Tournament of the Stars event set for next weekend

By By Troy LaFleur / American Press

On Aug. 9, hundreds of basketball players from across the nation will converge on Lake Charles to compete in the annual

Tournament of the Stars Pro-Am basketball tournament.

The 18th annual hoops showcase has become a staple of Southwest Louisiana basketball culture, and has featured stars such

as Penny Hardaway, Glen Davis and James Harden in recent years.

Every year there are tournaments held

for both men and womens teams with cash prizes available, as well as

charitable contributions

such as the Tournament of the Stars Scholarship.

Harold McReynolds founded the nonprofit

Tournament of the Stars organization in 1995 in memory of his late

father, Isreal

McReynolds Sr., who passed away four years earlier after devoting

nearly his life to helping children in need of care

and guidance.

“My dad was always helping out kids who

needed anything. It started when I was nine or 10 years old, we would

have kids come

stay with us if they needed to, and that lasted all the way until I

started McNeese when I was 18 years old,” McReynolds said.

“My father passed away in 1991 and he was definitely my biggest

inspiration to start the tournament.”

In 1998, McReynolds established a scholarship fund in his father’s name to provide educational and athletic advancements for

children. The annual Pro-Am basketball tournament is the organization’s largest fundraiser and it has grown exponentially

over the years due to the level of competition and the amount of people being attracted to the area.

“When we started in 1995 there were

only about six or seven teams and now we see 40-plus teams, sometimes 50

come out, which

is unheard of for a Pro-Am basketball tournament,”

McReynolds said. “The guys like the competition. All over the country it’s

known that when you come to Lake Charles there is going to be a

lot of competition. Then once they get here, a lot of people

fall in love with the area.”

The opening tip off of the tournament will be on Aug. 9, and games will be held at various gyms throughout the Lake Area

before the championships are decided at the Lake Charles Civic Center on Aug.11.

Last year’s installment of the

tournament saw Von Wafer lead his team, the Houston Live, to a last-

second victory over the

reigning champion Memphis Express led by Hardaway. Wafer is a

native of Homer and plays professionally in China.

Prior to heading to Asia, he played for seven different NBA teams,

including the Los Angeles Lakers, Houston Rockets and the Orlando Magic.

Wafer is likely to return this season to help the Houston Live defend their crown, and he will likely have to get through

Hardaway and the Express once again.

Davis is also expected to attend the

event, as he has partnered with the Tournament of the Stars to conduct a

free youth basketball

clinic the weekend of the tournament at Ward 3 Recreational Park.

McReynolds said he isn’t sure what big names fans can expect to see at the tournament just yet, though.

“I usually don’t know who all is going to be part of the tournament until the day before it starts because these guys like

to keep it close to their chest since it gets so competitive,” he said.

Teams travel from all over the country for the tournament. While most teams come from Louisiana and Texas, visitors have come

from Chicago, Cleveland, Memphis, Los Angeles and South Carolina in recent years.

More information on the tournament can be found at www.tournamentofthestars.com.