Birmingham, Ala. — There are few youth hoops tournaments in the nation that generate the level of excitement and competition found at “Battle of the Magic City Showcase”. The creation of Blue Chips Sports’ owner and operator, Clyde Jackson, this year’s event hosted more than 300 total teams representing every region of the country. Astoundingly, over 200 of those teams were concentrated in the 6th, 7th, and 8th grade divisions, creating one of the largest platforms in grassroots basketball for middle school-aged programs. Be sure to check back throughout the week to read all of our individual player insight and analysis from the event, but in the meantime, here are a handful of my favorite storylines that unfolded during the weekend…
The Magic Returns To Youth Hoops
It was Wednesday, March 11th, 2020. I had already started packing my suitcase and preparing my schedule for the weekend in Alabama when the NBA announced it would cancel the season. Shortly after, the trickle-down effect began, and the 2020 Battle of the Magic City Showcase was postponed and later canceled altogether in what would begin a trend for the year ahead. In short, having this event back in 2021 was good for youth basketball. The energy in the gym on Friday night was electric and it carried over until everyone had exited the building on Sunday. I won’t forget this trip anytime soon nor the players that emerged because of its return.
Hollowed Ground At Hoover Met Complex
Not only is the 11-court Finley Center the ideal facility for evaluating at a large-scale sporting event like Battle of the Magic City Showcase, but the adjacent Hoover Metropolitan Stadium also has a unique hoops connection that basketball fans should appreciate. Until 2012, the field was home to the Birmingham Barons minor league baseball organization, meaning that Michael Jordan spent a considerable amount of time in the vicinity during the mid-1990s as a member of the Barons team. Perhaps not so coincidentally, the opening daytime baseball game scene from the original Space Jam (1996) movie was filmed at this stadium as well.
Drive Nation Trending Upward In 2025 Ranks
The eighth-grade division at the Battle of the Magic City Showcase was absolutely loaded with talent, featuring more than 70 programs and dozens of nationally-touted prospects, broken down into pairings that included a number of super pools leading into bracket play. The only team left standing at the end of the weekend was Drive Nation (TX), who finished the event with an unbeaten record of 6-0, and claimed the platinum division championship in the process. After winning consecutive tournament titles leading up to their Magic City crown, the Texas-based squad is the nation’s hottest team in the Class of 2025 heading into the spring season on the travel circuit, and will undoubtedly have opposing clubs chasing them on the schedule.
D-Five Global Proves “Guest Play” Groups Can Win
Another Texas-based program, D-Five Global (TX), took home top honors in the seventh-grade division at the Battle of the Magic City Showcase featuring a roster comprised of prospects from several different states. The momentum of a concept that I’ve dubbed, “guest play” (“All-Star”-type teams that assemble their roster regardless of where players reside), has surged during the coronavirus pandemic and continues to be a popular trend in grassroots basketball. While these groups are not eligible for our national team rankings at Prep Hoops Next, it is fun to see players from across the country merge for a weekend, and put their individual talents on display as a collective unit. The fact that D-Five Global (TX) was able to capture a championship at an event of this caliber is extremely impressive and speaks to the selfless play of their roster throughout the weekend.
Indy Premiere Makes Statement In 6th Grade Division
Indy Premiere put the Class of 2027 on notice by sweeping the competition at the Battle of the Magic City Showcase in a dominant fashion. Too strong of a word? Likely not, considering that with the exception of their 50-46 victory against CP3 Basketball Academy (NC) in the title game, “IP Fam 1st” won all of their games by double figures and finished the tournament with six wins and no losses. Depending on your point of view, the weekend in Alabama either concluded the winter schedule, or opened the spring season on the youth hoops calendar. Regardless, there’s a lot more basketball to be played but the current sixth-grade class is off to a great start as a whole.
Stay tuned for more from Prep Hoops Next!