The field for the 2021 Adam Ward Classic is set — almost — so all the organizers of the annual prep basketball event at Salem High School need to do is wait for a 2020-21 season.
Ten games — eight boys and two girls — are on the schedule Feb. 5-6 with the lone vacant spot being the identity of Oak Hill Academy’s opponent in the marquee game on the opening night.
One of the co-directors of the charity event, Western Virginia Basketball Officials Association Commissioner Jerry Spangler, said the uncertainty of fall enrollment at regional prep schools and academies such as Oak Hill is holding up the process.
Spangler and co-directors Hank Luton and Grant Smythers have been trying to line up Washington Academy, a prep school in Greenville, North Carolina, coached by former Clemson standout Bruce Martin.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic has limited the ability of prep schools to attract incoming players for the 2020-21 season.
“Bruce wants to play, but he’s got no players,” Spangler said.
“They don’t know how they’re going to get any players. They have to get them to visit and everything else.”
Spangler said Oak Hill coach Steve Smith said that the Grayson County private school is in a similar situation, although five-star guard Dior Johnson of Lakewood, California, recently committed to the Warriors.
The 2021 event will include three programs — Cave Spring’s boys (Class 3), Auburn’s boys (Class 1) and Spotswood’s girls (Class 3) — that won VHSL co-championships by reaching state finals in the abbreviated 2019-20 season.
The event also features three of the VHSL’s all-time winningest boys head coaches — Radford’s Rick Cormany, Northside’s Bill Pope and Parry McCluer’s Mike Cartolaro.
Radford will play Northside for the fourth consecutive season in the 6 p.m. game on Feb. 6.
Parry McCluer will face Altavista — the school that Cartolaro coached to four VHSL championships — in the 6:30 p.m. game Feb. 5.
Altavista is among six first-time participants, a group that also includes Blacksburg’s boys, Richlands’ boys, Albemarle’s boys, Floyd County’s boys and Spotswood’s girls.
Cave Spring will play Richlands on Feb. 6, after Auburn takes on Floyd County.
Spotswood’s girls will face Carroll County, which went unbeaten during the 2019-20 regular season.
William Fleming makes its return to the Adam Ward against Blacksburg on Feb. 6.
Patrick Henry takes on Albemarle in the Feb. 6 finale in a rematch of the Region 5D boys championship game in March.
Salem will open both days, with the girls facing Floyd County on Feb. 5, and the boys playing Glenvar on Feb. 6.
“We’ve got a pretty good lineup,” Spangler said.