Multiple members of team 'Best Virginia' test positive for COVID-19

Juwan Staten, left, goes up for a layup around Tarik Phillip in a 2019 WVU alumni game at Joe Retton Arena. Both Staten and Philip are members of team Best Virginia in this summer’s The Basketball Tournament.

MORGANTOWN — First team Best Virginia lost its home court advantage in The Basketball Tournament when the field was narrowed and Charleston taken away as a regional site due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now Best Virginia is out of the tournament due to the pandemic as multiple members of the team have tested positive and are in quarantine.

This is what the tournament put on its Twitter feed Monday: “After a team member tested positive for COVID-19, Best Virginia has decided to withdraw from TBT 2020. They will be replaced in the bracket by Playing For Jimmy V, who will take on Herd That on July 5.”

The Tweet was followed with this prepared statement:

“The Basketball Tournament (TBT), the $1-million winner-take-all summer basketball event today announced that Best Virginia, the West Virginia alumni team, will be replaced in the field of 24 after a team member tested positive for COVID-19. Playing for Jimmy V will play Herd That, the Marshall alumni team, on July 5 on ESPN networks.

“On Thursday, June 18, TBT was informed by Best Virginia that one of its team members had tested positive for COVID-19. TBT immediately initiated its pre-tournament protocol under the guidance of medical advisor Dr. Tom Hospel. Although it was determined the timing of the positive test could have permitted the remainder of the team to enter into a 14-day self-quarantine and frequent testing protocol, Best Virginia opted to withdraw from the 24-team field.”

Jon Magur, founder and CEO of the unique tournament in which Best Virginia played last year, reaching the second round, issued a 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 many safeguards we have put in place to run this year’s tournament.”

Best Virginia opened practice last week and were to play Herd That on July 5 in Columbus, Ohio.

The tests were done prior to the TBT’s organized testing and when the first test came back positive, but it apparently was too late because the spread had begun and other positive results showed up.

In a statement released on Twitter from J Flow Entertainment, former player John Flowers’ production group, Best Virginia expressed regret for having to withdraw:

“This is not how we wanted things to end.

“Since our second-game loss in The Basketball Tournament (TBT) in 2019, we’ve been excited at the idea of playing again for West Virginia.

“We had gathered a team of incredible Mountaineer alums that each shared the dream of bringing a trophy home. We also were excited the TBT was coming to Charleston. To have this tournament at home, to reward our fans for turning up in our first TBT games, was a dream come true.

“Like everything, our plans were changed by COVID-19 — in more ways than one. We learned late Thursday that one of our own had tested positive for COVID-19, a test taken out of precaution, though no symptoms were visible.

“Out of an abundance of caution, all parties at our recent practices were notified, as well as the appropriate local health agencies, and our players and staff were tested. We will not be participating this year due to COVID-19.

“This is not the news West Virginians want to hear. It was a tough decision to come to. But this is the reality of where we are now, and safety is everything.

“We hope all teams that are able to participate in TBT this year see this as an opportunity to tighten their own safety practices and keep everyone safe to ensure a fun, safe tournament for themselves and their fans.

“We are not just sad for our own chances to play, but what this team meant to so many in West Virginia. It is the love for the Mountaineers that prompted us to form this team and keeps us going to play and practice harder and harder.

“We will continue working with TBT to continue Best Virginia’s presence in future tournaments, as well as the hopes they consider bringing the tournament to West Virginia next year. We love you, West Virginia. We’re sorry we can’t play for you this year.”

Follow Bob Hertzel on Twitter @bhertzel

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