ST. THOMAS, U.S. Virgin Islands — After disaster struck the U.S. Virgin Islands this past off-season, the 2017 Paradise Jam was moved to Lynchburg, VA, and was hosted by the Liberty Flames.
On Wednesday, the tournament committee announced that the 2018 edition of the U.S. Virgin Islands Paradise Jam would indeed return to St. Thomas, and they announced a star-studded field to go along with it.
Eight teams will make their way down to St. Thomas, USVI from Friday, November 16th through to Monday, November 19th. The 2018-19 season marks the 19th running of the tournament.
The headliners of the event are the Kansas State Wildcats, Missouri Tigers, and Oregon State Beavers, as they are the three teams that call power conferences their home. While all eyes will be on those three teams in particular, the entire field is packed with talent.
Rounding out next season’s field are the Eastern Kentucky Colonels, Northern Iowa Panthers, Kennesaw State Owls, Old Dominion Monarchs, and Penn Quakers.
If all goes according to plan during the off-season, we could see our fair share of talent in the field. The trio of Barry Brown, Kamau Stokes, and Dean Wade will all be seniors in 2018-19, and should have Kansas State in the Top 25 conversation. If all three opt to return next season and are healthy, the Wildcats will be the team to beat come the 2018 Paradise Jam.
For Missouri, it remains to be seen as to whether or not Michael Porter Jr. opts to return to school for another season after being injured this season after just two minutes of floor time. If he goes the Miles Bridges route and returns to school, and Jontay Porter also opts to return, Missouri will have an intriguing roster to say the least. With Kevin Puryear also being a senior in 2018-19, Cuonzo Martin and the Tigers could very well be a team to watch.
Rounding out the big three trio in the event is Oregon State. With only three seniors on this year’s roster, the Beavers could return almost everyone next season. They will have a healthy Jaquori McLaughlin at their disposal once again, along with Tres Tinkle.
The sleeper pick in the field could very well be Eastern Kentucky, as the Colonels will return a strong core of talent, both up front and at the guard spots. They do lose two seniors from this year’s team, in Dillon Avare and Zach Charles, but they return one of the best forwards in the nation, in Nick Mayo. Add in the likes of Dedric Boyd and DeAndre Dishman, and the Colonels could turn a few heads in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
In the 2017 Paradise Jam, the Colorado Buffaloes knocked off the Mercer Bears for the title, 79-70. The Drake Bulldogs rounded out the podium with a third place finish.
– T. Bennett