Updated as of Nov. 18, 2021 at 10:46 p.m. to include video. 

The Elon University men’s basketball team will travel to Charleston, South Carolina to compete in the ESPN Shriners Children’s Charleston Classic. Joined by teams such as the University of Mississippi, West Virginia University and Clemson University, it is a significant step for the program to be invited to this event. 

“It’s going to make our non conference schedule a gauntlet, but it’s an amazing opportunity,” head coach Mike Schrage said. “It’s what our program wants to be a part of.”

The Charleston Classic has seen previous champions such as Villanova University, the University of Virginia, Georgetown University and most recently the University of Florida, all of whom are past national championship winning programs. 

The Phoenix faces the West Virginia Mountaineers on Thursday to begin the tournament. Legendary coach Bob Huggins and the Mountaineers earned the third seed in the Midwest region of the 2021 NCAA tournament.

“It’ll be a challenge,” Schrage said. “But I’m really excited for what that night will entail and the growth we can make because of that experience.”

Elon faced the University of Florida to open the season. The team held their own and lost by only 13 in Jacksonville. Going into the Charleston Classic, some of the team members feel the Phoenix may have advantages over larger schools.

“I think we have the edge of being a cohesive unit and everybody really enjoys playing together,” senior forward Chuck Hannah said. “Having that connection really goes a long way, especially when you’re matched up with big-name programs.”

Elon heads to Charleston having won two of its first three games, its only loss coming on the road at Florida. Since then, the Phoenix has beaten Randolph College and Bluefield University in Schar Center. 

“It’s an honor for Elon to be invited to such a prestigious event and it shows that we’re making progress not just as a university but as a basketball program,” junior guard Hunter Woods said. “People are taking notice of what we’ve got going on over at Elon. We’re putting Elon basketball on the map.”

The Phoenix opens the tournament against West Virginia in primetime on Thursday night and will also play games on Friday and Sunday. The Phoenix and the Mountaineers will tip off at approximately 9:00 p.m. in TD Arena. The game will be televised on ESPN2.