The numbers on their backs might as well be targets. 

Everyone in this year's Culligan City of Palms Classic will be gunning for University School (Fort Lauderdale), which returns to defend it's 2017 championship. The Sharks feature both the No. 3 senior and No. 2 junior in ESPN's recruiting database. 

They both played at Montverde Academy (Florida) last year. They're both playing at Woodrow Wilson (District Heights, Maryland) this year. They've both committed to play college ball at Maryland starting next year. They both averaged 9.5 rebounds per game in four Nike EYBL outings this summer.
Yes, Makhi and Makhel Mitchell are twins in just about every sense. And soon they'll add another shared distinction to their growing list when they both take part in the Culligan City of Palms Classic.

Now that we know who's coming to this year's Culligan City of Palms, Director of Officiating Kevin Hetherington will speak with tournament Vice President Donnie Wilkie to learn more about the matchups, as Hetherington told us last month. Now, he shares more detail about why understanding the matchups is important for referees.

Q.  You've said you use matchup information to get a sense of how each team's style of play compares to the way it's opponent plays. How does that manifest in your approach to the game?

A.  Ultimately I want, and I think it's best for the game, to keep the best players on the floor. You see it in the NBA and you see it everywhere. You don't want to give any kid cheap fouls, because cheap fouls have consequences and they put players on the bench. I worry about matchups and that element of it. Basketball's a sport. At some level, it's entertainment. I want the best players to stay on the floor. I don't want to get in the way of them staying on the floor with our officiating. 

There was a philosophy a lot of years ago that the referee's job was to set the tone for the way the game's going to be refereed and played. We're just going to come out and we're going to show these two big guys that we're not going to let them beat on each other, and you call fouls on them. OK, that's fine, but once you call the first one on them, the second one becomes the one that's going to put him on the bench. So when it's an illegitimate foul followed by a legitimate foul, now you've got him out of the game.

Q. With scholarships on the line for a lot of these players, the atmosphere can get pretty heated. If you see conflict brewing, how do you handle it? 

A.  One of the things that we will do is talk to a couple of players and say, "Hey, 50 and 52, knock it off!" And then I will tell my partners, "Hey guys, keep an eye on these two," and I'll just point at the two players. I'll draw attention to it. That way, your partners, potentially the coaches, and certainly the two players know that we are paying acute attention to them and their behavior. R eally, it's just an awareness thing, and communication with your partners, and also just telling coaches, "Hey coach, I'm having a problem with No. 52." And then it's kind of up to the coach. The coach can take him out, or he can leave him in. If the coach leaves him in, then I'm going to deal with him. I can foul him out, or I can remove him by just throwing him out. Or, I can talk to a coach and say, "Hey, you've got to take him out, or I'll have to throw him out."

When the Culligan City of Palms Classic blazed a trail to Suncoast Credit Union Arena in 2016, other great events followed. The venue became the first in Southwest Florida to host an indoor tennis event when Madisen's Match was held there in March of this year. In November, the Florida High School Athletic Association girls state volleyball championships will crown nine state champions.

Just a few days later, the inaugural Fort Myers Tip Off brings elite college basketball, including one of this year's Final Four teams, to the home of the City of Palms. Loyola-Chicago, Boston College, Richmond and Wyoming will take the court the week of Thanksgiving.