New look joins old guard as Team Colorado begins prep for 2019 TBT

CU alumni hoopsters take aim at $2 million jackpot

Xavier Johnson will be part of the Team Colorado for the 2019 TBT.
Jeremy Papasso / Staff Photographer
Xavier Johnson will be part of the Team Colorado for the 2019 TBT.

The proverbial passing of the torch is underway for Team Colorado, the Buffaloes’ alumni basketball team that begins its annual training camp on Monday in preparation for the $2 million winner-take-all The Basketball Tournament.

Many of the veterans set to return to Boulder this weekend were in the mix three years ago, when the former Buffs nearly had the jackpot payoff in hand before blowing a sizeable lead in the championship game. They have returned this summer for one more run together alongside a cast of younger newcomers, three of whom have suited up for the Buffs within the past three seasons — small forward Xavier Johnson, post player Tory Miller-Stewart, and point guard Dom Collier.

“The big thing has been trying to bridge those gaps, and that once you’re a Buff you’re always a Buff,” said former CU player Josh Repine, the Team Colorado general manager. “Getting all those guys to play together, and getting some young, fresh legs that can get up and down the court a little bit faster with the older guys.”

Johnson averaged 7.8 points and 6.0 rebounds per game in 45 games last season with the Texas Legends of the NBA G League. The 6-foot-9 Miller-Stewart appeared in 101 games during his CU career, averaging 4.8 points and 3.7 rebounds. Miller-Stewart’s senior season at CU in 2017-18 was limited to six games after suffering a broken foot, and after redshirting Miller-Stewart joined the program of former CU assistant Rodney Billups at the University of Denver as a graduate transfer.

However, Miller-Stewart encountered a familiar obstacle at DU. After averaging 8.2 points and 5.2 rebounds in 14 games with the Pioneers, Miller-Stewart’s season was cut short when he re-fractured his foot.  Repine, whose relationship with Miller-Stewart goes back to their time as teammates at New Hampton Prep in New Hampshire, said his former CU teammate has been cleared to play, and that Miller-Stewart is hoping a strong showing with Team Colorado might lead to professional opportunities overseas.

Collier, a 2018 CU graduate, signed last summer with FC Schalke 04 in the German Pro A league, but he soon returned to his native Denver after suffering an injury and was frequently in attendance at Buffs games this past season. That trio will serve as the “younger” cast of Team Colorado players alongside 2016 graduate Xavier Talton, who played for Team Colorado last year.

Jeremy Papasso / Staff Photographer
Dom Collier

The infusion of youth joins a 2019 Team Colorado roster that includes team veterans Marcus Hall, Xavier Silas, Richard Roby, Chris Copeland, and Dominique Coleman. Also joining the team this season is Carlon Brown, the MVP of the 2012 Pac-12 Conference tournament who retired from his pro career this past winter.

Repine said Team Colorado also was hoping to land former CU guard Askia Booker, but an injury scuttled those plans. Former Buffs guard Nate Tomlinson, a volunteer assistant on coach Tad Boyle’s staff who recently took over as CU’s director of player development, will serve as head coach. Zach Ruebesam, a former CU team manager and the director of basketball operations for Billups at DU, will be the assistant coach.

“All the young guys that we’ve brought in, they all want to win,” Repine said. “Once they get here on Saturday or Sunday, they’ll be together every day for the next week. We really think that will help out the cohesiveness. Everyone is in this to win this thing. That’s the goal. That’s our mindset.”

In an approach that differs from years past, Team Colorado will hold a three-day training camp beginning Monday before traveling together for the team’s first game. The workouts are not open to the public. Team Colorado tips off the 2019 TBT on July 26 against Purple and Black (Kansas State alums) at 7 p.m. MT in Wichita, Kansas. The winner will play again the next day for a berth in the Sweet 16.