CONWAY, S.C. (Nov. 17) – The eight teams competing in the 2021 Myrtle Beach Invitation quickly discovered one of the appeals of this tournament, as they have been greeted with beautiful sunny skies and temperatures near 70.
The forecast also calls for three days of exciting basketball action beginning at noon Eastern Time on Thursday when Davidson (1-1) takes on New Mexico State (2-0). That game will be followed by Penn (2-2) vs. Utah State (1-1) at 2 p.m., Oklahoma (2-0) vs. East Carolina (3-0) at 7 p.m., and Indiana State (2-1) vs. Old Dominion (2-1) at 9 p.m.
The second round will be held Friday, then the teams will take Saturday off before returning to the court for the final round on Sunday. All 12 games will be played at the HTC Center on the campus of Coastal Carolina, and will be broadcast on either ESPN2 or ESPNU.
The Myrtle Beach Invitational provides coaches with an opportunity to get to know their players better, and allows the teams to bond and work through any early-season issues.
“Like every other team, we’ve got a long way to go,” East Carolina coach Joe Dooley said. “This (tournament) helps all the teams with trying to get some continuity. We’ll get guys some minutes and try to get some team chemistry.”
The MBI also gives some teams a level of national exposure that might not otherwise be available to them. New Mexico State, for example, originally was going to play in a tournament in Hawaii before a scheduling conflict forced the Aggies to pull out.
“ESPN was so kind to find us another one of their tournaments,” New Mexico State coach Chris Jans said. “We were like the last addition to the tournament, and we’re appreciative of what they’ve done. It gives a school like this a chance for national exposure.”
In a special touch this year, the tournament’s Most Valuable Player Award has been named in honor of former Myrtle Beach mayor John T. Rhodes, who passed way this past January.
After playing both basketball and baseball while a student at Coastal Carolina, Rhodes remained in the area to work in the lodging and restaurant industries. In 1981 he helped establish the Beach Ball Classic, a Christmas high school basketball tournament designed to highlight local players.
It was one of the many ways that Rhodes used sports to generate economic development and improve the lives of the citizens in the region, which led to him being known as the “Father of Sports Tourism” for the Grand Strand.