The King Cotton Classic tips off in Pine Bluff on Friday, marking the storied event’s 20th year. Once recognized as one of the nation’s most prestigious high school basketball tournaments, teams from around the country travel to Central Arkansas and take the hardwood.

Following an 18-year hiatus, the games returned to action in 2018. Long Beach Poly (CA) defeated Jacksonville (AR) in last year’s tournament championship.

Remembering the event’s glory days, King Cotton Classic Director Samuel Glover is excited to bring attention and competition back to Pine Bluff.

“The King Cotton Classic, in Arkansas and really in the country, was a household name in the ’80s and ’90s,” Glover said. “To bring love to this community, something exciting… It creates a platform and atmosphere to let young people display their talent to the rest of the nation.”

The 12-team event from December 27-30 will feature state championship contenders from Arkansas, California, Florida, Illinois, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Texas.

Arkansas teams attending include Bryant, Dollarway, Jacksonville, Parkview, and Pine Bluff High.

Former star Arkansas Razorback, now Parkview High head coach Scotty Thurman believes a tournament win would “mean a huge deal,” serving as a springboard into 2020 for his Patriots.

“[Winning the King Cotton Classic] would be a momentum builder for us,” Thurman said. “It would give our guys the confidence that is needed in order to have a long and successful season.”

Teams arrived on Thursday and begin to prep for Friday’s tip-off.


The three-day tournament will kick off with six games on Friday, Dec. 27; six on Saturday, Dec. 28; and five on Monday, Dec. 30.

For more information on teams, schedules, and ticket sales visit kingcottonclassic.org.