MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — They’ve played alumni games. They’ve played professional basketball in all corners of the globe. Soon, they’ll get to play a game that matters in the Mountain State once again.
Best Virginia, a team comprised of WVU men’s basketball alumni, has learned its draw for the West Virginia Regional of The Basketball Tournament, a 64-team competition that awards a $1 million grand prize to the winner.
Best Virginia will open the West Virginia Regional July 17 at 2 p.m. in Charleston against WoCo Showtime. Games in the first three rounds of the competition will be held at the Charleston Coliseum, while the quarterfinals, semifinals and championship will be held in Dayton, Ohio.
After the pandemic forced the relocation of the TBT to a neutral site in 2020 — and ultimately prevented Best Virginia from competing — the group of former Mountaineers is embracing the opportunity to play in front of West Virginia fans again.
“The majority of people who graduate college never get a chance to play in front of their fans ever again in their life,” said Best Virginia forward and Morgantown native Nathan Adrian. “The fact that we get a chance to do it again up to three times is special.”
The Best Virginia roster is now finalized, featuring players who have starred for Bob Huggins throughout the last decade: Final Four-run contributors Kevin Jones and John Flowers are two of Best Virginia’s most noteworthy names, while more recent Mountaineers like Sagaba Konate, Chase Harler and Logan Routt are all set to make their first TBT appearances for the alumni team.
On paper, this Best Virginia squad appears to have the talent necessary to make a deep run.
“I think our team’s loaded,” Best Virginia assistant coach Dave Tallman said. “I think we’ve got a lot of talent — more talent than we’ve probably had in the past.”
The fact that this “loaded” roster is made up of only former Mountaineers is even more meaningful to Adrian.
“We all have something in common,” Adrian said. “I think we’re all kind of playing for the same kind of thing. We played for West Virginia in college, and we’re still kind of doing it now.”
Added Harler: “I’m really excited to be a part of this, to be around those guys for the small amount of time that we’re together.”
Best Virginia is the No. 2 seed in the West Virginia Regional. Herd That, a team led by Marshall alumni, is the region’s No. 3 seed. It’s possible that the two teams could meet in Charleston, but both squads would have to win multiple games before a potential meeting in the round of 16.
While that matchup would appeal to basketball fans here at home, Tallman is more focused on the near future — it’s time for Best Virginia to get to work.
“We’ll start here in a couple weeks before exhibitions, we’ll get together and have a little mini-camp for a couple days before the exhibitions,” Tallman said. “That week before going down to Charleston, we’ll be going at it pretty good every day.”
The Basketball Tournament tips off July 16 when the Wichita Regional begins.