If you came out to watch the GymRat Challenge AAU basketball tournament in 1999, you saw the formative days of Emeka Okafor, who would wind up being the No. 1 pick of the 2004 NBA draft.,
If you came out to wath in 2006 or 2008, you got to see players who led the nation in rebounding, on the Division I level, in college basketball's last two seasons. That would be Kenneth Faried (played in the GymRat in 2006, and led all college rebounders in the 2010-11 season), and Siena's O.D. Anosiki (played in 2008, led the country in rebounding in 2011-12).
If you came out in 2004 or 2005, you got to see the player who led the country in scoring in the 2010-11 season, current Sacramento Kings' guard Jimmer Fredette.
And, so it goes ... an impressive who's who list of players who came through the GymRat tournament, players like current NBA standouts Michael Beasley, Stephon Curry and Joakim Noah; players like national championship winners Cole Aldrich (with Kansas in 2010) and Shabazz Napier (UConn in 2011); and George Beamon, the MAAC's leading scorer this past season.
The 15th annual GymRat Challenge tournament takes place this weekend, Saturday May 26 and Sunday May 27 at seven different venues throughout the Capital Region of upstate New York. More than 2,700 players from 276 teams in age levels from 12-under through 17-under will participate.
The event is the third-largest of its kind in North America, the largest on the east coast and, surely, there is no better place to be this weekend if you're a basketball fan ... a real "gym rat," so to speak.
There are usually several dozen high-major college prospects here annually, and this year looks no different. Beyond that, several hundred of this weekend's participants will wind up at the mid-major level (at least 15 current or former Siena players have come through the event, and dozens more scattered throughout current and past rosters of other MAAC programs).
At least half of those playing here this weekend will someday play at some level of college basketball.
The tournament will be played from 8 a.m. until 11 p.m. on Saturday and, then, on Sunday from 8 a.m. until Sunday evening. Championships will be determined at age brackets of 12-under, 13-under, 14-under, 15-under, 16-under and 17-under.
Admission is $10 per day and $15 for both days. Very reasonably priced concessions are also available, as is a tournament program with full rosters and a variety of tournament merchandise.
Your blogger is part of a team of talent evaluators that watch the games and select post-tournament all-star teams. Those selections, as well as details about the event, will be posted on the event's website (www.gymratchallenge.com). That site attracts more than 1.2 million hits annually.
The site also has full game schedules on line right now.
For Albany area fans, there are 20 local teams with more than 200 Capital Region players representing 40 high schools from the upstate New York area. In all, 12 states and two Canada provinces will send teams to the GymRat.
Yes, indeed, the event is a basketball junkie's paradise. In all, about 450 games will be played.
Upon the event's conclusion, this blog will do a post-tournament posting here about the GymRat with plenty of recruiting information pertaining to MAAC schools.
So, attend the event ... and, if you can't attend, then keep reading here at some point next week for the post-tournament report.