NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. (WJBF) — The Nike Peach Jam is now underway in the City of North Augusta.

For more than 20 years, some of the best high school basketball players from across the country made their way to North Augusta year for the Nike Peach Jam. This year it’s back after taking a year off due to COVID-19.

“It’s exciting, especially coming off the pandemic year,” director, North Augusta Parks and Recreation Rick Meyer told NewsChannel 6’s Aiken Bureau Chief Shawn Cabbagestalk.

The players may be giving their best on the court, but they’ll be doing it with empty bleachers. Officials say it won’t have any fans in attendance this year.

“Trying to protect the players,” Meyer added.

Nike announced the tournament at North Augusta’s Riverview Park will be closed to the general public.

For the first time ever it will be a two-week event. They are also hosting the girls’ Nike Nationals which is normally held in Chicago. “They wanted to try to create a bubble, atmosphere and with North Augusta area being a smaller community than say Chicago, Illinois. Obviously, that went hand in hand with no spectators,” Meyer added.

Forty of the top boys’ teams competing for 24 spots.

The economic impact is a big one for the city. “Not only are all the hotels booked, but there are also people renting homes and that’s part of the economic impact that we’re seeing people in restaurants, people in hotels. In the month of July when normally people are in the North Augusta area on vacation, it just makes a big difference,” Meyer.

Having it in South Carolina’s Riverfront City, Mayer says is just more convenient and he’s glad to have it back.

“I think what we offer is that it’s the most important event going on in the community. Sometimes in a larger city they’re just another event and you have a small-town atmosphere and in the North Augusta and the Augusta area, all the gyms are close by. It makes it convenient for all the college coaches not to have to travel so much, Meyer shared.