From April 16-18, the WPA Bruins will once again be hosting the WPA Bruins Tip Off event, a national girls basketball tournament that will include more than 185 teams from all over the nation.
The tournament features teams from 10U up to 17U, including many of the top ranked high school prospects in the nation. When it comes time for the tournament to roll around, many of the media outlets from across the U.S. will be heading out to Pittsburgh to cover the event. Pittsburgh Sports Now spoke with a few of these media members and broke down what they do as well as why they will be covering the event.
Tenishia Benson will be at the Tip Off, covering for both Ohio Girls Basketball Report as well as Eye for Prospects.
“I’ll be there under two different brands,” Benson said. “I’ll be under Ohio Girls Basketball Report (OGBR) which is a company that I own. Here I will get to see some of my Ohio teams that will be there as well as teams that will be there from neighboring states. I will be there with Eye for Prospects as well, a scouting service that does more national stuff. I do that because I am a McDonald’s All American Game voter, so I am going to look at the up and coming players in our country. This tournament has quite a few players that will be potential power five players as well as mid major and just a whole bunch of players from around. I get to evaluate them and watch some great basketball.”
Why Come to the WPA Bruins Tip-Off?
“We have gone before and there were a lot of teams that I had never seen before. It was great competition. Sometimes when you go to tournaments you usually get the same teams, same style, and at the Tip Off they have great competition, very diverse, and I appreciate that especially as an evaluator. I know there will be some great Ohio teams coming and talent from all across the country. They do a great job of bringing that under one roof.”
Jason Wilkins at Lady Baller Insider will also be in attendance. Wilkins focuses his coverage on the top eighth grade girls prospects in the Midwest.
“This is one of the best spring events in the country. You get teams from Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania, DC, and this is your best chance to see all of the kids before they get older and get more exposure. It’s a good chance to see them play early. You get to see the Under Armour teams, the Nike teams, the Adidas teams all under one roof, before they get to their events.
Who is Wilkins looking forward to watching?
“You’ve got West Virginia Thunder, Team Takeover, WPA Bruins, and more. Those are some pretty strong clubs. They always have some of the top talent in the area.”
Shane Laflin will be covering the event for Premier Basketball Report, a scouting service.
What does Premier Basketball Report Focus On?
“We run events, have teams under our umbrella, and more,” he said. “The basis of our organization is the events first. Then the scouting service grows the game, finds the players, serves the college coaches, and then at the same time also helps players out. Helps players find a spot, mentors them, helps them understand the process and how to grow in the game. As far as the service is concerned, we have had it for 10 or so years, and we are trying to see and evaluate as many players as we can. Get them in our database and get out reports and give them opportunities.”
Why Come to the WPA Bruins Tip-Off?
“Number one, John Tate is just a real basketball guy. Reputable WPA Bruins, an historical club. The event has just taken off, they have done a really good job. The bottom line is that he gets a ton of good teams there. People travel from the DMV, the Northeast, and it gets great talent. It ended up being a really good place to watch players, evaluate players, network with coaches, and support John and what he is doing. It just keeps growing and it has been a really impressive effort.”
Who is Laflin Keeping His Eye On?
“There are going to be a ton,” he said. “Starting with John’s group, the Bruins. Then you have the West Virginia Thunder. I have been keeping up with the twitter list of teams that are coming, but he has been posting so many that it has been hard to keep up. Everybody that has been posted is legitimate. We have seen players from everywhere. It really is, top to bottom, it has serious players from every level. Ohio Future, Elevate Elite, Michigan Basketball Academy, Team Durant, Cincy Angels, Mass Rivals, D.C. Premier, and more, so yeah. Everybody he has got going is really good. It is going to be great.”
Kenneth Pannell will be there as well. Pannell runs a company called Kontinuous Performance Athletics which is a scouting service.
“I will be doing a lot of scouting, looking for who’s next, who’s now, who got better during the pandemic, and seeing who is doing the work and who is not,” Pannell said.
Why the WPA Bruins Tip-Off?
“The level of talent that will be at the event and the event have been great for years now. John Tate and the WPA Bruins just put on a great event. You wouldn’t think that something in Pittsburgh would be so good, but because of the quality of teams, the quality of the scheduling, the quality of how they treat people, that is what separates this tournament from any other tournament in the country, to be honest with you. To do this during a non-evaluation period, it just doesn’t happen. He does a great job getting people there, whether it is referees, teams, everything. It is just quality. It is a great event.”
Joe Costa will be there with Bluestar Media as well as 412 Report.
“I have two different hats I wear,” he said. “I work for Bluestar National, which is a national scouting, rankings, and event outlet. My local thing, 412 Report, is focused on Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ohio areas. The center of PA towards maybe not quite as far as Columbus. We cover all of West Virginia, some of that western Maryland area. So this is a gold mine for me.”
Why the WPA Bruins Tip-Off?
“This is probably the best event because John can bring and put that talent all into one place,” he said. “The talent being from, in my case, my area of responsibility, and then I get to see that talent play against the next level out, which is other areas that I may not cover. They are talented kids and now my local kids get to play against those other talented kids. The other reason is he gets to cross shoe company lines. He gets to bring in the Under Armour teams, the Nike teams, and all of them. Usually those leagues are very conventional, they play themselves and they don’t get to play the other league very often. With this tournament, John gets to make sure that happens.”
Who is Costa Looking Forward to Watching?
“To start, John’s group alone. He has the most talent in the Western PA area. You can watch them in high school, but even then, they’re under their own circumstances. Here, he’s got them all in one place. They’re all on one team. Some of these teams feature players that now don’t have to carry their team like in high school, which allows them to be a more all-around player.
Sasha Palmer will also be in attendance, covering the tournament for BluePrint Scouting.
The company is based out of Atlanta, but is represented all over the country. They have a national scouting service and will be focusing on everyone at the Tip Off, looking to set up players with scouting profiles and more.
“We came to it last year, and we want to come up there as much as we can to cover that Northeast region,” Palmer said. “These are just great runs, a lot of good kids in this tournament.”
As for the scouting report Palmer adds, BluePrint will be looking at any and every player, not just the highly ranked ones.
“We put all levels in our scouting report,” she said. “We do headshots and we will have someone talking to all the kids, getting all of their information, so we really like to do and help colleges out with any kid at any level. We have top kids, and we have division III players. We will be there to hit all levels of talent and not just always have the standouts, because those are given.”
The event will tip off on April 16, 2021. More information on the tournament can be found at the link below.