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Jodi Rave: Native American Basketball Invitational

"The opportunities for Natives to play for a Division I school, however, are almost as rare as the chance to play against one. Only 51 Native male and female athletes made top-tier college basketball teams in 2004-05, compared with 3,709 white players and 4,968 blacks, according to an NCAA race and ethnicity report.

But Native American Basketball Invitational co-founders aim to change those figures by bringing NCAA recruiters to the fifth annual NABI high school basketball tournament. This year's tournament is July 8-14 in Phoenix. The NABI office will begin accepting registration applications on Jan. 2.

“The NCAA certification would blow the glass ceiling off rez ball,” said Gina Marie Mabry, director and co-founder of NABI. “The kids are going to be getting exposure to Division I and II scouts and coaches. There's no excuse now. We have all this talent.”

If the NCAA grants certification, it will make the Phoenix games the first all-Native American tournament with such status. The barrier so far has been an NCAA demographic rule that says teams competing in any summer NCAA event must be from the state in which they compete. Also, the NCAA currently doesn't allow more than three players on a team from another state.

“That rule alone was hindering our ability to ever become an NCAA tournament,” Mabry said.

The NCAA is working with NABI to change the rules before the July tournament."

Get the Story:
Jodi Rave: Basketball tournament shines light on Native athletes (The Missoulian 12/20)

Relevant Links:
Jodi Rave - http://www.missoulian.com/jodirave

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