Dream team: Former K-State basketball stars reunite for national basketball tournament

K-State Athletics Communications

Jordan Henriquez ’13, Martavious Irving ’13 and Rodney McGruder ’13 during their senior day in Bramlage Coliseum. (Photo: K-State Athletics Communications)

Nine former Wildcat men’s basketball players are coming together with the hopes of winning big money at The Basketball Tournament this summer. 

A team dubbed Purple and Black, this group of former Wildcats is made up of an all-star cast including Jacob Pullen '11, Curtis Kelly '10, Dominique Sutton, Denis Clemente, Jamar Samuels '12, Rodney McGruder '13, Jordan Henriquez '13, Martavious Irving '13 and Thomas Gipson '15. 

This Purple and Black team features K-State’s all-time leading scorer in Pullen (2,132 points), its top three leading defensive rebounders in Gipson (428), Samuels (420) and McGruder (400), and its top shot blocker in Henriquez (210). All together, the group scored a grand total of 9,324 combined points during their Wildcat careers and grabbed a combined total of 3,941 rebounds. 

It is, for all intents and purposes, a reunion of the Wildcats’ 2010 Elite Eight squad, with the addition of Gipson. They hope to recapture that March Madness magic as they return to the national stage.

The Basketball Tournament, or TBT, is an open-application, single-elimination, winner-take-all basketball tournament that runs from July 16 through Aug. 2. Anyone can enter, but you have to have the most online votes to earn a spot as one of TBT’s 64 teams. 

The voting for TBT opened in early April, and within just hours, K-State fans had already poured in their support. 

“I really wasn’t expecting all of it — it’s been so crazy,” Gipson said about the excitement Wildcat fans are showing for their team. “We had almost 2,000 votes in the first 12 hours. That speaks for itself. Everybody is really excited. I’m sure there are going to be a lot of people out for our games. It’s just a good feeling to see that team, with me included, back together. We want to make K-State alumni proud.”

The tournament begins with regional competitions, then progresses to a Super 16 round July 21-23 and the Championship round July 30-Aug. 2. The teams that make it to the Super 16 and Championship rounds will have their games aired on ESPN and will be in the running for the grand prize: $2 million. 

“I’m very excited for it,” said Irving, who, along with Henriquez, came up with the idea for the Purple and Black team. “For a lot of us, it’s been a few years since we’ve played together. I haven’t played with JO in almost three years; it’s been quite a while. So it’s going to be awesome to get the gang back together again.”  

With stellar talent, solid management and passionate purple fans behind it, Purple and Black is a team that can be expected to make some serious noise this summer at The Basketball Tournament. 

“It’s going to be really cool to play with everyone again, because when I did play with those guys, I was young and inexperienced,” explained Gipson, the youngest player on the squad. “But now, I’m more matured and my game has evolved a long way. So just being back with that team, those players, it’s a great feeling. I feel extra confident about it, and I feel like we have a great chance to compete for the grand prize.”

Vote for the Purple and Black team, and follow the Purple and Black Team and The Basketball Tournament on Twitter for the most up-to-date details.

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