The word to define year two of the revamped Slam Dunk to the Beach was "more."
More teams. More fans. More recognition. More sponsors.
The Delaware Sports Commission (DSC) put on the 2015 Slam Dunk to the Beach at Cape Henlopen High School in Lewes December 27-29. Nineteen teams, including top national teams from as far away as Indiana and New York City, took to the court during the three-day basketball showcase. The 2014 Slam Dunk featured 16 teams.
Attendance at the iconic annual competition jumped, too, from 10,000 last year to 12,000 this year. And attendees were jamming social media with lots of chatter about the great games and stellar fan experience. The Slam Dunk hashtag reached more than 631,000 accounts and made nearly two million impressions across Twitter.
“Slam Dunk to the Beach is back and it is as good as it ever was,” said State Rep. Harvey, R-Milford. Kenton was a score-keeper for the first year of the original tournament and attended all three days this year.
The second year also saw an increase in the number of local and national companies supporting the event.
Bill Strickland, with L&W Insurance, a sponsor, went to two days of play.
“As a spectator I thought this year’s event was well run - high caliber competition, great amenities, just a fun tournament,” said Strickland. “As a sponsor we get bang for our buck with Slam Dunk to the Beach. We feel so good about it that we are looking to expand our sponsorship for next year. We also imagine taking clients and entertaining them there on one of the game days.”
The DSC has already distributed a follow-up survey that will provide feedback to enhance the 2016 event. It will also help determine where spectators came from to see the 2015 action. Lots of parents and fans followed their teams hundreds of miles to Lewes to watch the action. The 2014 edition of Slam Dunk to the Beach brought $1 million into the local economy.
“Sports are a major growth sector for the tourism industry in Delaware,” said Linda Parkowski, director of the Delaware Tourism Office. “Whether through this event, the softball World Series or the Wilmington Grand Prix, the huge ability of sports to draw people to the state is obvious.”
Across America sports tourism is big money. The National Association of Sports Commission estimates sports tourists spent nearly $9 billion in 2014, which is three percent more than they did in 2013.
Slam Dunk to the Beach has shined a spotlight on some of the best high school players in the country through the years. NBA stars LeBron James, Dwight Howard, Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony are just some of the great players who have hit the hardwood in Lewes. Players from 2014 are already making big names for themselves in college basketball, like Isaiah Briscoe at Kentucky and Cheick Diallo at Kansas.
There is no telling how far the talented kids that participated this year can go. Nearly a dozen are ranked among the top recruits in their classes according to ESPN, including Paul VI’s VJ King, Roman Catholic’s Tony Carr and Westtown’s Mohamed Bamba.
"We're writing our own history now," said Chris Giacamucci, executive director of the Delaware Sports Commission. “Recent Slam Dunk participants are already playing at the highest levels of college basketball and probably soon the NBA.”
Those players are on some of the best teams in the country. Six schools that took part in the 2015 Slam Dunk have been ranked in USA Today’s Super 25 at some point this season. And six schools from across Delaware had the opportunity to take on those powerhouses.
Giacamucci said Slam Dunk will keeping growing as the event continues to attract high-level teams and provide lots more potential for sponsors to be involved.
For more information on opportunities to get involved in Slam Dunk to the Beach, contact Chris Giacamucci at Chris.Giacamucci@state.de.us.