RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Broughton High School in Raleigh was buzzing Tuesday evening because it was the first day of the John Wall Holiday Invitational.
“I mean this is really, really a great atmosphere for basketball,” said Bill Sewell, the tournament’s executive director since around 2006.
“So, at that time we were playing in Reynolds Coliseum and the expenses got too much to play there anymore so we moved back home back to Broughton, and it just took off from there,” he explained. “This is our first time playing back at Broughton in three years [because of the pandemic].”
People from across the country have converged on the Triangle to watch some of the nation’s best high school teams compete.
“One thing that Raleigh is known for is our basketball. Like, basketball is us. Basketball is culture. Basketball is our community,” said Jalan Ward.
Speaking of the best, Ward, Raleigh native and owner of The Proud Black Brand, was selected to create the official commemorative shirt for the tournament after winning the design contest.
“I created the design in probably like eight hours nonstop,” Ward stated. “John Wall is somebody I’ve been inspired by since a kid. I was in middle school seeing him play high school basketball. I’ve always looked up to that guy. So, just being able to instill basketball in front of the skyline is, like, it’s the foundation but knowing that basketball is a part of us,” he explained.
Over the years, the tournament has raised $1.5 million in scholarships for students.
“It means a lot to the community. You see everybody. From old to young. Women and men,” Sewell said.
The tournament wraps up Friday.