WCIA — The House of ‘Paign tips off in The Basketball Tournament in less than 24 hours. The Illini based alumni team is competing for a $1 million winner take all tournament against 23 other teams from across the country. Several former Illinois standouts are getting the chance to reunite, including Michael Finke, Malcolm Hill, Nnanna Ewgu and Leron Black. They played together for John Groce in the middle part of the last decade. Now they will suit up in Orange and Blue professionally for the first time.
“Being together with each other on the court, and just getting our chemistry down,” Finke said about the preparation coming into the event. “A lot of us have played together obviously so we have that down, but just to get back on the court together. We’re all looking forward to it.”
“It’s been a few years since I’ve seen or talked to some of the players, so it’s been a good time to be here and be with them, and now it’s about getting on the court, and producing the best talent out there so we could win this thing,” Egwu added.
“To experience this tournament, especially right now with everything going on, it’s a great feeling to have some joy, to have fun with some guys that I still stay in touch with, and I’m excited to be able to compete,” said Black.
The first game for the House of ‘Paign is Saturday night at 7 p.m. CT on ESPN. The tournament is being played in Columbus, Ohio, with every game broadcast on the ESPN family of networks. Other team members include recent Illini grad Andres Feliz, along with South Dakota State grad Mike Daum, DePaul grad Billy Garrett and Central Connecticut State alum Kyle Vinales. Former Illini Mike LaTulip is the head coach and general manager of the squad, with fellow Illini walk-on Cameron Liss as his assistant coach.