The field for this year's GEICO High School Nationals looks a lot like a Culligan City of Palms Classic draw. Seven of the eight schools headed to the de facto national championship event have played in the City of Palms at some point, and four of them were at the Suncoast Credit Union Arena just this past December.
This year's GEICO Nationals lost some of their luster when the starting five for No. 2 seed McEachern (Powder Springs, Georgia) decided to skip the event. Prior commitments some of the players made to USA Basketball and the Nike Hoop Summit, plus a desire to focus on college recruiting, leave the reigning Culligan City of Palms Classic champs severely shorthanded. Still, the remnants of McEachern will try to keep the team's unbeaten record alive in the GEICO quarterfinals against Sunrise Christian School (Bel Aire, Kansas), which played in the 2013 City of Palms.
The Jordan Brand Classic is headed to Las Vegas for the first time this year, but it was always a good bet it would have a City of Palms feel. Seven players who've appeared in the Culligan City of Palms Classic are among the 26 selected for the Jordan Brand rosters, including the top three players in the ESPN recruiting rankings for the Class of 2019.
James Wiseman, who occupies the top spot in those rankings, fell just short of leading Memphis East (Memphis, Tennessee) to the 2017 Culligan City of Palms Classic title. On April 20, he'll lead the "Away" team at the Jordan Brand Classic, and in a few months, he'll join former high school coach Anfernee "Penny" Hardaway at the University of Memphis. 
James Naismith invented basketball, and the Culligan City of Palms Classic comes close to perfecting it. How else to explain the appearance of three City of Palms alums on the Naismith High School Boys 2019 All-American first team, and two each on the second and third teams?
The triumvirate of Cole Anthony, Vernon Carey Jr. and James Wiseman lead the way on the first team, joined by Anthony Edwards of Holy Spirit Prep (Atlanta) and Isaiah Stewart of La Lumiere (La Porte, Indiana). Anthony and Carey are plenty familiar by now to Culligan City of Palms Classic watchers, having both played in the last two tournaments, while Wiseman made his lone City of Palms appearance in 2017 with tournament runner-up Memphis East.

We saw a glimpse of future slam dunk royalty. Hamidou Diallo's rim-rattling performance during his games at the 2016 Culligan City of Palms Classic foreshadowed his acrobatics at the 2019 AT&T Slam Dunk contest during NBA All-Star Weekend in Charlotte. The Oklahoma City Thunder rookie dazzled the crowd as well as the judges, who named him the winner over former N.C. State standout Dennis Smith Jr. in the final round.
Diallo brought Superman into the building in more ways than one, ripping open his jersey to reveal the Superman "S" and using Shaquille O'Neal as a prop for a scintillating display of athleticism that drew a perfect score of 50. The 6-foot-5 Diallo leaped over the top of the 7-foot-1 O'Neal and crammed the ball through the hoop, managing to lodge his entire forearm in the basket.
The Culligan City of Palms Classic has its fingerprints all over the McDonald's All American Boys Game, as usual. The nation's No. 1 high school basketball tournament placed 10 alumni in this year's McDonald's game, set for March 27, and a record 11 in last year's, when Nassir Little became the ninth player who appeared in the City of Palms to win the McDonald's MVP.
Over the years, more than 150 City of Palms players have also been McDonald's players. But it all started with one.
Stacey Poole Sr. was a bouncy 6-foot-6, 200-pound swingman who captured the 1986 City of Palms MVP award with Jacksonville Forrest. By the spring of 1988, he was a Parade magazine second-team All-American and highly touted recruit who earned selection to a McDonald's game that included future legends Christian Laettner, Alonzo Mourning and Shawn Kemp.

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