18th Flyin’ to the Hoop loaded with 5-star players and “5-star hearts”

RaHeim Moss is a rare athlete who’ll be matched against his former high school team.

That would be Springfield High School, where Moss was a three-season standout in football and basketball and graduated from last June. But he’s not done with the Wildcats.

Moss is enrolled at Spire Prep Academy in Geneva, Ohio, and will join its celebrated boys basketball team in the 18th annual Premier Health Flyin’ to the Hoop at Trent Arena in January. Spire’s opponent is Springfield.

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“It’s a blessing,” said Moss among scores of teammates and coaches during Tuesday’s press conference to announce the upcoming Flyin’ field at Miami Valley Hospital South.

“I figured it would be this kind of matchup with us. It’s really not going to be a rivalry game for us. It’s just like a family game to me. We’re ready to play these guys and see what these guys got and what kind of team we have.”

That goes for all 38 participating teams – representing six states and Canada – in this midseason basketball invitational. Anchored on the Martin Luther King holiday weekend, a dozen five-star players and at least 30 four-star gems will be featured in 20 games over four days from Friday, Jan. 17 through Monday, Jan. 20.

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The event that started with fingers crossed by Flyin’ creator Eric Horstman at the Vandalia Student Activities Center now is ranked as the No. 2 high school basketball showcase in the nation by CBS Sports/MaxPreps. Horstman said Flyin’ has an impact of $1.9 million to the local economy, draws 20,000 spectators and at least 100 college coaches and media.

As always, Flyin’ is a mixture of local talent that ensures good crowds and high-end national caliber teams and players, many of whom graduate to become NBA lottery draft picks. That includes former University of Kentucky standout P.J. Washington, drafted No. 12 overall by the Hornets last spring. He initially starred at Flyin’ regular Findlay Prep (Nev.), which closed prior to this school year.

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Flyin’ alums have been taken in the first round of the NBA draft the last eight years. There have been six No. 1 Flyin’ alums taken with the overall first pick, the most recent being DeAndre Ayton of the Suns (and Hillcrest Prep Academy, Ariz.) in 2018.

“These games matter,” Horstman said. “This is good exposure for these kids to get a chance to play on another stage.”

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Springfield is among 11 area teams committed to Flyin’. Other Greater Western Ohio Conference teams are Wayne, Trotwood-Madison, Centerville and host Fairmont. Beavercreek will play Carroll in the fourth annual girls game to open Day 2. Carroll was the Division II state runner-up last season.

Other area boys teams that will play at Flyin’ are Alter, Chaminade Julienne, Anna and Thurgood Marshall. This will be Wayne’s 14th consecutive Flyin’.

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“Every year is a special opportunity for us and moment for our program,” said Wayne coach Nate Martindale, whose Warriors are matched against Georgia power Grayson. “For my money, it’s the best basketball invitational in the country.”

Trotwood-Madison is the defending D-II boys state champ. Trotwood lost to Pickerington Central at Flyin’ last season, but didn’t lose again and will bring an 18-game win streak into the upcoming season. Trotwood is paired against nemesis Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary on Day 3.

“We don’t have any five-star guys, but I’m pretty sure we’ve got a lot of guys with five-star hearts,” said Trotwood coach Rocky Rockhold.

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• Tickets are $10 general admission on Day 1 ($20 reserved). Tickets on Days 2-4 are $18 general admission and $28 reserved and good for all games that day. A general admission all-tourney pass is $60 and $100 reserved.

Tickets are available at participating schools, all River Valley Credit Unions and at FlyintotheHoop.com.

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