Four constantly busy basketball courts were set up at the Mass Mutual Center this weekend, as some of the region's top high school players showcased their talents for college coaches in the annual Basketbull tournament.
Organizers said the AAU tournament, which is named after former Springfield police Chief Bull Martin, is the only one in the Northeast that is sanctioned by the NCAA.
That means coaches, like Boston College's new head coach Jim Christian, can see the players of tomorrow and imagine what it might be like to have them help their programs.
"It's more than evaluating the guys in our region; it's a great tournament," said Christian. "The guys who run it do a phenomenal job. Obviously, some marquis players are here for us. This is a great opportunity to evaluate them. I just hope it grows because there are some great players in this area and you have to travel all over the country to see them. They have a great venue and a great event, well organized like this, you just hope that these things continue to grow."
The benefits of the tournament go both ways.
While coaches can watch, the players have a chance to impress, and for many of them, it is exciting to do it in their home state.
"It feels good know that the person that runs this wants my team to come and actually see me play," said Bruce Brown, a guard for the Boston Amateur Basketball Club. "I feel like I accomplished something, rather than not being invited anywhere. You just don't want to play bad in front of any college coaches because Syracuse is here, Providence. You just don't want to have them look over you."
Organizers said the Basketbull tournament was brought about in conjunction with the Basketball Hall of Fame.
They got together about seven years ago, wanting to put together an event that would also increase attendance at the hall.
While the oldest players took the floor at the Mass Mutual Center, younger divisions held their tournaments across Springfield, Westfield and Holyoke.
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