Eric Horstman’s dream of having his homegrown project, the 17th annual Premier Health Flyin’ to the Hoop, televised appears to be in the works. It just wasn’t what he expected.
The midseason mostly boys high school basketball showcase that draws a national spotlight on Fairmont’s Trent Arena in Kettering kicks off with a doubleheader on Friday night. The hoopfest will end late Monday, having featured 20 games and 37 teams over the Martin Luther King holiday weekend.
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It’s a matchup of national prep school powers Spire Academy of Geneva, Ohio, against Prolific Prep (Calif.) at 1:15 p.m. Monday that already has generated the most buzz. Get ready for the “Ball in the Family” reality show that became an instant Facebook hit when it debuted in August of 2017.
“This year, that is the traveling circus because of the Ball family and everything they bring,” acknowledged Horstman, Flyin’s founder. “I talked with their production crew. They’re going to film some of the game.”
Fairmont (10-4) opens Friday’s traditional doubleheader against Crestwood Prep (Canada) at 6:30 p.m., followed by a matchup of national powers IMG Academy (Fla.) and Huntington Prep (W.Va.) at 8:15 p.m.
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Here’s other Flyin’ things to know:
• General admission tickets for Friday and Sunday are available at the Trent box office. A limited number of tickets are available for Saturday’s games. Tickets for Monday should be available, depending on the unsold tickets returned by participating teams.
• Spectators will be allowed in the arena at 5:30 p.m. Friday and 10:30 a.m. each of the next three days.
• The Greater Western Ohio Conference will be represented by host Fairmont and Xenia, Centerville, Springfield, Wayne and Trotwood-Madison. Other area boys teams that are Flyin’ bound are Stivers, Chaminade Julienne, Minster, Thurgood Marshall, Marion Local and Middletown Madison.
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• Top-ranked (Division II) and unbeaten Carroll (15-0) will play No. 2 (D-IV) and defending state champ Minster (13-1) in the third annual Flyin’ girls game to start Saturday.
• Check out flyintothehoop.org for more information.
Flyin’ alum who graduated to the NBA are many, including No. 1 overall draft selections DeAndre Ayton (2018), Andrew Wiggins (’14), Anthony Bennett (’13) and Anthony Davis (’12). LaMelo Ball is a slam dunk to eventually join those top picks.
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Ball is the youngest of patriarch LaVar Ball’s three must-see sons. By all accounts, the Spire Academy national headliner is the best of the bunch, which includes oldest brother and Lakers point guard Lonzo Ball and middle son LiAngelo (LA Ballers). LaMelo already has played professionally overseas in Lithuania. He’ll likely enter this summer’s NBA draft.
LaMelo Ball indirectly created even more of a buzz earlier this week when USA Today reported an “outside consultant” demanded a $10,000 appearance fee for Spire to participate in the Hoophall Classic at Springfield, Mass., the other national MLK weekend basketball showcase. Hoophall just said no and Spire instead headed to the “Big Baller Beatdown” at Benton, Ky.
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On Thursday afternoon, Sports Illustrated reported a fee of $3,500 will be charged by LaVar Ball’s Big Baller Brand to videotape Spire at the Kentucky event. That’s due at the gate.
Horstman said Thursday neither Spire nor its “outside consultant” will receive a Flyin’ appearance fee.
“Unequivocally, we absolutely did not (ask for) and will not play an appearance fee,” Horstman said. “That is not part of our deal. What we do is help offset expenses for airfare, hotels and team meals. There are a lot of events that will pay an appearance fee. Being one of the marquee events around the country, people want to be in (Flyin’) for the exposure. We don’t get asked for appearance fees.”
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Horstman said participating prep teams and other area high school programs have been secured to pinch hit should out-of-state Flyin’ commits have to cancel because of worsening weather conditions.
“The show will go on,” he said. “We’re going to do our best to keep the schedule as is.”
• Xenia’s Samari Curtis was one of seven Ohio players to be nominated this week for the 42nd McDonald’s All American Games. Area girls nominated were Mya Jackson (Wilmington), Mikala Morris (Kenton Ridge) and Courtney Prenger (Minster).
They are among 800 boys and girls nominees. The final cut of 24 players each will be announced on Jan. 24. The boys and girls games will be played at State Farm Arena in Atlanta on March 27.
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