King Cotton Holiday Classic Returning to Pine Bluff

Group of men, playing basketball game indoors in arena.

Go Forward Pine Bluff (GFPB) has announced the December return of the King Cotton Holiday Classic, sponsored by Simmons Bank. The event is a high school basketball tournament that placed Pine Bluff in the national spotlight in years past. GFPB CEO Ryan Watley made the announcement during a news conference at the Pine Bluff Convention Center.

The tournament’s eight-team lineup, which includes nationally ranked teams and players, was also revealed.

“We are incredibly proud to bring this famed event back to Pine Bluff and are eager to see the positive impact it will have on our city,” says Watley.

Simmons Bank, headquartered in Pine Bluff, is the title sponsor of the tournament.

“Simmons is committed to providing opportunities for our communities, especially for our hometown of Pine Bluff,” says Daniel Robinson, Simmons Bank Pine Bluff community president. “We are honored to be part of a tournament that gives young athletes a platform to pursue excellence and celebrate sportsmanship.”

The tournament will be held December 27-29 at the Pine Bluff Convention Center.

Ahead of the event, the Convention Center will receive a new video scoreboard, along with renovated restrooms, dressing rooms and concession stands. Fresh paint and a new exterior marquee will also be part of the renovation.

The tournament’s reputation for star talent extends to its earliest days, when the tournament garnered national attention and a televised ESPN segment in the 1980s.

The 2018 teams include:

Columbus High School – Columbus, Missouri
               2018 6A champion
Ranked #1 in Missouri, #35 nationally
Reached final four in the state last four years  

Houston Math, Science and Technology Center – Houston, Texas
              2018 6A semifinalist
Ranked #16 in Texas, #91 nationally
Two top 50 players for 2019 in the state 

Landry Walker High School – New Orleans, Louisiana
               2018 6A runner-up
Ranked #4 in Louisiana
Reached state finals last three years  

Gulliver Preparatory School – Pinecrest, Florida
               Two players ranked in the top 75 National Class of 2020
Players ranked #5 and #7 in Florida

The Park School of Buffalo – Snyder, New York
               2018 state champion
Ranked #4 in New York, #102 nationally
Top 10-ranked player in the state 

Polytechnic High School – Long Beach, California
               2018 conference champion, state quarterfinalist
Named “Sports School of the Century” by Sports Illustrated in 2005

Mills University Studies High School – Sweet Home, Arkansas
               2017-18 5A state runner-up
Ranked #4 in Arkansas, #104 nationally 

Jacksonville High School – Jacksonville, Arkansas
               2013 5A state champion         

Pine Bluff High School – Pine Bluff, Arkansas
               2015 6A state champion 
Host team

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