CBT Basketball game

Coming Back Together: Syracuse reunited with community through basketball

A basketball game at a local city high school raised money for a scholarship fund at SU. The game featured former SU basketball players who coached and played in the game.

Basketball is how former Syracuse University stars Derrick Coleman and Billy Owens entertained many in the community for years.

Last night at Henninger High School, they used basketball to bring the community together in a different way.

The two coached against each other in the first-ever Coming Back Together Celebrity Classic Basketball Game to raise money for the Undergraduate Black or Hispanic Endowed Scholarship fund.

They said it is something they wanted to do because Syracuse gave so much to them. Coleman played basketball at SU from 1986 to 1990 and Owens from 1988 to 1991.

“This is something that we started talking about I would say five or six months ago,” Coleman said. “To see where it is right now and to pull it together has been great and we’re only going to expand it each year. It’s going to get bigger and better for us.”

“These people supported me for three years at Syracuse,” Owens said. “They’d come and watch me play at the games or on TV. It means a lot to come back to the community and give back.”

It was a reunion. Coleman and Owens brought up in conversation all the jokes and good times they still share with other SU alumni.

The SU connection was evident as many former SU athletes played in the game. Men’s basketball players Eric Devendorf, Lazarus Sims, James Southerland, John Wallace and current WNBA player Brittney Sykes highlighted the roster.

“When you see all of us coming back to get engaged and get involved, it’s just our way of showing the City of Syracuse how much we love and care about them,” Coleman said.

After seeing the turnout for the event, assistant vice president for program development at Syracuse University Rachel Vassel wants to schedule another basketball game when Coming Back Together is hosted again in three years.

“I think for the athletes they are happy because it’s a way for them to help,” Vassel said. “They are part of this community and they should be here as well. I think they are willing to come back and support. Our office will support whatever they’d like to do in the future.”

While the game was for fundraising, the competitive spirit still shines bright within Coleman.

“Oh I’m winning, even if I got to pay the referees, I’m winning,” Coleman said.

He backed up the talk, with his team winning 105-90.

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