In celebration of Phil Knight’s 80th birthday, 16 Nike-sponsored college basketball teams traveled to Portland to play in a college basketball tournament that was broadcast on ESPN throughout Thanksgiving weekend.
The tournament featured the likes of Duke, North Carolina, Michigan State, Gonzaga, and Florida. It felt like a mini-NCAA Tournament in November, as fans from all over brought their Thanksgiving fever to the hardwood. Instead of the traditional football viewing, hoops fans witnessed a fast paced, high octane show with the best college basketball teams in the country.
With 391 tournament appearances, 89 Final Four berths, and 23 national championships between the schools, there was an abundance of brand recognition and an incredibly deep talent pool.
With Marvin Bagley III, Jaren Jackson, Mohammed Bamba, Miles Bridges, and a bevy of other top-50 NBA prospects, it was a chance for NBA scouts and fans to catch a glimpse of the next class of superstars.
The PK80 is just a one-off event in celebration of the Nike co-founder, but with the teams in attendance and the future stars that went head-to-head, college hoops fans would love for it to became an annual event. The event organization, the games themselves, and the collection of talent made it intriguing, exciting, and enjoyable. It managed to bring a bit of the March Madness vibe to November hoops.
For college hoops fans, seeing blue-blood programs go head-to-head and getting potential matchups between teams that could meet deep into the tournament was great. For NBA fans, it gave a glimpse into the future of the league with a number of potential top picks for the upcoming 2018 Draft. Here’s a list of some of the standout players from the tournament:
1. Marvin Bagley III, Duke