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Twenty Two U.S. Paralympians to Play at 2016 National Wheelchair Basketball Tournament

By NWBA, 03/31/16, 8:30AM CDT


The 68th annual NWBA National Wheelchair Basketball Tournament presented by ABC Medical will feature 22 U.S. Paralympians over the four-day event at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville, Ky., April 7-10. The NWBT is the world’s largest single-sport event for athletes with disabilities and makes its ninth stop in the bluegrass state. The list of 22 athletes have competed in an impressive 31 Paralympic Games. 

The NWBT features five divisions spanning four age groups from Championship to Junior Prep. The adult divisions, Championship and Division III, will see a field of 40 teams. The Championship Division, the nation’s elite athlete category with 16 teams, will play over a three-day period, April 7-9, in hopes of playing for the title on Saturday, April 9 at 4 p.m. The Division III teams, the NWBA’s recreation division, will kick off the tournament on Thursday, April 7 at 8 a.m., on 8 of the 12 courts with its National title game tipping on Sunday, April 10 at 10 a.m. Eastern. 

These 22 athletes will be competing for a coveted National Championship Trophy in the Championship Division or Division III Division in the South Hall of the Kentucky Exposition Center, and the home of the famous Freedom Hall, which was the home of the University of Louisville Cardinals and host of numerous NCAA March Madness events, including NCAA Final Fours. 

The Milwaukee Wheelchair Bucks, in the Championship Division, are stacked with a total of seven Paralympic Games athletes, with six of those playing for the United States. This impressive group of athletes has also won a combined five Paralympic medals. 

Melvin Juette brings the experience for the Bucks and is a two-time bronze medalist at the 1996 and 2000 Paralympic Games. Jeremy Lade is seeking a fourth trip to the Paralympics, after winning a bronze in 2012 and playing in 2004 and 2008. Nate Hinze will be featured and was a member of the 2012 bronze-medal team, and is a hopeful for 2016, as well as Matt Lesperance who last played at the 2008 Beijing Paralympics. 

Also on the Bucks’ roster are a pair of U.S. Women’s Paralympians and 2016 hopefuls – 2008 gold medalist Becca Murray (2008 and 2012) and Desiree Miller (2012). Rounding out the Bucks roster is Mareike Miller, who won the 2012 Paralympic Games for Team Germany and will be returning to Rio this summer for her home country. 

Three-time U.S. Paralympian Jason Nelms, also a 2012 bronze medalist, leads the Dallas Wheelchair Mavericks Championship Division squad along with 2000 Athens bronze medalist William Hernandez, and 2004 U.S. Paralympian Jermell Pennie. 2016 U.S. Paralympic team hopeful Aaron Gouge is coming into Louisville before the final set of 2016 selection camps starts in May. Daniel Fik has turned his focus to wheelchair basketball and was close to making a U.S. Paralympic Team in wheelchair tennis. 

Paul Schulte, who announced his retirement from the U.S. National Team in January, will lead a strong Miami Heat Wheels to Louisville in the Championship Division. Schulte earned two bronze medals at the 2000 Sydney and 2012 London Paralympics, and was a member of the 2008 Beijing Team. 

Also playing in the Championship Division are: 2016 U.S. Paralympic hopeful Trevon Jenifer, 2012 London bronze, Bay City; Chuck Gill, 1996 Atlanta bronze, 2000 Sydney bronze, Golden State Road Warriors; NWBA Board of Director Lee Montgomery, sitting volleyball, 1984 Los Angeles, 1988 Seoul, 1992 Barcelona, 1996 Atlanta, Mary Free Bed Pacers; Joseph Chambers, 2008 Beijing, 2012 London bronze, Sacramento Rolling Kings; Mike Schlappi, 1996 Atlanta bronze, 2000 Sydney bronze, Utah Wheelin’ Jazz; Andrea Woodson-Smith, 2012 London, Charlottesville Cardinals; and Jeff Griffin, 2004 Athens, Utah Wheelin’ Jazz.

In Division III, NWBA Hall of Famer Dave Kiley will bring his Charlotte Rollin’ Hornets to the home of the Kentucky Derby, and will be on the sidelines for the Junior NIT Charlotte Rollin’ Hornets. Kiley is a three-time U.S. Paralympian over three decades claiming a gold at the 1988 Seoul Paralympics and a bronze in the Sydney Paralympics, and a member of the 1992 U.S. Paralympics. 

The D-III Cincinnati Royals are highlighted with a pair of U.S. Paralympians: Jacob Counts (2008 Beijing) and bronze medalist Ian Lynch (2012 London). 

Will Waller of the Cleveland Wheelchair Cavaliers is a hopeful for the 2016 Rio Paralympics and is searching for a gold medal to go along with the two bronze medals he garners from the 2000 Sydney and 2012 London Paralympics. Darlene Hunter of the DFW Freewheelers brings experience from the 2012 London Paralympics and is after a return trip to Rio this September. 

The New York Rollin’ Knicks have a pair of Canadian wheelchair basketball stars in Patrick Anderson and David Eng, who have been together for numerous years and have brought home numerous international medals. Anderson, who is considered one of the best players in the world, is a three-time Paralympic gold medalist (2000, 2004, and 2012), and a silver medalist from the 2008 Beijing Paralympics. Eng joined Anderson starting in 2004 and has been along for the ride through 2012, collecting two golds and one silver. Both are formable opponents for any team they play in the United States and abroad. 

The 2016 NWBT is the largest ever with 88 teams and 976 athletes registered, and will feature a total of 176 games on 12 courts. A total of 84 games on Thursday, April 7, which starts at 8 a.m. Eastern will kick-off the four-day tournament. The second day of games will commence at 8 a.m. at the Kentucky Exposition Center, where all divisions will play into placement games, and a variety of showcase events. 

Championship Saturday will start at 8 a.m., with the Junior National Invitational Tournament being the opening draw. From 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Eastern, the National Title Games for Junior Prep, Junior Varsity and Championship Divisions will be contested. All final games will be web streamed at The Div-III Championship game will be played on Sunday, April 10 at 10 a.m. 

Individual tickets are available for the 2016 NWBT presented by ABC Medical. Online ticket sales are available by clicking here for the discounted rate. Event tickets sold at the Kentucky Exposition Center will be: $30 for adults for all sessions or $12.50 per day. Children 8-18 will be $15 for all sessions and $7 per day. Children 7 and under are free. 

On April 8-9, the NWBA’s Operation Rebound for Veterans will hold an introductory wheelchair basketball clinic at the Kentucky Exposition Center. This year’s program will attract at least 15 veterans from all military branches. 

In addition to the NWBT, the NWBA Hall of Fame will hold its annual induction ceremony at the Crowne Plaza Airport Hotel on Saturday, April 9 at 6 p.m. Eastern. This year’s inductees are: NWBA’s most prolific scorer Trooper Johnson of San Lorenzo, Calif.; non-competitors Barbara Radbel of Munster, Ind., and Kathy Curtis of El Paso, Texas; and posthumously recognized is women’s standout player Mary Ann O’Neill of Minneapolis, Minn.

The brackets for the 2016 NWBT can be found by clicking the link below:

2016 Junior Prep Bracket
2016 Junior NIT Bracket
2016 Junior Varsity Bracket
2016 D-III Bracket – Winners Bracket
2016 D-III Bracket – Consolation Bracket
2016 Championship Bracket

2016 National Wheelchair Basketball Tournament presented by ABC Medical Schedule
At Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville, Ky., April 7-10

Thursday, April 7 2016
Time    Event    Location
7:30-8 a.m.    2016 NWBT Opening Ceremonies    Kentucky Expo Center
8 a.m.-10 p.m.    2016 NWBT Games (84 Games/12 Courts)    Kentucky Expo Center
8-11 p.m.    VA Clinic Camp Check-in    Crowne Plaza Hotel

Friday, April 8, 2016
8 a.m.-8 p.m.    2016 NWBT Games (57 Games/11 Courts)    Kentucky Expo Center
10 a.m.-6 p.m.    VA Clinic    Kentucky Expo Center
10 a.m.-12 p.m.    Celebrity Game    Kentucky Expo Center
12 -2 p.m.    Per4Max Shootout Qualifier    Kentucky Expo Center
4-6 p.m.    Top End Youth Clinic    Kentucky Expo Center
4-6 p.m.    Junior Girl’s Player Showcase    Kentucky Expo Center
4-6 p.m.    High School Senior Boy’s Game    Kentucky Expo Center
7-9 p.m.    Junior Prep Division Banquet    Galt House Hotel

Saturday, April 9, 2016
7:30-8 a.m.    2016 NWBT Opening Ceremonies    Kentucky Expo Center
8 a.m.-6 p.m.    2016 NWBT Championship Saturday (34 Games)    Kentucky Expo Center
8 a.m.-6 p.m.    VA Clinic    Kentucky Expo Center
8 a.m.    Junior NIT Championship    Kentucky Expo Center
10 a.m.    Junior Prep Championship    Kentucky Expo Center
12 p.m.    Per4Max Shootout    Kentucky Expo Center
1:30 p.m.    NWBT Championship Opening Ceremony    Kentucky Expo Center
2:00 p.m.    Junior Varsity Championship    Kentucky Expo Center
4:00 p.m.    Championship Division Championship    Kentucky Expo Center
Half Time    ABC Medical 3-Point Contest    Kentucky Expo Center
6-9 p.m.    2016 NWBA Hall of Fame Induction    Crowne Plaza Hotel
7-11 p.m.    Junior Varsity Banquet    Galt House Hotel

Sunday, April 10, 2016
10 a.m.    Division III Championship    Kentucky Expo Center