‘Shootout’ to return to Gaither Gym

In a college town where sports rein supreme, and both major universities are slated to play meaningful regular season games, it’s pretty ironic to see a high school basketball event take center stage.

For the past six years, FAMU has played host to the “Breakdown Shootout”, a high school basketball event that matches up the best high schools in the state against their local and national rivals. This event has been able to merge high school basketball with college culture and create an atmosphere similar to that of Daytona’s Black College Reunion. There is always a live DJ, plenty of people and basketball games that keep fans jumping out of their seats.

This is not your average high school basketball event.

Last year, on the friday before the “Breakdown Shootout”, Governor’s Square Mall was overwhelmed with shoppers, eager to get that one “fit” that would make them stand out in a crowd.

“When you go to the (Breakdown) Shootout, you gotta be fitted up. You never know who you’re going to see there,” said Toccara McClover, a TCC student from Pompano.

The Shootout gives everyone a chance to see and be seen in a safe environment where students can let loose and be themselves.

For college students, the shootout brings back the good old days of team spirit and pride, while the high school teams and fans get a dose of the college experience.

The Shootout is probably best known for it’s long lines that begin forming hours before the doors open. The tickets are always sold at the door on a first-come-first-serve basis.

The event attracts a huge number of fans from Jacksonville because of perrennial powerhouse Ribault High School that has become a staple at the event. Rickards High from Tallahassee has left their own mark on the Shootout by both their heart stopping victories and enormous fan support.

For the true basketball fan, this year’s Shootout is probably the best one ever. For the first time ever, Miami Senior High School will be playing in the Shootout. They boast a player that is arguably the No. 1 point guard in the country, Edwin Rios. The rumor mill has already begun, slating him a definite NBA pick out of high school.

“I’ve seen a lot of players in my day, but when I see Eddie (Rios) with that basketball, it’s just amazing to watch,” said Cory Rollins, a national prep basketball analyst.

Just to put it in perspective, before the Duke Blue Devils made their official flight arrangements to play FSU on Saturday, they called Rios’ coach and asked if they would still be able to catch some of the game before they left town.

Don’t think for a second that the Shootout is a one man show. While Rios may be the star attraction this year, he is surrounded by a team full of nationally ranked players. Dwayne Collins and Johnathan Hall are also standouts at Miami High performers. They are taking on a Jacksonville’s Raines High School that has only lost one game to a Florida opponent in two seasons. Raines is led by Derwin Kitchens, who has already signed with University of Florida, and Juwann James, who is being agrressively recruited.

The most watched rivalry game in the state, Rickards High vs. Ribault, is the first game of the double-header and promises to be a war. When this game was televised at the shootout three years ago on Sunshine Network, over 7 million viewers tuned in.

The Shootout will be held this Saturday in Gaither Gym at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $7.