Tigers give Kansas City an 'A'

KANSAS CITY - When they got on the elevator and headed towards the second floor of the College Basketball Experience Tuesday, which is adjacent to Kansas City's Sprint Center, Clemson players heard head coach Oliver Purnell's voice talk about coach and player relationships.

The speech kind of caught them off guard. The timing was weird for such a speech, but more notably it was weird because Purnell wasn't in the elevator with them.

His voice was coming from a speaker above.

"It was kind of neat," Clemson forward Trevor Booker said.

Purnell is just one of several coaches from the present and the past to lend the College Basketball Experience a hand in explaining why the game has meant so much to them.

The Tigers, who will play Michigan in the first round of the NCAA Tournament tomorrow night, had no idea Purnell was prominently displayed and talked about so much in what is a permanent exhibit for the residence of Kansas City and for the tourist who visit it.

The College Basketball Experience is a Hall of Fame of some sorts as it proudly describes the history of college basketball with figures and personalities that has made the game what it is today, while also giving basketball fans all sorts of games to play and the opportunity to be a sportscaster where fans can read off a highlight from teleprompters.

Booker, along with guard Terrence Oglesby, gave it shot. What they didn't know was their call of the highlight spots was replayed right behind them.

"We had a lot of fun," Booker said. "It was a great experience for everyone."

Forward K.C. Rivers enjoyed reliving some of the history of the game, especially those stories from those who made it possible for him to play the game he loves so much.

"It was good for us as a team," the senior captain said. "It was great to see some of the African Americans who did a lot to make sure we were able to play this sport as well as play in college."

In all, the Tigers spent almost an hour in the Hall of Fame room which showcased all of the inductees in the history of college basketball. There were also a few more exhibits that showcased Purnell, including Mentor' Circle, where coaches past and present described their coaching idols.

Purnell was featured in the room's centerpiece, a video showing each coach talking about their mentor. Purnell's mentor is Paul Webb, who gave him his first job as a graduate assistant at his alma mater, Old Dominion.

"It was a little bit of a different outlook for us," Rivers said.

As for the rest of Kansas City, players really did not get the opportunity to experience much of it given practice, meetings and the team meal, but a few did get the opportunity to walk around a little bit. Rivers said the people of Kansas City have been very welcoming, honking their horns as they passed by or stopping for a few seconds to say hello.

"It is a nice town," he said. "There are a lot of bright lights and activities going around. It was St. Patrick's Day so we got to see a lot of the people out and enjoying the town. From what I have seen, I think I would enjoy a city like this."

Most in the city where dressed in green obviously as parts of downtown were shutdown for an event known as Shamrocks & Shenanigans, which features live music and games. It started Tuesday morning at 6 o'clock.

"It's a great city," Booker said.

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