Kansas City’s entry in the new North American Premier Basketball League will be known as the “KC Buzz.”
“We were trying a play on words marketing-wise — to make Municipal ‘The Hive’ to see what all the buzz is all about,” said former University of Kansas forward Calvin Thompson, the team’s coach.
He and league president/COO David Magley, another former KU player, each spoke with The Star in advance of a news conference scheduled for Friday at Johnny’s Tavern in the Power & Light District.
“It’s not Kansas City Buzz, but KC Buzz,” Thompson said. “That’s too many words printing-wise. Somebody suggested (KC) ‘Splash’ for the City of Fountains. What would the mascot be? A waterfall?” Thompson added with a laugh, noting the Buzz’s mascot would be “Stinger the Bee.”
The Buzz will play a 32-game regular-season schedule in a league expected to open play around Jan. 1, 2018 and have eight teams: KC, plus Vancouver, B.C.; Yakima, Wash.; Mesquite, Nev.; Owensboro, Ky.; Akron, Ohio; Rochester, N.Y.; and Albany, N.Y.
All eight teams will make the playoffs, which will be held in May. The Buzz’s 16 home games will be contested in Municipal Auditorium.
Thompson — who played at KU from 1982 to ’86 — will be assisted on the bench by Tom Hughes, who coached the Salina Cagerz of the old USBL and most recently coached at Wentworth Military Academy.
The KC Buzz’s marquee player, as recently reported in The Star, will be former KU point guard Sherron Collins. Another ex-Jayhawk on the squad will be forward Kevin Young. Both competed in the National Basketball League of Canada when Magley was that league’s commissioner.
Also to be included on the Buzz roster: University of Saint Mary graduate Grant Greenberg, who scored 2,993 points in his college career. Last season, Greenberg became the leading career men’s college basketball scorer in the state of Kansas, passing Danny Manning, who had 2,951 points at KU.
The team also will acquire players through the upcoming league draft and could ultimately sign players from this Saturday’s combine. Interested players can try out from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday at the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Kansas City. Information on the combine is available on the North American Premier Basketball League’s Facebook page.
Thompson said the team is actively seeking former Missouri and Kansas State players. Thompson said he’s been in contact with former MU player Derrick Chievous about perhaps contacting possible players and soon will visit with K-State coach Bruce Weber about former Wildcats who may be interested.
“This will not be a Jayhawk team just because I am a Jayhawk,” Thompson said. “Guys are everywhere,” he added, noting there are talented players from Park, Penn Valley, Emporia State and other junior and four-year colleges who figure to attend the Saturday combine.
As far as the KU players, there’s always the possibility others could be added.
Of former KU guard Collins, Magley told The Star: “When he was healthy, Sherron was as good as any point guard in our league. He has great point guard skills and is such a good competitor. He will be fun to watch for the Jayhawk fans who liked him. He’ll be interesting to watch for the Tiger fans who didn’t like him,” Magley added with a laugh.
Of Young, Magley said: “I think Kevin will do really well. He runs. He has such a high motor. He was a beast at Kansas, a tough matchup for everybody. Nobody had a power forward who could run like him.”
The league, which soon will announce eight more teams to begin play in the 2019 season, will have three salary scales for players: C players earning $1,500 per month, B players receiving $3,000 a month and A players earning $5,000 a month.
The owners of the KC franchise have yet to be revealed. Magley said last summer an ownership group must have a net worth of $2.5 million. He told Fanragsports.com that the franchise fee is $200,000 with $50,000 to be held as a deposit and returned after two years.
“We’ll do some heavy bus rides, a little longer, less comfortable in year one than year two,” said Magley, who, in the future, wants teams to play a majority of games in their own geographic area. “We’ll play a lot of back-to-backs, two-game sets.” He said the KC team would, for instance, drive to Kentucky and Ohio, but fly to games in New York and Canada.