The University of the Virgin Islands will host the 2019 Paradise Jam Basketball Tournament beginning Friday in the Sports and Fitness Center on the St. Thomas Campus. The highly anticipated basketball tournament tips off at 2 p.m. with the men’s games when Valparaiso University goes up against Grand Canyon University. This year’s men tournament will also include teams from Fordham University, University of Nevada, Illinois State University, University of Cincinnati, Bowling Green State University and Western Kentucky University. The championship men’s game is scheduled for 9 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 25.
The action in the women’s tournament gets underway on Thursday, Nov. 28, and runs until Nov. 30. There are two divisions of women’s play. In the “Island Division” are UT Arlington, University of Louisville, Oklahoma State University and University of Oregon. The teams playing in the “Reef Division” are Washington State University, Baylor University, Indiana University and University of South Carolina.
To mark its 20th anniversary in the Virgin Islands, Paradise Jam 2019 will be celebrated under the theme: “Community, Compassion and Courage.” To mark this milestone anniversary, local reggae artiste, Pressure, is expected to make a special half-time appearance.
Nels Hawkinson, executive director of Basketball Travelers Inc., said that Paradise Jam has grown significantly over the years since its inception. “Looking back on 20 years here in the U.S. Virgin Islands has been incredible,” he said. “We have made lifelong memories and friends, and our connection with the islands grows each year we have this tournament,” Hawkinson noted. “Thank you to everyone who has played a part in our 20-year history here, and we hope to continue to bring high-quality basketball to the islands every year.”
Speaking of the growth of Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands, Tournament Director, Jennifer Ashby said, “We are excited to announce that for the first time in the tournament’s history, a participating team, Grand Canyon University, will be bringing an entire charter plane full of supporters, band, and cheerleaders to St. Thomas. We are also excited to welcome four women’s teams ranked in the national top 10 for this year’s 20th anniversary celebration.”
“For 19 of the 20 years Paradise Jam has been in the Territory, the University has been the host of this dynamic and exciting tournament of outstanding men’s and women’s basketball teams,” said UVI President David Hall. “We are honored to be the host because the excellence and creativity displayed by the teams on the basketball court, are the same excellence and creativity the University strives to embody in our classrooms, laboratories and all other activities.”
The President stated that basketball is more than a game. “It is a testing ground for life and a cubicle where students develop the character, perseverance, courage and resilience that they will need throughout their lives,” he added. “This is why we are honored and excited about hosting this tournament and having our teams play during the tournament. We look forward to growing and expanding with Paradise Jam for many years to come.”