MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. -- Does the 1991 Beach Ball Classic have its greatest collection of high school basketball talent in its 11-year history?
"There's no doubt it's the best [holiday] tournament this season," said Brick Oettinger, recruiting columnist for The Poop Sheet, which covers the Atlantic Coast Conference. Oettinger is a member of the Beach Ball Classic all-tournament selection committee.
"You can argue that it's as good as any tournament any time, anyplace."
The '91 Beach Ball Classic begins today with six of its entrants ranked in the top 25 in the country.
Dunbar (8-0) is No. 1 in this week's USA Today Super 25 rankings, Alameda (Calif.) St. Joseph Notre Dame is second and St. Raymond's of the Bronx, N.Y. is third.
"I don't think any tournament has had Nos. 1, 2 and 3," Oettinger said.
Go down a little bit and there are three more Beach Ball teams: Philadelphia's Simon Gratz (No. 12), Louisville Male (No. 21) and Myrtle Beach (No. 23).
Tonight at 9, Dunbar plays Louisville Male (8-0). The winner advances to play the winner of tonight's game between St. Raymond's (7-0) and Myrtle Beach (6-0).
Teams are one thing, but the talent is why high school basketball specialists are keeping an eye on this tournament. Dunbar has probably the most impressive trio, in 6-foot-6 senior Donta Bright, 6-2 senior Michael Lloyd and 6-6 junior Keith Booth.
The tournament also features Jason Kidd, regarded by many people as the best high school senior player this season. Kidd, a 6-4 senior who plays for St. Joseph Notre Dame, signed early with the University of California.
"Jason Kidd is the best defensive point guard I've ever seen in high school basketball. Period," Oettinger said.
"He's quick and relentless. People hate to play against him. He has quick hands and feet. You're a challenge for him every step of the way. He physically beats up on you. He has good offensive skills, but great defensive skills. I've got him rated No. 1."
Underclassmen fuel defending Beach Ball champion Simon Gratz. Rasheed Wallace, a 6-10 junior, and Shawn Smith, a 5-10 sophomore, are among the stars. Dunbar defeated Simon Gratz, 52-49, in the final of the Cambria War Memorial Tournament in Johnstown, Pa. Since then, the Poets have won tournaments in St. Louis and Honolulu. Dunbar beat Harker Prep of Potomac, Md., then ranked 10th, in the final of the Iolani Classic in Hawaii.