Wizards bringing magic to Wichita

Team hoping to repeat winning season

Written by Amy Palser

Where do good basketball players go after college? Mark Creed of Wichita hopes talented ball handlers who don’t go on to play in the NBA or overseas will end up on the Wichita Wizards roster.

Creed is the owner of the city’s new Minor League Basketball Association team, now in its third season. The team comprises former college players and those who want to play professionally — players who want to hone their skills in hopes of playing at the next level.

The Wizards have been on a major winning streak since day one, going 14–0 in their inaugural season in 2019. “The last seven weeks of the 2019 season we were ranked the No. 1 team in the nation,” Creed said. The team was looking forward to using that momentum to continue winning games and putting Wichita Wizards on the map. But as they were preparing for their first game of 2020, Covid effectively canceled the team’s second season. “2020 was a bust,” Creed said. “We had a lot of things planned, including an All-Star Weekend at Riverfest. But it all went bye-bye.”

Now in 2021, Creed and his team are working as hard as possible to craft a legitimate season, picking up the pieces that 2020 left behind. The MLBA went from 23 teams in 2019 to eight this year. “A lot of teams decided not to play at all this year,” Creed said. “Gym availability in a lot of states is next to nothing. A lot of areas of the country are still shut down.”

But Creed and crew are playing any team who’s up for it, and jumping at any opportunity that comes their way. With an 18–0 record, the Wizards are hopeful to improve that record in May and June. While most games are still tentative, fans can like and follow Wichita Wizards on Facebook for schedule updates. The team plays home games at Garvey PE Center at Friends University.

Creed said that besides having a group of talented players, the Wizards have an outstanding leadership team that includes head coach Jermaine Brown, who played junior college ball and has coached high school, middle school and youth basketball in Wichita; assistant coach and general manager Michael Lewis, the former West High School basketball coach; VP of public relations Rachel Weber; and team trainer Natalie Wright.

Coach Brown said that through the Wizards, he can give his hometown players the chance to pursue their ball dreams, including the chance to play overseas in the future. “My goal is for us to become well established and to continue funneling talent from the Wichita area to play pro basketball,” Brown said.

GM Lewis said that guiding the team is more than ensuring the players — who range in age from 23 to 31 — perform well on the court. “We’re talking about money, the value of their lives, investing in your relationships — instilling some important things into our young men,” Lewis said. “I use basketball to talk about everything; it’s the common denominator.”

Alongside the basketball team is the Lady Wizards dance team led by Weber, which, like the basketball team, is a place for participants to hone their skills and perhaps make it to the next level. The Lady Wizards are also helping bring attention to the Wichita Wizards by appearing at fundraisers, benefits and other community events. “Three years in, we’re just trying to get the community involved.”

Meanwhile, Creed is hoping Wichitans will catch Wizard fever. “Hopefully we can come away with a championship. To be 18–0 in regular season play, looking to go 19–0 soon, we want to keep the streak going.”

 
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