Best Virginia’s second foray into The Basketball Tournament came to a abrupt, premature and disappointing end this past week, as the team of West Virginia University alums pulled out of TBT after multiple members tested positive for COVID-19.
“It stinks that it bit us in the butt, but I’m just glad that everybody is OK. No one currently has any major symptoms,” said Best Virginia coach Jarrod West.
The single-elimination TBT, with a winner-take-all prize of $1 million, is scheduled to run from July 4-14. The Tournament was originally slated to feature 64 teams playing at eight regional sites, including Charleston, West Virginia, but because of the pandemic, the field was cut down to 24 teams with all games being played, albeit without fans, at the Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio.
Best Virginia was the No. 10 seed and was going to face Herd That, a team with a number of Marshall alumni, on July 5. Now Playing For Jimmy V will take Best Virginia’s place in the TBT bracket.
“As a competitor you want to compete,” explained West, who was a guard for the Mountaineers from 1995-98 and now also serves as the head boys’ basketball coach at Notre Dame High School in Clarksburg, West Virginia. “Last year I thought we had a good chance, and we got to the second round (before losing to four-time champ Overseas Elite), but then (Juwan Staten) sprained his wrist. This year we improved our guard play with Tarik (Phillip) and Dax (Miles) coming in. We thought we had the team to make a strong run.”
Best Virginia held its first practice on June 16 to prepare for this year’s TBT. The players and other staff member also were tested last week for the coronavirus, which is mandated by the tournament’s health and safety guidelines. Multiple members of Best Virginia tested positive for COVID-19, and at that point the team decided to withdraw from the tourney.
“Over the weekend, that’s when we got the news, and here we are today,” noted a downtrodden West. “It was frustrating.”
Preparing for its second foray into the TBT, Best Virginia had assembled a squad that not only featured Staten, Phillip and Miles, but also Da’Sean Butler, Nate Adrian, John Flowers, Jonathan Holton, Jaysean Paige, Logan Routt and Kevin Jones.
“We were all in and excited,” added West, who also served as Best Virginia’s coach last year. “We had a practice and the juices were flowing, but then we got the gut punch. I understand the situation, but it’s still tough. I will say I’ll be surprised if we’re the only team that has to go through this. This virus is nothing to fool with.
“I think with the pieces we had, we had a good chance. Our draw for the first round against Marshall was going to be fun,” concluded West, whose oldest son Jarrod is a senior-to-be guard for the Thundering Herd. “It kind of stinks now, but we’ll keep our heads up and get ready for next year.”
The TBT has indicated that as long as the coronavirus has abated by next summer, Charleston will get another shot to serve as a regional host.