GEORGE TOWN, CAYMAN ISLANDS – Global Sports Management, in conjunction with Caymax Sports Ltd., has announced that Buffalo, Louisiana, Richmond and South Dakota State will round out the eight-team field for the inaugural Cayman Islands Classic college basketball tournament that will be held Nov. 20-22, 2017.
Those schools will join three teams which competed in 2017 post-season play —Cincinnati, Iowa, Wyoming — along with UAB in the tournament.
Louisiana, which finished 21-12 last season, returns four starters and 10 letterwinners for head coach Bob Marlin, who will enter his eighth season with the Ragin’ Cajuns in 2017-18. The Ragin’ Cajuns, who have recorded three 20-win seasons in the past four years, will add to an already deep roster in three Division I transfers – JaKeenan Gant (Missouri), Malik Marquetti (USC) and Marcus Stroman (South Carolina) – plus highly-touted in-state product Cedric Russell (Alexandria, La./Peabody HS).
“We are excited to receive an invitation to participate in the inaugural Cayman Islands Classic,” Marlin said. “The early-season tournament will be a great opportunity for our program and our University to compete with seven incredible basketball programs in a tropical setting.”
Bryce Washington, who finished seventh nationally in rebounds (11.2) and sixth in double-doubles (22), returns to lead Louisiana. The New Orleans, La., native finished as the lone player in the Sun Belt Conference to average a double-double on the season after scoring 13.5 points per game. Frank Bartley (15.3 ppg.), Justin Miller (11.1) and Johnathan Stove (9.1) are part of a returning nucleus that ranked 19th among Division I programs in scoring (81.9) and 26th in rebound margin (+5.9).
The Cayman Islands Classic is being sponsored by the Mountain West Conference.
The tournament games will be played in the brand new John Gray Gymnasium, just minutes away from world famous Seven Mile Beach.
“We are very excited about having these tremendous teams and their fans come to the Cayman Islands to experience not only some great basketball, but everything Cayman has to offer; our beautiful beaches, rich culture, great food, magnificent weather and most importantly the warmth and friendliness of the Caymanian people,” said the Honorable Moses Kickconnell, Deputy Premier and Minister of Tourism in the Cayman Islands.
“We are excited to add these strong basketball programs to an already outstanding field,” said tournament director Maury Hanks. “Our goal is to make this one of the premier early season multi team events in college basketball.”
“History will be made in the Caymans for the first of many years to come for basketball enthusiasts in the inaugural Cayman Islands Classic,” said Caymax Sports chief executive officer Joe Wright. “It will truly be an unforgettable experience for not only the teams, but also the people of Cayman, the families, alumni and other fans who will travel to the Cayman Islands in November.”
Richmond, a member of the Atlantic 10 Conference, posted a 22-12 record last season while advancing to the quarterfinal round of the 2017 NIT. The Spiders have appeared in the NCAA Tournament nine times earning a reputation as a giant-killer reaching the Sweet Sixteen in 1988 by defeating defending national champion Indiana and Georgia Tech, beating No. 3 seeded South Carolina in 1998, and becoming the first No. 15 seed to knock off a No. 2 seed when the Spiders defeated Syracuse in 1991.
Buffalo went 17-15 last year. The Bulls captured its first outright Mid-American Conference championship in 2015 while advancing to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history.
South Dakota State, which plays in the Summit League, made its fourth appearance in the last seven years (2012, 2013, 2016) in the 2017 NCAA Tournament facing eventual national runner-up Gonzaga. The Jackrabbits will feature the nation’s top returning scorer in 6-foot-9 forward Mike Dunn who averaged 25.1 points.
Cincinnati was ranked No. 18 in the final 2017 Associated Press poll, posting a 30-6 record while making its seventh straight trip to the NCAA Tournament.
Iowa had a 19-15 record, advancing to the second round of the 2017 NIT. UAB owned a 17-16 mark last season.
Wyoming went 23-15 last season en route to winning the College Basketball Invitational – the school’s first major postseason title since winning the 1943 NCAA Championship.