Justis Column: NIBC showcasing some of the nation’s top talent
Monteverde’s Dariq Whitehead #0 in action against IMG Academy during a high school basketball game at the Hoophall Classic, Monday, January 17, 2022, in Springfield, MA. (AP Photo/Gregory Payan)
A new league that hopes to raise the standard of high school basketball began its first full season in December with eight of America’s top teams competing at venues across the country.
Several games have been and will be carried by ESPN channels.
Teams participating in the National Interscholastic Basketball Conference (NIBC) are Montverde Academy in Montverde, Florida; IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida; Oak Hill Academy of Mouth of Wilson, Va.; Sunrise Christian Academy of Bel Aire, Kan.; La Porte Light, Indiana; Wasatch Academy of Mt. Pleasant, Utah; Legacy Early College in Greenville, South Carolina; and Bishop Walsh of Cumberland, Md.
These schools were selected primarily because they have won the last eight national high school championships, with Montverde winning five titles. Montverde produced seven draft picks in the 2021 NBA draft, including four first-rounders.
The impetus behind the formation of NIBC was the cancellation of several games due to COVID-19. Some of the current members of the new conference have held their own competitions amid cancellations. The rest is history.
The league commissioner is Paragon Marketing Group partner Rashid Ghazi. Kasey Kesselring of Montverde is the chairman of the board of governors.
“With the games canceled last season…the NIBC schools created a series of competitions among themselves and brought us in to help run the events, secure sponsorship revenue and place the games on ESPN networks,” Ghazi said. . “Schools have realized the power of building their own brands together and we have worked with them over the past few months to organize an official conference.
“We believe that tradition and history…combined with Paragon’s expertise create a winning formula that will make NIBC truly unique in the world of high school sports.”
Sound like the NBA?
The NIBC hopes to regularly showcase some of the nation’s top prospects on the national stage, which could benefit college coaches and NBA scouts. Perhaps even student-athletes, who are increasingly skipping college for the G League or dropping out of high school programs to join Overtime Elite, a league that offers a year-round development program. These leagues offer monetary compensation, while the NIBC is entirely amateur, allowing players to keep options open for college play in the future.
How the hell does this work? How is it funded? Understanding that this format is for successful teams, is it beneficial for the players? Is this the next step towards paying high school players? How far can youth sport go?
I reached out to a few coaches and the NIBC commissioner to get answers to some of these questions, but got no response.
Here are some things to consider:
- Since the league members are private schools, funding, including sponsorships, probably isn’t much of an issue.
- Could public schools possibly have the opportunity to participate in such a program? Funding would be more of an issue. Most public schools do not have the kind of training staff and facilities available that these “elite” preparatory schools have.
- What impact would this have on public secondary school curricula?
- What is the impact on student-athlete participation? Travel, studies, socialization.
I would love to hear from coaches, parents, and the student-athletes themselves about their opinions on the NIBC.
Nancy Justis is a former competitive swimmer and college sports information director. She is a partner of Outlier Creative Communications. Let him know what you think at [email protected]