The-BALL (or Basketball Alumni Legends League) is a brand-new East Coast summer league for former college basketball stars. Fans who show up to the games get to see famous alumni from local colleges in more intimate arenas. Many of the American players spend the regular season in the D-League or overseas, but this provides them with an additional source of income during the off-season and a chance to get seen by scouts in person or on a local TV network. It is also the most innovative league in the history of the sport, featuring rules such as a four-point shot, a five-second backcourt violation, two-point free throws, etc. Jon Teitel got to sit down with a number of players/coaches after each game and take a walk down memory lane. Former VCU star Bradford Burgess was in DC as a member of the Virginia Ball-Stars and talked about how a mid-major team can make the Final 4.
You decided to go to college at VCU: why did you choose the Rams? I wanted to stay near my home so I chose VCU over Richmond. I got along well with Coach Anthony Grant and wanted to play with Eric Maynor.
You also played for Coach Shaka Smart: what makes him such a great coach? He is so personable and plays to our skills by getting us in places on the court where we like the ball. He is a great motivator and provided us with a lot of energy.
You got your nickname “Big Shot Brad” as a freshman with a pair of late three-point shots in wins over James Madison and Richmond: what is the key to being a clutch shooter? My teammates had confidence in me and I was confident in them. By hanging out off the court we built a sense of trust on the court.
In the 2009 NCAA tourney you scored 10 points in a one-point loss to UCLA: did you think that Eric Maynor’s 17-footer at the buzzer was going in? We all did: Eric is a clutch player, as everyone saw when he made a game-winning shot to beat Duke in the 2007 NCAA tourney.
You had a team-high seven rebounds in the 2010 CBI series-clinching six-point win over St. Louis on the road: what did it mean to you to win the title? It is always great to end your season on a win, which not a lot of people get to do. It also served as motivation for us going into the following season.
In December 2010 you had 15 points and 13 rebounds but missed a contested layup at the buzzer in a one-point OT loss to South Florida: where does that rank among the most devastating losses of your career? Every loss is big. We had a strong 2nd half and I had a good look at the end but the ball just rolled out.
Take me through the magical 2011 NCAA tourney:
You scored a game-high 26 points (6-7 3pt) including a layup off of an inbounds pass with 7.1 seconds left in a one-point OT win over Florida State: how did Coach Smart change the inbounds play after the Seminoles called a timeout? FSU looked like they knew our play call (to find Jamie Skeen in the post) so during the timeout we changed it up so that Joey Rodriguez would get the ball to Brandon Rozzell. I read the defense, found an opening, and Joey got me the ball for the winning shot.
You scored 15 points in eight-point loss to Butler: how did that run to the Final 4 change your life? We were like celebrities for a long time back on campus and I still run into people who ask me about it. It was great for our city and enrollment went up at our school: it was a blessing for everyone.
Take me through the 2012 NCAA tourney:
You scored a game-high 16 points in a three-point win over Wichita State: what did you learn from the 2011 tourney that helped you in 2012? I learned to cherish the moment by staying focused and taking advantage of the opportunities we got. We had a solid season from start to finish.
You scored 15 points in a two-point loss to Indiana: did you think that Rob Brandenberg’s open three point shot at the buzzer was going in? Oh yeah, I had full faith in Rob’s shot. It was a tough loss because it was the final game of my college career.
Your 146 games played at VCU is #1 in CAA history: do you think that anyone will ever break your record? You never know with all of the conference realignment these days! I was blessed to start every game of my career so hopefully I can hang onto the record for awhile.
Your younger brother Jordan currently plays for VCU: why did Jordan choose to follow in your footsteps, and who is the best athlete in the family? Ever since our 2011 tourney run Jordan was labeled as “Brad’s little brother” but he came to VCU because he wanted to take full advantage of a program that was on the rise. As far as who is the best athlete, I will give that title to him.