Brotherhood: TBT 2021 aims to feel more like a reunion than a tournament


Sean Marty / The Sunflower

AfterShocks head coach Zach Bush and general manager Ron Baker talk during their first practice on July 13 inside Charles Koch Arena.

AfterShocks head coach Zach Bush and general manager Ron Baker are making a bigger effort to bring former Shockers back to Wichita at this year’s TBT. 

Both said they are wanting the tournament to feel more like a reunion than a game. They started with a list of around 280 former Shockers and started reaching out to the players. 

“I think fans will be excited with who we think will be in attendance, playing or not playing,” Bush said. “We really value that brotherhood and wanting that legacy to continue. When you’re a part of this family, we want family to be forever. We want guys who are here now to know the former guys.”

 The AfterShocks haven’t formally announced who will be in attendance but among them will be Shocker legend and NBA Champion Fred VanVleet.

In hopes of making it feel more like a reunion, current and former Shockers will be welcome in the Champions Club inside Charles Koch Arena during games.

“It’s going to be crazy, it’s going to be nice in here,” junior center Morris Udeze said. “It’s going to be crazy packed, a lot of fans. It’s just nice to have all the fans back and watch the old guys (Markis) McDuffie and Samajae (Haynes-Jones), dudes I used to watch before I came and committed. It’s going to be a great experience, I can’t wait to watch them.”

Since Isaac Brown took over as head coach in late February, he has focused on making WSU a players-first program. TBT will continue this vision by connecting former Shockers with current Shockers.

Junior combo-guard Dexter Dennis said that this brotherhood within the program has been a noticeable change since he arrived as a freshman back in 2018.

“It’s refreshing,” Dennis said. “I don’t think it was like that when I first got here but over the years I think it’s grown a little bit. So, hang with them, kick it with them, and let them run game on us a little bit. It’s always good for me, especially the younger guys.”

Dennis said he is excited about the opportunity to connect with some former Shocker greats.

“It’s super cool,” Dennis said. “We always have questions for them, how they made it at this level, how they made it to the next level. It’s always good to pick up on those little gems. Just to get some first-hand experience from guys who’ve actually been through this.”

This weekend will be the first time since the Shockers Senior Day victory over Tulsa on March 8. 

Udeze said he is excited to see a full capacity Charles Koch Arena after a season with limited capacity and at times no fans. 

“I’m more than excited,” Udeze said. Last season was weird and awkward. First game, no one was there, it just gave a weird feel. It’s going to be exciting to see fans back in here.”