A Lewisburg man, who's continuing his sports career in Asia, has donated $3,500 for prize money in the Jones Park 3 on 3 Basketball Tournament that starts Saturday morning at the park near the Marshall County Schools Central Office.
"Marcus Haislip to the rescue," tournament founder Jerrie Henry declared Tuesday when reporting the 1999 Marshall County High School graduate called her at home Monday night to report his donation to the tournament that's been a part of the community for 18 years.
Henry is the city's Parks and Recreation Department supervisor for Jones Park where players compete for prize money that's now at $2,000 for first place, $1,000 for second place and $500 for third place. Registration is at 9 a.m. Tip off is at 10 a.m. Saturday.
Haislip's career included basketball play at the University of Tennessee. He was then drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks and subsequently played for San Antonio. More recently he's played in Turkey, Henry said, and it would appear he could be playing in China. While playing for MCHS, Haislip and the team went to the state tournament in Murfreesboro.
"He usually comes to this event every year," Henry said. "He's said he'll be here Saturday.
The Jones Park 3 on 3 Basketball Tournament received city funding as late as four years ago when former Councilman Willie J. Mitchell persuaded City Hall leaders to continue that funding through what had been discretionary funds allocated for each councilman.
Like Haislip, the 3 on 3 Basketball Tournament has been a springboard for local athletes.
"We've had players go on to UT, Belmont, Alabama and MTSU," Henry said.
"Many of the young men and women who played at this court have scholarships to the collegiate level and even to the pros.
"Due to the economy and lack of funding, this event has not been able to generate the teams that we had in the beginning years," she said, emphasizing that Haislip "is aware that this has been a huge community event and has seen the declining of teams involved."
Also realizing that positive role models are needed, Haislip has stepped up to provide financial assistance to the traditional event.
"Marcus has generously donated $3,500 for this tournament in hopes of drawing some of the best players and making this one of the largest tournaments at Jones Park," Henry said.
"The largest amount of teams in this tournament was 23, some seven or eight years ago."