Back in March, Iowa State social media was set ablaze when it was announced a Hilton Magic Legends team was being put together to play in The Basketball Tournament.
TBT is a single-elimination tournament in which 64-teams battle for the ultimate prize of $2 million. Teams are made up of former professionals, college stars and basketball talent from all walks of life.
Cyclone Fanatic caught up with the man behind Hilton Magic Legends, general manager Anthony Colosimo, to find out how the process of putting together the team is coming along, how fans can still help and more for this Q&A.
Q: What motivated you to put this team together?
A: I’ve been in involved with the (Capital City League) for about five years and I’ve enjoyed it so much with those guys. Number one, as a sponsor, but I coach one of the teams, my Phoenix Renewable Resource team. So I kind of got a nice look of the players we had at Iowa State. I think it was a great group. I mean, that group of the past five years I think anyone’s going to say might be one of the best recruiting classes the college ever saw.
Last year after one of the games, I was watching this on ESPN. I’m watching these other alumni teams and I’m going, ‘Why don’t we have a team?’ I kind of called some of the guys that have been on my teams and stuff in Cap City, you know, Iowa State guys in the past, and said, ‘What do you guys think about that?’ They said, ‘Yeah, yeah, get it put together, it’s something we’d all like to do.’ So I got in contact with the people at TBT and asked them about the process of everything.
The exciting thing for me was that they want an Iowa State alumni team for lots of reasons. We pull more people than anyone at our basketball games and our following. They said, ‘Yes, get one together. We’d love to work with you to do that.’ That’s how it started.
Q: What’s the process of getting guys to be on the team? How have you gone about recruiting some of those guys to join the efforts?
A: That’s the key. It’s recruiting these guys. The TBT and the rules you can’t be under an NBA contract or D-League. You have to be over 18 or your college eligibility is done if you play in this. Kind of going out looking at the players you want, the ones that are available in the time frame we have the tournament. That’s the challenge of doing it.
A lot of our players are overseas and that’s a really interesting dynamic because of time frames and things like that. We’ve got a great social media team that goes out and contacts these guys. Whether it be our Twitter account, Facebook, email, every medium you can imagine. You keep in contact with them doing that. Then I reached out to some other players I called, kind of the cornerstones of our team. One of the first ones I talked to was Marcus Fizer. Marcus is one of our favorite Iowa State legends, but he’s going to be our coach. I wanted to do that because this is a platform for Marcus to try to get into coaching.
Getting people like that involved. You know, the Curtis Stinson’s, Curtis is a D-League champion, in the rafters at the D-League. Building around those guys has been a good thing to do, because they understand what we’re trying to get done in a tournament like this.
Q: Who all do you guys have confirmed to play as of right now?
A: That’s the thing, there’s a couple processes. There’s a social media component about getting voted in. That’s really important. I try to explain to people, you could have a team full of NBA All-Stars, if you don’t get voted in, you don’t get voted in. So we’ve reached that requirement.
We’ve got right now, I think, we added some players in the last day or two, six or seven. Our verbal commitments are about 11 or 12 people. We’re only going to carry nine. That’s our goal. TBT, when you get over nine players on your team, there’s an extra hoop you have to jump through. Not only money wise, but just trying to get it done. But also for the players, I think when you get over nine it becomes unmanageable. I always say the most accurate thing is look our Facebook page and those players you can kind of see what our team’s going to be like.
We’re talking to people like Craig Brackins, naturally, Curtis, we’ve got Tyrus (McGee). Verbally, Chris Babb, Melvin Ejim, those are guys we’re talking to. Dustin Hogue, just another one we’re talking to. Others I don’t want to talk about because it’s just a verbal commitment. It’s not proper for me to do that. Bubu (Palo), he’s on our team. We’ve got a great roster that we’re building up on it. Our big date is June 1. That’s when a lot of these guys are out of their commitments from overseas when they can officially make their announcement that they’ll be on a team.
A lot of them are playing in their tournaments overseas and it’s not really proper for them with their coach to say, ‘What are you doing? We’re on a run through our playoffs here?’ That precludes some of them at this point from officially signing on, but they’ve already given their verbal commitments to us.
Q: I know one person I’ve been asked about a lot is Royce White. Have you guys reached out to Royce about being on the team?
A: Yes, and Royce is looking at his schedule. We’re kind of in conversations with Royce and if it fits with his schedule, he’s said he’d like to be on the team. But until he confirms it, he’s at least a verbal with us. We’re in conversations with him right now.
Q: The other one is DeAndre Kane. I know he played for the team that won the tournament last year, Overseas Elite.
A: They’re a great team. DeAndre knows about us and what we’re doing. Not only DeAndre, but a couple other guys that played in the tournament last year. They know that we’re here. DeAndre is a unique situation, because he has lots of options with a really good team. A lot of times like that what we’ll do is we’ll put the offer out. We’d love to have him on the team and do that, but he’s got to see how he falls in with his Overseas Elite team also to do that.
Q: What can fans do now to help you guys out on the run up to the tournament?
A: Great question, the fan voting is still going on. What I want to do, and I’ve told everyone, is we want to have the top team in fan voting. It helps a lot of things. It gets TBT to recognize what we always do as a great fanbase. Last year, just for example, the team that had the highest votes was Kansas State. Well, we can beat them. Cyclone fans are great at coming in on social media and doing this. I think this is a great challenge to our fans to go do that and help support the team.
The second part of that is our first round games will be in Peoria (Illi.) at Bradley University. That’s where we’ll be playing our games and I’m so excited when we get there how well we’re going to be able to travel. Just pack that place. It’s going to be so cool. I don’t think the TBT has seen a fanbase, because it’s so close, travel like that. They’ll just be blown away at what Cyclone Nation could do.
One last thing, as people are out there and get on Twitter and stuff and see the things from our players, say they’re excited to see them. That’s what these players like seeing. All of them, it’s funny, when we get them signed up they say, ‘I can’t wait to get in front of the fans again.’ So the more we can get from fans and even get out there and say, ‘We hope we see you on the team.’ They love that. They’re all following this stuff, believe me. They all see this stuff that’s coming in and that all helps in the whole process.