It’s been 40 years since the Winter Park Rotary Club took over the Tip-Off Classic basketball tournament, and this year director Bob Harvey expects it to be the most successful yet.
The tournament raised more than $48,000 for charity last season, with an expected $53,000 coming in this year. In addition, hundreds of cans of food are donated every year. But on the court, the tournament might be the biggest yet.
“This is about as big a talent pool as we’ve ever had,” Harvey, who’s in his 30th year with the tournament, said.
A slew of Division 1 recruited stars fill rosters at the tournament, including Winter Park’s Wyatt Wilkes, committed to Florida State as a power forward.
Winter Park hasn’t won since 2010, when Austin Rivers led the Wildcats to one of the biggest blowouts in tournament history with a 74-40 win over Orlando Christian Prep.
But with the caliber of teams in the tournament this year, games should be competitive throughout, Harvey said.
For the Wildcats, the big game could come in their second trip to the court, when they could potentially meet Edgewater, which hasn’t won it all since 2004. The once-dominant Eagles won five Tip-Off titles in a row up to that point.
“If it’s Winter Park and Edgewater that day, that will be something else,” Harvey said.
Winter Park will have to make it through The Master’s Academy first. The Master’s Academy finished 22-4 last season under head coach Reggie Kohn, who returns to lead the team at this season’s Tip-Off.
Though the tournament saw its first games Wednesday night, the Wildcats make their 2016 Tip-Off debut against The Master’s Academy at 7 p.m. tonight. With a win, the Wildcats will face the winner of Edgewater vs. Lake Highland game at 8:30 p.m. Friday.
“With the depth of the field, it’s going to be tough,” Harvey said of Winter Park’s chances of another title. But the tournament will already be a success. “To see the growth of it over the years, it’s been great.”
Admission for all games is two cans of food for charity or $5 each.