COLUMBIA — Former Missouri basketball coach Norm Stewart was at Columbia College on Tuesday to help announce a new statewide high school basketball all-star tournament that will be played there this weekend.
Stewart said the tournament — called the Missouri challenge — a “tremendous” tournament and a “great experience” for coaches and players.
"You'll never forget being here and playing in this all-star game," Stewart said to coaches and players at the conference.
Stewart also said the tournament, which will be held on Friday and Saturday, would be a good opportunity for high school players to be noticed by scouts.
“It gives more people a chance to be seen,” Stewart said.
The Missouri Challenge, hosted by the Missouri Basketball Coaches Association, is an expanded version of the All-Star Games that have been played in Springfield for past eight years. The original tournament featured just four games made up of all-star high school seniors from across the state — players from teams in larger conferences played against each other in one game, and the smaller conferences were represented in another game. Both genders were divided this way.
In the new tournament, eight teams are selected for each gender, which draw 10 players from each of the eight MBCA conferences. Since the teams are divided according to MCBA conferences and not the normal Missouri High School Athletics Association conferences, which divide schools by the size of their population, the teams are a jumble of students from schools across the state both large and small.
The teams will play a single elimination tournament.
Executive Secretary for the MBCA Gary Filbert said that under the old system, team selection would be affected because some high school seniors would sign with NCAA Division I schools and would not be able to attend the summer tournament.
Filbert said sports writers and broadcasters choose the athletes from their respective districts.
Ryan McDannold, the assistant athletic director at Columbia College, said the tournament would give the college a chance to show off its arena. He said MU’s Mizzou Arena has the “big stage” in Columbia.
“Not a lot of people know about Columbia College athletics,” he said. “But as soon as they step into our arena and see the way we do things — and we always try to do stuff top notch — I think they get a better idea of exactly what we do over here.”
Four boys and three girls basketball players from Columbia have been chosen to play in the tournament. Jordan Dressler, Briton Rudd and Skyler Tolson from Rock Bridge High School and Eric Franklin from Hickman will play on the Northeast boys team. Katherine Harry from Rock Bridge and Chasity Price and Nicole Schulz from Hickman will play for the Northeast girls team.
Dressler, who was at the conference, said it is an “honor” for him to be chosen for the team.
“To be selected from this conference as an all-star is humbling, to say the least,” Dressler said.
Dressler said, despite the fact that players from eight different schools are playing on his team, they are getting along.
“We’re all cool with each other and we’re gelling as a team,” he said.
Stewart said he would not have an official role in the tournament but said he thought that Filbert picked him to announce the tournament because he has a “great ability to associate with the media.”