LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Summer just got a little busier for hoops fans in Louisville. The Amateur Athletic Union announced Monday that its high school boys national championships and Gold Super Showcases from grades 10 through 12 to the city of Louisville for three years beginning in 2014.
The event will be held at the Kentucky Exposition Center.
It's a huge deal for local college programs, but also for local basketball fans. Basketball recruiting is perhaps as popular as the sport itself in these parts, and the event will provide a wall-to-wall venue of the nation's top prep players and AAU teams.
The deal was landed through a collaboration of parties in the city and state, including the Louisville Sports Commission, the Convention and Visitors Bureau, the State Fair Board and the Kentucky Exposition Center. AAU boys basketball president Henry Forrest also singled out Kentucky promoter Eddie Ford as a major influence on the decision.
"Louisville is a perfect location for the AAU Boys Basketball Division I National Championships and Super Showcases for so many reasons," Forrest said. "We will be in the heart of basketball country where there is tremendous fan avidity and enormous media interest in the sport. Louisville is centrally located in the U.S. and easy to reach for a large number of our teams and their families, fans and college coaches; and the Kentucky Exposition Center is a premiere, event-friendly facility located in close proximity to hotels, inter-state highways and the airport.
"Besides location and facilities, another reason we're coming to Louisville is the experience and cooperation of our partners in the local community. We are working closely with the management teams from the KEC, the Convention & Visitors Bureau and Louisville Sports Commission, all experts in staging major events. In addition, we forged a tremendous partnership with Eddie Ford, one of the longtime, premiere promoters of youth basketball in the Midwest and South."
Ford, owner and operator of the 31-year-old Kentucky HoopFest, the nation's oldest travel team basketball tournament held annually at the fairgrounds, will provide 12 hardwood courts as well as his expertise and operational support for the AAU event.
"Hosting the AAU Boys Basketball National Championships and Showcases is a huge win for Louisville," said Karl Schmitt of the Louisville Sports Commission. "Sports fans in the local community and the region will have a chance to watch the best high school basketball players in the nation every summer. Additionally, the event will generate more than 8,400 hotel room night stays every year, and attract significant media, high profile coaches and sports personalities to our town. We look forward to the opportunity."
Louisville major Greg Fischer said landing the event was a coup for the city.
"When it comes to high school and college basketball, our city and region is best in the world, so it's fitting and exciting that the AAU Boys Basketball competition is coming to Fischer said. "Many of the super players we've cheered and appreciated in recent years in our local programs have been showcased at AAU, so it will be great for our local fans to see them compete at these elite Championships and Showcases."
The event is expected to attract 340 teams, 200 officials, more than 900 college coaches and scores of national media and event organizers say it will generate more than $3 million in annual economic impact.Players participating in the event the last three years have included:
2012 - Andrew Wiggins (Kansas); Julius Randle, Andrew Harrison, Aaron Harrison and Dakari Johnson (Kentucky)
2011 - Nerlens Noel (Kentucky/Phil. 76ers), Anthony Bennett (UNLV/Cle. Cavs), Montrezl Harrell (Louisville), Archie Goodwin (Kentucky/Phoenix Suns), Mitch McGary (Michigan), Alex Poythress (Kentucky)
2010 - Chane Behanan (Louisville), Austin Rivers, (Duke/NO Pelicans), Bradley Beal (Florida/Wash. Wizards), Ben McLemore (Kansas/Sac. Kings), Andre Drummond (UConn/Det. Pistons), Michael Carter-Williams (Syracuse/ Phil. 76ers), Wayne Blackshear (Louisville)
"AAU Boys Basketball has worked diligently and successfully for several decades to develop young players and promote basketball," said Marcellus "Boo" Williams, Jr., AAU's National Chair for Boys Basketball. "Our national championships have helped bring together college coaches and elite players in a positive environment, and we believe the move to Louisville will help us grow the tournament and better serve the game."
Copyright 2013 WDRB News. All Rights Reserved. Press releases from the AAU and the Louisville Sports Commission were used in this report.