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Diamond Head Classic field for 2021 is announced

After a one-year hiatus, the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic will return to Honolulu in 2021.

The eight-team field for the three-day tournament was announced on Thursday. The invited teams are BYU (West Coast Conference), tournament host Hawai’i (Big West Conference), Liberty (Atlantic Sun Conference), Northern Iowa (Missouri Valley Conference), South Florida (American Athletic Conference), Stanford (Pac-12), Vanderbilt (SEC) and Wyoming (Mountain West Conference).

BYU and Liberty were participants in the 2021 NCAA Tournament. The 2021 Diamond Head Classic is assured of a first-time champion, as none of the teams in the field have won it previously. In fact, only three teams – Hawai’i, BYU and Northern Iowa – are past participants of the Diamond Head Classic.

The 2021 Diamond Head Classic is scheduled for December 22, 23 and 25 at the SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center. The tournament was canceled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Prior to 2020, the Diamond Head Classic was held for 11 consecutive years (2009-19) at the Stan Sheriff Center.

Tickets are expected to go on sale in October, according to an announcement from tournament officials.

A television schedule has yet to be announced. In previous years, all 12 games of the Diamond Head Classic were televised on the ESPN network of stations (ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU).

Field Highlights

  • BYU has gone 44-15 overall in the last two seasons under head coach Mark Pope. He led the Cougars to the NCAA Tournament last year after 20 wins and a near-upset of top-ranked Gonzaga in the WCC Tournament finals.
  • Tournament host, HawaiÊ»i finished with a winning record for the fifth time in six seasons under head coach Eran Ganot, who picked up his 100th career coaching victory this past season.
  • Liberty has won three straight ASUN regular season and tournament titles and boast back-to-back conference player of the year awards, including last year’s winner Darius McGhee.
  • Four-time MVC Coach of the Year Ben Jacobson leads a Northern Iowa squad that has made four NCAA Tournaments and one Sweet 16 appearance during his tenure.
  • South Florida is led by veteran head coach Brian Gregory who owns more than 300 career wins. In 2019, Gregory led the team to the best turnaround in the NCAA with a single-season school record 24 wins and the College Basketball Invitational championship.
  • Stanford returns a strong team in 2021-22, led by Pac-12 Most Improved Player Jaiden Delaire, sharpshooter Spencer Jones, and point guard Michael O’Connell.
  • Vanderbilt is the only school in the nation with NBA Draft lottery picks in each of the last two years, and this year will welcome a pair of incoming freshmen to the squad, Peyton Daniels and Gabe Dorsey.
  • Wyoming returns the majority of players from a 2020-21 team that finished 14-11. Among its wins was a road upset of eventual Pac-12 champion and NCAA Elite 8 squad Oregon State.

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