In July 2018, former Missouri men’s basketball player Kareem Rush had a dream become a reality, hosting a basketball game in Kansas City between former players at Missouri and Kansas.
The event was just the beginning for Rush and his colleagues, who formed the Alumni Basketball League. While the league is still being formed progress, DMV basketball fans will be for an early treat as Maryland’s “College Park Boys” will face Georgetown’s “Dawgtalk” on Aug. 6.
Maryland basketball alum Travis Garrison (‘06) jumped on an offer to become the Maryland team’s general manager and owner. Garrison came up with the idea to bring back the Maryland-Georgetown rivalry, and the league tabbed former Georgetown star guard Chris Wright to lead the Hoya squad.
“I just thought that a Maryland-Georgetown game would be a pretty cool idea,” Garrison said. “The game was scheduled for next summer, but I got a call a couple of weeks ago in regards to them wanting to make it happen now, and so things kind of just steamrolled ahead.”
The most difficult part of the accelerated timeline was fielding a team. The league will keep rosters small, between sevem and eight players according to Garrison, as a way to make sure players who join are rewarded with meaningful playing time in front of fans. Garrison is opting to keep his roster a secret, but said it should excite fans from all Terps generations.
“There’s a number of guys that the fans are going to be excited about,” Garrison said. “Because it’s an actual league, it’s not just this one game they actually want to make it bigger, so we wanted to make it exciting. You know, guys who are still playing and active and can still play, it’s not like all the guys from my class, it’s a mix [of old and new].”
Basketball events with former college players are not new. The summer tournament called The Basketball Tournament has drawn interest every year, but not every team is comprised of alums from the same college program. The Alumni Basketball League, however, will be player-owned and operated, requires teams to be completely derived from the alumni base they represent and will pay players every game — The Basketball Tournamey offers only a jackpot to the top finishers — according to Garrison.
While this summer’s event is another step in a bigger league picture, Garrison also sees it as a potential opportunity to get Maryland fans excited about the program, now under the direction of newly-hired head coach Kevin Willard.
“The whole thing is just to bring something back where the fans can get back into the program, because [Willard and his staff] are actually going to be coming around, so to get them acclimated and involved as well,” Garrison said. “Just to get that Maryland energy back that we used to have and the fans excited to be around the players and the players excited to be back as well.”
Willard has made efforts to connect Maryland’s new program with its former players in creative ways, including bringing a number of pro players back to College Park to scrimmage with the current roster earlier this summer. Garrison plans to meet with Willard this week to discuss the ABL and further restore the program’s culture.
“We want the players down and coach Willard to be involved just to bring that family vibe back,” Garrison said. “So I definitely want to speak with him and I do want to be more involved and actually have all the former players come back and try to be more involved as well to help pick the program back up.”
Maryland and Georgetown are set to face off on August 6 with the time and location to be confirmed soon, but it will be in the area according to Garrison. The two squads will also be releasing official rosters in the leadup to the matchup.
Source: 247 SPORTS