Greg Zimmerman sometimes declares in a half-joking tone, “I’ve got a bunch of kids that nobody else wanted.” Zimmerman’s blunt assessment is not a slap at his players, whom he genuinely holds in high esteem. He’s making the larger point that the men’s head basketball coach at AldersonBroaddus College will never win a high school recruiting war. For every one of his players, becoming a Battler was either the best or only offer to play college basketball.
Zimmerman’s point leads back to one of the questions that drove me five years ago to begin to write this book: What do these kids—and they are still mostly wide-eyed kids—get out of playing D-II basketball in a D-I world? The proof is in the pudding.
Five years after playing his last game in Rex Pyles Arena, Kevyn McBride works as a research assistant in Morgantown. In 2005 McBride completed his master’s degree in mechanical engineering and has begun working on his PhD. Looking back, would he have done it all over again?
“To be honest, I struggle with that question a lot,” said McBride. “I am so very glad that I did continue my basketball career at A-B. We had some good teams, and the people that I met along the way are by far what made it so great.”
McBride continued, “That said, do I wish I’d have tried to go to one of those schools where you play in front of fifteen thousand or even five thousand fans a night and have a shot to play on TV or even the ‘Big Dance’? A lot of times I wish I would have tried. I really think that I was good enough to play at that level, and I would have liked to have had the chance to prove it.”
“So to answer the question, I would have to say my college basketball experience gave me a lifetime of memories that the older I get, become more and more precious,” he added. “It also gave me, besides my family, all of the people that are most important to me in my life.”
McBride’s comments are echoed emphatically by his former teammates. Steve Dye graduated from A-B shortly after completing his college basketball career. He toyed briefly with playing professionally overseas in Ireland