TAMPA — As far back as he can remember in his 26 years, Jake Perper attended the City of Palms basketball tournament, which basically was held down the street from his family’s home in Fort Myers.
Perper loved everything about it.
He loved seeing some of the biggest names in basketball file into the gym — guys like Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, former NBA star Larry Bird and media personality Dick Vitale.
He loved the electricity of the highest ranked teams in the country, sometimes from opposite ends of the country, meeting in south Florida, sometimes with a high school national title hanging in the balance.
Perhaps most of all, he loved seeing the talent, many of whom went on to stardom in college and the pros. When he was just in elementary school, Perper often acquired the high schoolers’ autographs, hoping that one day their names would be in NBA lights (which has actually happened).
Fast forward to this week where Perper has put together a big high school basketball tournament, the Prep Hoops Sun Bash, held Friday and Saturday at Carrollwood Day School.
It is the culmination of more than six months of near non-stop work that included a surprising amount of attention to detail in a wide variety of areas, including: signing up 21 teams from the area, the state and two from Georgia; creating and making tournament shirts for all participants; designing, assembling, writing and marketing a tournament program; making the schedule; procuring donations, water, officials, and so on.
"I’m pretty proud of what we’ve done for the first year," said Perper, who works full time for the Florida division of prephoops.com, a website dedicated to high school basketball news in 30 states. "I think it’s a good start and gives us a strong foundation to build on."
This year’s first version is a shootout format with teams simply playing games against each other. Ultimately, the goal is to make it a 16-team bracketed tournament involving the top teams in the country.
As for the host venue, Carrollwood Day, Perper couldn’t be any more pleased, and vice versa.
"(Perper) saw our (new) gym for the first time over the summer and when he saw it he immediately said, ‘We need to have a tournament here,’ " CDS athletic director Baker Mabry said. "We said, ‘Let’s talk because we’ve been talking about hosting some tournaments.’ Then we met and everything has gone pretty well from there."
"It has been a lot of work," Perper said. "But it has been fun. I look forward to building on this for many years."
Prep Hoops Sun Bash
Where: Carrollwood Day School
Friday: Alonso vs. Carrollwood, 5:30; South Miami vs. Holy Spirit Prep, 7; Pebblebrook vs. Edgewater, 8:30
Saturday: Nature Coast vs. Canterbury, 8 a.m.; Superior Collegiate vs. Anclote, 9:30; Alonso vs. Santa Fe Catholic, 11; Palm Glades vs. Bayshore Christian, 12:30; Newsome vs. Lake Gibson, 2; Durant vs. Carrollwood, 3:30; Plant vs. Creekside, 5; Lake Wales vs. South Miami, 6:30; Holy Spirit vs. Vanguard, 8; Lakewood Ranch vs. Pebblebrook, 9:30