NEW BRITAIN - Over the years, Darwin Shaw has watched the tournament he founded grow from just the best basketball players in the area to having NBA participants.
Now 25 years later, the Osgood Shootout has turned into one of the premier summer basketball tournaments with names such as Kemba Walker, Andre Drummond, Jared Sullinger, Jay Edwards and Ryan Gomes all taking part.
This year is no different with Drummond highlighting another strong field that will begin play today at New Britain High School and run through Sunday.
The Detroit Pistons all-star will be returning to the Osgood Shootout for the first time 2011 and will be joined by former Dallas Maverick and New York Knick Ricky Ledo, who currently plays overseas in Europe.
“It’s one of the tournaments that always ends the summer,” Shaw said. “This one is the one to get in. As soon as I announce the Osgood Shootout, it fills in two weeks. People try to get in as early as March. The community loves it and for us to get NBA players, we’re fortunate. It’s a great event that people look forward to.”
Although it had been six years since Drummond has participated, Shaw said the former UConn standout had a friend from New York call saying Drummond wanted to play. It was a welcomed addition.
“Andre was playing in our gym at 12 on an AAU team coached by two of my former players, Malcolm Yelling and Tebucky Jones,” Shaw said. “Back then he had trouble holding on the ball. But Tebucky told me he hadn’t yet grown into his body. He did and the rest is history.”
Drummond’s team, the Bookers, will begin play at 3:45 p.m. this afternoon. If it wins, it will play again at 2 p.m. on Sunday. Ledo is playing with AmeriKaz, which will play today at 10:45 a.m.
The semifinals are Sunday at 2 p.m. and 3:15 p.m. with the final slated for 4:30 p.m.
Other notably names include former collegiate standouts Robert McKiver (University of Houston), Jason Davis (Sacramento State University), Kyle Wright (Providence College) and Charoy Bentley (St. Joseph's University). Overall, the Osgood Shootout will feature 16 teams in the Open Division and eight in the High School Division.
There will also be a number of local players on display for fans this weekend. Former New Britain High standouts Roosevelt Lee, Austin Andrews and Darius Watson will partake in the event. Lee will be on defending champion Blaze, which became the first New Britain based team to win the tournament since 2006.
Other teams will come from Springfield, Mass., New York, Boston, New Haven, Waterbury, Hartford, Bridgeport and other surrounding cities.
While there is sure to be plenty of exciting basketball to watch over the next two days, the Osgood Shootout, Shaw said, is about involving the community with the help of some of his major sponsors in Blaze Barber Shop in New Britain, Stanley Black & Decker, EbLens and Image Ink in Newington. In its 25 years, the shootout has given out 64 scholarships.
This year’s scholarship award recipients are Veronique Woods (Springfield College), Gabe Yopp (Dean College), Isha Kasi (University of Bridgeport) and Tahjae Barrett (University of Hartford). All will be awarded $500. For the second year, the Albert A.Vieira scholarship will be awarded to Johnathan Cuttino (Tunxis Community College) and Calvin and Kevin Harris (Dean College). All three will receive $250.
“My motto is simple,” Shaw said. “‘You’re only a success in the community if you’re involved and help the community. To be doing this for more than 25 years, it’s been a true blessing.”
David Glovach can be reached at (860) 801-5085 or email@example.com
On Twitter: @DavidGlovach