Second Annual West Virginia Basketball Alumni Game Set For July 30

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - John Flowers' initial idea is turning into an annual tradition for a very worthy cause.

The former West Virginia forward was the crux behind the inaugural alumni basketball game, and the reception and growth since the first event was held last year has spurred Flowers to again organize the contest. The initial game, a sold out event held at Morgantown High last season, featured 18 returning players from six different decades, and Flowers said he expects a similar turnout for this year's game, on July 30.

"We wanted to do it in the Coliseum, but there's construction over there," said Flowers, who will again host the game in the same location. "It was good last year, a great turnout for my first time doing it and putting something together. Great experience and good having all the guys back together. The fans loved it and it was a sold out event."

Flowers said it was more difficult to get players to return than he anticipated. When Flowers and former teammate Da'Sean Butler started to organize the event, they placed a multitude of calls across both state and international lines in an attempt to reach players from as close as Morgantown and Fairmont to the European an other foreign leagues. But as head coach Bob Huggins noted, at times when games like that are set-up, agents become involved and players are unavailable due to scheduling conflicts. In all, West Virginia welcomed back notables such as Darryl Prue, Herbie Brooks, Lowers Moore, Devin Ebanks, Kevin Jones, Tyrone Sally, Jarrod West and more.

Flowers' White team built a 20-point halftime lead via a barrage of Wellington Smith three-pointers, then held off Butler's hard-charging Blue squad for a seven-point win. The proceeds, which totaled $6,100, were donated to the Norma Mae Huggins Cancer Research Endowment Fund, which was established by Huggins in memory of his mother, who died from colon cancer.

"My team and I sat down and e-mailed everyone who bought tickets online and asked what did you like, what didn't you like," Flowers said of making some changes to the game experience. "There weren't too many complaints, just somethings we can fix."

Flowers said Mike Gansey and Patrick Beilein cancelled their scheduled appearance last season, but are again scheduled to play. Flowers also noted he has scheduled former second-team All-Big East forward Marcus Goree while also trying to reach Kevin Pittsnogle. Flowers said he would love for the sharp-shooting center to be a part of the game.

"Da'Sean has helped me a lot," Flowers said. "Coach (Larry) Harrison has helped me a lot, coach Huggs. A lot of guys live here during the summer. Who not get everybody back? I like learning about past experiences of West Virginia players who played here before. It's a good time. We are going to try to get a live radio show the Friday before the game and sit down and talk and let everyone hear how it was playing when they played."

Perhaps the most fitting, and heartfelt, part of last year's game was when WVU assistant to the head coach Billy Hahn - who coached Flowers' team - took to the floor to speak about his wife, Kathy, and her battle with cancer at Ruby Memorial Hospital. Hahn thanked Flowers for his effort, and all those attending for their ticket purchase, the proceeds from which will again go to the Huggins foundation for cancer research this year. The Hahns' story is one of thousands across the country; according to the American Cancer Society, 1,658,370 new cancer cases were diagnosed in the United States last year alone. Of those, more than 500,000 people died of the disease, an average of more than 1,500 per day.


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