When Lone Peak basketball coach Quincy Lewis was approached about his team playing in an international tournament in Dubai the year the Knights were ranked No. 1 in the nation, he was a bit skeptical.
Organizers were offering an all-expenses-paid trip and a chance to play against some of the top teams in the United States as well as some international competition.
But that offer has become a reality. An 11-person Lone Peak contingent was scheduled to leave Salt Lake City International Airport on Thursday afternoon for the long trip to Dubai, where the Knights will play in the first annual MPAC Sports Elite International Basketball event.
Lewis said the competition will be top notch. It includes Chicago’s Simian, the high school that produced potential NBA star Jabari Parker, Montverde Academy of Florida, which draws top players from all over the U.S. And Europe, and Huntington Prep of West Virginia, the school NBA prospect Andrew Wiggins attended.
In addition, 10 top teams from the Middle East and North Africa will play in the tournament, which will be televised live in Dubai.
"We are thrilled at the fact that we have been able to pull off this historic event by hosting the top players from America and are equally thrilled about gathering the top talent from the MENA (Middle East and Africa) Region," said Luqman Rashad, founder and executive director of MPAC Sports Basketball. "This will be a basketball showcase unlike anything this region has ever seen."
Lone Peak has won four straight 5A basketball crowns. Lewis said the team he is taking this year will be the one that plays during the coming season and will not include star T.J. Haws. It will be led by all-state guard Frank Jackson, 6-foot-4 Nick Curtis and 6-foot-7 Dylan Hedin.
"We have done well in all of the Utah spring tournaments, but this is a whole other level," said Lewis. "The best players in the United States will be there."
Lewis said that the farthest his elite team has ever traveled for a tournament has been to Boston.
The Dubai trip will include cultural experiences such as a desert safari, sand buggy tours, a bus tour of Dubai and a trip to an indoor water park that is part of a complex that includes an indoor ski run.
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