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Former MMA postgrad players returning for alumni game

MMA coach Chad Myers pushes 6-foot-9 inch Jamorko PIckett, who is a rising sophomore at Georgetown University, as he runs the court during practice in this October 2016 photo. Pickett is one of at least 13 current or former Division 1 basketball players expected to play in MMA's postgrad alumni game on Saturday in Woodstock. Rich Cooley/Daily file

WOODSTOCK – Chad Myers is finally seeing one of his dreams come to fruition.

The Massanutten Military Academy postgrad basketball coach will get to have most of his former players back in town at the same time this weekend for an MMA postgrad basketball alumni game. The game will be held Saturday at MMA at 5 p.m.

“It’s real exciting,” Myers said earlier this week. “It’s exciting for me that they would want to come back. Obviously, Woodstock was good to them. People were good to them. They had great experiences here. That’s why they want to come back.”

Myers said he’s wanted to hold the game for a few years, but he’s always been worried about whether they would have enough guys  return to get two full teams. He said he was happily surprised to get a lot of positive responses to having the game. He said he is expecting at least 13 current or former Division 1 players to come back this weekend.

Myers said that he was able to get most of the people he wanted to agree to return.

“It’s fortunate that we have guys from all over the world and the country that played here,” Myers said. “But when you do something like this those guys still live all over the country and the world. So getting somewhere for a night for a 5 o’clock game is not always so easy.”

Among the players expected to return are Deandre Burnett, Corban Collins, Rashard Kelly, Rasir Bolton, Jamorko Pickett, Q.J. Peterson, Garland Owens and Gus Okafor.

Two of the bigger names in MMA’s history are question marks to return. Myers said NBA professional Frank Mason wants to return, but it will depend on when he needs to be in Sacramento to help with some of the rookies that the Kings choose in Thursday night’s NBA draft.

Damonte Dodd is playing in a Mexican pro league and his team is in the finals this week. Myers said Dodd plans to be in Woodstock this weekend. However, Myers said that travel arrangements can sometimes be tricky, especially when traveling from one country to another.

Myers said that Burnett, Collins, and Kelly will also be honored on Saturday.

“Those were kind of the three next guys that we were going to put their banners up here on the wall like we did with Frank (Mason) and Damonte (Dodd),” Myers said. “And for me, it’s a great time to be able to do it – while their teammates are all here.”

Burnett will be a senior this year at Ole Miss. Last year, he averaged 16.5 points per game. Collins was the starting point guard at the University of Alabama in 2016-17 and now plays overseas in Europe. Kelly recently graduated from Wichita State University and is hoping to play overseas later this year.

Myers said that the players seem excited about returning and playing with and against each other again. He said that the game will be four 12-minute quarters. He said they will divide into two different teams shortly before playing.

The price of admission is $10, and Myers said all the money goes back into the postgrad program. He said they are planning on redoing the gym floor and the money raised from the game will help to pay for that.

Myers said that they considered holding the game at another venue, but he thinks it means something special for the players to play on the same floor where they practiced and played during their time there.

“I think it’s just the whole mystique for them of being back in the home gym where they practiced,” Myers said. “It’s a grind and practicing every day against each other. Them being back in here – I think will kind of be exciting. And obviously to have them back on campus will be a good thing.”

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