North Carolina Tar Heels prepare for Summer of Thunder


Tribune Sports Reporter

ANOTHER high profile NCAA Division I programme has announced their intention to return to the Bahamas this summer for a series of exhibitions.

The 2017 NCAA champions will debut their new freshman class as one of the many highlights to this year's field for the Bahamas Basketball Federation's Summer of Thunder, hosted at the Kendal Isaacs Gymnasium.

The programme has become a frequent visitor to the Bahamas with their fourth trip to the country during Roy Williams' tenure as head coach.

The Tar Heels last appearance at the Summer of Thunder featured the emergence of Deandre Ayton when as a high school sophomore his 17 points and 18 rebounds led the locally based Providence Storms to an upset win. The Tar Heels also appeared in Complete Sport Management's Battle 4 Atlantis over the Thanksgiving holiday.

The team also visited the Bahamas in 2005 and 2010 for preseason games, in accordance with NCAA rules that allow teams to take international trips once every four years.

The NCAA also allows for said teams to participate in 10 additional practices in order to prepare for the event in question.

The exhibition gives exposure to the Bahamas as college fanbases of major programmes focus on these exhibitions because of the opportunity to get an early look at their respective freshman classes.

This particular Tar Heel team will be without veterans Joel Berry II and Theo Pinson for the first time in four years but the recruiting class includes highly touted freshmen Nassir Little, Coby White and Rechon Black.

Visiting programmes last summer included the Nicholls State Colonels, Penn State Nittany Lions, Southern University Jaguars, Colorado State Rams, Rhode Island Rams, Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles, Chicago State Cougars and Boston College Eagles.

The showcase is designed to expose local talent to an international style of basketball, as well as give those players an opportunity to compete against some of the top collegiate basketball players the NCAA has to offer.

The event also allows young Bahamian athletes to familiarise themselves with potential tertiary level institutions which they could possibly attend.

Local teams include the Bahamas All-Stars, New Providence Basketball Association All-Stars, IBA Elite, CTG Knights and the Providence Storm.

IBA Bahamas Elite held on late to defeat the Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles 109-106 in overtime in their opening game of the series.

At the conclusion of last year's event, BBF first vice president and event organiser Mario Bowleg said that the event is growing in recognition and is making a name for itself on the international scene.

"The tournament is only getting bigger and expanding and even though we always have a good number of teams here, there are always more that wanted to participate," he said.

"Bahamian teams have been able to hold their own. Many of the final scores have been close," Bowleg said.

"We feel as though the competition is stiff, the foreign teams and the coaches have been pleased that they have been able to face this competition as they prepare for their seasons."