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The Journal Gazette

  • Chad Ryan | The Journal Gazette Forward Stephan Hicks, right, pulls back for a shot against Erie's John Petrucelli at Memorial Coliseum. Hicks, who played for the Mad Ants this season, is part of the Fort Wayne Champs team that hopes to compete in The Basketball Tournament.

Thursday, May 11, 2017 8:40 pm

New name for alumni team

JUSTIN A. COHN | The Journal Gazette

The team of former Mad Ants players trying to participate in The Basketball Tournament has re-branded as Fort Wayne Champs. According to a Fort Wayne Champs official, the NBA’s Indiana Pacers, who own and operate the Mad Ants of the D-League, requested the name Ants Alumni no longer be used to avoid confusion that the teams are affiliated.

The Basketball Tournament will have 64 teams competing for a $2-million winner-take-all prize. Ants Alumni made it to the semifinals in 2015.

This year’s roster includes some of the Mad Ants’ all-time greats, such as Ron Howard and Sadiel Rojas, and several players who helped them to the D-League playoffs this season, such as Trey McKinney Jones, Jordan Loyd, Travis Leslie and Stephan Hicks.

Some professional and college teams have embraced having their names used in The Basketball Tournament, which will have its final 16 teams play on ESPN. Former Mad Ant Marcus Hall, for instance, helped Team Colorado to the 2016 finals.

Fort Wayne Champs is on twitter @champsfortwayne and needs fan votes at thetournament.com to qualify. Fans can get a share of the winnings.

jcohn@jg.net