DAYTON, Ohio (WKEF/WRGT) - Basketball teams from seven states and even Canada are preparing for the annual "Flyin' to the Hoop" invitational.
Organizers say despite the incoming winter storm, the event will still go on as scheduled.
“For 361 days of the year, we’re planning for this thing, so this thing is going to happen,” founder and President of Flyin’ To The Hoop Eric Horstman said.
The basketball invitational is now entering its 17th year, but Horstman said it was only just last year that they had to make changes because of the weather.
“Last year, Mother Nature hit us with a one-two punch and for the first time in our history, we had to cancel a couple of games because teams could not get here safely,” he said.
The event is held every Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, which also gives teams a 3-day window to accommodate for travel and weather.
“Every year, we try to get them in as early as we can just in case this happens,” Horstman said. “Mother Nature just likes to put a wrinkle in it every time to make it more interesting for us.”
37 teams will be playing 20 games for an anticipated crowd of 20,000 fans. If a team can't make it to Trent Arena for some reason, the invitational has a plan
“We have a couple of teams that are kind of backups for us, if you will," Horstman said. "If there are some schedule snafus, we will be able to try and get these backups to be able to take their place so we can still have six games a day, and the fans can still be entertained,."
The invitational has an economic impact of nearly $2 million each year and gives the players a chance to show off not only for the fans, but also for recruiters from across the country. Over the last 17 years, 68 players in the invitational have gone on to play in the NBA. Hundreds more have received scholarship offers to schools following the event.
“A lot of people have tickets in hand they want to see some good basketball, we want to see some future NBA stars," Horstman said. "So the show will go on, and we are trying our best behind the scenes to make sure that happens."
The first game will tip off rain, snow or shine at 6:30 p.m. on Friday night.