FORT MYERS, Fla.- This weekend, dozens of teams will tip off at Bishop Verot in the Annual City of Palms Classic high school basketball tournament.
The student-athletes who play in the tournament look forward to it every year, because it features some of the best basketball players in the country. The tournament wouldn’t exist, however, if it wasn’t for the heart and hard work of one man.
Bill Pollock took over running the City of Palms when it was in danger of getting cancelled. The News-Press stopped sponsoring it 30 years ago.
“He wanted his son John, who was at Fort Myers High, to be able to play in the tournament,” said the tournament’s executive director, John Naylor, referring to Pollock.
In an interview with WINK News, Pollock said, “30 years later we’re still at it!”
The basketball enthusiast brought some of the nation’s most competitive high schools teams to the tournament. Now, top college coaches and recruiters fill stands to scout the best players.
“It’s the kids that go to the small schools who get scholarships,” Pollock said, “and that’s great. It’s a great experience.”
Julius Johnson, a player on a team from Melbourne, will play basketball with the University of Richmond. Some of his teammates, however, are still hoping to get recruited.
“(It’s) a lot of exposure,” Johnson said, “It’s exposure for, not only me, but everyone.”
On the 30th year of the tournament, organizers decided to do something special for Pollock. They invited his high school team, Webster Groves (which is located near Saint Louis, Missouri) to the tournament for the first time.
“I didn’t think they could travel down here,” Pollock said, “A lot of states don’t allow their teams to come this far and so I was excited.”
That’s not all, however. His coworkers also plan to recognize him after Cape Coral’s Mariner High School takes on Fort Lauderdale’s Cardinal Gibbons Thursday at 5:45 p.m.
Competition continues through this weekend. The City of Palms Final is Tuesday, December 23rd at 8:45 p.m.