When Mark Creed set out to bring professional basketball to Wichita for the first time in 27 years, he figured he would have to just survive the first season before he could start convincing others of his passion project.
What he’s discovered since is that his idea had tapped into a passionate base in the city that had longed for a semi-pro team.
The Wizards now feature a public-address announcer, Tyler O’Quinn, an official team photographer, Dorothy Brown, and even a dance team, all because of volunteers who want to make the Wizards a success.
To top it off, the mostly Wichita-based roster has been downright dominant on the floor. The Wizards are 7-0, averaging 131 points per game and beating teams on average by 30 points. That dominance recently earned them the No. 1 ranking in the Minor League Basketball Association entering Saturday’s 6:30 p.m. home game against Michimo Global at Friends University.
“It’s all been even better than I hoped for,” Creed said. “It’s been incredible the number of people who have come to me wanting to help in any way they can. Almost every one has come to me and I didn’t have to seek out anyone, which is very unusual.”
While the success off the floor may be a surprise, the success with the basketball product is not.
The roster is littered with stars in the City League in recent memory, including East’s Jawanza Poland and Ja’ln Williams, Heights’ Gavin Thurman and Terrance Moore, North’s Briston and Briston White and Gage Loy, and Southeast’s Kaelon Gary and Kevin Gunter.
Not only did most of those players compete against each other in high school, most of them grew up playing together in the summer under current coach Jermaine Brown. That’s why Creed sought Brown out as the coach, knowing those relationships would be crucial in building the team.
“The success has been about what I thought it would be because I know these guys and know what they’re capable of,” Brown said. “They take pride in their city and they want to win. I knew the chemistry would be there, so I just had to make sure we play the right way and let our defense dictate our offense. That’s what we hang our hats on, our defense.”
But just as important, the team has a history of collegiate success. Poland (South Florida), Thurman (Missouri State), Brison White (Northwestern State) and Loy (Texas-Rio Grande Valley) all played Division I basketball, along with Robert Goff (Marshall) and Aaron Scales (Cleveland State). The team also features former Newman star Shamar Acuay.
“We have a very good team that plays amazing defense and their offense is just nuts,” Creed said. “We’ve got 5-8 and 5-10 guys who are playing above the rim and dunking. There’s a lot of highlights and not just on offense. It all makes for a very entertaining brand of basketball.”
Creed hopes the team appeals to local fans who can come out and watch former Wichita stars play together and more importantly, win big. The remaining Wizards’ home games are this Saturday, next Saturday against the Topeka Railrunners and June 29 against the KC Grillers.
The games start at 6:30 p.m. with doors opening at 5 p.m. with pregame activities, including food trucks and inflatables for children to play on. General admission is $10, while any adult or student with a school ID can get in for $5.