Vacationing in Orlando, Florida, is a common trip Howard County families make in the summer.
They lie on the beach, visit Disney World and play in a basketball tournament on national television against the best competition in their age group.
Well, that’s just Anthony ‘Ace’ Valentine.
Valentine, of Ellicott City, will compete in the Jr. NBA Global Championship next week in Orlando. The 14-year-old is a guard on the Quality Warriors, which won the Mid-Atlantic regional and is one of eight teams from the U.S. competing for the Jr. NBA National Championship.
“I’m very excited,” Valentine said. “The atmosphere is going to be very live. It’s going to be cool.”
The tournament, which features some of the top 13- and 14-year-old basketball players in the world, begins Tuesday, Aug. 6, and ends Sunday, Aug. 11. All games can be seen on foxsports.com or on the Fox Sports app, while more than a dozen games will be aired on Fox, FS1 or FS2.
“I have some family down there who will be there to watch the games,” said the 6-foot, 150-pound guard. “There will be a lot of people watching on TV back home, too.”
Quality Warriors, which is comprised of nine players from the DMV, dominated the regional tournament, winning all six games by double digits. The team is a combination of two squads that formed in preparation for the Jr. NBA Championship – Team Durant, which Valentine has played on for three years, and Team Takeover.
Valentine, who started the first game and came off the bench for the next five, averaged 9.3 points per game during regionals.
“I liked the atmosphere at the tournament, and I feel like we handled every single team pretty well,” he said. “Our closest game was 19 points.”
Valentine, who will attend Mount St. Joseph’s in the fall, described himself as a combo guard.
“Most people know me as a shooter, but I can also pass very well,” he said.
A few NBA players, coaches and executives, including former MVP Dwayne Wade, Utah Jazz guard Mike Conley and Dallas Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle, will be in attendance to watch, meet some players and join in leadership development programs.
“D-Wade is one of my favorite players of all time,” he said. “I hope I can meet him and Conley and the coaches, too.”
The Warriors will play against the Northwest champion in their first pool play game at 10:30 a.m. on Aug. 6. They will then play the Midwest champion later that day at 4:30 p.m. Pool play will end on Aug. 7, when the Warriors play the South champion at 9 p.m. on FS1.
On Aug. 8, all 32 teams from the boys and girls Jr. NBA Championships will join for a community service project and then a skills competition, 3-point shooting contest and dunk contest.
The single-elimination bracket will start on Aug. 9, with the U.S. and international champions being determined on Aug. 10 and the Global Championship on Aug. 11.