Buffalo Head Coach Nate Oats will be at the helm of the top-ranked team in the second annual Basketball Hall of Fame Belfast Classic that tips off on Thursday, and believes events like this will only help with the globalisation of the college game.
The tournament takes place at the SSE Arena, Belfast on November 29th, 30th and 1st December 2018, and is the only NCAA Division 1 basketball tournament that takes place in Europe, bringing an expanded field of eight schools to Northern Ireland in two four-team brackets.
“I think that tournaments like this help globalise the game,” Oats told Hoopsfix. “Basketball has become one of the most popular sports around the world, especially at the professional level, and the hope is this tournament will help do the same for the college game.”
— UB Men's Basketball (@UBmenshoops) November 27, 2018
The 5-0 Bulls are No. 21 in the Associated Press rankings and No. 20 in the USA TODAY coaches poll released Monday, their best ever rankings in programme history. And as the programme continues to grow its profile, Oats does not discount the tournament helping the school do exactly that, along with help attract potential British talent.
“There is definitely a very high level of basketball in Britain and throughout Europe and I think not only us, but universities all over the United States have seen that. We look forward to the talent pool continuing to grow and helping globalise the game any we can.
“Playing basketball in the United States is a great option for student-athletes all over the world whether they be British or any other nationality. We want to bring the best players to Buffalo regardless of where they come from and if the best players are from Britain then we will be happy to welcome them in.
“I think with social media and the ability watch and follow along with more teams, you will see an increase in interest in the game of college basketball throughout the world. Hopefully this tournament will help with that process.”
Oats and the Bulls arrived in Belfast on Tuesday, and will ensure they get to experience the cultural off-court side of things as well, going on a city tour, visiting the Titanic Museum and taking part in a community engagement event at St John the Baptist School.
“We thought this would be an excellent opportunity for our student athletes to not only play high quality Division I basketball, but also to give them a cultural experience that they will never forget,” Oats added.
“We have spent a great deal of the last few months teaching our players about the culture of Northern Ireland and Europe and we are excited to be able to represent the University at Buffalo on an international level.”
🚦The floor is in which means it’s GO time🚦
— BHOF Belfast Classic (@BelfastClassic) November 27, 2018
And for any fans on the fence about attending the event, Oats is confident Buffalo has plenty to show.
“With our team, fans are going to see a hard-nosed team that works hard and plays fast,” he enthused.
“We have five seniors on our team this year, led by CJ Massinburg, who scored 43 points in the second game of the season at West Virginia. Nick Perkins is a big strong player and we have a great shooter in Jeremy Harris. Fans will also be excited to see Jayvon Graves, a young player who is extremely athletic.
“Overall, fans will see eight really good teams and I expect every game to be an exciting one for the fans in attendance.”
Hoopsfix has a limited number of All-Tournament passes available for just £30 – purchase here, to find out more information including schedules, travel advice and individual tickets visit www.belfastbasketballclassic.com.
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