Scoring big with hoops fans in Southern Oregon, the region’s premier basketball tournament is poised to return Friday, May 12.
The 15th annual Southern Oregon Open will welcome approximately 170 teams from across the West Coast through Sunday, May 14. Boys and girls in grades 5-12 will compete for titles in their respective divisions. Team registration fees and other funds raised benefit tournament host Kids Unlimited and the organization’s work to empower kids, regardless of background, with opportunities to succeed.
Founding the event emerged in 2007 as an opportunity for basketball standout Kyle Singler during his final year at South Medford High School. The tournament not only fulfilled Singler’s school senior project requirements but grew into a signature fundraiser with help from such local sponsors as Lithia and & Driveway. Singler went on to lead Duke University to an NCAA national title and played for seven seasons in the NBA.
More than a decade after SO Open’s debut, the tournament’s financial impact for the Medford community was estimated in a single year at $750,000. All tournament proceeds go toward KU’s programming for under-resourced children and families locally. KU’s services have risen along with the tournament’s growth — from 19 teams and $1,000 in revenue its inaugural year.
“It’s become a tradition for over 15 years,” said Tom Cole, KU’s founder and chief executive officer. “Because of how many teams from throughout California, Oregon and Nevada travel to the Rogue Valley to support the event, the impact has been incredible.”
More than 5,000 total participants and spectators are expected at the weekend tournament, dispersed among gymnasiums at KU in Medford, Medford’s high schools and middle schools, Talent Middle School, Crater High School in Central Point, private schools in Medford and a city-owned facility. An adult, all-day tournament pass for Saturday costs $10.
Teams play a minimum of three games, and most can expect to play at least four. Event highlights include the T-Mobile free throw contest and free participant T-shirts designed by the KU community.
Tournament sponsors, in addition to Lithia & Driveway and T-Mobile, are Hilton Garden Inn, Homewood Suites by Hilton and Rogue Regency Inn & Suites.