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We are a week out from opening night of the 2024 Bass Pro Tournament of Champions and the brackets were released today. This coming out has made things even more real that this thing is extremely close to tipping off and my favorite week of the year is about to happen. We took a look at a bracket and here are my initial thoughts.
#6 EDMOND NORTH (OK) VS RAINIER BEACH (WA) – 4:30
C6 #6 CENTRAL (MO) VS #33 ST JOHN BOSCO (CA) – 6:00
#1 PAUL VI (VA) VS GLENDALE (MO)
#13 MCEACHERN (GA) VS #73 VASHON (MO)
I CAN FINALLY FINISH MY PREVIEW ARTICLE
One of my favorite articles I put together all season long is my ToC preview article and I have put in nearly 18 hours of work into it. However, one thing was missing. I couldn’t figure out how I thought they were going to do because I didn’t know matchups. For example, if the bracket fell the right way, Central could have been playing in the championship for me. Now that wasnt the case and I don’t think that will happen. Check out my complete article once I have it finished to see where I think everyone finishes.
THE CHAMPIONSHIP MAY BE PLAYED ON FRIDAY
The brackets always have a way to put the two best teams on different sides of the bracket but in this years case, I think three of the top four are all on one side. On the bottom side of the bracket sits the Max Preps #1 (Paul VI) vs Glendale and #13 McEachern vs #73 Vashon. Paul VI is loaded and I dont anticipate any issues vs Glendale but McEachern boasts the best individual player in the tournament in Ace Bailey while Vashon is the best defensive team in the tournament. Whoever comes out of the McEachern-Vashon game will definitely be ready to give Paul VI all they want and maybe even more. That one will be a doozy.
Also lets not forget on the other side that the likely semifinal game will be #6 Edmond North vs #33 John Bosco. Friday night will be electric.
CENTRAL’S TOUGH DRAW
I really think that Central could beat three, possibly even four or five of these teams but I think Bosco may be one of the three teams that will be able to match Central’s shooting and athleticism. The unfortunate thing about that is a 3rd or 4th place finish looks a whole lot better than a 5th or 6th place like I imagine the Bulldogs finishing with. Brandon McCoy Jr and Kade Bonham will be difficult assignments for the defense of the Central. I still think that this is going to be a wildly successful tournament for the Bulldogs but the hopes of a local team reaching the semifinals seems unlikely.
EVEN THE BEST OF US ARE THROWN FOR A LOOP
I will admit I missed the news that Cardinal Hayes would not be participating in the tournament and Rainier Beach (Who was originally supposed to be in but got replaced with Vashon but as Slim Shady once said, guess whos back, back again, Rainier Beach is back, tell a friend) Unfortunately this comes after I spent several hours previewing Hayes and after seeing a few of their players were extremely excited to see with the youth they possess. While that is three hours of my life I won’t get back, maybe this means Hayes will be back in the next couple years when these superstar sophomores are juniors or seniors.
Like we have had the last few years, it’s hard to pick out one team as the odds on favorites. Bosco is long and athletic and can beat you in transition. Paul VI is very good at everything and does not have a glaring weakness. McEachern has the best player in the tournament but would 100% have to earn it with no easy games on the docket having to go through Vashon, Paul VI and Bosco. Oh yeah and Vashon is perhaps the best coached and well conditioned team in this tournament. They will defend you in your face, full court for all four quarters. Then lets not forget about Edmond North who is casually coming in at #6 in the nation according to MaxPreps. As for who I have won it all…. I guess you will have to check out my Official Guide to the 2024 Tournament of Champions article coming out in the next couple days.
WHAT AM I LOOKING FORWARD TO MOST???
As I say every year, my favorite part of this tournament isn’t the dunks, buzzer beaters, or even the championship game atmosphere (which is one of my favorite things ever). My favorite part of this event is getting to build relationships and get to know these players who ultimately turn into superstars. Since I have started covering this event back in 2018, I have had the honor and privilege to interview and interact with 13 NBA draft picks and several more that will be draft picks in the next few years and that has been my favorite part. Having current Michigan Wolverine Dug McDaniels (Paul VI) come and recognize you his senior year after interviewing him as a sophomore. Getting to chat up #1 recruit now Charlotte Hornet Amari Bailey for three days or even doing a special interview with MSU great Winston Garland and current Cleveland Cav Darius Garland has been extremely special to me and getting a message from some of those guys and even Milwaukee Buck Marjon Beauchamp every once in a while makes all of the work that goes into this week worth it. I can’t wait to get to meet a new crop of talent ahead of this tournament.