A.C. Flora and Gray Collegiate will be two of the top teams in their classifications next season.
The two teams will square off in the marquee game of the second annual Crescent Construction MLK Bash on Jan. 19 at Keenan High School.
The Falcons are the defending Class 3A champions and made it to the state title game each of the past three seasons. Flora returns several key players from last year’s team, including sophomore Christian Brown, guard James Reese and center Deshawn Thomas. Brown is ranked by ESPN as No. 20 in the Class of 2019 and has picked up five Division I offers already.
Gray is moving up to Class 2A this year and is eligible for the South Carolina High School League postseason after a two-year waiting period. The War Eagles’ roster includes North Carolina commit Jalek Felton, the state’s No. 1 prospect who announced last week he was transferring to the school.
Gray also has forward Juwan Gary, who is ranked No. 17 in the ESPN Class of 2019. The sophomore picked up his first Division I offer from Clemson on Thursday.
“Gray was already going to be good before they got Jalek, but it will just add to it and will be a great matchup,” event organizer Carey Rich said.
The rest of the matchups are Cardinal Newman-Ridge View, Wilson-Richland Northeast, Lower Richland-Heathwood Hall and Keenan-Lakewood.
There will be nearly a dozen Division I prospects between the 10 teams matched up in the event.
“We want to do our best to put the kids from South Carolina on the big stage,” Rich said. “I’m a Midlands basketball product and want to celebrate that history and highlight the talent we have in this state that sometimes gets overlooked.
“Last year was a great field and teams, and we want to take it up a level each year.”
The girls’ portion of the event is scheduled to be held Jan. 17 at Heathwood, but Rich said it will be moved to Cardinal Newman. Defending Class 3A champion Dreher headlines the girls’ field.
The Blue Devils return Jaelynn Murray and Kam Lemon for last year’s title team and will play Ridge View, which brings back most of its team that made it to the Class 4A upper state semifinals last season.
The other matchups are Orangeburg-Wilkinson-Hammond, Dorman-Westwood and Wilson-Lower Richland. The Tigers feature College of Charleston commit Bryanna Goodson and made it to the 3A lower state final last year.
The Diamond Hornets have Kentucky commit Kam Roach and have first-year coach Keturah Jackson.
Rich said former LR coach Debbie Stroman and Spring Valley coach Anne Long will be honored during the girls’ games and he plans on honoring some former Midlands standouts during the boys’ games.