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Reigning MVC champions: Drake men’s and women’s basketball teams host Hoops Fest

BASKETBALL PLAYERS engaged in a shooting contest at the event. PHOTO BY floyd ezell

Drake University hosted its third annual Hoops Fest with Bulldog fans and the local community on Oct. 5. The event was filled with attendees engaged in activities like the shooting station, hosted by men’s basketball star Tucker DeVries.

The Hoops Fest, held at Brenton Skating Plaza in the East Village, showcased the shooting skills of Drake’s basketball players. DeVries is currently ranked among the top 20 shooters in the country and is the seventh best overall collegiate small forward in the nation, according to the NCAA

Griff II’s face was everywhere, and yes, he showed up. Drake logos were all around, including on a custom-made Bulldog inflatable bounce house that was filled with children jumping and flipping. 

Notable figures, including Drake women’s basketball athletes Shannon Fornshell and Ava Hawthorne, played with children at the event. 

The crowd celebrated the current Missouri Valley Conference champions, the Drake’s men’s and women’s basketball team. 

“One of the great feelings about being here in the city of Des Moines is that you constantly feel the love,” Allison Pohlman, the Suzie Glazer Burt head women’s basketball coach at Drake, said. “So thank you, thank you, thank you, for being here.”

The women’s basketball team will play their first game on Oct. 29 at the Knapp Center in a preseason exhibition match.The season itself begins at home against the University of St. Thomas on Nov. 6. 

“As soon as my 13-year-old daughter comes down, I’m gonna watch her light up,” Keith Summerville, professor of environmental science, said. “Drake women’s basketball is her passion.”

The newly appointed superintendent of Des Moines Public Schools, Dr. Ian Roberts, expressed his gratitude for being amongst the conference champions.

“I feel proud to be in the attendance of conference champions. It’s exciting to be here,” Roberts said. “I was told I was wearing Nikes, but I need to be able to wear some Bulldog gear and Adidas.”

He highlighted the opportunities that the Drake Mediacom Stadium, which opens Thursday, Oct. 12, 2023, would offer to both Drake and DMPS athletes.
“Des Moines Public Schools serves roughly 31,000 students, and a significant number of those are student athletes,” Roberts said. “The Drake Mediacom Stadium presents so many great opportunities, not just for Drake athletes but for DMPS athletes as well.”

New recruits like Chico Johnson from Toledo, Ohio, played with the children present as they walked around the third annual Hoops Fest.

To welcome the hometown team to the stage, the voice of Drake men’s basketball, Michael Admire, introduced Drake’s basketball teams to the crowd.
“Let’s bring them out one by one!” Admire said. “The reigning Missouri Valley Conference champions!” 

Leading the pack was junior guard Hannah Nilges, seen touching the hands of alumni and Drake fans in the crowd to amp things up. Towards the end of the pack was power forward Darnell Brodie.

The Bulldogs welcomed some new faces this year. New recruits talked to Admire about their Drake experiences. 

“It’s super cool to see the community come out and support the team before the start of the season. It is super exciting,” Fornshell, a new recruit to the women’s basketball team, said to Admire about seeing a lot of blue shirts in the audience. 

Elijah Price shared his excitement about the community support and the reason why he chose to commit to Drake University.

“Just this right here. The community’s out, the people are down, the love is good and my teammates [welcomed] me with open arms,” Price said. 

The games were on from the 3-point arc as well as at the rim with dunks hauled in from first-year Patrick Bath and Brodie. 3-pointers were drained by basketball team members as the men’s 3-point champ, Kevin Overton, had a 3-point shooting contest high with 15 made shots. Junior Katie Dinnebier also advanced to the final round with a high of five.

It ended with an electrifying performance by B2Wins (alongside a few Drake athletes) and free Drake merchandise giveaways.

The Bulldogs have two games against ranked teams in November if they want to add more trophies to their collection, but Pohlman is determined to win again. 

“Let’s go ahead,” Pohlman said. “Let’s do it all over again.”

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