Local Tournament A Slam Dunk For Fort Smith Economy

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Hundreds of high school-aged basketball players from across the country are in the River Valley, and they’re not just making big plays. It’s for the 17th annual Deepsnap Tournament of Champions held at the Fort Smith-Northside High School gymnasium.

Athletes are not only getting spotted by big colleges, but pumping big bucks into Fort Smith economy.

The girls have come far and wide dribbling, passing and sinking baskets.

"It probably brings in anywhere from five to eight hundred people," said Justin Sparrow, tournament director.

As the games heat up, Sparrow said the eight-team tournament is an economic slam dunk for the River Valley.

Directors said with the event lasting three days, that extends the money flow.

"Staying in local hotels, eating at local restaurants, and it’s been a success for 17 years," said Sparrow.

The tournament was started years ago by two locals, Jerry and Sandy Wagner, and with scouts from various colleges attending, hundreds have used it as a stepping stone before playing college ball. Some who participated in the tournament have played professional basketball, including Alana Beard, who now plays in the Women's National Basketball Association.

"It takes about $25,000 to do this, said Sandy Wagner, tournament founder. “It’s worth it when you see these college coaches come in to recruit these girls. It's worth it all."

"This year we probably have 10 or 15 girls that are going to go high in Division I basketball," said Sperro.

The tournament started Thursday (Dec. 12) and goes till Saturday (Dec. 14) afternoon, with the big finale at 6 p.m.