finished third on the team in scoring with an average of 13.6 points per contest in 34 games. The addition of transfer Tre’Shaun Fletcher will add another piece to the front court, and help replace the production lost from both Williams and Taylor. The Rockets return several players from last season, but the majority are unproven. If they can step up and play big roles this season, Toledo may turn a few heads.


The schedule for the Rockets during the HoopHall Miami Invitational is as follows:

November 18th: vs. Oakland
November 22nd: @ Syracuse
November 28th: @ Kansas
December 2nd: vs. Texas Southern


Schedule

Kansas Jayhawks v. Syracuse Orange (5:30pm ET)

Princeton Tigers v. Miami (FL) Hurricanes (8:00pm ET; non-exempt)


Projections

Kansas v. Syracuse
Winner: Kansas Jayhawks

Princeton v. Miami (FL)
Winner: Miami (FL) Hurricanes

– T. Bennett