You all know Billy Hahn can’t sit still.
Hell, he gave up trying years ago. And if you ever saw him fidgeting as a WVU assistant basketball coach beside Bob Huggins, you know of what I write.
“I don’t know how to slow down,” Hahn, now retired, said Monday.
So it’s no surprise Hahn is helping with the “Best Virginia” collection of former Mountaineer players going for a $2 million prize in The Basketball Tournament, aka TBT.
“Of all the years I’ve coached basketball – of all the teams I’ve been associated with – I’ve never been so happy coaching,” Hahn said. “I told my wife Kathi they have been so enjoyable to be around. They are true professionals. There are no egos.
“There’s no ‘I have to score’ guys. There are no issues. They just have great chemistry. They just want to be together and win.”
It would certainly pay for them to do so.
Here’s the deal. Former WVU players Da’Sean Butler, Kevin Jones, Juwan Staten, Jaysean Paige, Devin Williams, John Flowers, Nate Adrian, Joe Alexander, Teyvon Myers and Darryl “Truck” Bryant are gunning for the $2 million prize in the winner-take-all event. Tarik Phillip was also taking part before the Washington Wizards told him to sit it out. Phillip was signed by the NBA team on April 9, the last day of the season.
Even without Phillip, though, it’s quite an impressive roster.
“Huggy Bear was at one of our practices,” Hahn said. “He couldn’t believe how each player is playing compared to when they played at WVU. Of course, they were kids then and are grown men now. But there’s a big difference. It’s unbelievable.”
The team will first play this coming Friday, July 26, at 3 p.m. at the Seigel Center in Richmond, Va.
“Just win six games,” Hahn said, “and you win $2 million.”
Get this though: “Best Virginia” is but the No. 4 seed in the Richmond region. It’ll start by playing fifth-seeded Seven City Royalty, a collection of former Old Dominion players, on ESPN3. If “Best” advances, it could take on the TBT king, top-seeded Overseas Elite, which has won four straight tournaments and $7 million.
But a No. 4 seed?
“We’ll use that to our advantage,” Hahn said. “It’s no different than when the guys played at WVU. No respect whatsoever for West Virginia. We never got it then and we used it as a motivating factor. We’re using it with this team because we know how good we are. If they don’t think we’re good enough, fine. That helps us.”
Hahn, by the way, and Morgantown High coach Dave Tallman are listed as assistant coaches to ex-Mountaineer and current Notre Dame High coach Jarrod West. The latter, of course, sent WVU to the 1998 Sweet 16 against Cincinnati and Huggins with a last-second bank shot in Boise, Idaho. Tallman, meanwhile, led Magnolia High to a Class AA title before playing at Wheeling Jesuit and, eventually, turning to coaching. He once coached Flowers at St. Mary’s Ryken High.
And all mean business.
“We’re combining ‘Press Virginia,’ Bob Huggins’ stuff as well as John Beilein stuff,” Hahn said.
“We’ve got scouting reports; we’ve got video tapes,” Hahn said. “People don’t understand. We’re watching video. We’ve got practice (Monday), Tuesday and Wednesday before leaving Thursday at 8 o’clock. Tonight, we’ll watch video.”
Hahn has been fund-raising as well as coaching. Greg Richardson has been helping with logistics. It’s an all-out effort so “Best Virginia” can succeed.
But just how good are these guys? A starting unit of Staten, Williams, Jones, Butler and either Paige, Adrian, Flowers or Alexander sounds formidable.
“They are playing out of their minds,” Hahn said.
“We’re serious, but we have a lot of fun, man,” Hahn said. “That makes it even better.”
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