It costs huge bucks to see NBA stars like Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony during their infrequent visits to Moda Center. But you could have seen them play multiple games when they were in high school for the price of a decent burger.
For the past 20 years, the Les Schwab Invitational has brought elite high school teams from across the nation together with the best in Oregon for a four-day tournament. Durant and Anthony are just two of the dozens of NBA players who burnished their reputations in the tournament.
The basketball is amazing, and super-cheap: Tickets for a morning session start at $8. Every year, future NBA lottery picks compete in the tournament in the gleaming gym at Hillsboro's Liberty High School. Scores of college coaches and traveling hoops junkies show up to watch extraordinarily competitive play between some of the nation's top-ranked teams.
This year, the out-of-towners include Gonzaga High from Washington, D.C., and Sierra Canyon High from Chatsworth, Calif. The Sierra Canyon Trailblazers feature power forward Marvin Bagley III, the top-ranked junior in the country.
A special bonus for Blazers fans: Brandon Roy, the three-time NBA All-Star whose knee problems limited him to just five NBA seasons, is now the head coach at Nathan Hale High in Seattle and will bring his team for its first Les Schwab appearance.
The Les Schwab Invitational is at Liberty High School, 21945 NW Wagon Way, Hillsboro, lesschwabinvitational.com, on Dec. 27-30. $8-$16, $70 for tournament pass.