Gustafson makes TBT history
Megan Gustafson will be the first active women’s pro player to participate in The Basketball Tournament, the event announced on Tuesday. The 2019 Naismith Award winner will suit up for Iowa United, a team primarily made up of alumni from Iowa’s Division I schools.
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The Dallas Wings released Gustafson before the WNBA season began, highlighting just how difficult it is to earn a roster spot in the league. She will instead team up with other prominent Hawkeye State grads like Marcus Fizer (Iowa State), Peter Jok (Iowa), and Wes Washpun (Northern Iowa). You can view the full roster here.
“I am very excited for this opportunity to play in TBT for Iowa United,” Gustafson said in a release. “I am still very much interested in the WNBA, and if I get picked up by a team, that will be my priority. But I want to make sure that I am training at a high level this summer and this is providing me with just that. I am thankful for the support I have received over this past week, and I look forward to representing the state of Iowa once again!”
TBT is in its sixth year and is a winner-take-all tournament, open to anyone, with a $2 million grand prize for the winning team. Most squads are either Division I alumni teams or comprised of mostly former college basketball players. Women have participated in the past, but none as high-profile as Gustafson.
Gustafson led the nation last year in field goals made per game and was second in defensive rebounds. At 6’3, however, she will face a heightened challenge going up against primarily male players. She shouldn’t have a problem getting opportunities with guards like Washpun and Reed Timmer (Drake) able to find her.
“We are ecstatic and honored to have this year’s College Player of the Year playing in TBT,” said Jon Mugar, Founder and CEO of TBT in a release. “It’s a milestone we never thought possible. Aside from being a phenomenal player, Megan is a tremendous inspiration, as she’s taking on the challenge of playing with and against the top male players in the world this summer. We’re lucky to have her.”
Iowa United has already met the requirements for eligibility in The Tournament and will play in the Wichita regional. Truman State men’s coach and former Iowa guard Jeff Horner will coach the team.
The full schedule and bracket has not yet been announced, but the Wichita regional will take place between July 25 and 28. The finals are in Chicago from Aug. 1-6 and all games can be seen on ESPN networks.
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