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Mercer reintroduces club basketball team

November 5, 2016

For the first time in two years, Mercer University has a new club basketball team that will be playing in regular season games and tournaments with other college club basketball teams in the country.

The new team — started by Mercer student Andre Daniels — has already played several scrimmages to prepare for the upcoming season, including a game against Emory University.

“I thought I’d bring it back because I knew a lot of gentlemen that wanted to ball and a lot of other players that don’t play for the varsity team that still want to play basketball,” Daniels said.

Daniels said he works with Mercer Intramurals to help run the program and personally gets in contact with student coaches from other schools in order to schedule games.

Tryouts for the team took place Sept. 2 and were meant to test the participants’ athletic abilities. Daniels said that the majority of people who came out to the tryouts made the team.

The team already has five tournaments set up for the spring, some of them out-of-state and others in-state.

“We have a couple other colleges and universities in Georgia that want to start a Georgia league with us,” Daniels said.

Daniels said he is looking forward to playing schools like Miami University, University of Florida and University of North Carolina.

He also added that he looks forward to having a rematch against Emory during regular season. During the last tournament the team played, they lost in the first round against Emory, who went on to take the championship.

Elijah Keene, a power forward on the team, said he hopes to accomplish the same thing. Keene is described by Daniels as one of the team’s “sharpshooters.”

Keene said he hopes to spread the team’s name in order to grow the program for the future.

“We’re still just a group of guys out there playing basketball in our own individual ways and not as a team yet,” Keene said. “However, I have seen those moments where we’ve played cohesively together, and we will become a team if we continue to play in that way.”

Keene said that the main struggles of the club team is being able to balance school work while still dedicating himself to the team. The players drive themselves to games and tournaments and professors don’t excuse club basketball events for classes.

“Maybe there will be tournaments that I won’t be able to go to because of tests,” Keene said. “At the end of the day, it’s club basketball; it’s not building my scholarships. But, I’m committed to it.”

The team has played many games around the state of Georgia, but none have been at Mercer so far. Daniels said he hopes to have games in the future at Mercer so that students can come and see the team play.

Daniels also said that in the future he hopes to win a national championship at some point. He hopes to bring more athletes into the program to allow it to grow in order to achieve this goal.

“My goal for this year is to get our name out there and get invited to more tournaments and probably win a couple,” Daniels said. “If we don’t, at least get our name out there so that people know that we’re a force.”

It’s not too late to join the team. Anyone who is interested in joining the team can contact Daniels or anyone else on the team and they will set up a personal tryout.

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