AfterShocks ready to rock b-ball tourney

Former Shockers return to Koch for chance at $2 million

Written by Joe Stumpe

Forget for a minute about minor league baseball returning to Wichita. Did you know the city is getting a professional basketball team?

Well, for at least one glorious week, anyway.

In July, The Basketball Tournament (TBT) — a $2 million, winner-take-all tourney broadcast live on ESPN — will hold one of its eight-team regional rounds here. And the AfterShocks, a team made up of former Wichita State Shockers now playing professionally, will try to win it and move on.

“It’s such a unique experience,” said Zach Bush, a former Shocker who will help coach the team. “How often do you get to take 10 of your better players from the past? That just doesn’t happen. And there’s $2 million, so…”

“We are a basketball community,” added Tien Huynh, the local entrepreneur and WSU alum who partnered with former Shocker Karon Bradley to form the AfterShocks. Indeed, Shocker fans will need only one name to recognize the players taking part, from Ragland and Armstead to Murry, Early, Cotton, Morris and Frankamp.

The Basketball Tournament started in 2014 and has grown in popularity, prize money and number of teams participating ever since. Last year, more than 60 players with NBA experience took part. Attracting the tournament to Wichita was a joint effort of Visit Wichita, WSU and the AfterShocks. Games will be played July 25–28 at Koch Arena. The tourney’s later rounds move to Chicago Aug. 1–6.

Bradley will be the head coach, assisted by more recent players John Robert Simon and Bush.

“For me, it was just a no-brainer” to be involved, said Bradley, who lives in Houston and has remained active in basketball since playing here 2005–2007. Bradley said the players he approached about participating felt the same. All but one are playing professionally overseas, where the off-season is the same as the NBA.

“We have a lot of great leaders, especially guards,” Bradley said in reference to players like former point guard Clevin Hannah, who played at WSU from 2008–2010.

Simon, who’s currently serving as a graduate assistant under Shocker coach Gregg Marshall, said guard-heavy teams have done well in the tournament’s previous years. The AfterShocks won’t have much time to practice, but Simon said that’s not a big concern.

“With these guys, they’re all pros and they’ve got a lot of experience. They know how to play the game. At this level, it’s more different schemes — [like] run a two-man game on one side, or pick and roll.”

Seven games will be played over four days. Teams made up of former University of Kansas and Kansas State University players have also been added to the Wichita regional. “That’ll ramp up the rivalry, for sure,” Huynh said, noting that ticket sales in Wichita are already outstripping those of other regional sites. “It’s gonna bring some excitement.”

Cox Communications, Spirit AeroSystems, The Distinct Ink, Opti-Life, Shocker Store, SPLURGE! and the Fairfield Inn East by Marriott are all on board as corporate sponsors. Huynh said more sponsorships are available.

“From the moment we started talking to TBT, we knew what a great event this would be for the city,” said Brian Hargrove of Visit Wichita, adding that the ESPN broadcasts should burnish our reputation as “a great sports center.”

Rule change

One interesting difference in the way The Basketball Tournament games are played is called the Elam Rule, named for the Mensa member and superfan who came up with it. Under the Elam Rule, the game clock shuts off after the first dead ball that comes with less than four minutes left.

A “target score” is calculated by adding seven points to the leading team’s score, and the first team to reach that score wins. The rule is designed to prevent excessive fouling at the end of the game and guarantee that every game ends with a made basket.

AfterShocks roster (tentative, as of Jan. 29)

NAMEYRS AT WSUCURRENT TEAM
Joe Ragland2010–12Crvena Zvezda (Serbia)
Malcolm Armstead2011–13Kymis (Greece)
Clevin Hannah2008–10Herbalife Gran Canaria (Spain)
Cleanthony Early2012–14Tokyo Hachioji (Japan)
Toure’ Murry2008–12UCC Assigeco Piacenza (Italy)
Shaquille Morris2013–18Kyoto-Hannaryz (Japan)
J.T. Durley2006–11Metroplex Lightning (Desoto, Texas)
Tekele Cotton2011–15Fiat Torino (Italy)
Conner Frankamp2015–18BC Beroe (Bulgaria)
Garrett Stutz2008–12Toyotsu FE (Japan)

Download a more detailed AfterShocks roster with history and stats on each of the players here.

Tickets

The AfterShocks will first play Thursday evening, July 25, in Wichita. For all session tickets, please visit goshockers.com or call the WSU Ticket Office at 316.978.FANS (3267).

 
live  |  shop  |  dine  |  play  |  home  |  magazine  |  calendar  |  about  |  your turn