ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Twenty years ago, the Battle of the South tournament featured just nine teams and was played in the Merry Acres Middle School gym.
From those humble beginnings, a south Georgia spectacle was born.
The tournament tips off it's 20th edition this Saturday at Darton State. Twenty teams will compete for the crown in one of the most star studded tourneys in the state.
NBA and international players make their way to south Georgia every summer to show off for the crowds.
Tournament founder Fred Pickett never imagined his creation would grow this large, but credits the competition each summer for helping Battle of the South become what it is today.
"It's just about showing who is the King of the South for the year," he says. "Everybody gets excited because it takes a lot to win this tournament. It's a privilege to win it."
Admission to the weekend tournament is free, and Pickett says that's the whole point. He wants to provide a chance for the people of south Georgia to get an up close look at some of the best talent around.
"A lot of kids don't get to see this kind of talent, or get to get this close to an NBA player or an international player," he says. "These guys actually sign autographs and treat these kids like they're somebody. It's just a privilege to do it in the city of Albany."
The tournament begins Saturday morning at 8:00 a.m. and continues through Sunday evening. All games will be held at Darton State.