In 1991, Charlie Weber had an idea to hold a tournament showcasing local and regional high school basketball talent. That same year he made it happen, and with a staff of three staged a 12-team event.
He continues to make his point. This year, the ninth Charlie Weber Invitational Tournament will run Friday through Sunday at Cole Field House and will feature 80 teams competing in two age groups.
"My first year, I said, 'All I want to do is have this event and not lose any money,' " Weber said of the event that has featured many of the nation's top prospects. "Everyone told me I was crazy because you can't have a basketball tournament in September. Now I have more staff than I had players that first year."
There is a 64-team older division made up of mostly high school seniors and a 16-team division for juniors and underclassmen. The finals will be 1:30 p.m. Sunday for the junior age group and 4 p.m. for the seniors.
Last year's competition attracted coaches from 160 college basketball programs and three NBA scouts. Weber expects the current group of players to garner the same level of attention.
"I've talked to people from Alabama to Stanford, from Clemson to Carolina," Weber said. "They'll all be there."
Former high school stars who played in the tournament and have gone on to the NBA include the Lakers' Kobe Bryant, Minnesota's Kevin Garnett and Joe Smith, Portland's Rasheed Wallace and Jermaine O'Neal, Milwaukee's Ray Allen and Tim Thomas, Chicago's Keith Booth and Indiana's Al Harrington.
Ninth Annual Charlie Weber Invitational Tournament
Where: Cole Field House
Cost: Adults $5, children (7-12) $3, children under 7 free, college coaches $50.
Top Players: Andre Barrett, Rice High (N.Y.); Modibo Diarra, Notre Dame Prep (Mass.); Neil Fingelton, Holy Name High (Mass.); Jerome Harper, Keenan High (S.C.); Cliff Hawkins, Oak Hill; David Holmes, Oak Hill; Bernard Robinson, New Hampton Prep (N.H.); Michael Sweetney, Oxon Hill; Chris Wilcox, Enlow High (N.C.).