FORT LEE, Va. – Fort Lee’s Martin Luther King Basketball Classic is back.
The popular hoops tournament, known for its college-level talent and competitiveness, is scheduled to take place Jan. 14-16 after a long hiatus.
“We’re looking forward to the competition,” said Anthony Nelson, organizer and sports intramural supervisor, Fort Lee FMWR. “We have teams from Illinois, North and South Carolina, New Jersey and Georgia. Competition-wise, it should be pretty good.”
Last played in 2013, the MLK Classic will include at least four squads from the six-team Washington Area Military Athletic Conference. They include the host Fort Lee Travellers and teams representing Joint Base Langley-Eustis; JB Myer-Henderson Hall; and Dover Air Force Base, Del.
Although the Travellers have been perennial tourney favorites, the team will have to contend with a Charleston AFB, S.C., unit that has been nothing short of impressive, said Nelson.
“It’s a real solid team, even though they only have eight players” he said.
Nelson added, however, that one Charleston player – whom he did not identify -- has sufficient talent to compensate for a depleted roster.
“He pretty much scores from the time he steps in the gym until the time he leaves,” he said with heaping measures of anticipation.
Coach Marvin Michael will lead the Travellers. The Army retiree has headed Fort Lee men’s and women’s team for more than a decade and can count several league and tournament titles to his credit.
The MLK tourney is organized into pools in which teams earn seeds based on their performances against competitors in the same pool, then play in a single elimination bracket to advance to the finals. Each team will play at least three games.
MacLaughlin and Clark fitness centers will host the contests. Games are scheduled from 9 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Teams participating in the tournament are comprised of military members and other Department of Defense identification card holders.
Traveller teams have traditionally consisted of permanent party Soldiers and Army Logistics University students, many of whom were either former college or semi-pro players.
Basketball hall of famer Lenny Wilkens is among the Traveller alumni.
For more information about the tournament and gametimes, visit lee.armymwr.com or call 804-734-3057.