K-State MBB Paradise Jam champions 2

Kansas State players and coaches revel in winning the 2018 Paradise Jam title by donning beach attire after the championship-game victory over Missouri. It marked the last time K-State left the country for a tournament. The Wildcats were scheduled to do the same next season, but officials for the Cayman Islands Classic event announced it now will be held in Florida.

Kansas State’s men’s basketball team won’t be leaving the country next season after all. The Cayman Islands Classic event, which was slated to be held in George Town, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands, will be moving to Niceville, Fla., instead.

Northwest Florida State College will serve as the host site for the tournament, which is tentatively scheduled to be contested from Nov. 23 to 25.

K-State is one of eight schools in the field, along with La Salle, Miami (Fla.), Nevada, Northern Iowa, Ole Miss, Oregon State and Western Kentucky.

The tournament’s move is a result of the changes forced upon countries around the world by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

“The Cayman Islands Government will be implementing a phased re-opening of its borders in the final quarter of this year that also involves a five-day self-quarantine for each visitor,” said Joe Wright, chief executive officer for CaymaxSports. “Any adjustments made to this phased approach will depend on the results of the first phase.

“Although these conditions do not make it possible for this year’s tournament to be held in Cayman, we completely understand and respect the Government’s decision and approach. The Cayman Islands Government has done a phenomenal job in suppressing and controlling the COVID-19 disease and we commend them for that. We look forward to bringing the tournament back to the Cayman Islands in 2021.”

The Cayman Islands tournament bracket, including matchups and broadcast times, will be announced at a later date. The event will air on FloSports, a live sports streaming service.

The 2020 Cayman Islands Classic is the fourth edition of the tournament, with Cincinnati (2017), Creighton (2018) and George Mason (2019) the previous winners.

This marks K-State’s first appearance in the event. The last time the Wildcats competed in a Caribbean-based event, it won, capturing the 2018 Paradise Jam title in St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands. K-State dispatched Eastern Kentucky (95-68) and Penn (64-48) before toppling former Big 12 rival Missouri (82-67) in the championship game.

With the tournament relocating to Florida, it will be the second straight year the Wildcats participate in a regular-season tournament in the Sunshine State. K-State was part of the Fort Myers Tipoff field — held in Fort Myers, Fla. — last season. The Wildcats beat Monmouth and Arkansas-Pine Bluff in the on-campus, opening-round games at Bramlage Coliseum. But K-State went 0-2 in Fort Myers, falling to Pittsburgh (63-59) and Bradley (73-60), respectively.

Raider Arena, where this year’s Cayman Islands event will be held, also hosts the Emerald Coast Classic. That tournament will be played just days after the Cayman Islands Classic concludes, with the Emerald Coast event running from Nov. 27 to 29 and boasting a field of Florida, Illinois, Iowa State and Oregon.

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