While announcing this year’s exciting field of Division I teams, U.S. Virgin Islands Paradise Jam Tournament organizers also revealed at a press conference Wednesday night next year’s men’s lineup, which includes St. Joseph’s, North Carolina State and Washington State.
The big draw this year, however, are three teams on the men’s side that all made it to the post-season in 2015: University of Tulsa with the National Invitation Tournament, Hofstra in the College Basketball Invitational and Norfolk State in the College Basketball Tournament. Also hitting the court this year is Florida State University, an overall heavy hitter whose team missed the post season in 2014-15 for the first time in nine years.
Rounding out the bracket will be University of Ohio, University of South Carolina, Indiana State and DePaul, whose team will be making its second trip to the territory for Paradise Jam.
For another year, CBS Sports Network will return to broadcast the men’s first round and semi-final games on Nov. 20 and Nov. 22, along with the third place and championship games on Nov. 23. Basketball Travelers Chief Operating Officer Craig Jonas said CBS uses the tournament as the “cornerstone” of its season coverage, which has made it easier to bring in the bigger names.
On the women’s side, University of Virginia, University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, Tulane and Rutgers will compete in the Island Division, while Old Dominion, University of Pittsburgh, South Dakota State and University of Maryland – whose men’s basketball team was crowned Paradise Jam champion in 2013 – will compete in the Reef Division. Games will run from Nov. 26 through Nov. 28.
Other big announcements made Wednesday night showcased the variety of partnerships that tournament organizer Basketball Travelers have formed to support the territory outside of the event, including the installation this week of a new gym floor at the University of the Virgin Islands Sports and Fitness Center.
Each year, the university uses Paradise Jam as a means of highlighting its programs and students, while the tournament also gives UVI’s men’s team a chance to compete against a league rival.
The old floor will be donated to a local organization or school, UVI President David Hall said Wednesday.
Each year, the organization also donates more than 100 basketballs to the Department of Sports, Parks and Recreation for use in local programs, along with basketballs to the Education Department for use in the territory’s schools.
“I know you’re all used to seeing these guys around Thanksgiving, but I work with them year round,” said Sports, Parks and Recreation Assistant Commissioner Calvert White. Lt. Gov. Osbert Potter hinted that Basketball Travelers could also be the newest member of the SPRAT (Sports, Parks and Recreation Adoption Team), an initiative sponsored through Potter’s office that recruits businesses and community investors together to maintain local parks.
“I think this organization brings great recognition for the Virgin Islands, and I think the potential for even greater things exist,” Potter said at the press conference.
Fans attending the event or tuning in over the television/online are also in store for at least one surprise this year, as Basketball Travelers will be announcing its first series of “Hall of Fame inductees,” including members of the territory’s 1965 men’s basketball team who will be celebrating their 50 anniversary this year.
Online sports sites posting before the press conference also revealed the 2016 men’s tournament lineup, which organizers made official Wednesday. Participating on the men’s side will be Creighton, Loyola University Chicago, North Carolina State, Oral Roberts, Ole Miss, Montana, St. Joseph’s and Washington State.
For more details on this year’s brackets and schedule visit www.paradisejam.com.