Organizers shooting to stage major prep hoops showcase here

FINGERS ARE BEING CROSSED right now, but if everything works out, basketball tournament organizer Cliff Sutherland hopes he can bring what he calls “a basketball junkie” weekend to Morgantown.
    “We’re still working out many of the details,” Sutherland said. “We have some things that need to be ironed out with WVU. That’s kind of where we are right now. Hopefully, I’ll know by the end of next week.”
    The hope is to bring the PrimeTime Shootout high school basketball showcase to the WVU Coliseum during the weekend of Jan. 22-24.
    That’s the same weekend the Mountaineers host Ohio State (2 p.m. Jan. 23), in what should be a nationally televised game, with several of the marquee prep matchups slotted around the WVU game, as well as the day before and the day after.
    “As it looks right now, we could have 17 [high school] All-Americans in town that weekend,” Sutherland said. “So much has gone into it. Right now, we’ve been working on this for about seven months.”
    First things first, though. The organizer of the shootout is Jeff Hewitson, a WVU graduate who founded the tournament, in 1976.
    “That’s kind of how we got the ball rolling here,” said Sutherland, who also helps organize the annual Triple S Harley-Davidson Jam Fest AAU basketball tournament each summer, in Morgantown. “We’ve always wanted to bring a venue that included some of the top high school teams to this city.”
    The PrimeTime Shootout has been played at other schools and is scheduled for Villanova, the weekend after it visits Morgantown, and then at Rutgers, in February.
    Sutherland is quick to point out that the Morgantown schedule has yet to be finalized, but the preliminary slate has four games Jan. 22, four games after the WVU game Jan. 23 and four games Jan. 24.
    A sort list of former high school standouts who have played in the tournament reads like a basketball who’s who: LeBron James, Carmello Anthony and Dwight Howard.
    Those who were featured in the 2009 tournaments include WVU’s Dan Jennings, North Carolina’s Dexter Strickland, Kentucky’s DeMarcus Cousins and Villanova’s Dominic Cheek, Isaiah Armwood and Maalik Wyans.
    As for the Morgantown tournament, the hope is to schedule some of the nation’s top teams against some of the best West Virginia has to offer. The detail being worked out with WVU is the Coliseum’s availability that weekend. The Coliseum also hosts the WVU wrestling and gymnastics teams.
    Right now, Morgantown High is scheduled to face Marion Franklin (Columbus, Ohio) in the first game, at 5 p.m. Jan. 22. Marion Franklin features Elijah Macon, a power forward who has given WVU a verbal commitment for the class of 2012.
    “Wouldn’t you know we would go up against a big 6-8 kid looking at WVU,” MHS coach Tom Yester joked. “He’s a big-time player. I do like who we have coming back. It will be a great experience for us.”
    Other state teams scheduled to play include Logan, which will bring Noah Cottrill, a WVU recruit in the 2010 class, plus Woodrow Wilson and South Charleston.
    National power Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.), which features three of the top 2010 recruits in Doron Lamb, Roscoe Smith and Juwan Staten is scheduled, as is Lake Clifton (Md.), which features Josh Selby, the No. 4 overall recruit in the 2010 class.
JUSTIN JACKSON is a sports reporter for The Dominion Post. Write to him at