LHS Alums Robinson, Costello & Turner Take Madison Mavericks to Inaugural League Championship Game
The Madison Mavericks semi-pro basketball team just concluded it's inaugural season. Coached by La Follette alumni Curtrel Robinson (Class of 2004), who also serves as the current La Follette boys basketball coach, led the Mavericks to the Official Basketball Association's (OBA) first league championship game in Orlando, Florida. Lancers Chris Costello (Class of 2005) and David Turner (Class of 2017) both play on the team.
Unfortunately, the Mavericks fell short in a buzzer beater of a game. Win or lose the team are Mavericks in more ways than one. Congratulations to our Lancer-Mavericks on a heck of a first season!
The Wisconsin State Journal's Jim Polzin recently did a feature on the Mavericks and how the team came to be. The following is "How a pair of former Wisconsin Badgers brought semi-pro basketball to Madison," from August 8, 2021.
Roy Boone wears a jersey and many hats for the Madison Mavericks.
Boone, a former Madison East standout who was a member of the University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team that made a surprising run to the 2000 Final Four, is the majority owner for the semi-pro team that is wrapping up its inaugural season this weekend.
He also gets the gym ready for home games, drives the team bus to road games, takes care of washing the uniforms, lines up and pays the refs, and does, well, just about everything else to make sure the fledgling franchise can function.
At 43, he’s also still playing, albeit a reduced role on a team where several players are young enough to be his sons.
The following scene played out more than once this season: Boone would be in the layup line during pregame warmups and get pulled aside by his wife, Kristen, who had a question about game logistics. He’d put on his owner/general manager hat for a moment before going back to his role as a player.
If this sounds like a lot of work for Boone, who holds down a full-time job helping provide residential treatment at the Dane County Juvenile Court Program, it is. Yet he’s the type to be constantly wondering what more he could be doing to help what he admits is a passion project
“Madison has been good to me and realistically, it’s a basketball community that’s passionate about basketball and I’m just kind of keeping that alive,” Boone said. “And I get to still play.”
That journey has taken Boone and his team to Florida, where they’re among the four teams remaining in the Official Basketball Association playoffs. The Mavericks will play the Quad City United at 1 p.m. Saturday in a semifinal game that can be live-streamed at watchoba.com.
Madison needed to win its regular-season finale last month just to finish 10-6 and qualify for the postseason. It booked its trip to Orlando by defeating a pair of OBA North rivals who had combined to go 4-0 against the Mavericks during the regular season.
It’s been a fun ride for a team that didn’t even exist at this time last year.
Boone needed some convincing when he got a call from former UW women’s basketball standout Tamara Moore, who formed the OBA in 2019 but had to wait nearly two years for the first games to be played due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
What originally began as a plan to have a league with eight teams — “It wasn’t going to be anything major,” Moore said — grew to 15. And then to 20 … and then to 30 … and, by the time the OBA made its debut, it had 55 teams.
Moore and Boone had gotten to know each other at UW and had stayed in touch. As she put together a list of potential teams, Moore desperately wanted the list to include Madison.
“He at first was really nervous about the idea of whether he could do it or not,” Moore said. “But he’s run his own rec leagues, has a really good rapport with the players in that community and he right now has one of our top branded teams in our league.”
Boone and Moore are a lot alike in that they like to stay busy: In addition to being the CEO and founder of the OBA, Moore is the men’s basketball and softball coach at Mesabi Range College, a junior college in Minnesota located about 65 miles northwest of Duluth, and recently added the housing coordinator role at the school. She also finds time to be associated with the NBA G League assistant coaches’ program.
The inaugural OBA season began in April and 310 of the 350 scheduled games got played despite the lingering effects of the pandemic. Boone and Mavericks minority owner Randy Hess, a real-estate agent in the Madison area, both were impressed with by Moore’s leadership and organizational skills.
“She invested in it,” Boone said of the OBA, “and she’s invested in it.”
So is Boone, who quickly put together a team last fall that includes several players who played at Madison high schools. The list includes former Madison Memorial standouts Shareef Smith and Julian Walters, along with former Madison La Follette athlete David Turner. The roster also includes Joey Warner, who spent a training camp with the Green Bay Packers in 2007 after playing basketball at UW-La Crosse.
The team is coached by La Follette boys basketball coach Curtrel Robinson.
“Coach got the guys to buy in,” Boone said. “He even got me practicing hard and getting after it and diving on the floor for balls at 43.”
Success off the court hasn’t been as easy for the Mavericks, though Boone said he’s thrilled he won’t end the first season in the hole.
The team was able to generate some revenue by securing a few sponsorships, establishing partnerships with community groups, charging for admission to home games and selling merchandise. Boone also called in some favors with contacts in the Madison community and admitted he started a GoFundMe page, which has generated $700 from nine donors.
The team had to pay for its way to Orlando, but the OBA will take care of the rest. The championship game is on Sunday.
Boone has big plans for the franchise’s future. He’s hoping for bigger crowds next season — a good attendance for the team was between 100 and 150, according to Boone and Hess — and more sponsors. His vision down the road is getting to the point where players can earn a paycheck playing for the Mavericks and use their experience with the team as a stepping stone to a contract in a professional league overseas.
“I want to build this into something special and exciting,” Boone said.
It does appear Boone will be wearing at least one fewer hat next season. After a career that includes stops at East, a junior college, UW and five seasons professionally in Germany and the United States, Boone is talking about hanging up his sneakers.
“I’m going to be the first Maverick to retire,” he said.
This article was originally published by the Wisconsin State Journal on August 8, 2021. To view the full story on their website, please click here.