BASKETBALL: Recruits coming to BankUnited Center

The University of Miami formally announced in a press conference Tuesday that the BankUnited Center will host the 2009 McDonald’s All-American High School Boys and Girls Games.

The top 24 high school girls and boys basketball players will come from all over the United States for this week-long event which culminates with the games April 1. The boys game will be broadcast live on ESPN and the girls game will be televised on ESPNU.

“We will be going from March Madness to April Madness,” President Donna E. Shalala said. “We are very proud to be hosting this event which really salutes the credible bright futures of these young men and women basketball players. They are the best of the best, and we think we are the best of the best here at the University of Miami. The national visibility that Miami will get will be great for the community.”

UM expects the new practice facility and the additional parking spaces to be ready by the end of this calendar year and definitely by next April. Shalala also wants to open up more seats at the BankUnited Center.

According to Tara Hayes of the McDonald’s Corporation, a mass bid process was sent out based on the quality of the facilities, size of the host markets and willingness of the local McDonald’s owners and operators.

UM will not earn money from this event, as all proceeds go to local Ronald McDonald House charities in South Florida. The purpose of the charity is to provide a home away from home for families with ill children.

“We have a goal to break one million dollars, and that would be a record,” Shalala said. “The Ronald McDonald house in Miami-Dade and the Ronald McDonald house in Broward will benefit from this charity event. It gives us a chance, as a host, to give back to our community.”

The University of Miami will be purchasing a number of tickets that will be given to students.

The Miami-Dade Sports Commission will also assist with coordination of this event.

At the conclusion of the press conference, Sebastian the Ibis and the clown Ronald McDonald made a bet. Whoever can make a shot from half court with their back to the basket first will win a Happy Meal. The contest will take place during the halftime show of the big game.

Justin Antweil may be contacted at