WVU alumni team "Best Virginia" was years in the making

 

By: Jake Peter: @Jakepeter_


After years of plotting, the Mountaineers are finally ready to go after that $2 million

Even though 2019 is the first time that West Virginia is entering an alumni team in TBT, their story dates all the way back to the inaugural tournament almost six years ago. Coincidentally, the summer of 2014 also marked the beginning of WVU’s annual alumni game back in Morgantown. As TBT grew over the years, the annual charity event turned into a forum for WVU fans, former players, and coaches to mull over and daydream about an eventual run.

After realizing that the demand was so high, WVU legend John Flowers finally decided to take action. On his podcast “The Final Fourcast” that he hosts with former Mountaineers Da’Sean Butler and Kevin Jones, Flowers announced that a group of some of the most notable alumni in program history would be entering TBT’s Columbus Regional.

Including Flowers, Best Virginia has nine players committed to play. Among them are members of WVU’s Final Four team such as Butler and Jones. In addition, guys like Devin Williams, Juwan Staten, Joe Alexander, and Jaysean Paige bring years of overseas experience.

The team is currently looking to add another big man and another perimeter shooter.  They’re in contact with Devin Ebanks and Daxter Miles, among others.

Flowers intends to create a roster that is both compact and deep with talent.

“We want to keep this roster together,” said Flowers. “The core of the team is essentially the Final Four team mixed with the original ‘Press Virginia’ team.”

Not only does Best Virginia boast some of the best talent to ever play at WVU, but the team has an experienced coaching staff as well. Flowers wanted a coach who was familiar with West Virginia’s program and players, so he convinced longtime WVU assistant coach Billy Hahn to get on board. Hahn, who coached under the legendary Bob Huggins, brings 41 years of experience and two Final Four appearances to Best Virginia.

Flowers also reached out to WVU alum Jarrod West to join the coaching staff because of his commitment to the school’s program and its players.

“He’s all about West Virginia,” Flowers said. “He’s a WVU alum, and he’s able to relate to all of the players.”

Though Huggins won’t be coaching Best Virginia, he’s still shown his support for the team in multiple ways. In addition to advising them to enter TBT following the success of the annual alumni game, he’s put a heavy emphasis on maintaining relationships with all of his former players after they leave Morgantown. WVU basketball alumni still have access to the same gym and weight room from their college days and even have their own specialty locker room.

“Huggs has done a great job of building that culture,” said Flowers. “Once you come here it’s a family environment. You always have a place to come back home to.”

With all that being said, Flowers is under no illusion that taking home the $2 million check is going to be an easy task. Not only will the team have to get through the Ohio State Alumni if they’re accepted into the Columbus Regional, but teams like Red Scare (Dayton Alumni) and Bearcat Jam (Cincinnati Alumni) are also looming large in the distance.

Despite the competition facing Best Virginia, Flowers believes in his squad.

“I think we’re going to do well,” said Flowers. “We’ve seen the competition, and our fan base is the best in the country. They travel anywhere and support us no matter what.”