Virginia is the second straight B4A Champion to win national title
Virginia’s championship victory in this year’s National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament marks the second consecutive year that the winner of the Bad Boy Mowers Battle 4 Atlantis BClassic on Paradise Island has gone on to cut down the nets less than five months later as national champs. Villanova turned in the same accomplishment the previous season, capturing both the 2017 Battle 4 Atlantis title and the ensuing national crown.
NCAA Tournament success is nothing new to Battle 4 Atlantis participants. Every year since the tournament’s inception in 2011, at least half the teams in the eight-school Battle 4 Atlantis field have qualified for that season’s NCAA Tournament. The tone was set during that first tournament, when four of the Battle 4 Atlantis teams made the NCAAs and two more were in the postseason NIT (National Invitation Tournament).
“Since Battle 4 Atlantis tipped off in 2011, we have been honored to host some of the most elite teams in college basketball,” said Senior Vice President of Public Affairs, Special Events & Entertainment at Atlantis Ed Fields. “Year after year, the competitiveness of the Battle 4 Atlantis field has helped to prepare teams for any level of competition they would encounter during their season. We are thrilled to watch their continued success throughout their regular season and into the postseason.”
The most impressive showing took place in 2014 when seven of the eight Battle 4 Atlantis participants made it to the NCAAs, with three of those teams advancing to the Sweet 16. That season’s Battle 4 Atlantis Champion Wisconsin went all the way to the national title game before losing to the Duke Blue Devils (winner of the 2012 Battle 4 Atlantis title). The following season, six Battle 4 Atlantis teams made the NCAA Tournament with two of them – Gonzaga and Syracuse – filling out half of the Final Four.
Combined, Battle 4 Atlantis participants have produced three national champions (Louisville was the first to do it in 2013) and 41 NCAA Tournament appearances, meaning that 64 percent of the teams that have played in the Battle 4 Atlantis Classic have gone on to make that season’s NCAA Tournament. In addition, teams in the Battle 4 Atlantis Classic have won 13 regular-season conference championships and 12 conference tournament titles.
Of course, with great teams come great players, and the Bad Boy Mowers Battle 4 Atlantis Classic has had plenty of those as well. A total of 34 players participated in the Battle 4 Atlantis and then were picked in the ensuing National Basketball Association (NBA) Draft. Several others were drafted in later years, including Bahamian Chavano “Buddy” Hield, who played in the 2014 Battle 4 Atlantis and then was the No. 6 overall pick in the 2016 draft.
Fellow Bahamian DeAndre Ayton played in the 2017 Battle 4 Atlantis Classic for Arizona, then was the No. 1 overall draft pick by the Phoenix Suns in 2018. That was a stellar tournament in terms of pro talent, as seven players from the 2017 Battle 4 Atlantis were chosen in the ensuing NBA draft. Villanova’s national championship squad provided four of those picks, including three first-rounders.
Other players who used the Battle 4 Atlantis as a springboard to being chosen in the following NBA draft include Andre Drummond (who played for the University of Connecticut in the 2011 Battle 4 Atlantis), Mason Plumlee (Duke in 2012), Andre Wiggins and Joel Embiid (Kansas in 2013), Frank Kaminski (Wisconsin in 2014) and Donovan Mitchell (Louisville in 2016).
Ayton and Kaminski are among the six Battle 4 Atlantis participants who also were named their conference player of the year that same season. The others were Jalen Brunson of Villanova, Grant Williams of Tennessee, Joe Jackson of Memphis and Matt Dickey of UNC (University of North Carolina) at Asheville.
It is too early to know how many players from the 2018 Bad Boy Mowers Battle 4 Atlantis will go on to have NBA careers, but Virginia’s national championship shows once again that Paradise Island often serves as a picturesque stop on the way to greater success.
Basketball action returns to Paradise Island next season with the staging of the 2019 Bad Boy Mowers Battle 4 Atlantis Classic, set for November 27-29. The field includes six teams that participated in this year’s NCAA Tournament – North Carolina, Oregon, Michigan, Gonzaga, Iowa State and Seton Hall – along with Alabama and Southern Mississippi.