The Allstate Sugar Bowl has a rich history with the sport of basketball, as well as football. Dating back as far as 1936, the Sugar Bowl has sponsored basketball events in conjunction with the annual football classic. In addition, the Bowl has been a sponsor for multiple local events in the sport. In 2008, the Sugar Bowl Committee partnered with other local organizations to put together a successful bid to host the 2012 NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four, officially hosted by Tulane University. The Bowl also worked with Tulane and the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation to host the 2013 NCAA Women’s Basketball Final Four, a role it was scheduled to reprise for the 2020 NCAA Women’s Final Four, which was cancelled by the COVID-19 pandemic.
For 10 years, the Allstate Sugar Bowl sponsored the National Prep Basketball Classic, an event featuring multiple brackets for both boys’ and girls’ high school basketball players. It has featured teams from Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Texas.
Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, the Sugar Bowl was not able to sponsor the 2021 event.
While the event started with eight teams in 2011; it featured 63 teams in 2020, including 12 out-of-state participants.
In addition, the tournament organizers, Friends of Prep Sports LLC, award five $1,500 scholarships to deserving student athletes in the tournament.
Four Louisiana high schools swept the four championships at the 2020 Allstate Sugar Bowl National Prep Classic. The two top honorees were Scotlandville High School, which won the Boys National Bracket and LaGrange High School which captured the Girls Platinum Bracket title. Also earning championships were KIPP-Booker T. Washington High School from New Orleans, which won the Boys State Bracket and Huntington (Shreveport) High School, which won the Girls Gold Bracket.
Allstate Sugar Bowl Primetime Super 60 AAU Basketball Tournament
The Allstate Sugar Bowl was scheduled to sponsor the Primetime Super 60 AAU Tournament for the ninth straight year in 2020. While the event is typically played over Memorial Day weekend, the COVID-19 pandemic forced organizers to cancel the 2021 edition. The 2022 event is scheduled for January 5-8, 2022.
The Super 60 tourney has featured many top teams and star players in its history, including current NBA players Marvin Bagley (Sacramento Kings), Melvin Frazier (Orlando Magic), Wendell Carter (Chicago Bulls), Collin Sexton (Cleveland Cavaliers), Jared Vanderbilt (Minnesota Timberwolves), Robert Williams (Boston Celtics) and Trae Young (Atlanta Hawks) as well as 2021 NCAA Final Four stars Jared Butler (Baylor) and Jalen Suggs (Gonzaga).
The 2019 event featured 185 boys’ teams, including many of the top-rated AAU teams in the country, from second-grade to eighth-grade and 52 girls’ teams from sixth to 11th grade. Teams played multiple games at 24 locations around the city. The tournament featured young athletes from 20 different states and drew 10,000-12,000 visitors to the city. For more tournament information, please visit the Super 60 website.
Recent years of the event have also welcomed some adult basketball stars – former NBA star and current University of Memphis basketball coach Penny Hardaway and former NBA player and playground legend Rafer “Skip To My Lou” Alston have coached teams, as did former UNO star Ervin Johnson (a 2018 inductee into the Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame) and current New Orleans Pelican Darius Miller. New York Knick Elfrid Payton and former NBA stars Juwan Howard and Zach Randolph have attended as fans.
The Dillard’s men’s basketball team had a four-game win streak in the Allstate Sugar Bowl Bleu Devil Classic snapped by the Gold Rush, but the Bleu Devil women posted their third win in the last four years in the 2020 event.
In the men’s game, Dillard (17-13) was led by 17 points from Tyrell Alcorn, but it was not enough as No. 15 Xavier (23-6) had a huge game from Rayshawn Mart, who scored 19 points to go with nine rebounds, in the 73-66 decision. In the women’s match-up, Jabria Pounds scored 20 points and Paige Williams added 16 as Dillard (10-19) snagged a 62-52 victory from Xavier (14-14). Pounds also added 11 rebounds four assists and four steals.
The historic rivalry between the two schools began on Jan. 17, 1948 when the men’s basketball teams first clashed on the hardwood. Saturday’s meeting was the 142nd (including a February 15 meeting at Xavier) in history between the Gold Rush and the Blue Devils, with Xavier holding an 87-55 advantage. The schools first met in women’s basketball action during the 1977-78 season. The Gold Nuggets and Lady Blue Devils have played 95 times with Xavier on top 71-24 in the all-time series (entering 2019-20).
Three players in the XU-DU men’s series reached the NBA. Xavier’s Donald “Slick” Watts played six seasons with three NBA teams from 1973-79. Watts was the first player to lead the NBA in assists and steals in the same season (1975-76). Gold Rush teammate Bruce Seals played three NBA seasons (1975-78) after two seasons in the ABA. Dillard’s George Johnson played 13 seasons with six NBA teams from 1972-86 and ranks 13th in the NBA with 2,082 career blocked shots. Johnson was a member of the Golden State Warriors’ 1975 NBA championship team, and Seals played in the NBA Finals in 1978 with the Seattle SuperSonics.
The Allstate Sugar Bowl was a key part of the process for the successful bid by the city of New Orleans to host the 2020 NCAA Women’s Final Four. That would have been the fourth NCAA Women’s Final Four hosted by New Orleans and the Sugar Bowl was scheduled to play a significant role in the hosting process as a member of the Local Organizing Committee. However, the event was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 2012 NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four was the fifth played in New Orleans. Freshman Anthony Davis led Kentucky to the national title just months before being selected by the New Orleans Hornets with the No. 1 pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. The city’s previous four Final Fours have also been memorable. In 1982, Dean Smith captured his first National Championship as a freshman named Michael Jordan buried the game-winning shot to upend Georgetown. In 1987, it was Bobby Knight and Indiana defeating Syracuse on a baseline jumper by Keith Smart. Smith was back again in 1993, as his North Carolina team defeated the Fab Five from Michigan. And in 2003, Jim Boeheim made up for his 1987 loss as freshman Carmelo Anthony led Syracuse to a win over Kansas.
The 2013 NCAA Women’s Final Four was the third hosted by New Orleans, the most of any city. The University of Connecticut took the title with a 93-60 victory over Louisville. The win gave UConn and head coach Geno Auriemma eight national championships, matching the record held by Tennessee. UConn was led by freshman Breanna Stewart, who was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four. Stewart scored 23 points with nine rebounds and three assists to follow-up a magnificent 29-point effort in the victory over Notre Dame. She is the first freshman since 1987 to win Most Outstanding Player honors at the Women’s Final Four.
In addition to earning the right to host the Men’s Final Four, the Bowl was also part of the host committee for 2010 NCAA Men’s Basketball First and Second Round action and the 2011 NCAA Men’s Southeast Regional Championship at the New Orleans Arena.
An annual New Orleans CYO High School Basketball Tournament was played for 65 years with the Allstate Sugar Bowl serving as the title sponsor from 2008-19. However, the archdiocese opted to discontinue the tournament in 2020 after 65 years of action.