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A new league which hopes to raise the game of high school boys’ basketball began its first full season in December with eight of America’s best teams competing against each other at venues across the nation.
Several games have and will be carried by the ESPN channels.
Teams competing in the National Interscholastic Basketball Conference (NIBC) are Montverde Academy of Montverde, Fla.; IMG Academy of Bradenton, Fla.; Oak Hill Academy of Mouth of Wilson, Va.; Sunrise Christian Academy of Bel Aire, Kan.; La Lumiere of La Porte, Ind.; Wasatch Academy of Mt. Pleasant, Utah; Legacy Early College of Greenville, S.C.; and Bishop Walsh of Cumberland, Md.
These schools were selected mostly because they have won the past eight high school national championships, with Montverde claiming five titles. Montverde produced seven draft picks in the 2021 NBA draft, including four first-rounders.
The impetus behind the formation of the NIBC was the cancellation of several games because of COVID-19. Some of the current members of the new conference organized their own competitions amid the cancellations. The rest is history.
Commissioner of the league is Rashid Ghazi, a partner at Paragon Marketing Group. Kasey Kesselring of Montverde is the chair of the board of governors.
“With games being canceled last season … the NIBC schools created a series of contests among themselves and brought us in to help manage the events, secure sponsorship revenue, and place the games on the ESPN networks,” Ghazi said. “The schools realized the power of building their own brands together and we worked with them over the past several months to put a formal conference together.
“We believe the tradition and history … combined with the expertise of Paragon creates a winning formula that will make the NIBC truly unique in the world of high school sports.”
Sound like the NBA?
The NIBC hopes to showcase some of the country’s top prospects consistently on a national stage, which could benefit college coaches and NBA scouts. Perhaps even the student-athletes, who increasingly are skipping college for the G League or abandoning high school programs to join Overtime Elite, a league that offers a year-round development program. These leagues provide monetary compensation, while the NIBC is fully amateur, allowing players to keep options open to playing in college in the future.
How in the world does this work? How is it funded? Understanding that this format is for the high-performing teams, is it beneficial for the players? Is it the next step toward paying high school players? How far can youth sports go?
I reached out to a couple coaches and the commissioner of the NIBC to have some of these questions answered, but did not hear back.
Here are some things to consider:
- Since league members are private schools, funding, including sponsorships, probably is not much of a concern.
- Could public schools eventually have opportunities to participate in such a program? Funding would be more of an issue. Most public schools do not have the type of training personnel and facilities available that these “elite” prep schools.
- How would this impact public high school programs?
- What is the impact on student-athletes participating? Travel, academics, socialization.
I’d like to hear back from coaches, parents and student-athletes themselves on their opinions of the NIBC.
Nancy Justis is a former competitive swimmer and college sports information director. She is a partner with Outlier Creative Communications. Let her know what you think at email@example.com