The basketball action starts Jan. 10, but the center of the WYMT Mountain Classic started on Jan. 9. Nearly 150 students received scholarships this year as part of 25th annual event.
Since the tournament began in 1988, more than $2.1 million in scholarships have been handed out and officials said this year's event is bigger than ever.
Exactly 142 eastern Kentucky high school seniors are benefiting from one thousand dollar scholarships raised through gate receipts and donations from area businesses.
“It is combining two things that are so important to everybody in eastern Kentucky, certainly educational opportunity and basketball excellence,” said Wayne Martin, the Regional Manager for Gray Television.
Martin has been a part of the program since the beginning. The former General Manager of WYMT-TV said that the event has grown every year since the first mountain classic when they only gave out nine scholarships.
“I am so proud of what this event has been able to do,” said Martin.
Martin said the grand total is closer to $3 million when you count the amount of funds matched by participating universities.
Student recipients said they appreciate the help.
“It is so nice to know that there are people out there who can help you when you can't afford to go to college that there's ways and means,” said Caitlin Davis, a Lynn Camp High School Senior.
Davis, who hopes to study veterinary science at Eastern Kentucky University said that it is something she never expected.
“I really feel blessed,” said Davis.
Jerrod Bowling, who is one of two in his district in Owsley County to receive the award, said it was just the luck of the draw.
“I am very grateful because it will help me pay for my college and stuff like that and I need that a lot,” said Bowling.
Bowling said he plans to study nursing at EKU. Organizers of the event said that the goal of the event is to continue to pave the road to success for students of the mountains.
“To give excellent scholars, excellent students the opportunity to continue their education, they are our leaders of tomorrow and combining these two things is just really special,” said Martin.
The Mountain Classic Basketball Tournament will tip off Jan. 10 and continue through Jan. 14.