Wildcat basketball alumni compete in million dollar tournament

Pointguard, Markquis Nowell, looks for an open teammate to pass the ball to. (Archive photo by Elizabeth Sandstrom | Collegian Media Group)

In 2014, Jonathan Mugar founded a basketball tournament that quickly gained media attention, called the The Basketball Tournament (TBT). It featured alumni teams from several colleges, allowing fans to watch some of their favorite players from seasons past play together.

Kansas State was no exception. Before 2022, the Kansas State alumni team or ‘Purple and Black’ team’s overall record was 3-5, but this time around they finished 1-1.

This time around, the team added multiple new faces. Among the new additions included 6-foot-3 guard Mike McGuirl, former NBA player Henry Walker and K-State co-leader in 3-point field goals Jacob Pullen.

Beginning with the 2022 tournament against the Lone Star Legends, which featured players from various colleges in Texas. The game was tightly contested from tip-off to the end.

Mugar implemented the famous “Elam Ending” in 2018, allowing for more exciting and fast-paced games by eliminating the game clock in the fourth quarter. That means the ending of the game is decided by a target score.

With the ‘Purple and Black’ down three and the “Elam Ending” set at 75 points, Justin Edwards stepped up and scored four straight points to put the former Wildcats up 72-71. Lone Star Legend’s player Timothy Holyfield responded with two free throws to put the Texas alumni on top 72-73. That’s when K-State’s all-time leading scorer Jacob Pullen showed off his skills from his glory days in a Wildcat uniform.

Bringing the ball down the floor and getting a screen from Thomas Gipson, Pullen shot a 30-foot 3-pointer and nailed it to win the game. The crowd at Charles Koch Arena enthusiastically  cheered and K-State fans flooded social media with “Fear the Beard” messages from back when Pullen was the star point-guard in college.

Pullen led the ‘Purple and Black’ in scoring alongside Lone Star Legend Jordan Allen with 30 points each. Pullen shot 8-21 from the floor while shooting 33 percent from beyond the 3-point line.

Former Wildcat Thomas Gipson contributed at the center position and finished the game with 15 points and 11 rebounds. Mike McGuirl also contributed, but with 12 points on 4-8 FG, shooting 50 percent from beyond the 3-point line.

The following day, the ‘Purple and Black’ played the North Texas alumni team ‘Bleed Green.’ For the Wildcat alumni, it was a three man show with Mike McGuirl and Jacob Pullen each scoring 18 points and Thomas Gipson adding 17 points.

The teams were tied leading into the second quarter, but the second quarter ‘Bleed Green’ pulled ahead. The North Texas alumni went on a 31-8 point run that proved to be too much for the former Wildcats, eliminating K-State 67-48. 

While the ‘Purple and Black’ went 1-1 on the year, they are 4-6 all-time in The Basketball Tournament. The team’s star player was Jacob Pullen, averaging 24 points per game, followed by Thomas Gipson’s 16 points per game. 

Henry Walker and Justin Edwards led the team with two assists per game, while Thomas Gipson led the Wildcat alumni in rebounding with eight. Justin Edwards followed shortly behind with five boards.

Despite the disappointing loss to ‘Bleed Green,’ ‘Purple and Black’ have another opportunity next season. This gives fans a chance to see their favorite players back on the court.