By Jill Fox
Two Parkland residents are trying their hand at professional basketball.
Armored Athlete, a team made up of professional players from various basketball leagues, will begin a two-week tournament in Syracuse, starting July 26.
Resident Adam Ross, who spent 12 years as a basketball coach at The Sagemont School in Weston is in his second year as head coach of Armored Athlete.
Ross, who lives with his wife and three young children, works in real estate but has always had a passion for coaching basketball.
The teams for The Basketball Tournament, which has a single-game elimination format, can be put together as alumni teams, like the University of Kansas, which is made up of former players from the school. Others, like Armored Athlete, are comprised of recruited players.
“We have players from California, Mississippi, Indiana, University of Florida, Florida State, all over,” said Ross, who took over last year when former coach, Dan Engelstad, become a Division 1 Head Coach at Mount Saint Mary’s.
“Putting a team together is not very easy to do. It’s probably taken over 25,000 texts between the general manager and us to plan,” said Brian Litman, who became the team’s booster to help with travel and other expenses.
It’s really exciting to be just a week away from the tournament, said Litman, who is active on the boards for Parkland Basketball and flag football.
He became involved through his friendship with Ross and said he might even get an opportunity to play in the tournament if the team is ahead by enough points.
Ross said, “I knew he loved basketball – I started talking to him about it when I took over as coach, and he expressed interest.”
The prize for the winner-takes-all 64 game tournament is $2 million, which is divided up by team members.
Armored Athlete plays their first game, which will air on the ESPN family of networks, on July 26 at 3 p.m. in Syracuse. If they win their first three games, they will travel to Chicago for the next round.