ANCHORAGE, Alaska – The University of Alaska Anchorage announced the men’s field for the 2017 CGI Great Alaska Shootout on Wednesday, with the Sam Houston State Bearkats among the seven visiting teams for the nation’s oldest regular-season college basketball tournament.
The Bearkats went 21-13 in 2016-17, winning 20 games for the third time in the last four years and advancing to the semifinals of the Southland Conference Tournament. They will join host Alaska Anchorage, along with Cal Poly, Cal State Bakersfield, Central Michigan, College of Charleston, Idaho and Santa Clara for the 40th anniversary tournament during Thanksgiving Week.
“We could not be more excited to be going to Alaska as part of the Great Alaska Shootout,” Bearkat head coach Jason Hooten said. “We went to Costa Rica last summer and this is part of that package, which is great for us. It is a great field with a great opportunity for us to see really good teams on a neutral floor. It is going to be a very exciting and beneficial experience for our team.”
Sam Houston’s trip to Anchorage will also be its first games outside of the continental United States since playing two games in Cancun, Mexico, early in the 2009-10 season. The Kats also opened up the 2001-02 season as part of the Hawaii Nike Classic.
It will be the first time Sam Houston has been a part of the Great Alaska Shootout and they are one of three teams in the field that will be making its debut at the tournament. In all, the 2017 Shootout field won at nearly a 60 percent clip this season, with three teams – Cal State Bakersfield, College of Charleston and Idaho – taking part in postseason play.
“It’s an honor to be included with a field such as this, which is where our program has been for the last 15 years or so, “It says a lot about where we are as a program and where others around the country see us.”
Since the turn of the century, the Bearkats have enjoyed 10 20-win seasons and are the fourth-winningest program in the state of Texas since 2013-14. The Kats lost seven seniors off of this season’s team, but return plenty of talent, including all-conference guard John Dewey III and Christopher Galbreath Jr., both of whom averaged in double figures in their first year with the program.
“We will have a lot of new guys on our roster next year, but I think this will be an extraordinary trip for our group,” Hooten said. “To have a long trip like this, early in the year, will be a great opportunity for our guys to come together and build chemistry in a unique place that many of us have never gotten to experience before.”
Dates, times and pairings for the tournament will be announced later this summer.