By GENE PHELPS
Next week's 12th annual Kiwanis Hotbed Classic in New Albany could be billed as the “Clash of the Titans.”
The highlight of the seven-game, one-day tournament, scheduled for Jan. 18 at New Albany Middle School gym, is a 5 p.m. matchup between two of state's top-rated players – McComb's 6-foot-11 Jackie Butler and Starkville's 6-9 Travis Outlaw.
“This is the only time these two guys will play against each other,” said tournament chairman Mike Nobles. “This is our biggest (Hotbed) matchup since 99 when we had Provine playing Tupelo and they were ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the state.”
The NBA's Memphis Grizzlies and New Jersey Nets are sending scouts to see the two big men play, Nobles said. Outlaw has signed with Mississippi State and Butler has verbally committed to the Bulldogs, but hasn't signed.
Even without the McComb-Starkville clash, the Hotbed's lineup is a “good one,” Nobles said.
In the 8 p.m. game, Ingomar, the Daily Journal poll's top-ranked team, will play a powerful Columbus squad.
At 6:30, host New Albany plays Tupelo, which is coached by former New Albany assistant coach David Ball.
In the opener at 11 a.m., East Union plays Myrtle, followed by Lafayette and West Union at 12:30 p.m., Corinth and Hickory Flat at 2, and Oxford and Bolivar Central at 3:30.
“We've worked on this lineup since October,” Nobles said. “The only one we knew for sure was McComb-Starkville. The rest kind of fell into place.”
Admission to the tournament is $5 with the proceeds going Kiwanis projects, including 4-H, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and American Legion, and scholarships to seniors in the New Albany and Union County school systems.
Hotbed Classic Schedule
Jan. 18 in New Albany
11 a.m., East Union vs. Myrtle
12:30 p.m., Lafayette vs. West Union
2 p.m., Corinth vs. Hickory Flat
3:30 p.m., Bolivar Central vs. Oxford
5 p.m., McComb vs. Starkville
6:30 p.m., Tupelo vs. New Albany
8 p.m., Columbus vs. Ingomar