WVU Withdraws from The Basketball Tournament After Player's COVID-19 Diagnosis

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistJune 22, 2020

Official March Madness 2020 tournament basketballs are seen in a store room at the CHI Health Center Arena, in Omaha, Neb., Monday, March 16, 2020. Omaha was to host a first and second round in the NCAA college basketball Division I tournament, which was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
Nati Harnik/Associated Press

Best Virginia, a team comprised of West Virginia alumni, has withdrawn from The Basketball Tournament after one of its players tested positive for COVID-19, according to Myron Medcalf of ESPN.  

Jon Mugar, the founder and CEO of the tournament, released the following statement:

"This is a safety-first event. We're disappointed for the Best Virginia players and fans that they won't get an opportunity to compete in TBT 2020, and our thoughts are with the player for a speedy recovery. While the virus remains a persistent threat, we have confidence in our health and safety plan and the many safeguards we have put in place to run this year's tournament."

Best Virginia, which was being led by former WVU players like Juwan Staten and Da'Sean Butler, will be replaced by the Playing for Jimmy V team. That squad is led by former Gonzaga star Josh Perkins and former Loyola star Marques Townes. 

They'll take on Herd That, comprised of Marshall alums, on July 5 in opening round action. The Basketball Tournament runs from July 4-14, with a winner-take-all prize of $1 million. 

The tournament will be held without fans and will have multiple rounds of coronavirus testing before play begins. Any team to have a member test positive will be eliminated from the competition. 

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Among the notable players in the tournament will be former NBA star Joe Johnson, playing for Overseas Elite, which saw its four-year winning streak at The Basketball Tournament halted by Aaron Craft and Carmen's Crew in 2019.

"To be honest, I'm a little nervous," Johnson said of holding the tournament amid the COVID-19 pandemic. "So many guys in one place and although there won't be any fans, you just never know. But you won't know unless you try. And TBT is trying it."

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