Southern Nash to play in Hoop State Showcase | The Enterprise
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Southern Nash to play in Hoop State Showcase

Posted on November 14, 2021

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The Hoop State Network, a media company focused on high school and youth basketball in North Carolina, will host the Wilson Prep Hoop State Showcase on Jan. 22 at Wilson Prep. Wilson native Rod Bridgers, center, shown with fellow Hoop State associates Anthony Simmons, left, and Miles Masercola, helped put together the 10-team event.

Hoop State Network

The Hoop State Network, a media company focused on high school and youth basketball in North Carolina, will host the Wilson Prep Hoop State Showcase on Jan. 22 at Wilson Prep. Wilson native Rod Bridgers, center, shown with fellow Hoop State associates Anthony Simmons, left, and Miles Masercola, helped put together the 10-team event. | 252-265-7808

WILSON — Since its inception in 2018, the Hoop State Network has become a go-to resource for high school and youth basketball fans around North Carolina. Beyond just a website, Hoop State Network has not only broadcast high-interest games but also puts on events, including one in Wilson in early 2022.

The Wilson Prep Hoop State Showcase is set for Saturday, Jan. 22, at Wilson Preparatory Academy with five games featuring some of the state’s top players on the court.

“It’s going to be a great event with a lot of great teams, a lot of great players,” said Hoop State co-founder and Wilson native Rod Bridgers.

The host Tigers, the defending North Carolina High School Athletic Association 1-A champions, will take on the Burlington School, the defending North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association 2-A champion, in the final game of the day at “The Jungle” around 8 p.m.

“The Burlington School coach actually requested it,” Bridgers said. “He wanted to come play at Wilson Prep because he heard about the crowd as well.”

Also on the docket are Southern Nash with highly regarded sophomore Jordan Vick taking on Parrott Academy of Kinston at 5 p.m. and Rocky Mount High, including high-profile junior Jamal Townsend facing Raleigh Enloe to start the day’s action at 2 p.m.

A trio of independent prep school teams will bring high-powered lineups to Wilson in Liberty Heights Athletic Institute of Charlotte; Winston-Salem Christian and Combine Academy of Lincolnton. Liberty Heights, which Bridgers says features a lineup full of NCAA Division I prospects, will face Fayetteville Academy at 3:30 p.m.

“Liberty Heights has a kid in Silas DeMary Jr. who’s a top 100 kid in the country,” Bridgers said. “He’s probably the best rising junior in the state right now.”

Combine and W-S Christian pair off at 6:30 p.m. in what Bridgers said should be the best game of the day. Combine is ranked No. 10 in MaxPreps’ Top 20 Independent Rankings of national teams, while Winston-Salem Christian is 20th.

The Wilson Prep event is one of six the Hoop State Network planned for the 2021-22 season, Bridgers said. The Overtime Elite Prep Challenge that included W-S Christian, Liberty Heights and Combine was held earlier this month.

The week before the Wilson Prep Showcase on Jan. 15, Kinston High will be the site of the Brandon Ingram MLK Showcase that will feature Wilson Prep playing Greenfield at 1:30 p.m. Southern Nash will play First Flight at 3 p.m.

Later in November is the Hoops & Dreams Showcase at Methodist College in Fayetteville, and Hoop State will help out with Phenom Hoop Report’s Good Guys Vs. Cancer Showcase Dec. 10-11 at First Flight High in Kill Devil Hills.

The last event of the season is the Hoop State Championship for independent prep teams in Rock Hill, South Carolina.

The Hoop State Network is the brainchild of Webb Wellman of Kinston, who made a name for himself in creating video highlight tapes, or mixtapes, of high school players. Wellman and Bridgers along with Miles Masercola, Anthony Simmons, Ben Massenet and Donnie Bui comprise the Hoop State leadership while Max Scheide helps in production.

“We initially kind of started a partner company of Phenom (Hoop Report) and we’ve kind of split off and done our own thing,” Bridgers said.

Their own thing is getting the word out about up-and-coming hoops talent in North Carolina.

“We kind of consider ourselves to be like the SportsCenter of North Carolina in terms of content and high school sports because you see a lot of media about high school sports, but we kind of get in depth,” Bridgers said. “We do feature content on players where people can kind of get to know the players on a more personal level.”

Now Hoop State is not only covering high school hoops, but creating games and matchups that fans want to see.

“I think the biggest thing for us is developing those relationships with coaches and they put trust in us that we put on high-quality events,” Bridgers said. “We definitely try to work within the parameters of what is given. This year has been a little bit of a challenge as well, just because I know that the athletic association reduced every school by about two or three games. So a lot of teams that originally committed to play an event had to back out because they had prior engagements and things like that. So that was tough to navigate as well, but for the most part, everybody’s been pretty good about wanting to play in our events. To be truthful, we have had to turn people away, but that’s a good problem to have.”

The Wilson Prep Hoop State Showcase event is one Bridgers, who played hoops at both Hunt and Fike, has long wanted to hold in his hometown. He hoped to hold the event at one of the bigger public high school gymnasiums in town.

“I reached out to every Wilson County public school. Some didn’t reply to me,” Bridger said.

He did talk to Hunt head coach Dwight Taylor, who said the school couldn’t host it this time, but Bridgers hopes to include more Wilson schools in future events.

“My hope is that we want this to grow to the point where we can include all the Wilson schools, and I want to have it in the Wilson public schools,” he said. “That was my initial plan to have it at Hunt or Fike, but things change, and I do appreciate Coach Atkinson and Wilson Prep for stepping up and allowing us to have the event there.”

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