The organizers of the Team Colorado alumni basketball squad planned to get younger for The Basketball Tournament a year ago, but the COVID-19 pandemic had other plans.
With the athletics world slowly attempting to get back to normal, that youth movement finally is on the way for Team Colorado.
Team organizer Josh Repine, a former Buffaloes walk-on who has been working as a special projects assistant in the office of CU athletic director Rick George while pursuing his master’s degree, is busy assembling Team Colorado’s roster for the 2021 The Basketball Tournament, the annual $1 million winner-take-all competition that has become a summer staple for the Buffs’ men’s basketball alums.
“The roster is definitely a lot of younger guys,” Repine said. “I know I say that every year, but this year it’s actually younger guys. We’re still in the process of talking to guys. We have to make sure with COVID their (pro) teams are OK with it.”
Repine said a number of more recent CU hoops graduates have expressed interest in joining the squad this summer, including Josh Scott, Xavier Johnson, Wesley Gordon, George King, Xavier Talton, and Shane Gatling. The roster has not yet been finalized, but the alumni team is definitely set to have a new leader.
With former Team Colorado coach Nate Tomlinson, the former CU guard who recently left head coach Tad Boyle’s staff for an assistant coach job at George Mason, no longer an option, Team Colorado is turning to Zach Ruebesam. A Berthoud native and a former team manager for Boyle’s program, Ruebesam worked under former CU assistant Rodney Billups at Denver and currently is an assistant coach at Belmont Abbey College near Charlotte, a program that reached the NCAA Division II tournament this past season.
“Beyond ever having an opportunity to be on staff for coach Boyle, it’s a dream come true to be able to coach for CU in an extent like this,” Ruebesam said. “I’m so fortunate to have been a manager for coach Boyle, because it really launched my coaching career. I wouldn’t be at Belmont Abbey as a Division II assistant coach right now if it wasn’t for CU. An opportunity to be with guys that I was in college with that are now playing TBT, and to have that mutual respect between each other and to go try and do something like this together is really, really cool.”
A shortened, heavily-bubbled version of TBT was held in 2020, but Team Colorado did not participate. The former Buffs very nearly collected the lucrative payday in 2016 but squandered a big lead in the title game. Team Colorado has lost in the second round in the squad’s most recent TBT appearances in 2018 and 2019.
Once again, Team Colorado is tentatively plotting a pre-tournament training camp in Boulder, but potential scheduling conflicts at the CU Events Center might force the team to hold those workouts at a local high school instead. Team Colorado also is planning to use the excursion as a fundraiser for Buffs4Life, the nonprofit organization that provides mental health support and other services for CU alums.
TBT will feature four regional sites, tipping off with games in Wichita on July 16. All games from the quarterfinal round forward will be held in Dayton, with the $1 million winner-take-all final set for Aug. 3.