MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — When Nathan Adrian played his final game for WVU in the 2017 NCAA Tournament, he assumed his days playing in front of Mountaineer fans were over.
But when the West Virginia Regional of The Basketball Tournament begins July 17 in Charleston, he’ll have another chance to play games that matter in his home state, alongside the other former Mountaineers who make up the Best Virginia roster.
“The majority of people who graduate college never get a chance to play in front of their fans ever again in their life,” Adrian said. “So the fact that we get a chance to go back and do it again up to three times is pretty special.”
Adrian and Best Virginia were supposed to have this opportunity a year ago, but the coronavirus pandemic had other ideas. The TBT was moved to a neutral location, and Best Virginia ultimately did not play in the competition.
But with this year’s TBT now two and a half weeks away, Adrian is filled with pride as he approaches an opportunity to represent his home state — in his home state — on a national stage.
Many of his teammates feel the same way.
“We all have something in common,” Adrian said. “I think we’re all playing for the same kind of thing — we played for West Virginia in college, and we’re still kind of doing it now.”
No. 2-seed Best Virginia is one of the co-hosts of the West Virginia Regional. No. 3-seed Herd That, a team led by Marshall alumni, is the other co-host. It’s possible the two teams could clash in Charleston in the round of 16.
But while both squads are alumni-led, they’re structured very differently. Herd That has added players to its 2021 TBT roster that did not play for Marshall, while Best Virginia is strictly comprised of former Mountaineers.
Adrian likes that exclusivity about the team, but more importantly, everyone on the roster is talented.
“I think we’re one of the only alumni teams that has everybody who actually played at their university, especially playing in West Virginia this year,” Adrian said. “We’ve got a lot of different guys on the team, a lot of guys who can do different things, so as long as we can come together and play properly, I think we’ve got a chance.”
Best Virginia will begin its run at the TBT’s $1 million grand prize July 17 at 2 p.m. against WoCo Showtime. All games in the West Virginia Regional will be played at the Charleston Coliseum.