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Zip ‘Em Up are ready to get the respect they deserve as they participate in their first TBT

By Tom Ballato

Zip’ Em Up, Xavier University’s alumni team, will be playing in The Basketball Tournament for the first time this summer. This team has been in the works for about four years and is built not only to win games and the whole tournament.

The roster will feature Trevon Bluiett, Semaj Christon, Kaiser Gates, Kayel Locke (UNC Greensboro), Mark Lyons, JP Macura, Sean O’Mara, Brandon Randolph, Tony Criswell (Missouri & UAB), and Jeff Robinson. 

Xavier University’s alumni team Zip ‘Em Up logo are set to play in their first TBT

Dee Davis has assumed the general manager role. Jason Meyer will be the director of basketball operations, while Rick Carter will be the head coach. Kevin Coker and Chris Pickens will be Carter’s assistant coaches. 

Kevin Coker, former Xavier walk-on and Zip’ Em Up assistant coach, said, “My time at Xavier was terrific. I took on a spectator role. My favorite part was building a relationship with every one of the guys. I’ve been part of special teams.” 

Coker spoke about the quality education he received at Xavier University and went on to attend law school. His teammates have become lifelong brothers, and he’s excited to see what this alumni team can do on the court. 

Xavier alumni have participated in the TBT in the past. The culture and relationships built at Xavier made recruiting alumni easy. Zip ‘Em Up’s roster has been constructed strategically, and everyone knows their role. 

“Zip ‘Em Up wouldn’t be where they are now without Dee Davis. He is probably one of the brightest basketball minds coming up. He is playing the point guard role in life and investing in his team and brothers,” Coker said when discussing the construction of the roster.

Dee Davis, a four-year Xavier standout, has played professionally in Slovenia, Germany, France, and Hungary. Although he will not suit up for the team this summer, he took on an integral role in putting this team together. In addition, he has networked and built relationships with Xavier alumni.

While playing for alumni, friends, family, and the $1 million prize, Zip’ Em Up is playing for something greater. Their main objective is to win and give the money to the Brian Grant Foundation, which helps people with Parkinson’s Disease. Grant played at Xavier, was drafted in 1994, and had a 12 year NBA career. 

This summer is just the start of Zip ‘Em Up’s plans. The team hopes to put together events, meet and greets, and get alumni involved in the future. 

Alumni and fans have a lot to be excited about, not just this summer but many summers to come. This Zip ‘Em Up roster is deep, talented, and filled with players looking to get the respect they deserve. 

Xavier’s reach is worldwide, and Zip ‘Em Up hopes to make everyone proud. 

Roster Breakdown: 

JP Macura brings NBA experience to the roster. He played this past season in Turkey, averaging 12.9 points, 3.9 rebounds, 1.8 steals per game while shooting 37.1% from three. Mucura plays with a fire and passion that Xavier fans love.

Semaj Christon, a former second-round pick of the Miami Heat, played a season for the Oklahoma City Thunder before heading overseas. He’s played in Italy, China, Israel, Puerto Rico, France, Spain and just finished this past season in Turkey. Christon can score and get his teammates involved. He averaged 11.4 points, 4.0 assists, and 1.6 steals per game this season.

Trevon Bluiett played for the Salt Lake City Stars of the NBA G League this season. He appeared in 15 games averaging 8.0 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 1.5 assists per game. 

Kaiser Gates played in 12 games (8 starts) with the Long Island Nets of the NBA G League. The 24-year-old small forward averaged 9.1 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 1.4 steals per game. 

Mark Lyons brings leadership and experience to Zip ‘Em Up’s roster. He is an overseas veteran and played this past season in Greece. In 13 games, he averaged 13.6 points and 3.1 assists per game. Look for Lyons to get aggressive around the basket, defend, and gets his teammates involved on the offensive end. 

Sean O’Mara has played professionally in Japan and Finland. He can rebound, score, and brings size to the roster. 

Brandon Randolph played two seasons at Xavier before transferring to Utah Valley. The 6-foot-2 guard played last season in Denmark, averaging 14.1 points, 4.7 assists, and 4.1 rebounds. Expect Randolph to have the ball in his hand to facilitate the offense.

Kayel Locke played four seasons at UNC Greensboro. He played this past season in the Netherlands, averaged 9.4 points and 4.1 rebounds. Locke is a rebounding wing. 

Tony Criswell has overseas experience in Germany, Canada, Argentina, Venezuela, and Mexico. He played in 2 games this past season, averaging 22.5 points per game.

Jeff Robinson played at Xavier from 2009-2013. He has played semi-professional basketball, but he works as a psychiatrist in a children’s hospital. Xavier fans will be excited to see Robinson suit up again, representing the university. 

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