Organizers of a new NCAA women's basketball tournament slated for St. Thomas in November said Saturday that four college teams, three of them highly ranked, have agreed to compete.
"Four great U.S. teams will compete in a real tournament we're calling 'Paradise Jams,'" said Nels Hawkinson, executive director of Basketball Travelers Inc. (BTI). "These are not exhibition games. These are games that count."
The Division I teams confirmed to play on Nov. 25-26 at the Ivanna Eudora Kean High School gymnasium are Texas Tech, Penn State, LSU, and Missouri.
Hawkinson and BTI President Neal Holden first thought of bringing a tournament to St. Thomas when vacationing here with their families seven years ago. "We met a few students from Eudora Kean who invited us to their school," said Hawkinson. "We are now here because an interest was expressed by both the school and the teams."
Sinclair Wilkinson, principal of Eudora Kean declared, "This tournament will provide a lot of opportunities for the school and the Virgin Islands."
One of those opportunities is a basketball clinic for students and coaches taught by Van Chancellor, the three-time WNBA Coach of the Year who has guided the Houston Comets to four straight championship titles. In addition, all gate receipts and concessions will be given to the school.
"Hundreds of visitors are expected to travel to St. Thomas for this event which will be a nice boost to the economy," said Juel Anderson, public relations manager for the Department of Tourism. The Virgin Islands also will be promoted indirectly on the mainland through coverage of the event.
Plans are already under way for an even larger tournament next year. "Ten teams are already committed for 2001," Hawkinson said. Next year BTI would like to utilize both the UVI sports facility and Kean gymnasium, he said. They also hope to be able to plan other activities such as a free throw competition to get more spectators involved.
BTI, a Seattle, Wash.-based company, has been organizing domestic and international basketball competitions since 1985. To date, more than 1,000 teams have participated in events sponsored by BTI.
The ticket price for each game will be $10. There will be a discount ticket price for students.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email