Since arriving in Springfield less than a month ago, I’m pretty impressed by how much the “Show Me” state shows love for basketball. And I can’t wait to see it on full display this week at the 38th Annual Bass Pro Tournament of Champions.

Beginning Thursday, eight of the best high school boys basketball teams in the country will square off at Great Southern Bank Arena. Three of the teams, Link Academy, Staley High School, and Kickapoo High School will represent the state of Missouri, with Kickapoo being the local squad in competition.

This will be the 19th appearance for the Chiefs in the prestigious tournament, having won the whole kit and kabootle back in 2005. As for Link, the second year program out of Branson makes their first appearance as the #1 team in the nation.

And it’s no surprise why, their current roster has seven Division 1 signees.

“To move away from home and come together as one, to be the best that they can be as young men and basketball players,” said Link Academy Head Coach Bill Armstrong. “And be able to showcase that and hopefully put together three games that Southwest Missouri can be proud of from our guys.”