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Younger alums look to lead the way as Team Colorado again takes aim at The Basketball Tournament

Dec. 10, 2021- University of Colorado ...
Former Colorado forward Evan Battey is among several recent CU men’s basketball alums set to represent the Buffs this summer at The Basketball Tournament. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff photographer)

For the first time in four years, the Colorado men’s basketball alumni team will take aim at the jackpot in The Basketball Tournament.

Following a delay of four years sparked mostly by the COVID pandemic, the organizers of Team Colorado announced on Friday the Buffaloes’ alumni team is planning to renew its participation this summer in The Basketball Tournament, the $1 million, winner-take-all competition that has evolved into one of the top basketball events of the summer.

Team Colorado is set to be coached by Zach Ruebesam, CU’s director of player development. His coaching staff will include former Buffs players Dominique Coleman, currently the interim head coach at Hillsboro Community College in Florida, and Tory Miller, who has begun cutting his teeth in the coaching profession with Overtime Elite, a premier pro league for prospects opting for a different course to the NBA than through NCAA basketball.

Also scheduled to be on the staff is David Pavlakovich, a former CU team manager who has been coaching in Germany.

“You have guys that are making big money overseas that are playing,” Ruebesam said. “It’s competitive. There’s so many teams now trying to get in, it’s a big-time opportunity for these guys. If you play well it can turn into a (NBA) Summer League, it can turn into a two-way contract, it can turn into a bigger contract overseas. I think it’s a good opportunity for these young guys that are just starting off.”

Team Colorado very nearly claimed the jackpot in The Basketball Tournament in 2016 but squandered a big lead in the second half. The pandemic forced severe restrictions with the event in 2020, and the CU alumni group didn’t field a team the past two years after being unable to piece together the sort of roster that organizers believed could make a legitimate run in the tournament.

An influx of more recent CU hoops alums on this year’s roster has changed that.

While injuries or a change in pro commitments still could alter the roster before the team’s training camp in July, a number of more recent Buffs players have committed to play. That list includes Evan Battey, D’Shawn Schwartz, Dallas Walton, Lucas Siewert and Jeriah Horne. All of those players except Horne were part of the 2019-20 team that had its expected NCAA Tournament appearance scuttled by the start of the pandemic. After Siewert graduated, all those players plus Horne were part of the CU team that reached the second round of the 2021 NCAA Tournament.

Also committed to play are George King, Tre’Shaun Fletcher, Dominique Collier and Shannon Sharpe. There likely will be at least one and possibly two roster additions before the team is finalized.

“The influx of young guys, those guys that are really just finishing their rookie years (professionally), the influx of those guys I think really helps us,” Ruebesam said. “Combine that with some of the older guys like Shannon Sharpe or Tre’Shaun Fletcher, I think we have a much better mix of veterans and young guys who are maybe just getting into it. There’s huge interest in it, a lot of them are trying to get their pro careers off the ground, and the TBT has turned into an elite basketball tournament.”