Heat, Hall of Fame join forces to host college basketball invitational in November

Usually home to the pros, AmericanAirlines Arena will be the site for two college basketball games early next season.

Robert Mayer/Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

MIAMI — The Miami Heat and the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame came together Thursday to announce the first Hoophall Miami Invitational event to be held at AmericanAirlines Arena on Nov. 27.

The event will feature a double-header college basketball showcase, with University of Kentucky facing off against the University of South Florida, and Ohio State University against University of Memphis.

"We want to work with Miami’s local businesses and community leaders to grow this event, which will be a true celebration of the game of basketball in the South Florida region," said John Doleva, the president and CEO of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. "We are committed to develop this into one of the annual marquee sporting events in Miami with roots that are strengthened by the involvement of all of our great partners here in South Florida."

Part of the ticket proceeds will benefit the Mourning Family Foundation, the charity founded by Heat legend and Hall of Famer Alonzo Mourning and his wife, Tracy.

"The support we’re gaining from the Hall of Fame through this event that will be here on Thanksgiving — in an appropriate time to give — will continue to help us grow and continue to help us help more kids on so many different levels so we’re very, very grateful and thankful," Mourning said. "And also — even though we don’t get a lot of credit for it — but this is turning into a basketball town and it’s grown over a period of time since I came here back in 1995. I’ve seen a tremendous level of fan growth in basketball here and this will just add to the momentum."

Doleva expects the tournament to be held annually in Miami for the foreseeable future, and Heat president Pat Riley is ecstatic about the potential of the event to help the game of basketball and to help raise funds for the Hall of Fame.

"Being involved with the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame over the last six or seven years in certain capacities, I realized how hard it is for them to put on all these events and also to raise money," Riley said. "And while there’s so many other pressing needs in this world, there’s still these organizations that institutionalize the things that we can all support."

Events planned in South Florida leading up to the event will be a high school basketball showcase that will include teams from the greater Miami area as well as a special business luncheon at the arena that will feature the team coaches and Hall of Fame alumni.

Tickets will go on sale for the event Jan. 31.

You can follow Surya Fernandez on Twitter @SuryaHeatNBA or email him at SuryaFoxSports@gmail.com.