In 2018, the King Cotton Holiday Classic basketball tournament returned to Pine Bluff after a nearly 20 year void, and this year it will commence at the Pine Bluff Convention Center from Dec. 27-30.
The 2019 King Cotton Holiday Classic has expanded from last year’s eight-team field to a 12-team field that includes five teams from Arkansas, and seven teams that will travel in from various states.
The story lines entailed within the tournament are abundant. There will be several highly touted players competing in the tournament that will go on to play high-major Division I basketball, and match-ups between coaches who are familiar with each other from the storied histories of them playing the game themselves.
The five teams that will represent the state of Arkansas are the Bryant Hornets, Dollarway Cardinals, Jacksonville Titans, Parkview Patriots, and Pine Bluff Zebras. Coming from out of state will be the Corona Centennial Huskies (CA), Hightower Hurricanes (TX), NSU University Sharks (FL), Orr Academy Spartans (IL), Raymond Rangers (MS), Wooddale Cardinals (TN), and Yazoo County Panthers (MS).
Bringing in the NSU University School Sharks will be Head Coach Ron Oliver, a Little Rock, Arkansas native. In first round action, Oliver’s team will face off against the Parkview Patriots, and their Head Coach Scotty Thurman. Both have a longstanding relationship. The Sharks are the reigning 5A state champions in the state of Florida, and the Patriots are very much in the hunt for another 6A Arkansas State title.
On the Sharks roster are two son’s of NBA veteran Juwan Howard, who’s currently the Head Coach of the Michigan Wolverines. Also they bring in talented sophomore twins Taylor and Tyler Hendricks.
The Centennial Huskies, led by Head Coach Josh Giles, were recently ranked as the No. 20 team in nation by Max Preps. The Huskies will take on the Bryant Hornets in the first round. Bryant is led by Head Coach Mike Abrahamson.
The Hornets boast two of the top 40 players in the state of Arkansas in junior Camren Hunter, and senior Treylon Payne.
Jacksonville Titans Head Coach Victor Joyner brings his team back for the second consecutive year, and they’ll open up playing the Memphis Wooddale Cardinals led by Head Coach Keelon Lawson. The Titans finished as the runner-up in last year’s tournament.
The Lawson’s are known nationwide for their basketball pedigree. Jonathan Lawson, a junior on the team is the No. 97 player in the country according to 24-7 sports composite rankings, and he has offers from Kansas and Memphis. Jacksonville boasts the No. 2 player in the state per 24-7 sports composite rankings, Davonte Davis. Davis committed to play for the Arkansas Razorbacks back in October.
The other first round match-up in the National Division Bracket will be between Chicago Orr Academy and Raymond High School. Both hold three consecutive state title championships.
In the Regional Division, the Dollarway Cardinals, led by Head Coach James Jones will draw the Yazoo County Panthers, led by Head Coach Torrey Dale. Pine Bluff High, led by Head Coach Billy Dixon will play Hightower High School, led by Head Coach Stephen Woods in the other first round Regional Division game.
Pine Bluff will have the challenge of slowing down highly regarded sophomore guard Bryce Giggs, who received an offer from Texas A&M as an 8th grader.
12 p.m. - Dollarway vs Yazoo County
2:30 p.m. - Chicago Orr Academy vs Raymond High
4:00 p.m. - Bryant vs Centennial
5:20 p.m. - Jacksonville vs Wooddale
7 p.m. - Pine Bluff vs Hightower
8:45 p.m. - NSU University vs Parkview