FAIRMONT — There was some history made Saturday night at the WVU men’s basketball alumni game.
For the first time in its five-year existence, the game went to overtime, and ended when Juwan Staten hit a walk-off 3-pointer to seal a 140-137 victory for the White team.
But the final score wasn’t the only thing that mattered to the alumni who played in the game. Each of them appreciates the unique camaraderie that comes along with being a part of the WVU hoops alumni family.
These former Mountaineers are all genuinely grateful to continue playing together.
“This is home now,” said Truck Bryant, who played at West Virginia from 2008-2012. “This is home, and it’s always gonna be home. I’m from Brooklyn, N.Y. Totally different, but this is home. We love it here.”
The journey doesn’t end with the alumni game for these former Mountaineers. This year, a group of alumni will play in The Basketball Tournament, a five-on-five, single-elimination tournament that awards a grand prize of $2 million to the winning team.
Best Virginia, the TBT team featuring WVU hoops alumni, will play in that tournament July 26.
“I love being here, and I love what John [Flowers] is doing because it reunites us,” said Staten. “This year is really unique because we’re playing in the TBT, so it’s just another chance for us to play together, and another chance to get in shape, play in front of the fans. Everything about it is great.”
While players look forward to a shot at that $2 million prize, former WVU forward Da’Sean Butler says the alumni game is still “special” to him because it helps players maintain their connection to WVU — something that wouldn’t be possible without the work of Bob Huggins and Flowers, the alumni game’s organizer.
“It’s important that Coach Huggins got in and was really pushing to bring the alumni back to the university — guys that graduated from the university — to make them feel welcome,” said Butler. “So we’ve been coming back, and we’ve felt welcome, and then coming up with ideas like this, John and everybody collaborating to do stuff like this, it’s special.”