Top recruit James Wiseman of East High will play in the MLK Tournament. (Photo: Terry Davis)

Starting Monday, Nov. 17, the 48th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Invitational Tournament will again be held throughout the City of Memphis.

Under the direction of Robert Newman, the tournament has been a fixture during the Thanksgiving holiday. Newman is a former high school basketball coach and the Executive Director of the Youth Engineering Success Foundation, which has run the tournament for the past 35 years.

This year’s tournament will feature 85 boys and girls teams. Among them are 17 teams from outside of Shelby County, 53 high school teams and 32 middle school teams. The tournament has a history of accepting any team regardless of the team’s record.

Among the many purposes the tournament serves, first and foremost is the awareness for its namesake, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Organizers believe the tournament is one way to continue to educate young participant about King’s legacy. But there are other advantages as well.

“The tournament allows some of the participants to host opening round games at their stadium and they use that as a fund-raising event,” Newman said. “Another purpose is to provide scholarships to students to continue their pursuit of a degree. Another unseen benefit is that the foundation contributed coats and winter gear to area schools for students in need.

Premier Games

  • November 19th at Hamilton High School
    4:30 pm Gentry vs. Trezevant
    6:00 pm Potter’s House vs. Charlotte Basketball Academy
    7:30 pm Whitehaven vs. Canton
  • November 20th at Hamilton High School
    5:00 pm Memphis University School vs. Munford
    6:30 pm Lausanne vs. Gentry
  • November 21st at Hamilton High School
    7:40 pm Charlotte Basketball Academy vs. Memphis East

Charlotte Basketball Academy has several players with Division I scholarship offers, including Omar Gardner class of 2020. He is a 6’4” tall high-jumper with a history of blocking 7-footers. He’ll be on the court against East High School and national prospect James Wiseman. Gardner has received offers from Wake Forest among other power five schools.

Canton was in the Mississippi 5A semi-finals last season and want to raise the championship trophy this season. Canton is led by Brandon Weatherspoon. Weatherspoon is a 6’5″ guard who averages 25 points per game and has received offers from Ole Miss, Seton Hall, Georgetown and others.

The first basketball tournament was held in December, 1971, and the winner was Northside High School coached by Marion Brewer at Melrose High School.  Hamilton High became the host school in 1992.  Coaches in attendance were Marion Brewer of Northside High School, Ed. Thornton of Carver High School, Tim Morgan of Mitchell Road High School, Jake Peacock of Lester High School, and William “Bill” Little of Booker T. Washington High School.

Melrose High School was the site of the tournament until 1992, in which time Hamilton High School became the host school.  Prior to the creation of the MLK Invitational Tournament, many inner city schools were barred from other Memphis and Mid-South Area Tournaments.

For complete schedule of game please visit http://mlktournamentmemphis.weebly.com