/usr/web/www.nvdaily.com/wp-content/themes/coreV2/single.php

MMA postgrad basketball program to host alumni game

WOODSTOCK – Massanutten Military Academy holds a Founder’s Day Weekend and the traditional homecoming celebration, but there hasn’t been much incentive for the school’s postgraduate basketball players to return to the small boarding school after their departure. Colonels head coach Chad Myers may have found a way draw many of those former players back to campus.

Myers announced this week that MMA will host its first alumni basketball game featuring many of the program’s former postgraduate players. The game, which will include former Colonels standout and current NBA point guard Frank Mason III, Myers said, is scheduled for June 23.

“I think a lot of them, they leave here and never really come back because … we’ve never really done anything for them,” said Myers, who has led MMA to four appearances in the National Prep Championship tournament in his four nonconsecutive seasons at the school. “That’s kind of the issue, is like what can we do to involve them? We always want them to support, for them to come back and all that stuff, but I feel like you’ve gotta do stuff on both ends.”

Thoughts of hosting an alumni game at MMA were tossed around during recent conversations Myers had with a few former Colonels, he said, and the idea quickly gained support.

Myers said on Thursday that many of the program’s biggest names have already committed to playing in the game. The list includes Mason, now a member of the Sacramento Kings who won several national college player of the year awards following his senior season at Kansas in 2017, and his former MMA teammates Deandre Burnett – who began his college career at Miami and later finished up at Ole Miss – Damonte Dodd (University of Maryland), Rashard Kelly (Wichita State) and Q.J. Peterson (VMI).

Terry Brutus, who played at Ole Miss and then Samford as a grad transfer, and Corban Collins (who bounced from LSU to Morehead State to Alabama) played for Myers’ inaugural MMA team in 2011-12 and have also told their former postgrad coach they’re playing. So has Jamorko Pickett, who starred for the Colonels in 2016-17 and earned a spot on the Big East All-Freshman team during his first season at Georgetown this past winter.

Myers added that he’s working on getting Rasir Bolton and Tyrese Martin into the mix. Those two Division I-bound players helped MMA to a program-record 32 wins this past season, eclipsing the previous mark of 30 wins achieved by Mason and Co. during the 2012-13 season.

All former postgraduate players are invited to play in the game, Myers said, adding that the event could expand to multiple games should rosters exceed Myers’ goal of having 12 to 15 players per team.

“We’re trying to draw, get alumni more support with the program, bring guys back,” said Myers, who noted that he’ll also hold a youth camp during the week before the alumni game and hopes that the game will create more interaction between former players and the community. “That was kind of one of the biggest things that started it was how do we get these guys that obviously spent time here for seven, eight months and went on to do bigger things, and how do they still feel like they’re a part of everything?

“I’m sure it’ll be fun because we’ve got a couple guys that probably wanna play against each other and all that stuff,” he added.

Myers said his goal is to make the teams as even as possible, a challenge considering some former players have been out of the game longer than others. One option would be to assign team captains who would then pick players for their respective teams, he said.

The game, which Myers hopes becomes an annual event, is scheduled to take place in MMA’s Memorial Gymnasium. Myers said he could explore moving the game to nearby Central High School if the crowd is expected to exceed the capacity of the military school’s much smaller facility.

“I just think a lot of the guys … even though it’s like a small gym, they like playing here,” Myers said of Memorial Gymnasium. “They played here, so it’s kind of unique coming back.”

Admission to the game is $5. The initial date announced for the alumni game was June 16 but was moved due to a conflict with Mason’s schedule, Myers said.

COMMENTS