The many years of planning and anticipating come to an end today with the start of the Travis Outlaw Slam Dunk at the Hump basketball tournament.
There will be 12 boys games in three days at Mississippi State's Humphrey Coliseum beginning with the Koscisuko-East Oktibbeha matchup at 3 p.m.
Starkville High School is the host and athletic director Stan Miller is excited to see the event become a reality.
"It's something that Coach (Greg) Carter has talked about for years and when I got back here, I told Greg that it would be a great opportunity if we could get Mississippi State to go in with us on this tournament and see what we could do," Miller said.
Miller said the first thing he wanted to do was check with MSU men's basketball coach Rick Stansbury to make sure having a tournament at Humphrey Coliseum was possible.
Even though it's against NCAA rules for Stansbury to have any involvement with the tournament himself, he was on board with the idea. The Bulldogs are out-of-town playing a game in Dallas so Humphrey Coliseum is open until Saturday.
"(Stansbury) was all for it, but he said you have to get with (MSU athletic director) Scott Stricklin," Miller said. "We kind of let the idea sit for a while, then we were able to get a meeting with Scott, Bracky (Brett) and Jay Logan. Everyone said it was a great situation and would try to do all they can. I think it's a plus for everybody. It's a plus for the community, a plus for our district and a plus for Mississippi State so they can showcase their facility."
The tournament has a mix of local and out-of-state teams. Tennessee is represented by East High School in Memphis, while Carroll High School comes from Monroe, La., Jackson Olin makes the trip from Birmingham, Ala., and Strong crosses over the border from Arkansas.
"The biggest thing was bringing in teams from the four surrounding states who are very successful there," Miller said. "East High School out of Memphis has a great tradition of basketball, and Strong is a small school out of Arkansas that in the four years I was there, they always had a great tradition with their basketball program. All of the coaches are looking forward to coming to a facility and giving their kids a chance to play in a place that seats about 11,000 – a beautiful facility."
Miller said the tournament would not be possible without the supporters and cooperate sponsors that contributed. Microtel Hotel and Holiday Inn Express are housing the out-of-state teams, while Applebee's, Bojangles and Hardee's are making food donations, and Cinema 12 Twin Theatres are providing movie tickets for teams and coaches. The other sponsors are Aaron's Sale and Lease, Watermark Printers and the Travis Outlaw family.