On Saturday night, the Dee Events Center lit up as former wildcat basketball stars returned for the 2015 Weber State Alumni Classic.
“Many of us never dreamed of even setting foot on this court ever again,” WSU alumni Jermaine Boyette said during a postgame press conference. “Just to be able to play with other legends and hear my name announced one more time is a dream come true.”
The idea was a collaboration of NBA star Damian Lillard and the WSU Athletic department. Lillard, a recent graduate of WSU, kept in contact with several alumni. One of the many topics discussed was bringing back all the different alumni stars for a game.
“We would talk as we would get together about playing at the Dee again,” said Lillard. “After discussing it with several others, I brought the idea to the athletic department and we worked to make that idea a reality.”
The event had three parts, each planned to showcase the skills and abilities of all that were present. For the first two showcases, a small prize was give to the winners. After the showcases came the main event—a game featuring two teams of pre-assigned players, competing in a classic game of basketball.
The starting event was a team shoot out. Teams of three randomly selected players made shots from various locations on the court, ending with a shot from half-court. The teams were timed and the fastest groups advanced to the final round. After several rounds, a team comprised of Kyle Bullinger, Chris Woods and Ryan Cuff won the competition with a time of 25.9 seconds.
The next event featured was a classic three-point shooting contest. A preselected list of players were given one minute to take shots from several locations around the hoop and based upon the different shots were allotted points for baskets made. After all competition, Lillard, who participated, won with a score of 22 points, four points ahead of the nearest competitor.
The night ended with the alumni game, where the players were divide in to two teams, purple and white. The purple team was coached by Lillard and WSU Head coach Randy Rahe, whereas the white team was coached by Ron Abegglen, former head coach for WSU. The game stayed close for the majority of the time, but in the end turned into a high scoring affair, ending with the white team prevailing over the purple team with a score of 124-110.
“We tried to keep it loose and have fun, yet our coaches did try to runs classic plays,” said Kyle Tresnak, WSU alumni and one of the offensive leaders for the white team. “After a while, coach started Shouting at us to run the crunch and I could only laugh because most of us have never even heard of that play.”
At half time, Coach Rahe took a moment to introduce all of the players for the 2015-2016 school year. Rahe spoke both during the game and post-game of the athletic tradition that exists at Weber.
“Every player, when they set foot here, understand one thing,” said Rahe, “playing here isn’t a right, it’s an honor and a privilege. Then they understand that for us to succeed, we have to work hard, put in the effort and do everything we can to honor that tradition.”