NORTH AUGUSTA — Nike Nationals is the opportunity for high school girls’ basketball players to showcase their abilities to family, friends and most importantly, college recruiters.
The tournament will be held at North Augusta’s Riverview Park Activities Center. The first games will start at 9 a.m. on Saturday, and will continue until the championship game at noon on Tuesday.
This is the ninth year for the tournament that allows the best high school girls in the nation to display their talent, and once again it follows the Nike Peach Jam. The teams involved in the Nike Nationals include both 16- and 15-year-old divisions.
There will be 36 teams in North Augusta. In the 16-and-under division, there will be 20 competitors. Sixteen teams will compete in the 15-and-under division.
According to North Augusta Parks and Recreation District commissioner Rick Meyer, the girls’ tournament is just as competitive as the Peach Jam, which concluded its 18th edition earlier this month.
“The girls’ event has not been around as long, but the level of play from the girls is incredible,” Meyer said. “You just don’t realize the quality of the play in this event until you come watch.”
Meyer said that a number of women’s basketball star players have come through this tournament in the past. That list includes Brittney Griner, who was the No. 1 pick in the recent WNBA Draft. Meyer said he believes the girls in the Nike Nationals deserve just as much admiration as their male counterparts, although they don’t get the same turnout.
“You won’t have to fight through the crowds like at the Peach Jam, but the best of the best are here,” Meyer said. “If you want to get a glimpse of the future of women’s and college basketball, this is the place.”
The district commissioner says local schools have been seeing a lot of talent come through the past couple of years, and he knows they’re some of the best athletes out there.
“USCA and Augusta State have both enjoyed success in recent years,” Meyer said. “People don’t realize that girls play this good. Some of them could play in the Nike Peach Jam. They’re that good. There’s no question.”
Tickets will be sold for $5 per session, and there will also be tournament passes available on site.
Heather Wright is a reporter for the North Augusta Star. She is a North Augusta resident and earned a degree in communications from USC Aiken.
At a glance
What: Nike Nationals
Where: Riverview Park Activities Center, North Augusta
Who: 36 teams featuring the best high school girls’ basketball players in the nation